Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I just read an article in The Costco Connection about Craig Newmark of craigslist.com. Newmark calls blogs the “printing press for everyman.”

He obviously has good insights on the revolutionary power of the internet for the sale and purchase of goods and services. He seems to have the obsession for customer service and the creativity that is common among entrepreneurs, but seems to lack the greed. Newmark has turned down lucrative offers to include banner ads. Instead of taking big money from venture capitalists, he has maintained control of his vision to provide a community service.

Craig Newmark's blog.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Weekends go by fast, but it seems to me that I should either be able to point to accomplishments or I should feel rested and refreshed. I don’t like to come out of a weekend with none of that. And the month of February always goes by so fast. The good thing about that is we are that much closer to spring. We have no control over time and sometimes I wonder about how much control I exercise even over my use of time.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

When I lived in Jackson, Mississippi, for two and a half years, I learned that Fannie Lou Hamer was an important figure in that state’s civil rights struggles. I heard her name mentioned on CSPAN last night as a panel of journalists were discussing the civil rights movement. These panelists were old enough to have been reporters in the South during the civil rights movement.

Fannie Lou Hamer died of breast cancer in 1977. She was 60.

Hamer knew poverty and humiliation as she grew up in a sharecropper family in rural Mississippi. Her formal education ended with the sixth grade. Her life changed from being unnoticed to making a visible difference when she was in her mid-forties. It was in 1962 that she was invited to attend a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee meeting at a church near her home. She decided that no matter what the cost, she should try to register to vote. It did cost her dearly, but with courage and persistence she did get registered to vote and went on to become a civil right activist working with voter registration drives and helping develop programs to assist economically deprived African American families. She was beaten, threatened, and ridiculed. As a founding member of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, she fought for African American representation on the Mississippi delegation to the Democratic National Committee.

Her faith, resolve, compassion, and selfless passion for a worthy cause are exemplary for us all.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

How many of our “Christian” organizations are self-serving in the sense that they were founded and are maintained for the purpose of serving people on the inside of the family of faith? I’m starting to realize that this is not in sync with the way of Christ. If Christ started a school, I’m guessing he would design it for dropouts and kids from dysfunctional families. If Christ started a publishing company, I expect his target audience would be spiritual seekers instead of those who already believe. And where would Christ shop for books? It’s easier for me to picture him in an eclectic independent store than in a “Christian bookstore.” If Christ had the choice between going to Samaria or to a Christian television studio, he would choose Samaria any day.

The way of Christ involves looking outside the box.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Why would we turn over management of our ports to any foreign company? Is the United States so incapable of competing in the global economy that we have to outsource our own port management? Contracting port management to a UAE company has security issues, but it also has serious economic issues. Why do we need to hire a company from another country to manage our ports even if security wasn’t an issue? I’m not opposed to foreign trade, but I do think it makes us look inept when we go outside our borders to get the best deal on the management of the very places when products and resources come and go. Are we still a world leader?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

It has been 59 years since Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major league baseball and was named rookie of the year. From my limited knowledge, it looks to me like Shani Davis is the Jackie Robinson of speed skating. It’s 2006 and Shani Davis is the first African-American man to receive a gold medal in the winter Olympics. Tonight Davis will compete with another U.S. skater who seems to think it is his purview to set the agenda for American skaters. I’ll be cheering for Davis instead of the Texan. If Chad Hedrick wins, I’ll try not to adopt the same attitude toward him that he had about Davis’s victory in the 1,000m. But it won’t be easy.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. This morning I find myself sitting behind three generations—the parents, their daughter and her husband, and the young granddaughter seated between her grandparents. It’s another reminder to me of a new generation of Friends within Hometown Friends Church. The family came to Hometown Friends about eight years ago without previous involvement in a Friends Church, but this little girl in front of me will receive her formative spiritual nurture here and as an adult she will be part of what I will call the Hometown Friends Alumni group.

Hometown Friends is such an old, established church that eight years doesn’t seem as long here as it would anywhere else. I’m picturing the church as a big oak tree with Christ as the roots and trunk. Some of the leaves grow off of branches that have been grafted on, but in a short time it’s impossible to know when or where the grafts took place.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

At the end of the PBS News Hour last night there were ten more on the honor role of armed services personnel who have died in Iraq. As they come up on the screen in silence, I look first at the age. Many were just at the starting line of their adult life. And equally sad are the ones in their 30s who likely now have fatherless children.

The 2,000 plus body count and even the names don’t do justice to the reality of human loss. The ages, faces, and towns they called home help make it seem more real. The financial cost of this war in Iraq is out of control, but the human cost is only known by the parents, siblings, children, and spouse of one who has been killed (American, Iraqi, and all others).

Friday, February 17, 2006

I’m feeling resolute this morning. It’s probably easier to feel this way on Friday than on Monday. The feeling today has to do with being stubborn and optimistic. It’s not coming from any assurance that I will be the person I want to be or accomplish all the things I want to do. I just figure a little determination will do more good than harm.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Cheney shooting incident in Texas is not a political event. It is not part of the debate on public policy. And I think we know enough about the man's character that we probably don't need to add a hunting accident to our evaluation of the vice-president. In one respect, I think the White House press corps overreacted. They are tired of getting jerked around. What I heard sounded like a personal (not professional) cry to “stop jerking us around.”

Nobody likes to get jerked around by someone with a proven record of being arrogant, self-centered, and insecure.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Joel Daniel Harris weighs the pros and cons of online journaling in an article about Community in a Virtual Age at the Barclay Press Conversation Café. He makes a good case for the benefits of blogging and then throws a wet blanket on the benefits by pointing out the need for sharing physical presence in community.

In the Third Way Café Michelle Davis focuses on the “new media” dynamics of blogs and concludes Blog Anyone? with, “The hippies and activists of my parents’ generation only wish they could have had this much publishing power at their fingertips.”

I didn’t see blogging coming and I don’t know where it is going. But I believe it is bigger than a hobby or a fad. It (or the innovation that bests it) has a permanent spot in the world of communication.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Most of the trees have come down and a bulldozer is making the ground smooth. It’s part of the inevitable development at a major Newberg intersection. I remember what was here years ago and wonder if this is progress. This is the land where Gladys Auld pumped gas, operated a lunch counter, and where she lived. Gladys believed individual service was more important than assembly line speed as she poured coffee, cooked hamburgers, and served the fresh pie she had personally baked earlier. Customers knew this was not fast food and gladly sat at the lunch counter waiting their turn.

At the gas pump, regular customers knew what to do if Gladys wasn’t there. You pumped your own gas and you put your cash or check in the metal box in the desk drawer.

The trees that sheltered her home are gone and the gentle slope between Gladys’s business and her home is being leveled. This is change, but it’s not improvement.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. There aren’t very many empty seats at Hometown Friends Church this week. My mind strays from what’s doing on around me and I ask myself if being here helps make me righteous or does it just make me feel self-righteous. The difference can be subtle, but it’s significant. When we pull into our garage in about an hour, our neighbors will know where we’ve been. But they don’t really care whether or not we attend church. What they care about and what they observe is our attitudes and actions. Are we considerate, compassionate, loving, and nonjudgmental? Or are we self-centered?

This might be the easiest hour of the week.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Waiting in line to order my Americano this morning, Carl asked me what I’ve been reading. It isn’t what I wanted to say, but candor made me answer, “Nothing.” I’d like to shorten the distance between who I am and who I want to be. Reading more good books would be part of that development.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

I used a very derogatory term to describe the driver who turned in front of me this morning. I didn’t just think it; I said it out loud for nobody to hear but myself. I understand road rage better than I want to. I’m not a very nice person from behind the wheel. I’m intolerant of other people’s faults. I’m impatient and I’m more likely to become irritable. I enjoy driving, so it’s not that being behind the wheel puts me in a bad mood. But it seems there is something about being in control of a car on the road that stimulates creaturely attitudes and behavior.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

President Bush called on governments around the world, "to stop the violence, to be respectful, to protect property, protect the lives of innocent diplomats who are serving their countries overseas." The President also said that Americans believe in a free press, and added, "With freedom comes the responsibility to be thoughtful about others."

I wonder how Iraqis feel about these words.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I can’t badmouth change too much since I’ve inherited so much from reformers. I’m glad I can stand in the long shadows made by folks like Martin Luther and George Fox. Sometimes I want to remind my friends who are in love with “old time religion” (all Protestants) that if everyone had been as resistant to change as they are, we would be Roman Catholic (not intended as a negative comment about Catholics).

Monday, February 06, 2006

Tonight was the kick off event for the Newberg Relay for Life. This is an American Cancer Society event held in communities all across the country. It’s one of those unique opportunities to give some individual effort in a community context with national benefit. My wife is cochair for the Newberg event this year and I’m very proud of her for taking a leadership role in this important effort.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

When the weather is good, I often do a little work in the yard on Saturday. After an excess of rain in January the ground is soaked. The sun is out right now even though a couple of hours ago the rain was pouring down. I see the daffodils are up about 4 inches, but I think I can resist the temptation to go out and pull weeds today.

Friday, February 03, 2006

When I left the house this morning I was wondering to myself if I should stay a little longer to provide whatever encouragement and support I could for my wife and son as they got ready for work and school. A research paper (now ready to hand in!), a vocab test, and other academic stresses have affected (perhaps infected) the whole family. At the office I checked Jamie Johnson’s daily journal and realized spending another hour or even half hour at home would have been a better choice than making my usual early departure.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

I’ve kept a journal—pen on bound paper pages. I did it regularly for a while, then intermittently, and not at all for a long time now. Blogging has some similarities, but it’s a different world. If I were doing a journal on paper, today I would write about my commitment to lose some weight. I’d mention that 217 pounds is a reflection of lack of self control—that I allow the pleasure of eating to control me. I’d describe how this is not good for my physical health and that it shows mental/emotional weakness. In a private journal I would write that the first 10 pounds will go by curtailing sweets and snacks and I’d record my awareness that the next 15 pounds will take more time and more resolve than the first 10. But in a public venue like blogging, I’d rather not talk about my weight. If I’m not successful, I’d prefer other people didn’t know I tried and failed.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I did not know the name Dr. Carter G. Woodson until I read about the origins of Black History Month a few minutes ago. In 1926 Woodson launched Negro History Week in an effort to bring national attention to the contributions of black people throughout American history. He chose the second week of February because it marks the birthdays of two men who greatly influenced the black American population—Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In the 1960s it became Black History Month.

The son of former slaves, as a child Woodson worked in the coal mines. He enrolled in high school when he was twenty and later went on to become the second African American to earn a doctorate at Harvard. Woodson was disturbed to find that the contributions of back Americans was largely ignored in history books and determined to do something about it. His initiatives included the establishment of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now called the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History) in 1915, and a year later he founded the widely respected Journal of Negro History. Woodson died in 1950.