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Friday, November 21, 2008

Save the Land

From Hanging Rock proper, Hanging Rock State Park, looking down at Route 2054, CC Camp Road, app. one mile away and 1000 feet below. 



Looking at this picture made me think of the old BS&T's song that went "maybe I'll be there to share the land." That was BS&T's wasn't it?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hope This Brings a Smile

I hope this brings a smile. Two brave hikers on the way up to Hanging Rock, November 2, 2008. Sisters no less. What would we do without children and animals to bring us happiness in this short life?

My Photostream...lots of fall color!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Local Film

A local friend just finished a short film and has submitted it to different film festivals - you can read about it at www.cautionfilm.com.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Alice Cooper Rocks

I never used to listen to the radio at night, but Rock 92 changed that by jumping on the Nights with Alice Cooper bandwagon. I love the show - the music is eclectic and well, I'm old enough to like the earlier stuff he plays. His commentary is funny and informative, and he knows things about various groups that the average person like me would not know. I now quite enjoy getting out in the car at night since I listen to the radio there mostly. I'm thinking of getting a decent small radio I can play at night at home via ear buds without it bothering everyone else.

The guy is a trip. The juxtaposition of his persona, as exemplified by his web site, and his convictions (Wikipedia has a good article on him) is a really interesting to me.

Radical Gay Group Crashes Church service

Check out this story from the Lansing State Journal. Is this what's ahead? I hope not.

Beautiful Days, and King Kong

Can you find King Kong?

I love this place.

Taken from Hanging Rock proper, Hanging Rock State Park, Stokes County, NC, Looking WNW - Taken by Hiking Buddy Mark Graham. The Blue Ridge escarpment in distance.

My Photostream.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Psalm 119:11 - Storing Up the Word in Your Heart

Normally I post these devotion type things at faithandpractice.org but I can't get access today for some reason. So here it is.

Today we will look at the third verse of the second stanza of Psalm 119. Remember that within each stanza, each verse (or line in Hebrew) starts with the same Hebrew letter. In this the second stanza each line starts with the second letter in the Hebrew alphabet, “beth.” I wish this could come through in the English but it just does not. Attempts to translate these lines starting with the corresponding English letters, in this case the letter “b,” are kind of lame.

As is my habit I will include each line in the stanza leading up to the present line. Psalm 119:9-11:

9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

The Hebrew word translated as “stored up” is translated differently in different versions of the Bible. I think the varying translations help give us a feel for the richness of the word. For example, the NASV translates it as “treasured,” the NIV as “hidden,” the KJV as “hid.”

It is hard not to think of the parable of the hidden treasure (Matthew 13:44) when I read this verse:

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

This is what the word of God is to be for us, a treasure, a treasure worth more than anything and everything we may have, for in this Word, we find not mere wisdom for living, but the living God Himself.

We get a sense of this treasure in Psalm 19, when after describing the merits of the precepts and law and commandments of the Lord, the Psalmist says of them:

“More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.”

Back when this Psalm was written it was quite normal that people would memorize letter-perfect all the existing Psalms as well as many other parts of the Bible, along with family stories and such. Not all the people were literate, and they had to memorize the Scripture to have it available to them at all times. It was much easier to memorize back then. It’s not because they were smarter (maybe wiser) but because we are deluged with so much written information it’s always there to fall back upon. People wonder if the ever increasing availability of information on the internet will in time change the way our brains work, making it even harder to memorize.

But the issue in Psalm 119:11 isn’t merely memorizing the Scripture; it is the attitude which we have toward it. Is it a treasure? Do we hide it away in our hearts so that we may turn to it over and over in time of need, as when we are tempted to sin?

It is very hard to go forward with sinning with the Word of God screaming in our minds and hearts. Rather we shove it to the dark reaches of our mind so our conscience can withstand the assault which sin is upon it.

Jesus promised to his apostles that after he departed that the Father would send “another comforter” who would, among other things, “teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

That same Helper or Comforter is with us still, helping to bring to mind and heart the Word of God as we go through our lives day to day.

In his letter to the Colossians Paul urged the Colossian believers to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

This was an encouragement to the whole church. The body of Christ as a whole is to make a suitable home for the Word of Christ and for the Scriptures generally. This abiding word, living in the community, provides the basis for mutual encouragement and teaching and admonition.

But nowhere do we see this principle lived out as with Mary the mother of the Lord. After the birth of Jesus when the angels found the baby Jesus and gave testimony about all they had seen and heard from the angelic host, it says that Mary “treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

After leaving Jerusalem and realizing that Jesus was nowhere to be found, Joseph and Mary went back into the city to look for him. They found him in the temple talking with the rabbis there, and gave him a bit of a talking to. His reply was cryptic. “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?”

As the passage says, they did not understand what he was saying, but he left the city and went back to Nazareth with them.

And Mary? It says of her, “And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.”

Our verse today tells us of just one of the many benefits of treasuring up the word of God in our hearts – “that I might not sin against you.” However we may understand “’sin,” that is, as falling short, missing the mark, or being “twisted” away from our purpose as human beings, it brings harm to ourselves and others, it dishonors God, and it causes others to dishonor God. If it is true, as I think that it is, that we are created to reflect the glory of God and to bring glory to Him, well, sin keeps us from realizing our highest purpose, and it puts distance between ourselves and our Maker. Bridging that distance came at great cost, and we are not to disrespect the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, and, as it were, spurn the Son of God and profane the blood of the covenant.

The Christian is reminded in Hebrews 10 that, “The Lord will judge his people.” As he goes on to say, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

It is much better to be good soil in which the word of the kingdom can live and grow and bear great fruit. When we hide up or treasure the word of God in our hearts we are being that kind of soil.

Such “treasuring up” is much greater than memorizing the Scripture, but it is not less. We need the Scripture in our minds and in our hearts that we may call it to mind and “treasure it,” and thus live by it.

I wouldn’t start memorizing with Psalm 119, but maybe Psalm 1 would be a good place to start.

God bless,

Joel

Great Minds Think Alike

Jim Schlosser were on the same wavelength this weekend! Check out his article on this amazing tree.

I came to love Ginkgo trees wandering around the state house grounds in Columbia. And there was a Ginkgo at Clemson that I particularly loved. As Jim's article suggests, and as you can see from this picture from my Clemson days, the leaves do tend to fall all at once.

My Photostream - more fall color!


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Hanging Rock Sunset


Taken from Hanging Rock proper, as the sun set in the "saddle" across the valley, over the Moore's Wall ridge.

My Photostream.

Pray for Obama to Be the Most Successful President Ever? Well, No.

There was an op ed of sorts in the religion section of the N&R today by Reverend Joseph Moore entitled "Will Conservative Christians Pray for President Obama?"

Rev. Moore rightly reminded Christians of the necessity and requirement that (among other things) we honor our leaders - in this case now President Obama. He cited 1 Peter 1:17, rightly noting our habit (going back to our founding) of ignoring the last bit:

1 Peter 2:17 "Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor."

And yes, this includes honoring leaders of all parties. Why? Because the civil authority is ordained by God. It is ordained with a purpose by God (Romans 13:1ff). Therefore I will pray for that purpose to be realized.

The last two Presidents have each been dishonored to such a degree it has been shameful. It is hard to dishonor the person without dishonoring the office, and, in either case there is a requirement incumbent upon the Christian to honor our leaders, even leaders like Nero.

As I have written on several occasions it is the duty of the Christian to pray for all who lead and exercise authority over men. We have been doing this in our church for fifteen years, for Republicans and Democrats alike.

This is explicitly commanded in Paul's letter to Timothy, 1 Timothy 2:1-4:

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."

I have recently written myself about the need to pray for President Obama. The problems before him are stupendous in magnitude, and it is in all of our interest that he do well in addressing them.

But I take issue with Rev. Moore's closing comments:

"Our obligation is to pray fervently that that President Obama will be the most successful president in history. Our civic duty requires no less. Our religious faith may require much more."

Well, to say the least, that closing exhortation goes well beyond the requirement of the passages cited.

I will pray that President Obama have wisdom, strength, and safety. I will pray that his administration fulfills his oath of office to preserve, protect, and defend the constitution of the United States of America. This is the oath he will take. I pray that he will do as he will vow to do.

But pray for his success? What does that mean? Am I to pray that he succeeds in his stated intent to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act? Am I to pray that he succeeds in his stated intention to reverse the ban on Partial Birth Abortion? Am I to pray that he succeeds in establishing a domestic security force? Am I to pray that he succeeds in re-instituting the Fairness Doctrine? I could go on and on.

Well, I cannot possibly pray such things. The only way I can pray that he be the most successful president in US history would be for him to have a radical reversal of many of his stated intentions and policies. So, yeah, if praying for his success means such a reversal, then fine.

I think it is right that all Americans give their presidents an opportunity to reveal their intentions and to have a crack at our common problems in a way consistent with their own political philosophy. I have been ashamed at how most Presidents in my lifetime have been disrespected. This goes back to the first President I voted for - Jimmy Carter.

Obama has huge challenges ahead, the primary one being the economy. Yes, of course I hope he can do some things that will help us all in that regard, but Presidents have less power in controlling the economy than is generally assumed, in my opinion. Obama will have huge pressure to "deliver" for the Democratic Party base, which is its more liberal side. I cannot possibly pray that they, working through him, will be successful.

I will pray that Obama successfully upholds his public oath of office, and I will pray daily and sincerely for his wisdom, strength, and safety.

But, no, I cannot really pray for Obama's success in the manner in which Rev. Moore exhorts me to do. And neither is that my obligation.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Abortion - The Legal and the Moral

I was particularly impressed today by the words of Cal Thomas, words I read in our very own N&R. You can find the same column online today at the Jewish World Review.

A friend of mine wrote me yesterday about the move at the UN by radical abortion rights activists to create, in effect, a kind of Roe v. Wade all over the world, a universal right to abortion. I think such a move will fail because there are a very large number of countries with much stronger opposition to abortion than we find among enlightened westerners. But we'll see.

What was of more significance to me was my friend's level of profound angst. The first line of the e-mail was "it's starting already." There is fear post-election, realistic or not, that there will be a massive onslaught of such things.

I think that is is hard for many progressive folks who would want more liberal abortion laws to really "get" the horror that abortion is to so many people - people who are not wackos or weirdos or right wing nut jobs, but who are just very normal people.

This angst or even horror might be similar to what a true pacifist feels inside when we undertake a war which does not seem necessary, or how a deeply passionate lover of nature would feel if they went to see the great redwoods and found that they had all been cut down, or perhaps how people feel watching footage of the clubbing to death of baby seals. "No!, Stop!" we find ourselves crying out at the TV.

I do believe that as American citizens, conservative Christians and people of other religions have a voice that should be equal to the voice of the non religious or to the progressive or "liberal" versions of their faith which are usually more in sync with progressive or liberal politics. But like Cal Thomas, I don't think in the long run that the legal battle on these issues is going to be successful.

The legal window may be closing but the moral window is not. Cal Thomas talks about the change of heart that comes with Christian conversion. I agree. Until hearts are changed there will be little progress on the political side as regards many of these issues. But the process of seeking to teach people about the Jesus Christ of the New Testament should never be motivated by any sort of political or even cultural goal, even if the result of a new great awakening would include significant cultural change, as such awakenings tend to do.

And, I reminded my friend, it was Reagan and Bush Supreme Court appointees that chose to uphold Roe v. Wade when the window of opportunity was open to do so.

Again, the legal battle may be over for the most part (well, not as regards partial birth abortions), but the moral battle is not. Within the framework of existing law, we still have freedom to make the moral case for the sanctity of unborn human life, and this case is not purely a religious one. Many atheists oppose abortion on moral grounds. It is within everybody's pay grade to understand the seamless transition of life from conception to birth; modern biology has made this case easier, not harder, to make.

And so, in my view, and speaking to those passionate about this issue, now is the time to put resources into making the moral case and to risk disapproval by all sorts of friends and neighbors. Human beings have consciences, and these consciences are still persuadable as to the sanctity of human life growing in the womb.

It is both less personal and less risky to address this and other issues purely on the political side. Yes, there will be legal battles to wage, such as if Congress tries to overturn the present ban on partial birth abortion. I kind of hope they will try as the American people will push back I believe pretty hard on that one.

In the mean time we must love our neighbors, and since the category of neighbor includes the unborn, one aspect of this love will include making the moral case on various levels for the sanctity of all human life. No matter how gentle we are in making the case some of our adult neighbors will take offense, and perhaps dislike us very much, but such is the cost of taking a stand. That is the risk.

We Evangelical Christians also need to make common cause with pro-life movements within other cultural or legal groups. The first "March for Life" I ever participated in was led by an activist pro-life Jewish group in Columbia. The first crisis pregnancy center I was a part of was run by Catholics. And a keynote speaker in another March for Life I attended was a professed atheist. In making the moral case, and in protesting the current million + forced deaths a year of unborn human beings, we need all the co-belligerents we can find.

Between 40 and 35 years ago the United States experienced what Christians would call an "Awakening" - of huge proportions. It took root mainly in the youth of that era. Millions upon millions of teenage kids were walking around one day as vague agnostics or extremely nominal church goers or even rabid atheists, and then, bam, the next day their lives were flipped all around and turned inside out. I know, because I was one of them. We must pray that this will happen again.

Once the conscience is awakened to the sanctity of human life, all human life, from conception unto death, life of every race and creed and gender, one cannot look at these issues the same way again.

We've been lazy. It's time to get to work.

I Didn't Think I Would Ever Agree with a Chinese Government Official

Well, at least with the headline...

Sourwood Tree, from atop Hanging Rock


Oxydendrum arboreum

Looking down from atop Hanging Rock proper, Hanging Rock State Park, North Carolina

Thursday, November 06, 2008

GM Hopkins' God's Grandeur

The juxtaposition of beauty and ugliness surrounds and befuddles me. Being somewhat "sensitive" to beauty, yet also sensitive to ugliness (especially the ugliness of human behavior), I bounce back and forth each day from joy to sorrow, over and over. Sometimes I wish I were just jaded. It would make life easier, at least emotionally! But I am not. No matter what we as a species do to mess things up, and to hurt each other, life and beauty keep popping up, almost as if there is an inexorable force behind it. Even the ants and weeds in a ghetto sidewalk give me joy, while the sufferings all around cause me sorrow. But that's life. There was a guy who said it better...

God's Grandeur

GM Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs --
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Two Blessings in One Week - A Hanging Rock Sunset and a Bill Mallonee House Concert

I have been fortunate this week to have had two particularly blessed moments.

The first came Sunday as a group of us sat up at Hanging Rock watching the sun set over the Moore's Wall Ridge saddle. The day could not have been nicer, and the colors were the best I've seen in all these 19 years of goign to Hanging Rock. I said to my compadres, "No matter what else is going on in your life, or what your struggles are, this is a beautiful moment. We are sitting up here on an incredibly beautiful autumn day watching the sun set as friends who love one another, and nothing can take this away from us. Soak it in. We don't get to do this every day."

The second came Thursday evening at the apartment of Charlie and Ruth Jones on S Elm Street, where singer songwriter Bill Mallonee and his wife Muriah Rose did a house concert for 30-40 folks. One thing that made this event memorable was the manner in which Bill annotated his songs with stories and reflections on art. Several very familiar songs took on a new and deeper meaning for me. He sang all original songs except for the encore which was an early Neil Young song the name of which escapes me at the moment. I had for a moment a sense of being in a little hangout in Greenwich Village in 1963 or so listening to Bob Dylan. There were a few goose bump moments. I love good live music.

For Bill Mallonee fans - I can't remember the whole set list but off the top these songs come to mind:

Solar System
Nothing Like a Train
Cloth of Life
Skin
Flowers
Blister Soul
Resplendent
High and Lonesome

"Flowers" was the highlight for me, but it was all good.

Cheif of Staff - Please Help Me Understand

I do not understand Obama's choice for chief of staff. Rep. Rahm Emanuel certainly seems like a competent person, yet, from the standpoint of partisa ship, or rather the ideal of bipartisanship, it seems sort of like McCain choosing Dick Cheney or Karl Rove. It doesn't seem to fit the ideal of bringing change to the way Washington works. I am open to persuasion.

Hanging Rock Sunset Silhouette

Mark Graham, on Hanging Rock proper, Hanging Rock State Park, sunset, Sunday November 2, 2008.

My Photostream

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Music Transcending Politics - Bill Mallonee Tonight on S Elm

Hey Friends (especially those of you in the Piedmont Triad),

This Wednesday night we are fortunate enough to have the talents of singer/songwriter Bill Mallonee come to S. Elm Street. His is a wonderful blend of folk/rock/soul, with a little jangly Brit pop thrown in for good measure. If you like Neil Young or Bob Dylan or Tom Petty or Bruce Pringsteen... you'll love Bill. His music is very personal and crosses many boundaries of genre. The Concert is in the outrageously huge apartment of Charlie and Ruth Jones, 614 S. Elm St., 27406, just a half a block north of Lee. Drinks and hors d'oeuvres will be served. Cover charge is $10 if you can, and we will pass the hat as well. For links to sample Bill's music see:

http://profile.myspace.com/billmallonee
or his web page:
http://www.billmallonee.net/index.htm

If you can come, drop Charlie a note - his info is below. Or you can e-mail me at jsgillespie@mindspring.com.

Charlie & Ruth Jones
614 S. Elm St.
Greensboro, NC 27406-1328

charlie@peculiarpeople.com

Congratulations Barack Obama

Congratulations to Barack Obama. He ran a great campaign. He excited and energized great numbers of people to vote. His victory has helped heal and cleanse one of the great stains upon our national history and character. His victory has proven the inherent greatness of the idea of America.

I remember vividly 34 years ago when I worked as a volunteer for the election of Charles “Pug” Ravenel, a Democrat running for governor of South Carolina. I remember how much I was energized and excited about being a part of that campaign. I was not yet even old enough to vote, yet there I was canvassing neighborhoods, and sitting in living rooms (complete with my long hair) talking with older couples and anyone who would listen about the issues of the day! That experience impacted my whole life.

I have seen the excitement of young people pulling for Obama. I saw tonight the sheer exuberance of so many African Americans. I doubt I can ever really understand the significance to African Americans of Obama's victory. I am happy for my African American neighbors. I hope the momentum of young people and the previously alienated or disenfranchised being engaged will continue.

I wrote Tuesday of my fears. I had over the course of the last few months moved from openness to Obama's candidacy to opposition to his candidacy. I had seen an undercurrent of anger, and had a sense of radical views that caused me deep concern. It is possible that what I have perceived as anger is but a quirk of his style, or the urgency of his battle for the Presidency. I hope so.

It is my hope in the days and weeks and months ahead that I will be proven wrong. I hope that Obama will indeed do what he has said he will do, and that is, bring a different way of doing business in Washington. I worry more over the House and Senate and I will hope that Obama will not be their patsy. Thinking of Pelosi and Reid I am inclined to say, "Good luck with that." It won't be easy.

I find some hope that perhaps Obama has learned much from the tendency in the past of the left to over reach in such times. Frankly I still really don’t know what Obama is about, and I hope and pray that he will have great wisdom in the days ahead, and remember that he is the President of all of us.

I feel a kind of odd happiness as I write. Maybe it is just relief over the end of this longest of campaigns in the history of the world (or so it felt - has campaigning already started for 2010?). Maybe it is because I believe that conservatives now will have to regroup and rediscover who and what they are. I have a hope that articulate conservative voices arise from these ashes and bring a better and more accessible set of ideas to the table. Maybe I feel a sense of peace because I trust in the providence of God and look beyond the politics of the day for my hope and joy. Maybe it's all of the above.

In short, congratulations Barack Obama. My Lord tells me to pray for all who lead and exercise authority over us, and I will pray for you. Every leader needs more wisdom, energy, and creativity and grace than seem available to any one person, and I pray that God answers your own prayer, the one you left in the wall in Jerusalem:

"Lord _ Protect my family and me. Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will,"

Looking Up Into Autumn

On the Cooks Wall Trail, Hanging Rock State Park, Stokes County, North Carolina. More Hiking Pictures

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Eulogy for a World Gone By

It’s 1:30PM on Tuesday, November 4, 2008 – Election Day! I have already voted so I don’t have to fight the crowds today. I’m glad. I’m not fond of standing in long lines.

I have a little tiny ray of hope that I won’t hear the words that I expect to hear early this evening, but it’s tiny, very very tiny.

I voted for George W Bush, and I think that history will look more kindly upon him than current opinion polls do. It is no small feat in my view that we have been spared another terrorist attack within our national borders, and Bush’s dogged single minded determination has had a lot to do with it. I really think that we have not been grateful enough for that, even given his other failings.

On the other hand, between the costs of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the costs related to two major hurricanes, the passing of budgets that contained too much spending, the bursting of the housing bubble, and the unprecedented “bailout” plans, well, to say the least our economy is in need of a “correction” which will, I think, be long and painful. It is not just our leaders’ fault. Our buy-now-pay-later culture is in need of a massive correction as well. The American people need to find a different way. I have often said that if just the Christian folks in the United States started to get serious about addressing their own materialism and hunger for affluence we would go into a deep recession if not a depression. Contentment does not high consumer spending numbers make.

In my mind George Bush’s greatest failure has been his inability to articulate vision or explain things well or motivate the American people. There was a time when his grammatical shenanigans were merely embarrassing and a little funny. We past that point long ago (shout out, JB). We need a president who can speak in complete sentences.

I am not really all that hot about MCain/Palin. I do think McCain would make a good president, but he has run a very odd and awkward campaign. My vote this year was more a vote against than a vote for.

When I first started hearing and paying attention to Obama I was attracted to him as a person and as a candidate and as a leader. Then there was a point during the primaries when I felt that I saw into him. I also saw how he was subtly using the race card to manipulate voters, and my support went over to Hillary Clinton. But by then it was too late.

What I have seen in Obama the last several months worries me very much. No, I don’t think he is a Muslim, and other than the fact that he has said he is a Christian, I wouldn’t really care either way if he were a Muslim. His race is not an issue for me, except that it makes me slightly more inclined to feel a little glad that as a country we are at the cusp of electing an African American president. I would rather it were a different African American president; but still, it truly is an historic moment in our nation’s history. If anything I would more inclined to vote for him because he is black.

What bothers me most about Obama is that I believe that he has gone to great lengths to hide from the American people who he truly is as a person and politician. That he has done this in the bright light of day speaks to a profoundly keen political acumen.

For me the highlight of the whole election process was his interview with Bill O’Reilly. I thought Obama did an incredibly good job. That was one of the best political interviews I have ever watched. Obama was impressive to me at many levels.

Bu when I see Obama now I see a divider, not a uniter. I see a person who is much more politically radical than he projects himself to be. I don’t mean “radical” as a compliment, though I sometimes do mean the word that way. In Obama I see a person riven by a deep anger. He is smooth and articulate and charming and composed, but underneath all that is an extreme agenda which seems to me to be rooted in anger.

Despite his great skill as a political campaigner, he has slipped up, and between his slip ups and information uncovered about him, a foreboding picture emerges for me. What is it? Well, it is his remarks about rural and small town folk to his radically liberal buddies in San Francisco. It is his plan to create some sort of domestic security force with funding and ability to match our military. It is his history of association with radical leftist characters. It is his now very clear desire to redistribute wealth. It is his particular plan to increase the tax burden upon businesses. It is the ease in which he accepts adulation of a messianic nature. It is his hubris in Denver with the columns; his hubris in planning a massive victory party weeks before the election was over. It is the specter of the “Fairness” doctrine. It is his radical views regarding late term abortions and the disingenuous manner in which he has wiggled around that issue. It is purported non support of gay marriage while actually taking positions politically, such as opposing the Defense of Marriage act, that are tantamount to complete and radical support of gay marriage. I think, in short, that Obama is a much more radical leftist ideologue than he comes across, and somewhere along the line, maybe about the hundredth time that he complained (in his patronizing manner) that his words “were being taken out of context,” I stopped listening to his answers.

I don’t know if Obama is sincere when he talks about a “different way to do business” in Washington. I think in fact that he is sincere, which worries me greatly, because what I think he means by it is profoundly different than what the American people mean by it.

I think we’re in for a tsunami of radical left wing legislation coming forth from Congress, signed by Obama, and forced upon an American people the majority of whom (even in voting for him) are intending and desiring something less radical. Eventually the left will over extend, during which time conservatives perhaps will have found leaders who can articulate a political conservatism for the 21st century. Whatever it means to be conservative in a secular nation undergoing significant cultural change in the midst of massive economic globalization has yet to be determined.

The current Republican Party can’t decide what it is or what it stands for. The current Republican President has failed either to articulate or to act consistently with any clear political vision. I would hope that any President would be able to compromise and reach across the aisle (as they say), and I am not keen about left wing or right wing ideologues. If one is going to reach across the aisle one should know from what and from where they are reaching, and so should the American people.

So, anticipating left wing control of all three branches of government I am filled with foreboding. I am glad that my own personal life hope does not rest in the powers and principalities of this age. Yet still I do feel some fear, mostly for my children and their children, fear for how they will deal with the economic mess we are giving over to them already, and fear for how they will fare in the new world being created (as it were) this day, this very day, this very moment, fear for the culture of death they will inherit. There will be a lasting legacy, I think more for ill than for good.

Meanwhile, as Hopkins wrote, “the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.” Beauty and goodness are to be found every day and in all kinds of unexpected places, and in the eyes of human beings whom I find unceasingly interesting, their stories, their lives, their quirks and interests and gifts.

So, life goes on, for me with more trepidation than before, yet wanting irregardless the political winds to do good, to seek justice, to celebrate the world God has created, and to try to point people beyond themselves, and beyond political parties and election decisions to deeper and more abiding realities. I hope I can. I want to.

Joel Gillespie
November 4, 2008

Fall Colors, for Republicans and Democrats Alike


Taken from atop Hanging Rock proper, Hanging Rock State Park, Stokes County, NC. It was a perfect day in every way. We stayed until the sun set over the "saddle" across the valley, and walked down in the dark.

My daughter Madeline took this picture with our dated little Canon Powershot A85.

More hike pictures...

Monday, November 03, 2008

Hanging Rock Sunset

Taken from atop Hanging Rock proper, sun setting over the saddle on Moore's Wall Ridge, Sunday November 2, 2008

My Flickr Photostream