Monday, August 28, 2006

Johnny Cash

(subtitled "What would have been an essay / If I'd cared a little more")

Hmm. This blog is getting dead, with little prospect at living again anytime soon, as I'm leaving in only two days. Hurrah! Excited I am, but nervous as well, to answer the question everyone has been asking me for the last week and a half. I'm excited.

So, I went and did it. I listened to some Johnny Cash. I did so deliberately, listening to the whole song and not just the first two lines. I tapped my foot with the beat. I liked it. Gasp.

Let me tell you why, though. It is because a great deal of Cash's music ( not all--no blanket statement being made here) represents what I really treasure about American country-genre music, and that is its grounding in the tradition of folk music which is being lost rapidly in the face of pop music today. Folk music tells a story, it's a ballad of one denomination or another, and I really love it. I like some current "country" hits because they, too, tell a story. Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's sad.

Often, it's patriotic, which you don't find anywhere else in the music world anymore. Gone are the days of "God Bless America" and "Yankee Doodle Dandy." Gone are the days when anyone on the street could sing you the Marines' hymn, or Anchors Aweigh. Only in the select class of music now known as country will you find songs about America, Americans, and pride in being one.

So, country music is the last great stand of folk music. Music that tells a story, music that is proud of and lauds its heritage--instead of tearing it down and rebelling against it like popular and rock music does so often. And hence, as a classic (though maybe not the classiest) example of that folk-country offering, I give you Johnny Cash.

And I cannot for the life of me believe that I just wrote that.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Situational Awareness

This is a long article, but I want you to read it. It's an issue dear to my heart, and the helpless rage I feel when the 'other side' has their say is unspeakable. However, this is what the mainstream news is putting out there for public consumption. What am I, who stand on a street corner on Saturday afternoons and speak with women, trying to talk them out of having an abortion? I'm a 'predatory fanatic.' Who are those that run the 'clinic' where those little hearts are systematically stopped as a mater of routine? A nationally recognized, heavily funded, organized group of individuals who offer 'social policies to benefit minority women and children'. Dear God, what kind of world do we live in?

By DAVID CRARY, AP National Writer Sun Aug 20, 12:30 PM ET

WASHINGTON - On a street once known as Murder Row, a teen center founded to steer youths away from drugs and crime has become an outpost in another crusade — a nationwide push by anti-abortion activists to expand their foothold in heavily black and Hispanic inner cities.

The campaign involves crisis pregnancy centers, whose counselors seek to dissuade women with unplanned pregnancies from having abortions. There are more than 2,300 centers across America, yet relatively few in inner cities where abortion rates are typically highest.

Now the two largest networks — Care Net and Heartbeat International — have launched initiatives to change that equation. Their sometimes awkward efforts rely on unlikely alliances, as an anti-abortion movement led mostly by conservative, white Republicans interacts with overwhelmingly Democratic, black communities.

"This crusade has been very difficult — having to educate community leaders as to what's really going on without being offensive, without having a political agenda," said Lillie Epps, the only black member of Care Net's senior staff and director of its Urban Initiative.

In Washington, the key players say all has gone smoothly in a year-old partnership between a Care Net affiliate, the Capitol Hill Crisis Pregnancy Center, and a teen center in the tough Anacostia neighborhood called The House DC. During the school year, Capitol Hill volunteers come to The House to counsel girls from nearby Anacostia High School who get caught in the tide of teen pregnancies.

One reason for the harmony: The teen center's black leaders and the whites running the pregnancy center share an evangelical Christian faith.

Steve Fitzhugh, co-founder of The House, is a former pro football player active with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He's mentored boys later killed in gang shootings, and girls as young as 12 who carried pregnancies to term.

"I don't care if it's conservative dollars or liberal dollars we get," Fitzhugh said. "We've got to save these kids."

His program is in sync with the nationwide pregnancy-center movement not only in opposing abortion but also in advocating sexual abstinence outside marriage and refusing to promote birth control.

"Others say, 'Let's pass out the condoms.' We're not on that page, and that's not always a popular stance," Fitzhugh said.

About two miles from The House, in a racially mixed neighborhood, the Capitol Hill pregnancy center is in its 21st year of operation. Its six-member board, executive director and most of its volunteers are white, but 89 percent of its clients are black.

Yet the director, Janet Durig, said she and her white colleagues don't feel like outsiders. She evoked the image of a pregnant black teen, abandoned by her boyfriend, coming in for counseling.

"When she breaks down and cries, do you think she cares if I'm white?" Durig asked.
Critics contend that pregnancy centers routinely mislead women seeking neutral advice on their options. A report in July from congressional Democrats said center counselors often overstate the medical risks posed by abortion.

Skeptics also argue that the same white conservatives supporting urban anti-abortion initiatives oppose other social policies that might help minority single mothers and their children.

"These predatory fanatics don't lift a finger to help the children who are born unwanted and unplanned," said Jatrice Martel Gaiter, head of the Washington-area Planned Parenthood chapter.

"In these centers of deception, they leave young parents at best with a box of Pampers and a prayer," she said. "They leave people even more vulnerable than when they walked through the door, without any information about how to avoid a future unintended pregnancy."

Durig acknowledged that her center recommends abstinence, not birth control, to clients, but said its services go beyond opposing abortion. The center offers parenting classes; a basement storage room is stacked with bins of donated baby clothes.

Capitol Hill also is among hundreds of pregnancy centers that recently acquired ultrasound equipment, on the premise that a look inside the womb will deter many pregnant women from abortion.

A sign on the center's brick facade reads "Pregnant and Scared?" — the slogan Care Net has placed on 40,000 billboard and bus-shelter ads nationwide, promoting a hotline it runs with Heartbeat International on behalf of their 1,900 affiliated centers.

Most of the centers are rural or suburban. The quest to open more in inner cities is fueled by statistics showing that nearly 90 percent of women who get abortions live in urban areas, and the majority are poor.

According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which compiles abortion data, black women are almost four times as likely as white women to have an abortion, and Hispanic women are 2.5 times as likely.

Care Net says it has opened 13 urban centers since 2003, with 15 more under development in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit and elsewhere.

In central Houston, there had been no full-fledged pregnancy center until one opened in 2004 in a poor, minority neighborhood. While many of the Fifth Ward Pregnancy Help Center's financial backers and volunteers are from white areas, its executive director, Sylvia Johnson, is black.

"This is hard territory," she said. "We try to be nonpartisan, to let our service speak for itself. We can't fix all the problems."

Among the clients was 28-year-old Karry Ann Morris. Already a single mother with a 3-year-old son, she got pregnant again last year. She ended up at the Fifth Ward center along with the boyfriend, who was suggesting abortion.

Morris, a hairstylist, didn't know what to expect. But she became determined to keep the baby — now a 4-month-old girl named Mikaila — when shown ultrasound images at the center.
"As much as I didn't want to be pregnant, when I saw her heart beating at six weeks, I knew," Morris said.

Heartbeat International's current project is to open three to five centers in black and Hispanic neighborhoods of greater Miami, then apply that model to other cities.

The Rev. John Ensor, the project's white executive director, said Miami was chosen partly because it had far more abortion clinics than pregnancy centers. He has spoken to some Miami-area churches, and is cautiously encouraged.

"We're just learning how to communicate," Ensor said. "There's the African-American culture and subcultures you have to figure out. The same with Latinos — Cuban, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans. All these wonderful complexities that you find in an urban community."
He acknowledged a gap between Democratic-leaning minorities and conservative, white anti-abortion activists.

"There's no doubt it's a problem for African-Americans to join a movement they perceive is antithetical to their interests in other areas," said Ensor, who nonetheless believes that, with patience and hard work, he can recruit local minority leadership.

Though relatively few blacks play prominent roles in the anti-abortion movement, national polls indicate that qualms about abortion are as widespread among blacks as among whites.
One outspoken black leader is the Rev. Clenard H. Childress Jr. of Montclair, N.J., who depicts the high abortion rate among blacks as a form of genocide. He applauds the inner-city goals of groups like Care Net, but questions whether they have the savvy to avoid looking like carpetbaggers.

"Without a strong relationship with the local pastors, their efforts in the urban community will be in vain," he said. "It won't be effective if you don't resonate with the community as someone they can trust."

In inner-city Dallas, one black pastor, the Rev. Tony Evans, acted on his own to open a pregnancy center in his church, the Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship. He said it differs from the standard center by offering comprehensive prenatal and postnatal services for mothers, including help finding jobs.

Care Net's Lillie Epps agrees on the importance of courting black pastors. Some share opposition to abortion but don't speak out for fear of offending their Democratic-leaning congregations, she said.

Another key, she said, is recruiting local volunteers so the counseling staff isn't overwhelmingly white. "We want people to come in and see someone who looks like them," Epps said. "We can't charge into a community and say, 'We're your savior.'"

Saturday, August 19, 2006


That's what this place is. Nvts. Every single hvman on campvs is ovt of their mind. Wow. It's hard to replace those 'u' letters with 'v' letters. Try it.

So, I've seen 'most everyone and their brother (literally), and now all that remains is to sing pretty tomorrow morning. I'm plumb tuckered out. Sigh.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Hmm. Ol’ CC hasn’t changed her face much since I was last here, except for Blessed Margaret’s having brick all over the outside instead of siding. I liked the old way better, to tell you the truth. I’m here in Front Royal, pushing books around like in the good old days (I moved 1,000 books yesterday—my first day), and waiting for the weekend to roll around. At that point I will emerge from my undisclosed off-campus location and see everyone, then proceed to hole back up until it’s time to head for Rome. Jenne will get a special audience, because she’s special. Everyone else, you’d better keep your eyes peeled on Saturday.

Friday, August 11, 2006

I didn't do my homework because...

* I didn't want the other kids in the class to look bad.

* Our furnace broke and we had to burn my homework to keep ourselves from freezing.

* I'm not at liberty to say why.

*It was destroyed in a freak accident involving a hippo, a toaster, and a bag of frozen peas. You don't want to know the details.

* I have a solar-powered calculator, and it was cloudy. [my favorite!]

* My mom used it as a dryer sheet.

* I felt it wasn't challenging enough.

* My parents were sick and unable to do my homework last night. Don't worry, they have been suitably punished.

* I didn't want to add to your already heavy workload.

* I spent the night at a rally supporting higher pay for our hard-working teachers.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I never thought it would happen to me.

But it has. I have a confirmed lurker, that I actually identified and have seen more than once, and who stayed for more than the average 32 seconds on my blog. Who was looking for information about Chorus. And got me instead. It's the case of The Berkeley Lurker! Hmm. I wonder what kind of nutrition a Berkeley needs, and what it is doing in the Office of the President.

In other news, somebody without a sense of humor chose to try and carry out a terrorist plot involving airplanes, Britain, and the US. So, my flying on Saturday is going to get complicated. I just hope to goodness that the "no hand baggage" rule doesn't come into play here like it has in England. That would involve us all in irretrievable ruin. (No, it wouldn't. The quote just fit nicely there. I would only cause minor inconvenience and some whining.)

Two days until the start of the next week and a half.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Last time, I promise

I have now redone my sidebar for the last least until Christmas, which is when I'll next have enough minutes to devote to an exhastive cross-referencing and link-following expedition. I think all the Blog Links work now. I think they are all linking to current, working blogs. I'm probably a little a-r about doing this, but I have this dreamish thing about having the most links from my blog. I'll never get there, but it's fun to try. It think it's because I'm short.

This is my last update of this nature, because in just four days I start stage one of my fall semester, most of which will be spent studying (boo!) in Italy (yay!). I hope to take a little bit of time to blog, but can't promise anything. Since I would hate to fall short on that hope totally, and have my faithful viewers (of which I think there are two on this Earth) checking in vain for updates, I devised a sidebar solution. I linked to every interesting and happy, good-contented (shut up) blog I could find. When there is nothing new from me, I demand that you go and check out one of these blogs. They are all very good. I personally know about 86% of those that write these blogs. The few others, well...I had them on good authority. (-;

So. Just in case I don't come back for a couple months, there's plenty left for you to do. Viva Christo Rey!

p.s. I took that picture. I'm so good. You may kiss my shoe.


And on tonight's show, our special guest is Whimsey, of fame in far-off lands. Visit her site, and enjoy! Extra points if you know the meaning of 'courant'. It ain't a spice...

(This blog gets the "Best New Enthusiastic Blog" award.)

'Twas the night before Tomorrow

When I related the following dream to a friend, his comment was, "Now, that’s the kind of thing only a Christendom student’s unconscious mind could come up with." And he’s probably right. It has a uniquely Christendom flavor that you just can’t get anywhere else.

It was discovered (in my dream) that Dr. Poterack has a dream, and that dream was to reform the flim industry. According to Dr. P, the way music and sound were done in the movies was immoral, because the music was inserted after the fact, and the sounds effects weren’t always ‘true’. "For example, the footsteps in a movie might actually have been made by a foley artist’s hands patting a plastic mat!" he preached, from the gazebo in downtown Front Royal. "These departures from the reality of life are contrary to the Message of Truth, and hence must be struck down!"

So, to start this reform movement, he bought the theater in Front Royal and took out all the sound equipment, except that which produced the spoken dialog for the flim. In my dream world, that was an altogether different device, and the concept of dubbing voices did not seem to be contrary to Truth. In place of all that equipment, Dr. Poterack placed a synthesizer, a violin, and a table full of noisemaking objects, all at the back of the theater where the projection booth should be. He hired a group of Christendom students to man this equipment, and proceeded to proclaim Front Royal a better place.

Somehow, I was in charge of this project, along with Sam Phillips. It had something to do with being a choir member. I was aghast at what he was trying to do, and in vain I pointed out to anyone who would listen that this sort of venture was deranged, at least in the way we were going about it. "Think of how many hours it will take," I told Sam, "or explain to me how we will know which sounds to make, if we haven’t seen the film in advance to know what is coming next." Sam looks at me long and solemnly, somewhat like a beagle, and says quite slowly with a finger aside his nose, "Jediiiiii re-flex-es!"

So I start crusading around campus, trying to rally people to my cause, meanwhile ducking behind corners to escape Dr. Poterack’s notice, because if he catched me I’ll be subject to the inquisition. Everyone seemed to be rather disturbingly against me, though. All of the school was going, "Well, what’s the problem? I mean, anything good takes a little work to get, doesn’t it?"

I woke up very tired, and a little sick to my stomach. What bothered me most, though, was how I could almost believe that this kind of thing might actually happen at Christendom. Shudder.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

See how well you know me!!!

Hey. Check out the cool time-waster I made (thanks to Donna's inspiration). Have fun. Prizes to the top scorer.

Friday, August 04, 2006


I don't think I spelled that correctly. Oh well.

This is the age of dead blogs and much nonsense. I've been packing, slowly, and remembering assorted items that need to be purchased before I head out of here. Now I'm down to one week left, and somehow blogging slipped to the bottom of my priority list in the last several weeks. Maybe it's all the handwritten letters I've been writing.

I miss Donna muchly today. Hmm. I hope her play goes perfectly. (-: