Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Paris - Sonic Jihad
David Bazan - Fewer Moving Parts
Todd Steed and the Suns of Phere - Heartbreak and Duct Tape
Starflyer 59 - Leave Here a Stranger
Mustard - Eureka Grande
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Location: Illinois, United States

The peaches, apples, plums and pears are guarded by ferocious bears.

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling
My Secret - Frank Warren
Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi

29 November 2005

Magically Delicious

So we saw the latest Harry Potter film last weekend, which means I've since forsaken Jesus and started worshipping the forces of darkness. It's been pretty fun thus far. You should really try sacrificing a goat sometime. The blood tastes a little bitter if you aren't used to it, but the burning carcass has a very pleasing aroma. And I'm here to tell you that drunken orgies with barnyard animals are even wilder than you've imagined.

Only kidding, of course (or am I?). But the near back to back releases of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardbrobe does mean that certain Christian groups will sing the praises of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein, while simultaneously condemning J.K. Rowling for her glorification of magic and the occult. This attitude has died down a bit as the Potter series has progressed. But leave it to Focus on the Family to keep the embers burning.

Notes Plugged In, Focus on the Family's web site that "shines a light on the world of popular entertainment":

Nevertheless, no matter how skillfully the story gets told or how selfless, ethical and heroic Harry may be, it's impossible for me to invest myself in a series that glamorizes witchcraft. It’s easy to laugh when spineless bully Draco gets turned into a ferret. But it gets harder to make light of the sorcery when a potion requires that a man hack off his own hand, borrow a bone from a rotting corpse and drain blood from Harry’s arm.

Whether it’s grim treachery or comic relief, the film’s wall-to-wall sorcery is birthed from a faulty worldview that taps into the occult and never recognizes any divine authority. Unlike The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, the entire series is built on a shaky spiritual foundation that sends young fans confusing messages about the morality and merits of the dark arts.

Of course, this is film four. Families that consider the supernatural sinew that binds Harry Potter together more trouble than it’s worth probably put the kibosh on it a long time ago. The ones still with it have decided either a) sorcery isn’t a big deal, or b) while they oppose real-life witchcraft, non-stop spells and incantations are acceptable when used as a literary device.

Even those in the "go with it" camp may find their patience tested with Goblet of Fire, the first film to warrant a PG-13 rating. It’s extremely grim at times and even features the death of a Hogwarts student. I was amazed at the number of small children seated around me in the theater. At what point will moms and dads who’ve been saying “yes” to voracious young Potter fans decide that things have gone too far? This could be it. Dumbledore warns Harry, “Soon we must face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” They’re not the only ones.
There's a lot to chew on there. For instance, the reviewer has apparently forgotten that there really isn't any divine authority in The Lord of the Rings films. I'm also going to assume that the reviewer is comfortable with small children reading the Bible, a book filled with far more violence, sex and outright nastiness than anything I've witnessed in any of the Potter films. Goblet is a bit grim, to be sure, but it just doesn't quite stack up to a woman being gang raped and chopped into pieces.

But what I find most fascinating is what critics are either choosing to ignore, or are completely ignorant of, about Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. Canadian film critic Peter Chattaway tackles the issue head on in a recent essay about the many threads of paganism found in the Narnia books. It's a great piece, and well worth reading in its entirety. But here are a couple of excerpts:

(M)any Christians will be watching (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe) eagerly to see if director Andrew Adamson (or "son of Adam!") has respected the story's Christian elements.... Some of us, however, will be watching just as closely to see if the film has preserved those bits in C.S. Lewis's book that are a little more, shall we say, pagan. Presumably, the centaurs and fauns will look more or less like the mythological creatures depicted in ancient Greco-Roman art. But will, say, Mr Tumnus regale Lucy with stories of how the Roman god Bacchus filled the streams with wine when he feasted with the forest people?


In all of his writings, Lewis was confronting a modern, skeptical, materialistic view of the world that had no room for the supernatural. Lewis believed that paganism and Christianity had more in common with each other on this point than either had with the modern, secularized world. In the essay 'Is Theism Important?', he wrote:

"When grave persons express their fear that England is relapsing into Paganism, I am tempted to reply, 'Would that she were.' For I do not think it at all likely that we shall ever see Parliament opened by the slaughtering of a garlanded white bull in the House of Lords or Cabinet Ministers leaving sandwiches in Hyde Park as an offering for the Dryads.

"If such a state of affairs came about, then the Christian apologist would have something to work on. For a Pagan, as history shows, is a man eminently convertible to Christianity. He is essentially the pre-Christian, or sub-Christian, religious man. The post-Christian man of our day differs from him as much as a divorcee differs from a virgin."


Prince Caspian is ultimately about how the "Old Narnians" reclaim their land from Miraz and his entourage, with help from several sources. There is Aslan, of course, and also the ancient Kings and Queens themselves; the four children have become young again in our world, but when Caspian summons them to Narnia, they retain their royal authority.

But Narnia is also liberated with help from Bacchus and his drinking buddy Silenus, figures from Greco-Roman myth who were associated with drunken, mystical celebrations in the forest called "bacchanals". Bacchus and Aslan even dance together, along with Lucy, Susan, the nymphs and the maenads. And as they pass through Narnia, they destroy a boys' school and a girls' school where the children are taught a politically approved form of "history."

Lewis even seems to flirt with something like astrology. In more than one book, Narnian centaurs look for signs in the stars. In Dawn Treader, Eustace meets a man who is a "retired" star, and says, "In our world, a star is a huge ball of flaming gas." The star replies, "Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is but only what it is made of."

Scenes like these might have been shocking to the early Christians, who saw themselves in direct competition with paganism, and sometimes condemned the gods as demons in disguise.
Something that I suspect might be even more troubling to many Christians comes in the final book of Lewis' Narnia tales, The Last Battle. In it a foreigner named Emeth, a follower of the evil god Tash, is taken by Aslan to his heavenly kingdom. He receives this reward because he has done good, not evil. Those who do vile things, says Aslan, are in fact serving Tash. But those who do good things are in fact serving Aslan. So, despite his service to Tash, Emeth has really been serving Aslan, or Christ, by way of the fact that he has done good, not evil. Is it just me, or does that seem a bit contradictory to a Christianity that believes in faith, not works, and in one way to heaven?

28 November 2005

Monday Lyrics Blogging

It's probably way too early in this game for me to be repeating artists already, but I did post Masters of War last week, and Sage Francis did sort of write the sequel, so I might as well finish what I started.

Hey Bobby - Sage Francis

By the time the flags rotted off of their antennas,
They were questioning who the real threat is.
Big Brotherly love is the 21st Century's plague.
No matter how bloody the glove, question evidence displayed.

Don't forget what two plus two equals.
Don't let them upgrade your math no matter what they have as proof of evil.
Remember when they went after the Jewish people?
You don't recognize that same black mask as see through?

Attack of the eagles. If they don't fall dead
Before they reach me, I'll be damned if I don't shoot one in its bald head.
Fuck what we're force fed. All I ever wanted
Was a warm bed and a house that wasn't haunted.

I'd rather die for a cause than to die just because
We exhaust natural resources, forced into wars.
Restoring wasteful ways, keeping other countries poor.
"Monkey see, Monkey do." I wonder what those fucking monkeys saw.

Keep rethinking the still-frames in your mind,
And guarantee they will change with time.
Your outline is pixelated with poor resolution while
Downtime is simply wasted. You were born execution style.

Head first in a trial. I'll second the motion
'Til the jury's bored to death and puts your neck in a notion.
The situation's volatile. A naked problem child
Is trying to find the right clown costume to make his father smile.

So he bombs while he tries to tell jokes.
This ain't a false alarm, can't you smell the smoke?
You're in the line of fire where they buy and sell votes.
Our sense of liberty doesn't ring true, stupid, that's why the bell broke.

Trench coat Mafiosos propel rocks
At recruitment officers and rebel against cops
'Til they hurdle infinite circles in small cell blocks.
Turtle upon turtle 'til they're all shell shocked.

This so-called president got elected in a court room.
With the war efforts of pops he inherited a fortune.
We "talk, talk, talk..." so the veterans of war assume
The revolution stopped. This ain't a protest tune.

Hey, Bobby...the Masters are back.
They're up to no good just like the old days.
They played dead when you stood over their grave, Bobby.
They played dead when you stood over their grave.
Hey, Bobby...them bastards are back.
It's our turn to stand over their grave.
I'm a do it right this time...I'm awake
I'm a wait until their fuckin' skin decays.

You can't roam a lost land as the last existing dinosaur.
There's no escaping ass kickings in these times of war,
Replacing apples with hospitals...where doctors are hostile,
Killing two pterodactyls with one fossil.

I got you. If they don't fall dead
Before they reach me, I'll be damned if I don't shoot one in its bald head.
Fuck what we're force fed. All I ever wanted,
Was a warm bed...and house that wasn't haunted.

Thumb through novels to have your fingerprints match,
The description of criminals committing innocent acts
Of compassion for tired civilians crawling with pistols,
While we fire million dollar warning missiles.

Force the issues in the back of your head where eyes roll.
Brainwash yourself out of that mind control.
Or act a fool like you're told.
But we won't see no justice 'til that bitch removes the blindfold.

This ain't a "Love it or leave it," it's a "Change it or lose it."
I'll never sing the anthem of a nation who never faces the music,
Chasing an ever-elusive caveman
In space ships that makes trips to the futures that are name-brand.

Faking progress...but we ain't advanced
Enough to change the posture of our ape stance?
They've got the key to the city but they prefer the break-in entry.
Duck and weave, I'm shedding light in their shadow box to make it empty.

Hey, Bobby...the Masters are back.
They're up to no good just like the old days.
They played dead when you stood over their grave, Bobby.
They played dead when you stood over their grave.
Hey, Bobby...them bastards are back.
It's our turn to stand over their grave.
I'm a do it right this time...I'm awake
I'm a wait until their fuckin' skin decays.

Attack of the eagles. If they don't fall dead
Before they reach me, I'll be damned if I don't shoot one in its bald head.
Fuck what we're force fed. All I ever wanted
Was a warm bed...

There's nothing scarier than the human stories I tell ghosts,
Chilling accounts with my tongue frozen to bed posts.
The catharsises of carcasses whenever threats are close,
Shows a heartlessness that doesn't register on stethoscopes.

Sell your hopes for a homeland security chart,
'Til your sense of self is broke and no man's pure in the heart.
Preventive detention for the folks who never left home.
Tensions have grown into a 24/7 red zone.

Scare tactics...have got you under control,
The fear factors of a color code. The uppers know
They can't hold you down without having anchors attached.
"It's all the same." Nah, balls and chains on ankles don't match.

So drag your torso back to the off road.
We may have lost the fashion battle but we ain't lost the wardrobe.
Go window shopping for your next free meal,
Cuz when we start the revolution all you'll probably do is steal.

Hey, Bobby...the Masters are back.
They're up to no good just like the old days.
They played dead when you stood over their grave, Bobby.
They played dead when you stood over their grave.
Hey, Bobby...them bastards are back.
It's our turn to stand over their grave.
I'm a do it right this time...I'm awake
I'm a wait until their fucking skin decays.

MP3 Download: Hey Bobby (Reanimator Remix (radio edit))

27 November 2005

Sound Bites

"There seldom seem to be coherent plots - even Simpsons level of coherence - but the A.D.D. effect is part of the charm. Besides, to see Mel Gibson voluntarily walk off a cliff and plummet to his death while someone says the punchline 'Christians don’t believe in gravity,' is by itself worth the price of admission. And the absolute acceptance of an evil genius super baby with a football head, and a talking dog, as ordinary members of society, is almost unparalleled in art." -- MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, on why Fox's Family Guy is his third favourite television show (two slots above The Simpsons, mind you)

"I constantly hear stories of people who were about to buy a Pedro record when a friend piped in with, 'Dude, don't buy that, they're a Christian band!,' which is funny because I would sooner tell them to go fuck themselves than that Jesus loved them. The whole thing is pretty irritating because all of the scrutiny is based on people's assumptions about a very personal issue that they couldn't possibly have any insight into." -- Pedro the Lion's David Bazan, on people who make assumptions about his music

"Not surprisingly, our self-centered culture has produced a self-centered religion. Preoccupation with self dominates the spirit of the age and shapes the character of religion. Modern evangelism has played right along with this central theme. The most common question in evangelism today is, 'What can Jesus do for me?' In other words, the question is how Jesus can help us make it in the present order, not how we can respond to the new order. Potential converts are told that Jesus can make them happier, more self-satisfied, better adjusted, and more prosperous. Jesus quickly becomes the supreme product, attractively packaged and aggressively sold to a consuming public. Complete with billboards, buttons, and bumper stickers, modern evangelistic campaigns advertise Jesus in a competitive market. Even better than Coca-Cola, Jesus is "the Real Thing."

The gospel message has been molded to suit an increasingly narcissistic culture. Conversion is proclaimed as the road to self-realization. Whether through evangelical piety or liberal therapy, the role of religion is presented as a way to help us uncover our human potential—our potential for personal, social, and business success, that is. Modern conversion brings Jesus into our lives rather than bringing us into his. We are told Jesus is here to help us to do better that which we are already doing. Jesus doesn’t change our lives, he improves them. Conversion is just for ourselves, not for the world. We ask how Jesus can fulfill our lives, not how we might serve his kingdom." -- God's Politics author Jim Wallis, on consumer Christianity

"I think the people should demand accountability on the voting. I think there's no point in voting if you're not gonna demand fairness and be able to verify each vote. And other countries can do this fairly easily. So I don't think you really want democracy if you're not willing to take that first step. So when they come out and they go, 'You can have all these electronic voting machines, they're made by Bush supporters, and no, you can't verify what the votes are,' you don't really believe in democracy if you go and vote under those conditions. You're just kind of wasting your time. So that's the first thing, for people to actually value the vote itself before it's ever gonna mean anything. But then... the population has to be educated about how the government actually works. Anyone will acknowledge that there's a lot of people other than those who are elected who run the government, and who are in permanent positions, and long-term positions, appointed positions—not voted in by anybody. That kind of gnaws away, I think, at the idea of democracy. The two-party system, again, is an issue. What we see is no desire on behalf of anyone to begin to address these problems.

But the flip-side is—and this is what I have to remind myself—I think the population of the United States has been subjected to the most sophisticated form of propaganda and mind control that any group of people has been exposed to in a very, very long time. It's difficult for people in this country to get any kind of factual information and to make intelligent decisions based on them. And it's not difficult in the sense that the information's hard to get, it's difficult in that it's hard to overcome what you're getting beamed into your brain by the television every day. The worthlessness of journalism today is just making the country confused and bewildered and lost." -- Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder in The Onion on voting and democracy

Stocking Stuffers

This holiday season Pedro the Lion, by way of Suicide Squeeze, is putting out a third Christmas 7" single. It won't do most of us much good, seeing as how record players are owned and operated by only slightly more people than laser disc players. But the songs will leak and I won't feel bad about illegally downloading a couple of limited edition songs released in an obsolete format that are limited to only 2000 copies. And if I do, I can always hand frontman David Bazan $6 the next time he plays in town. Anyways, this year Bazan is putting his own spin on "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman" and “Silent Night," even going so far as to contribute additional lyrics to the songs.

For Over the Rhine fans, the band is taking pre-orders for a collectible, signed full-length CD featuring highlights from the band's 17 December homecoming concert at the Taft Theatre in Cincinnati, Ohio. And while you're at it, the band's Christmas album, The Darkest Night of the Year, is only $10 at the moment.

And, no, I wasn't paid for that endorsement.

25 November 2005

Friday Comics Blogging

21 November 2005

Bad Ways To Start The Week #291

Few things are worse than spending the work day knowing that most of the money you're making is going to pay for the speeding ticket you acquired on the way there.

Monday Lyrics Blogging

So here's a Bob Dylan fix for you. It's a little disappointing that Dylan isn't writing these kinds of songs today. We need them just as much, if not more, than we did four decades ago. But this one is pretty timeless, I guess. It was tough to choose between Masters of War and With God on Our Side. Since Marty recently posted With God on Our Side, though, I thought I'd use this one. But it's all really Zalm's fault.

Masters of War - Bob Dylan

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand o'er your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead

18 November 2005

Friday Comics Blogging

16 November 2005

Derek Webb On Poverty, Africa, And The Gospel

Just to let you know right off the bat, this one is going to be long as hell (and I even cut several paragraphs). Grab some coffee if you need to. I mentioned in the comments to my earlier Derek Webb post that I would also be posting his thoughts on Africa. These are those thoughts.

Webb gave pretty much this exact talk on Friday night, but I transcribed this from audio from an earlier concert. There's one additional excellent point that Webb made on Friday to us that isn't here, so I'll chime in with that later, perhaps in the comments, or maybe in another post. And while you're at it, Nicole, Zalm and Brandon have all been talking about these sorts of things lately, in one way or another, so check them out as well.

At any rate, here's some more rambling by a musician:

I want to tell you really briefly about an organization that I've been working with the last couple of years that I'm just so excited about the work they're doing. And I think it's the most important thing I'll tell you tonight, certainly more important than any of my stupid songs or anything. And I think that it would just be more of a waste of time to not tell you about this. I would gladly come all the way from Tennessee just to tell you the following. And if getting you in here to hear this takes me playing some songs right before and after then I'm happy to do that.

But there's an organization that's called the Blood Water Mission. For those of you who are not familiar with the Blood Water Mission, I'll just tell you briefly about what it is they do and then really briefly why I think it's so important that we get involved with this kind of work.

The Blood Water Mission is an organization that was started by our friends in the band Jars of Clay. Some of you guys have probably heard of Jars....Jars have spent a lot of time over the last five or six years over visiting and keeping a close eye on what’s happening in some of the poorest areas of Africa.

Now before anybody rolls your eyes at the mention of Africa, because I know that it's gotten a lot of press over the last year or year and a half, let me just assure you really quick that the press that Africa has received over the last year or two is in no way proportionate to the tremendous need, the tremendous devastation, that we have even yet to hear about over there. It just doesn't even come close. So if you're sick of hearing about, you know maybe, the conditions of what's going on over in Africa right now, just imagine how the sick the people who are living in those conditions must be, considering that we have the luxury of just now hearing about something that has literally been the conditions they've lived in for generations over there. We're just hearing about it. So let me just assure you of that up front.

But as Jars of Clay were over there and visiting and just seeing what's happening there, the conditions that our neighbors there are living in, they wanted to try do something and they wanted to try to do one thing and do it really well, rather than trying to do everything for everybody, which there are some organizations who try to do. And that's very ambitious and I support that as well, but I really appreciate the fact that Jars are trying to focus on doing one thing really well. And that's exactly what they're doing.

What we are in the process of doing right now, what Blood Water Mission is trying to do right now, is to build 1000 clean water wells in the poorest areas of Africa, 1000 water wells that can purify water for folks to drink. And that seems pretty elementary to us here. Cause, I mean, I can count five bottles of clean water on this stage right now. You can go anywhere in this building and turn on the faucet and get clean water. I mean, that's not a concern we have over here in the West.

But over in Africa right now, we've got our neighbors living in what's known as extreme poverty. It's something that we have scarcely ever seen here. Now do we have some very poor people with some desperate situations that need to be addressed here in our country? You better believe we do. But it's just not really much of anything compared to this extreme poverty that we're talking about that our neighbors over in Africa are right now living in. It's the kind of poverty that you simply can't get a drink of water and you die from it. Folks living on less than a dollar a day. It's a situation where we have mothers with their children having to walk 12 to 15 miles every single day to the nearest water to fill huge canisters and carry them all the way, 12 to 15 miles back, just to have water for their families to drink, just to keep themselves alive.

But unfortunately a lot of the water that they often can get to is not clean water. A lot of the diseases that are traveling around over there, it's not just HIV and AIDS, it's malaria and TB, there's a lot of really bad stuff going around and a lot of it travels in this dirty water. And so little do these families that travel all this great distance every day, little do they know that in these huge canisters that they are carrying all the way 15 miles back are the very diseases that will eventually kill them and their families. It's just a desperate situation.

And so Blood Water Mission has been trying to build these wells. We've built about 50 or 60 wells so far. We're not going to stop till we get to 1000. They don't cost very much to build. It's about $3000 a well to build these things, which is just pennies if you think about the tremendous impact that it has on these communities of people who are absolutely no different than us. There is absolutely no difference between them and us, except for the fact that we were born into the wealthiest nation on the planet, and they were not. It's just, it's a tremendous need over there. What they need is right beneath their feet, they just can't get to it. They can't purify it. And so that's what Blood Water Mission is trying to do.

Because many of us just go through life and have no idea the conditions that our neighbors are living in. And we just simply, especially as Christians, we just can't live like that. Jesus is concerned with the building of his kingdom and that involves every tribe, tongue and people group. Heaven, you'll be shocked to find out, will not be filled with Caucasion Americans. We'll be the vast minority there. And so we need to start to concern ourselves with things of the kingdom, which involves, again, every tribe, tongue and people group. It involves people who are suffering anywhere for any reason. Because we know that right now in Africa there are 6500 people who die every single day, every single day, due to poverty related issues: AIDS, disease, hunger, thirst, preventable, treatable things.

These are all needs that we have resources to meet. And when asked what the greatest commandments were, Jesus said to love God and love our neighbor. When asked who our neighbors were, Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan, which put a context on it to mean that our neighbor is anybody with need that we have resources to meet, regardless of their race, regardless of their religion, regardless of their morality, regardless of if you like or agree with them, regardless of if they are your enemy. That's what the story of the good Samaritan tells us. This was Jesus' answer to who are our neighbors. It's the second greatest commandment.

We spend all this time as Christians busy doing all these other things. Not that these other things aren't important, but all the other things we're busy with are peripheral, are secondary at best, to Jesus' answer to that question, to who is our neighbor. So we have got to learn to tune our ears to the cries of the poorest people in the world. Cause you don't have to read much further than Matthew 25 to see that Jesus put a special emphasis on the poor and the sick and the weak. And that is where we should be putting our emphasis as well.

The reason that this kind of work is so important, I believe, for the church is if for no other reason than because the church is the only institution on the planet that has the moral imperative to go and to love and take care of people. It's not the government's job. We make it the government's job by the fact that we aren't doing anything about it. It's good that the government is increasing their spending and, you know, the American government started very, very low when it came to giving to countries like this. Very low. Now we have increased it quite a bit but we are still way, way, way behind all the other countries in the world as far as giving. But the bottom line is it's not even really our government's job. It's the church's job. The government should have to get in line behind us to go and to love and take care of these people. We are the only ones with the moral imperative who are commanded by our savior to love our neighbors and to go and take care of them.

Cause the thing is, we forget sometimes as Christians that, you know, we concern ourselves with proclaiming the gospel. And that's the right thing for us to be concerning ourselves with. But we forget that there's two sides to the gospel coin, if you will. There's the coming of Jesus, there's one who has come who has made intercession, who has made a way for us to be back in right relationship with the father, one who has kept the law perfectly on our behalf, who we can put our faith in and have right relationship with him. That's one half of the gospel. That's where we focus most of our energy.

But then there's the other part of the gospel we forget, which is also the proclamation of his kingdom coming. It's Jesus and his kingdom coming. But we forget the second part, his kingdom coming. It's the being made right of all things. We're to proclaim that. It's a kingdom where there will be no hunger, no poverty, no thirst, no disease, no war, no disaster in our world. It's that kingdom that we are to proclaim.

And how is the best way we can do that? I think one of the primary ways we can proclaim that kingdom coming is by putting our hands to the being made right of all things. You see someone who is hungry? You proclaim to them a kingdom where there will be no hunger, where that will be made right, by putting food in their mouth. You see someone who is sick? You proclaim to that person a kingdom where there will be no disease by caring for them or giving them life saving drugs.

This is the highest of our callings to proclaim this to people. I really believe that that's what Saint Francis might have meant when he said to "go and proclaim the gospel at all times and if necessary use words." That's a great quote and I've never quite understood it, but I'd like to think that what Francis meant by that was to go and proclaim the coming of the kingdom of Jesus by putting our hands to the being made right of all things. And if necessary we can also tell them outright that there is one who has come. If they don't see him and his beauty in the way that we love and defend their dignity, then we can also just come right out and tell them. But we must do all of that, in fact, to proclaim the whole gospel.

So I want to give you an opportunity to do that tonight. So as you're leaving, if you wouldn't mind. We can certainly spare just a few moments of our time for our poorest neighbors on the planet. Nearly half of sub-Saharan Africa living, right now, in extreme poverty. Nearly half. Again, 6500 people dying every single day. It's like the Twin Towers falling twice a day, ever day, in Africa. Every day, twice a day, you can set your watch to it. And that number is going up all the time.

We have the resources to meet these needs. We have the moral imperative to do it. This is the Lord's work. This is the largest concentration of the poorest people in the world. This is absolutely the Lord's work to do this.

And, so, please do something though. Please do something. The only way that you can know this is going on and not do something about it is if you've got yourself convinced that these people are just not like us. That they're just not human. They are human. They are exactly like us. They are people with dreams and talents and families and senses of humor and stories. They're just like us and if anyone ever tries to tell you different, that is just a lie from the pit of hell. Cause these people are exactly like us.

And imagine if there were 6500 people dying here in our country or if it was your family. Wouldn't we be stirred to get involved? Wouldn't we be stirred to do something? But, see, the truth of it is that that's exactly what's happening. This is our family. These are our neighbors, who we are commanded to love and to take care of. We can't leave this to our government. It's just not their job. We need to do this work. This is the Lord's business.

So, please everybody, go back there and just have a look and see what's happening back at the Blood Water Mission table. I'm going to play a song now that was written by a guy named Woody Guthrie, who I think would have had a lot to say about this particular issue. He was a great hero of Bob Dylan's and any great hero of Bob Dylan's is a great hero of mine. I think it speaks directly to this issue.

And as I'm playing this song, I want you to think about one last thing. Cause I want to be just crystal clear about something. This is not an opportunity for you to go and buy God's favor. Christians love stuff like this mainly for one reason and that is because you go back there and put your dollar in there or something, or you buy your bracelet, or whatever you're going to do, and you feel like you've just secured just a bit more of God's favor. That God loves you just a little bit more now than he did just before, or if you hadn't done anything at all.

And I'm not here to manipulate you. I'm not going to try and guilt you into doing something. Here's the truth. If you're a person here tonight who's put your faith in Jesus, if you're a follower of Jesus in here tonight, here's the good news. Jesus has loved the poor perfectly on your behalf. He has already done this for you. He's done it perfectly. And that's your righteousness. That is the thing that earns favor with the father for you now and forever in glory, and there is not a thing you can do about it. There is not enough you could give to make God love you more and there is not a sin you can commit that would make him love you less. He will never love you any differently, in fact, than he loves you right this second, not in the depths of your worst sin and not one day in glory will God love you any different than he loves you right now if your faith is in Jesus. That's the truth.

So the only reason that I want you to go back there and give is in response to God's kindness. It's his kindness that leads us to repentance. It's his kindness that leads us to action. It's his kindness that leads us to get involved with things like this. Never fear, fear of guilt, fear of performance, fear that you don't have his favor, trying to earn that, trying to buy that. You couldn't give enough. You just couldn't give enough. Jesus has done this on your behalf.

So that's the reason I want you to give. I want you to do it out of freedom and out of joy and out of liberty. Because I've heard too many of my brothers and sisters get up at a place like this and try to get people to get involved, for Pete's sake, with the emergency that's going on over in Africa with our neighbors. And then at the end of it, tell people that God is going to judge you, he's going to judge me, based on our response to Africa. He's going to judge us based on our response to what happens in Africa. And that is, again, just an outright lie. I'm not here to tell you that.

God has already judged and punished Jesus for the fact that we don't love people well, for the fact that we have failed at this. It's already been dealt with on your behalf. And Jesus has done it perfectly. And that's all you've got, now and forever. And that's all you need. You don't need to do this to make God love you. So if you're going back there to put your money in there believing you're earning God's favor, well you know what, go ahead and put your money in there anyway because we need your money. But once you've done that, come and find somebody and let's talk about that and we can sort all the rest of that out for you, OK? Because I don't want you to live in fear. I want you to live with joy and liberty. Do this because it would just simply please your father to do it. Not cause it will make him love you a tiny bit more, cause it won't. But just because it would please him for you to do it.

14 November 2005

Monday Lyrics Blogging

Here are three of the songs on Derek Webb's new album, Mockingbird. You'll find live mp3 recordings of all three at the end. And, just for fun, there's also a link to three live shows, two from last month, and one from 2003. Have fun.

A King and a Kingdom - Derek Webb

Who’s your brother, who’s your sister
You’ll just walk past him, think you missed her
As we’re all migrating to a place where our Father lives
Cause we married into a family of immigrants

So my first allegiance is not to a flag, a country or a man
My first allegiance is not to democracy or blood
It’s to a King and a Kingdom

There are two great lies that I’ve heard
The day you eat of the fruit of that tree you will not surely die
And that Jesus Christ was a white, middle class Republican
And if you wanna be saved you have to learn to be like him

So my first allegiance is not to a flag, a country or a man
My first allegiance is not to democracy or blood
It’s to a King and a Kingdom

And nothing unifies like a common enemy
And we’ve got one sure as hell
He may be living in your house
He may be raising up your kids
He may be sleeping with your wife
Or he may not look like you think

A New Law - Derek Webb

And don't teach me about politics and government
Just tell me who to vote for
And don't teach me about truth and beauty
No, just label my music
And don't teach me how to live like a free man
No, just give me a new law

I don't wanna know if the answers aren't easy
So just bring it down from the mountain to me
I want a new law
I want a new law
Just give me that new law

And don't teach me about moderation and liberty
I prefer a shot of grape juice
And don't teach me about loving my enemies
And don't teach me how to listen to the Spirit
No, just give me a new law

I don't wanna know if the answers aren't easy
So just bring it down from the mountain to me
I want a new law
I want a new law
Just give me that new law

Cause what's the use in trading a law you can never keep
For one you can that cannot get you anything
So do not be afraid
Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid

My Enemies Are Men Like Me - Derek Webb

I have come to give you life
And to show you how to live it
I have come to make things right
To heal their ears and show you how to forgive them

Cause I would rather die
I would rather die
I would rather die than to take your life

Cause how can I kill the ones I’m supposed to love
My enemies are men like me
So I will protest the sword if it’s not wielded well
Cause my enemies are men like me

Peace by way of war
Is like purity by way of fornication
It’s like telling someone murder is wrong
And then showing them by way of execution

And I would rather die
I would rather die
I would rather die than to take your life

Cause how can I kill the ones I’m supposed to love
My enemies are men like me
So I will protest the sword if it’s not wielded well
Cause my enemies are men like me

When justice is bought and sold just like weapons of war
Oh, the ones who always pay are the poorest of the poor

So how can I kill the ones I’m supposed to love
My enemies are men like me
So I will protest the sword if it’s not wielded well
Cause my enemies are men like me

Live mp3s:
A King and a Kingdom
A New Law
My Enemies Are Men Like Me

If you want the three full shows, head over here.

13 November 2005

Derek Webb On Art, Christian Music And The Promise Keepers

So the Derek Webb show was great. I think I'll be talking a bit more about it in the next few days. But for now I'll let Webb do the talking. Here's a spiel he's been making at his concerts recently. He didn't talk about all of this on Friday (I snagged the following from a bootlegged concert from last month), but he did cover some of these points. At any rate, here are some of Webb's thoughts on art and the Christian church:

I've been mentioning this here lately, but I've been thinking about it and I've decided that over the past 13 years or so I've spent the better part of that time overexplaining songs. And, yeah, I admit it. And so I've decided I'm turning over a new leaf. I'm going to stop overexplaining songs and here's why. Because there's this rumor going around, and I don't know who started this rumor, but there's this rumor going around in church circles that art in the church has no value whatsoever if it's not immediately understandable and explainable and categorizable and applicable somehow to your life and beneficial to you somehow spiritually. If all these things aren't true, then art just doesn't have any value whatsoever in the church. And of course that's just a huge lie.

Because you look at the Bible and the whole first chapter of Genesis is us just marveling at God's creativity, just making all these things. That's the first thing we learn about, the first of his attributes we learn about. He's a creator first and that's the first thing we know. And then as far as we're those made in his image as little creators, the art that we create, the art that we make, especially in the church, has intrinsic value simply because we are those made in the image of a great artist.

It is not the obligation of the Christian artist necessarily even to use their work to do vocational ministry, full-time ministry. That's a common misconception that I think a lot of people, a lot of friends of mine who I know who play music, who have gifts in the arts, feel as though if they're not doing some kind of full time ministry with their gifts, that they aren't worth as much to the church. And that couldn't be further from the truth. I don't want you to live in fear if you're an artist and you're here tonight thinking that if you're a guitar player you've got to go join a praise band or else God doesn't love you. That just couldn't be further from the truth. The art that's made by Christians has intrinsic value.

And, unfortunately, the thing that happens is, when we don't learn to identify good art and bad art and things like that, then what we end up doing is living with these categories. And most of us live with these categories. We categorize art and these categories aren't real. They just make us feel more comfortable.

You find stuff that you can put in your Christian category and stuff that you can put in your secular category. Whatever those things mean to you. And these categories aren't real. The truth is there is no such thing as Christian music. Has everybody figured that out by now? It's not possible. There are Christian and secular people who make music. But until somebody comes up with a song that's got a soul, and we can witness to that song and get it saved, there is going to be no such thing as Christian music. There just is no such thing. There is no such thing as a Christian painting or a Christian song. It's just a logical impossibility. There are Christian and secular people, though, who make art.

And so the greatest thing, the only thing, is, it's what Francis Schaeffer said. He was a smart guy and what he might have told us to do, is rather than putting our faith in these categories that don't really mean anything, finding a false sense of security in a Christian category or a false sense of fear in whatever your category is, rather than living in fear with these categories, better to learn how to discern beauty and truth. Those are the only real things to find are beauty and truth. Francis Schaeffer said that all truth is God's truth. Anything you find, no matter what mouth it comes out of, if it's true, if it's absolutely true, then God is the originator of that truth. It finds its origin in him. Any real beauty is only at very least a reflection of God's beauty. Even if the one who created it doesn't see it as such, even if they don't acknowledge it back that far, the only thing we can find is beauty and truth.

And you're going to find some beauty and some truth over here in your Christian art. Unfortunately the church is kind of known at this point in history for making kind of bad art, kind of cheesy art, unfortunately. So you're not going to find, certainly, all the beauty over here. But you might find some, you might find some over in your Christian category. But you're also going to find some beauty and truth over here in your secular category. Neither one has the market cornered on beauty and truth. Christian artists do not all say things that are true, things that are all good and healthy and beneficial for you, and not all the art they make is beautiful. And not all non-Christian artists say things that are dangerous and bad for you and not true and unbeautiful and unlovely. It's just not that simple. We have to be people who learn how to use the tools we've got, rather than letting someone and these categories do our thinking for us.

So I don't know if that helps anybody, but I would rather us be people who are free to engage with all kinds of art, and know what we're looking for, who don't have any fear about engaging with all kinds of art as we move into culture. Because anything that Jesus is Lord of, I can write a song about. And he's Lord of all things. All things. So that broadens our pallet of things we can write songs about and things we can paint pictures of. But we've got a lot of fear and a lot of hang ups about art in the church. So I'll have no part of it.

So that's why I'm going to make it my job from now on to write some songs and it's going to be your job from now on to figure them out. Is that OK with everybody? And we're going to start practicing here tonight. You can figure these things out because I'm not going to tell you a thing about any of them.

Because that's the thing that's so fun about art. I mean, all the songs and the bands and the records I love more than any others, the most enduring music for me, I don't have a clue what most of these people are talking about. I don't have a clue what these songs are about. And that's what's fun about it. It could mean something totally different to you than I might have intended when I wrote it and that's beautiful. That's what art is all about. That's what's mysterious and subjective and abstract and artistic, really, about art. That's what's great about it. Let's stop killing it in the church and making it purely functional spiritually. There's so much more to it, so much more to enjoy.

And I don't think I've explained the next song, even with all that, even though I just talked to you for like five minutes. I don't think I explained it. I explained some of it. So, anyway, there you go. I've already broken my promise. I'm a promise breaker.

And I'm actually thinking about starting an organization: the promise breakers. We're going to travel all around the country and we're going to have rallies where you can come. We're going to all gather together, the promise breakers. Doesn't that sound more realistic than a bunch of guys getting together and calling themselves promise keepers? I'm not a promise keeper. I couldn't go to that rally. I'm a promise breaker. Somebody needs to rally for me. I can't go to that rally because that's not who I am. I'm a promise breaker. There's only one promise keeper and that's not me, folks. Because I've just told you that I'm not going to explain a song and there I went explaining the whole thing. We're only like three songs into this deal and I've already broken a couple of promises. So where's my rally? That's what I want to know.

11 November 2005

Friday Comics Blogging

08 November 2005

Mix CD #2

Same as before. Lotsa songs, lotsa good stuff, a capella and punk and post-rock and spoken word and more, all free and legal. Download and burn away. Songs are to the right. Band web sites, where applicable, are to the left.

Pennsylvania Six-5000 - Aeroplane
Kim Taylor - I Feel Like A Fading Light
Reubens Accomplice - Underneath the Golden Grain
Tenderhooks - Reconcile These Things
Minus the Bear - Just Kickin It Like a Wild Donkey
TW Walsh - Old Fashioned Way of Speaking
Dar Williams - Empire
HiFiDriveBy - Morning of Mourning
Crystal Skulls - No Room For Change
Ester Drang - Come Back Alive
Bad Religion - American Jesus
Eric Idle - The FCC Song
Half-Handed Cloud - Can't Even Breathe On My Own Two Feet
Cue - Handful Savants
Over the Rhine - Drunkard's Prayer (Saxaphone Mix)
Dixie Dirt - whiskeydrunk

Bonus Tracks:
Greg Palast - Silence of the Media Lambs
Daniel Roop - This Poem Is Not the Revolution

07 November 2005

Get Your Derek Webb On

So I'm going to a Derek Webb show Friday in Marion, Indiana. It's a completely out of the blue thing, given that I just found out about it, oh, 15 minutes ago. I couldn't be more excited.

Webb is one of my favourite songwriters. He used to be in a folk band called Caedmon's Call. He was one of a couple of songwriters in that band. He was by far the better half of the duo. Now he's doing some amazing solo stuff.

This tour is cool for a couple of reasons. First of all, it's in support of his new record, Mockingbird, which drops 26 December. It's going to piss off a lot of people. I can't wait. Webb's stuff is usually sold in Christian bookstores. We'll see how long that lasts.

The second reason this is cool is that John Davis (formerly of Superdrag) is on the tour as well. Davis converted to Christianity a while back and now he's making Jesusy music. (Don't worry, Superdrag fans loved his new disc, so it's still all good.)

Oh? You're probably wondering why Mockingbird is going to make people in the Christian establishment angry, aren't you? See if you can guess:

There are two great lies that I've heard:
'The day you eat of the fruit of that tree, you will not surely die'
And that Jesus Christ was a white, middle-class Republican
And if you wanna be saved you have to learn to be like Him”
-from "A King & A Kingdom"

+ + +

"Peace by way of war is like purity by way of fornication
It's like telling someone murder is wrong and then showing them by way of execution"
-from "My Enemies Are Men Like Me"

+ + +

"Are we defending life when we just pick and choose
Lives acceptable to lose and which ones to defend"
-from "Love Is Not Against The Law"

+ + +

"Don't teach me about moderation and liberty, I prefer a shot of grape juice"
-from "A New Law"

+ + +

"My first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man,
My first allegiance is not to democracy or blood
It's to a king & a kingdom"
-from "A King & A Kingdom"

+ + +

"Come on and follow Me, but sell your house, sell your SUV,
Sell your stocks, sell your security
And give it to the poor"
-From "Rich Young Ruler"
Oh snap!

Monday Lyrics Blogging

Time In Babylon - Emmylou Harris/Jill Cunniff

Five-lane highway danger zone
SUV and a speaker phone
You need that chrome to get you home
Doin' time in Babylon

Cluster mansion on the hill
Another day in Pleasantville
You don't like it take a pill
Doin' time in Babylon

In the land of the proud and free
You can sell your soul and your dignity
For fifteen minutes on TV
Doin' time in Babylon

So suck the fat, cut the bone
Fill it up with silicone
Everybody must get cloned
Doin' time in Babylon

Little Boy Blue come blow your horn
The crows are in the corn
The morning sky is red and falling down
The piper's at the till
He's coming for the kill
Luring all our children underground in Babylon

We came from apple pie and mom
Thru civil rights and ban the bomb
To Watergate and Vietnam
Hard times in Babylon

Rallied 'round the megaphone
Gave it up, just got stoned
Now it's Prada, Gucci and Perron
Doin' time in Babylon

Get results, get 'em fast
We're ready if you got the cash
Someone else will be laughin' last
Doin' time in Babylon

So put that conscience on the shelf
Keep the best stuff for yourself
Let the rest fight over what is left
Doin' time in Babylon

Little Boy Blue come blow your horn
The crows are in the corn
The morning sky is red and falling down
Let your song of healing spark
A way out of this dark
Lead us to a higher and a holy ground

04 November 2005

Map It

Via Feminism Loves You, I've been directed to the fun-filled Frappr! mapping system. Using this sophisticated technology, we can track how far Wasp Jerky's reign of terror extends around the globe. Click on the graphic below and visit my map, then add yourself. You can even upload a photo. Go on, get to it. Yes, lurkers have to play, too. Don't make me sic Pat Robertson on you.

Check out our Frappr!

Friday Comics Blogging

And speaking of The Boondocks, the animated version finally hits Adult Swim this Sunday. We don't have cable, but luckily Adult Swim's web site has Friday Night Fix, which lets you stream episodes until 6:00 EST on Friday night/Saturday morning. Hit the site and click on The Boondocks on the sidebar for the hookup. Go on, you know you want to.

02 November 2005

Do As We Say, Not As We Do or Dirrty Sexxx Conservative Style

I'm sorry, there must be a mix up. You want me to fix up lyrics while the President gets his dick sucked? - Eminem

A brief disclaimer: I'm about to do a bit of generalising here, so bear with me. I understand the limitations of labels and stereotyping, but we all do it every day because, realistically, none of us would get very much done if we didn't. Obviously this isn't the first time I've made generalisations here, but I like to bring this up from time to time, even though this is one of those things that probably should go without saying. But I've said it anyway, so off we go.

There is a noticeable stand amongst conservatives against sexuality and the human body. The workings of this arrangement are complex, but a big part of it seems to boil down to what are often called traditional values. That means, among other things, that divorce is bad, sex before marriage is bad, anal sex is bad, homosexuality is bad and anything kinkier than the female being on top is bad. The more conservative you get, the tighter the boundaries are. My wife, for example, has a friend whose parents didn't even know what oral sex was until a famous legal trial a few years ago (and they're Democrats--see what I mean about generalising?).

We see the results of this every day. Whether it be the outcry over Janet Jackson's exposed nipple, the battle to prevent homosexuals from marrying each other, or a Kansas child-abuse reporting statute that technically makes it illegal for a 17-year old to make out with a 16-year old, those to the Right want to put heavy restrictions on most anything that has anything to do with carnal relations (a tremendous irony given that conservatives are supposed to be against big government).

The problem is that, for all this preaching, there isn't nearly as much practicing going on. Case in point?

A few years ago there was a sex scandal that you might recall a little something about. Details are sketchy, given that the media refused to go near something so tabloid and sensational, but, suffice it to say, the hoopla involved a sitting U.S. President, an intern, cigars, oral sex and a stained dress.

Many were outraged that this sort of behaviour could come from, of all people, a President. An witch hunt investigation ensued. Ultimately this President went on to obstruct justice and commit perjury (why do those charges sound so familiar right now?), much to the glee of many on the Right side of the political spectrum.

All this would eventually prove to be rather interesting, as Congressmen Newt Gingrich, Bob Livingston and Bob Barr, three of the Republicans who were calling for the President's head, were ultimately found guilty of adultery as well.

This is an all too common occurrence for the Right. We'll set aside Kitty Kelley's allegations about the elder George Bush, the intriguing rumors that James Dobson's son Ryan's recent marriage was his second, and even the not so distant allegations of Bill O' Reilly's sexual harassment. Instead we'll go with something a little more concrete.

I'm speaking of the excerpts recently published by The New Yorker of Scooter Libby's 1996 novel The Apprentice. Libby's novel features depictions of pedophilia, incest and bestiality usually reserved for John Irving novels.

Now don't get me wrong. There's plenty of the awkwardly conventional:

He could feel her heart beneath his hands. He moved his hands slowly lower still and she arched her back to help him and her lower leg came against his. He held her breasts in his hands. Oddly, he thought, the lower one might be larger. . . . One of her breasts now hung loosely in his hand near his face and he knew not how best to touch her.
But not to worry, bestiality fans. There's something for you, too:
At age ten the madam put the child in a cage with a bear trained to couple with young girls so the girls would be frigid and not fall in love with their patrons. They fed her through the bars and aroused the bear with a stick when it seemed to lose interest.
He asked if they should fuck the deer.
The answer, as The New Yorker answers, is yes.

Of course, Libby is hardly the only conservative to write sexy novel. There's also Sisters, a little known work by Lynne Cheney. Mind you, Cheney's novel isn't nearly as racy as Libby's. But, according to information archivist Russ Kick's The Disinformation Book of Lists, there is sex, rape, lesbianism, with some animal cruelty, feminist thought and anti-corporate messages thrown in for good measure.

But that's OK. If you want to write about sex, write about sex. There's plenty of it in the Bible, after all.

However, if you're going to claim the moral high ground, you ought to at least make sure you've got it. Given this list of Republicans allegedly caught with their pants down (mostly among children mind you), though, I think that's up for debate:

• Republican County Constable Larry Dale Floyd was arrested on suspicion of soliciting sex with an 8-year old girl.

• Republican judge Mark Pazuhanich pleaded no contest to fondling a 10-year old girl and was sentenced to 10 years probation.

• Republican Party leader Bobby Stumbo was arrested for having sex with a 5-year old boy.

• Republican Mayor Philip Giordano is serving a 37-year sentence in federal prison for sexually abusing 8- and 10-year old girls.

• Republican Mayor John Gosek was arrested on charges of soliciting sex from two 15-year old girls.

• Republican County Commissioner David Swartz pleaded guilty to molesting two girls under the age of 11 and was sentenced to 8 years in prison.

• Republican legislator Edison Misla Aldarondo was sentenced to 10 years in prison for raping his daughter between the ages of 9 and 17.

• Republican anti-abortion activist Howard Scott Heldreth (the guy who tried to take Terry Schiavo a glass of water) is a convicted child rapist in Florida.

• Republican zoning supervisor, Boy Scout leader and Lutheran church president Dennis L. Rader pleaded guilty to performing a sexual act on an 11-year old girl he murdered.

• Republican anti-abortion activist Nicholas Morency pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography on his computer and offering a bounty to anybody who murders an abortion doctor.

• Republican United States Senator Strom Thurmond had sex with a 16-year old black girl which produced a child.

• Republican pastor Mike Hintz, whom George W. Bush commended during the 2004 presidential campaign, surrendered to police after admitting to a sexual affair with a female juvenile.

• Republican legislator Peter Dibble pleaded no contest to having an inappropriate relationship with a 13-year-old girl.

• Republican advertising consultant Carey Lee Cramer was charged with molesting his 9-year old step-daughter after including her in an anti-Gore television commercial.

• Republican lobbyist Craig J. Spence organized child sex parties at the White House during the 1980s.

• Republican fundraiser Richard A. Delgaudio was found guilty of child porn charges and paying two teenage girls to pose for sexual photos.

• Republican activist Mark A. Grethen convicted on six counts of sex crimes involving children.

• Republican activist Randal David Ankeney pleaded guilty to attempted sexual assault on a child.

• Republican Congressman Dan Crane had sex with a female minor working as a congressional page.

• Republican activist and Christian Coalition leader Beverly Russell admitted to an incestuous relationship with his step daughter.

• Republican Judge Ronald C. Kline was placed under house arrest for child molestation and possession of child pornography.

• Republican congressman and anti-gay activist Robert Bauman was charged with having sex with a 16-year-old boy he picked up at a gay bar.

• Republican Committee Chairman Jeffrey Patti was arrested for distributing a video clip of a 5-year-old girl being raped.
Keep in mind, I'm not suggesting that liberals or Democrats are any better at keeping their genitals to themselves. I'm sure anyone with a few minutes can find a similar list of leftists. Democratic Congressman Gerry Studds, for instance, like Congressman Dan Crane, was found guilty by the House Ethics Committee of having sex with a female minor while working as a congressional page. This isn't about Democrats and liberals being innocent of sexual crimes.

What this is about is the foolish idea that the Left is somehow ruining the family and that the Right is somehow the champion of moral values. If this list is anything to go by, it appears that many on the Right value something else entirely.