Thursday, August 28, 2008

I Have A Dream Of A Culturally Diverse...Camelot

Of course it was timed, but whether intended or not, Obama's speech tonight will mark the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech in the Capitol Mall on August 28, 1968. And his speech will be poked, prodded, built up, torn down and repeated. Everything you can think of with a timely speech. There is one thing, however, that it will not be: ignored.

Most of the rhetoric of the DNC has been rousing, even inspirational: Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton. Joe Biden. Liberal critics lauded them, and conservative critics, well, criticized them. There are some pundits you don't have to read or listen to because you know - word for word - what they have to say. (I certainly don't want to listen to or read Michelle Malkin. Her rants are way too loud for eardrums - or eyes!). So what will Obama come up with? Will the speech be uniting? Inspirational? Uplifting? Will it condemn the last eight years of the Bush administration? Put it this way: Obama's sheer presence as the Democratic Nominee for President of the United States will condemn it. While McCain will defend (to an extent) the current course, Obama will be shouldering through a crowd of skeptics and, yes, bigots, to lead the people through a different course.

At least, we all hope it will be different.

We hope to God it will be different.

Just a thought.

Something Encouraging, But Be Careful: An Answer From the AIDS Care Unit at Saddleback Church

If you haven't done so, read the post for August 23rd: An Open Letter to the Mrs. Rick Warrens of the World. I then forwarded the post to Ms. Elizabeth Styffe, R.N.M.N. of the AIDS Care Unit at Saddleback Church. Ms. Styffe works closely with Kay Warren. I didn't think I would get a response, but I did. Here it is:

Dear Dan Vojir,

Thanks for your email. You have said so many things that resonate with me...exactly! I particularly appreciate your last sentences, "It's just that people do not know how it rankles me to know that people in foreign countries have garnered more "Christian charity" sooner - and with more compassion - than my neighbors." I hear you and hurt for the terrible ways that people have suffered alone. Meeting you, a person living with HIV, is what I love to do everyday. And you're right, churches with an HIV ministry are tragically rare and were horrifically absent early on in the Pandemic. (my emphasis)
We're trying to change that reality and are giving our lives to help mobilize the church...and people everywhere to care and act and engage.

My personal story is that I was caring for people who were living and dying with AIDS in the early 1980s (I am an RN and very involved early and I both know too many people who suffered and died...we both have shed many tears.) Even though I was involved, I did not act enough. I was wrong.

Sadly, I didn't care at all about any other place in the world (I was wrong and ignorant)...I thought AIDS was "solved" with the introduction of HIV medications and I was absolutely wrong and ignorant regarding stigma and the other ways people who are positive suffer. If you've read things from Kay Warren, you'll know that we own the truth of what you're saying regarding "too little, too late". I hope you've also read that we're changing that. After Kay's first trip to Africa, she realized that whatever we were doing in Africa, we needed to also do at home. We launched together the HIV/AIDS Initiative at Saddleback Church which focuses both locally and globally.

I agree with you on so many things you've are not alone in believing that the United States needs a focus and passion, not only from the church and the evangelical....but from everyone. I'm giving my life to these goals. We do care about people living with HIV in Africa, but we have an equally strong local HIV ministry and charge every church with doing the same. We do not believe you can care about global HIV until you also care locally. We have a very active HIV Initiative that mobilizes people to care in very practical ways both locally and globally. I'd be interested in hearing the ways you think we can improve, change and grow. I'm in this for the long haul. As a member of the Orange Country HIV Planning Council, I am constantly learning and working with Kay to make an impact and care and engage others in doing the same. We want your feedback...people living with HIV are our passion.

I would really relish the opportunity to talk with you. If you'll offer your phone number, I'll call you. It's difficult to convey all I long to convey in email. You're also welcome to call me at ______________. You matter to us. Your opinions are important. If you haven't yet visited our web site....consider visiting

Warmly, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Styffe RN MN

Saddleback Church

Director HIV/AIDS & Orphan Care Initiative

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the first time I've ever experienced an apology (of sorts) from anyone attached to a religious community. (The pope crying at the Wailing Wall of Jerusalem's Temple doesn't count.) I truly believe this letter to be heartfelt and I encourage people who want to connect with a faith-based AIDS initiative to investigate this.

No, I'm not sold on the likes of Rick Warren. No matter how hard he tries to provide a place for the "unchurched," I will always be suspicious. Remember, he's something of an inerrantist, and his use of the Bible, while not as a weapon, still has some hard edges to it. And I would like to have access to full accountability of his ministries.

Just a thought.

Meanwhile, At The American Legion Convention...

Cheney: His secret is that he has more secrets than we can imagine!

Cheney Stumps For McCain
Without Stumping For McCain

Got that? Actually, Cheney is quite true to form in his enactment of Tricky Dick Redux. From

I realize the Annual Convention of the American Legion is not a political event, and I will not speak this morning about the presidential campaign.

Moments later, he said:

President Bush stood firm, along with a number of notably courageous members of Congress, some of them from Arizona. They knew a surge of operations was our big chance to get things right.

Secrecy. Deals. Lack of diplomacy. 144 days left.
They can still do a lot of damage. (Like the photo below)

Evidence of Dick Cheney's Arrival on Earth!

Thanks to Flickr and "Tony the Misfit." for this marvelous photo and caption.
I couldn't have labeled it better myself!