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The Emerald City of Oz [May. 24th, 2009|02:02 pm]
Twelve Months of Reading

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[Current Location |Mar Vista, CA 90066]
[mood |thoughtfulthoughtful]

I think this is probably the best book since the first one because it actually has a driving conflict and tension as well as element of strange characters and worlds.  In fact from a quality and enjoyability standpoint, it may be better than the first since it has the cohesive subplot storyline of the Nome King building tension while Dorothy and company are toodling around exploring the wonders of Oz.  There's still the flaws of black and white/bad and good ("permit me to call your attention to the exquisite joy of making the happy unhappy.") but I think that may be more a product of the time the book was written and the nature of who the audience for the book was. Over all it's a very enjoyable read and I was honestly caught up the last few pages at the fountain when there was a "what's going to happen moment."  Of course the obvious inclusion of the drawn out history of the fountain makes it pretty clear but I was still drawn in enough that the story actually provided a small emotional goose.  Perhaps that's why this is the only other book we've read to be turned into it's own movie not made by L. Frank Baum (according to wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Emerald_City_of_Oz).

There's still a lack of conflict in the exploring Oz moments.  “In some of the dense forest there lived great beasts of every sort; yet these were for the most part harmless and even sociable, and conversed agreeably with those who visited their haunts.  The Kalidahs – beasts with bodies like bears and heads like tigers -- had once been fierce and bloodthirsty, but even they were now nearly all tamed, although at times one or another of them would get cross and disagreeable."

"In this world in which we live simplicity and kindness are the only magic wands that work wonders, and in the Land of Oz Dorothy found these same qualities had won for her the love and admiration of all the people...the only real grief the Ozites had ever experienced was when Dorothy left them and returned to her Kansas home."

"An' my back hair looks like a fright!"  Funny line, even funnier that it comes from Aunt Em.

I like the Whimsies with their fake heads, and of course the lesson "it is folly to try to appear otherwise than as nature has made us."

Chapter 16 with the visit to Utensia is hilarious.  So many puns.  It's like I'm back hanging out with my band member friends again!

I liked the Flutterbudgets, I think I've worked with a few of them.  I would also be ok calling them flibbertygibbits.

Think this book also had one of the best collection of random groups they encounter.  All in all, a fun read.

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The Road to Oz [May. 24th, 2009|01:41 pm]
Twelve Months of Reading

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[Current Location |Mar Vista, CA 90066]
[mood |thoughtfulthoughtful]

At this point I'm halfway through The Patchwork Girl of Oz and it seems that "Road" is (hopefully) the last of the minimal-conflict-traveling-through-a-nice-land-full-of-nice-things books in the series.  I DO like the interesting concepts behind the strange villages and people they encounter, and Polychrome is definitely an interesting character (made me long for a book with pictures) but the story reads about as interesting as any story about going to a fancy party.

“Who ever heard of a shaggy fairy?” tickles me

“Be contented with your lot, whatever it happens to be, if you are wise.” – Fox King.  While the morality lessons spouted by one character or another isn't particularly new in this book, it feels like there's more and more people with their sage observations which are more a statement of their beliefs as they stand rather than anything said as a conclusion reached after an adventure (though there's a fair amount of them too).

“But to become civilized means to dress as elaborately and prettily as possible, and to make a show of your clothes so your neighbors will envy you, and for that reason both civilized foxes and civilized humans spend most of their time dressing themselves.”  Satirical observation or call back to trying to still be an allegory?

"All donkeys love big words, so it is no wonder the grey one used so many of them." Same question as above.

“If we used money to buy things with, instead of love and kindness and the desire to please one another, then we should be no better than the rest of the world.”  Tin Woodman.  “Fortunately money is not known in the land of Oz at all.  We have no rich, and no poor; for what one wishes the others all try to give him, in order to make him happy, and non one in all Oz cares to have more than he can use.”  And that's Communism.  And I didn't tap code to the Allies until my shoes filled with blood to let the Reds win!

“But I thought nobody ever died in Oz.” – Dorothy.  Except for the Wicked Witch, and her sister, and most of the bad guys they run up against.  Interesting concept and one that's repeatedly stressed in other books but seems to have a lot of holes in it's execution.

On to The Emerald City...

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Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz [Apr. 29th, 2009|09:01 pm]
Twelve Months of Reading

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[mood |calmcalm]

And now we've reached the realm of Oz books not adapted into movies which feature characters not really well known.  And I think a lot of that comes from a lack of conflict.  This book along with the next few (I'm in the middle of The Emerald City of Oz at the moment) feel like more or less an episodic meandering from one fabulous place to another.  And that could be interesting (and frankly, awfully close to the structure of the first book) but so often it's merely a quirky world with an interesting idea behind it, but not much else.  If I wanted that, I'd watch something on the independent film channel.

I'm probably not being fair.  I'm criticizing a children's book written at a time when children's stories were primarily Grimm Fairy Tales and Hans Christian Andersen stuff which were about as long as each of these chapters.  Hmmm, there's an interesting degree I'm sure someone from Evergreen has; children's literature historian.  Which reminds me, as far as where to get these books were you not lucky enough to have an awesome friend who gave you them all in one binding, I think most of them are posted online as the copyright has long sense expired.  I think they're all on Project Gutenberg (here's the first book http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/55) or something similar.  Of course this requires a computer with internet access in house (or a librarian who looks the other way when you print out 250 pages) but is one possiblity for reading the rest.  And after my rave reviews, I can't imagine why you wouldn't want to.  And now to my notes:

"I'm not cruel...I'm just hungry." -- I can relate.  Especially when I behave myself on my diet.

I think I was still trying to track the possibility that this book was an allegory for politics when I noted the reoccuring issue of a country being occupied/invaded by others.  And then a land where the locals are unseen by those who enter it?  It seemed that maybe this was a commentary on the colonialism/emperialism of America in the early 1900s (it was published in 1908.  What do you think?

I enjoy more of Dorothy's humble, no nonsense attitude.  "I was born on a farm in Kansas, and I guess that's being just as 'spectable and haughty as living in a cave with your tail tied to a rock.  If it isn't I'll have to stand it, that's all."

And that's all I've got from that book.  Short and sweet.  What are your thoughts?

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AoH Ch. 2--Values [Apr. 22nd, 2009|02:53 pm]
Twelve Months of Reading

Chickens! I can see chickens out my window, scratching around, and they lay the most delicious eggs! But what does that have to do with values?

This is so hard, for me, because it's the most critical thinking and reflection I've done since, oh, college. My brain hurts just like my poor neglected leg muscles after a 10-mile bike ride.

It was interesting that, after talking about how deep the divide was between Republican and Democrat, Obama opened this chapter with an anecdote about President Bush giving him advice on survival on Capitol Hill. Of course it segued well into his point that "no matter how wrong-headed I might consider their politics to be...I still find it possible, in talking to these men and women, to understand their motives, and to recognize in them values I share."

Obama's observation that "the stakes involved in Washington policy debates aer often so high...that even small diferences in perspective are magnified." Both sides feel that having things their way is life-or-death--because to continue or discontinue a policy or social practice may mean an altered way of living, for good or bad.

On page 51, Obama again mentions the divisive effect of the media, ie. "Spend time actually talking to Americans, and you discover that most evangelicals are more tolerant than the media would have us believe, most secularists more spiritual." In the era of 24-hour news on television and internet, Twitter, Facebook groups, shock-value soundbites, etc. how do we move past the thrill and entertainment of dischord (because let's face it, there's an illicit thrill, rooted somewhere in elementary school, in hearing somebody diss somebody else) and tune out those influences so that we can start finding our common ground?

For me, the key question in this chapter was, "What are the core values that we, as Americans, hold in common?" I love that Obama thoughtfully addressed this question for the remainder of the chapter, and that he does so in his politics. I remember, specifically, a question about abortion rights in, I think, the third presidential debate. McCain began talking about moral imperatives and absolutes--"ideology [overriding] whatever facts call theory into question." Obama said something like, "Look, I think we can all agree that abortion is not a good thing. Nobody, even pro-choice proponents, think abortion is a good thing, and instead of arguing over whether or not to abolish a woman's well-established right to reproductive freedom, let's focus on ways to reduce the number of abortions--by providing a support system for single mothers, and by teaching our young people that sexuality is sacred and should not be approached cavalierly." There he was, practicing what he preached about identifying core values, "faithfully [applying them} to the facts before us," trying to find common ground!

Matty, I don't know if I'd call empathy a common value, but it's a useful strategy for identifying common values. That's something I had a hard time with. Empathy might have been a common value at one time, but people--especially of our generation--can be so "me" oriented. It's like empathy is something we've forgotten along the way. (This is why people should pay attention to the high school required reading! Remember in "To Kill A Mockinbird" when Atticus suggests to Jem that he get into the other person's skin and walk around in it for a little while? Empathy!) I feel it's something we need to relearn, especially because it goes hand-in-hand with strong communication, ie. discussing rather than arguing. For that matter, I don't think it's pie-in-the-sky. I think it's a very real tool that can be used successfully by many people, if they learn it.

One last comment, and it's about my own cynicism. I think that Barack Obama is a very sincere man, and that he can do great things for helping our country find its footing again. I don't want to call him messianic, because that's a big burden to give someone who is very much human. However, I think he's a once-in-a-generation president. I think we've seen that he practices what he preaches (look how many town-hall meetings he STILL conducts!). However, he wrote this book with the knowledge he was going to run for office. With that in mind, I read with a skepticims that this is what he REALLY believes. I think that's something I liked so much about "Dreams from my Father," you knew there wasn't an agenda behind it.
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AoH Ch. 1--Republicans and Democrats [Apr. 21st, 2009|08:58 pm]
Twelve Months of Reading

Matty, I'm finally getting my reading done. See how good Vermont is for me! I don't know what's going to happen with L. Frank Baum, though, since I'm gonna have to rely on the library--and it's a tiny little one-room affair open for a few hours each week. This is WAY rural!

I won't say much about the prologue, except that the key points seems to be that "ordinary Americans" do have shared core values, and those come out through dialogue. Given a listening ear (such as that of an aspiring state senator), people will talk about real problems, and be open to discussing creative, insightful solutions.

How striking, then, was the main point of Chapter 1, illustrated by Obama's description of the actual business conducted in the U.S. Senate chamber: "In the world's greatest deliberative body, no one is listening." I appreciated the thoughtful and concise explanation Obama gave of his understanding of why nobody is listening--how it got to be that way in the post-WWII era. I liked his candid admission that he was certainly giving a simplified version of history, but one that sufficed.

Matty, I disagree with your analysis of why the Democratic Party has become one of reaction. I don't think it's because that's what our society's become. I think the reason is twofold. First, the Republicans have created a very strong media support structure. It's an overpowering offense, and I think that Obama's dismissal of Coulter and Hannity as "hard to take seriously" and "sourpusses" is cavalier. They are more than key players in an "industry of insult." I know many people who take their word as gospel truth. In the face of that kind of daily, 24-hour onslaught by really well put together, extremely conservative media outlets, Democrats react instead of strategize. Second, what comes out of the mouths of some of those TV people is absolutely flabbergasting. I feel that many Democrats do try to use the language of reason and critical thinking, not feeling and moral imperatives. That's a language some of the most outspoken of the conservative media don't seem to speak. Have you ever scrambled for a response to your mom's outlandish statements? Then you see what the Dems are up against. :*)

I found it a little overwhelming to consider just how polarized this nation has become, and the reasons for it. I don't think the explanation has everything to do with the Baby Boomers, either, because I've seen enough of the country to know that the conservative Boomers have done a great job of indoctrinating their children. There's a small, vocal, and completely irrational minority that is going to make reconciliation and working for the interests of everybody very difficult.

I liked that Obama had the fortitude to come out and say baldly that the goal of the extreme right is the dismantling of government. I've never heard it put that way--it's always couched in terms of "small government," which sounds efficient and good, kind of like smaller houses and smaller cars. The fact is, if you're trying to transport 300 million people, you need a fleet of buses, not a Geo Metro. And if you're trying to promote the general welfare of 300 million people, you're going to need a good-sized government to handle that complicated task!

The fact of the matter is, we're in for hard times. The economy's fucked, the environment's fucked, our society is deeply divided--it's going to be tough, and these issues require quick and immediate action. In his book, Obama seems to realize that the Dems, once they're in power, turning around and giving the Republicans a taste of their partisan medicine isn't an effective strategy for meeting the needs of the American people. I've been out of touch the past few weeks, but our fave Washington insider recently assured me that from what she's observed, attempts to reach across the aisle are being spurned and then spun by the spurners as partisanship. Let's hope Obama keeps looking out for what he truly believes are the needs and desires of the American people, whether or not Republicans accept the invitation to come on board.

(And yeah, I really have been out of touch majorly, so I hope he hasn't done anything audacious that makes me sound really foolish there. :*)
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Audacity of Hope -- Chapter 9 -- Family [Apr. 4th, 2009|02:20 pm]
Twelve Months of Reading

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[Current Location |the boy's]
[mood |calmcalm]
[music |Sir Duke -- Stevie Wonder]

*…I consider decisions about sex, marriage, divorce, and childbearing to be highly personal – at the very core of our system of individual liberty.  P.335

I enjoyed his discussion of his dynamic with Michelle on page 349-350 discussing how his head would explode if he had to pick out items for a child’s birthday party goody bag.

And that's my coverage on the two Obama books.  It was really exciting to get such an in depth glimpse into our new commander and chief's head this early into his Presidency.  Though I think I'm done with political theory and non-fiction for a while.  Bring on the rest of the Oz books!

What did you guys think?

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Audacity of Hope -- Chapter 8 -- The World Beyond Our Borders [Apr. 4th, 2009|02:10 pm]
Twelve Months of Reading

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[Current Location |the boy's]
[mood |awake]
[music |California Earthquake -- Mama Cass]

*In the field of international affairs, it’s dangerous to extrapolate from the experiences of a single country.  P.279

*Providence had charged America with the task of making a new world, not reforming the old; protected by an ocean and with the bounty of a continent, America could best serve the cause of freedom by concentrating on it’s own development, becoming a beacon of hope for other nations and people around the globe. P.280-281

*But perhaps the biggest casualty of that war [Vietnam] was the bond of trust between the American people and their government – and between Americans themselves. P.287

*What I could not support was “a dumb war, a rash war, a war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.”  P.294

*Indeed, the entire enterprise in Iraq bespoke American ingenuity, wealth, and technical know how…one could only marvel at the ability of our government to essentially erect entire cities within hostile territory, self-contained communities with their own power and sewage systems, computer lines and wireless networks, basketball courts and ice cream stands.  More than that, one was reminded of that unique quality of American optimisim that everywhere was on display – the absence of cynicism despite the danger, sacrifice, and seemingly interminable setbacks, the insistence that at the end of the day our actions would result in a better life for a  nation of people we barely knew.  P.297 (comment about military base growing up in military family)

*Without a well-articulated strategy that the public supports and the world understands, America will lack the legitimacy – and ultimately the power – it needs to make the world safer than it is today.  P.302-303

*Like it or not, if we want to make America more secure, we are going to have to make the world more secure.  P.304

*The United States won the Cold War not simply because it outgunned the Soviet Union but because American values held sway in the court of international public opinion, which included those who lived within communist regimes.  P.307

*We should start with the premise that the United States, like all sovereign nations, has the unilateral right to defend itself against attack.  As such, our campaign to take out Al Qaeda base camps and the Taliban regime that harbored them was entirely justified – and was viewed as legitimate even in most Islamic countries…I would also argue that we have the right to take unilateral military action to eliminate an imminent threat to our security – so long as an imminent threat is understood to be a nation, group, or individual that is actively preparing to strike U.S. targets…and has or will have the means to do so in the immediate future…Iraq under Saddam Hussein did not meet this standard…  P.308-309

*…nobody benefits more than we do from the observance of international “rules of the road.”  We can’t win converts to those rules if we act as if they apply to everyone but us.” P.309

“A record of how empires destroy themselves” about Afgan War posters showing how to put bombs in children’s toys to be picked up and brought home before exploding.  P. 314

“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” JFK (comment about current stuff)

*No person, in any culture, likes to be bullied.  No person likes living in fear because his or her ideas are different.  Nobody likes being poor or hungry, and nobody likes to live under and economic system in which the fruits of his or her labor go perpetually unrewarded. P.316

*I agree with George W. Bush when in his second inaugural address he proclaimed a universal desire to be free.  But there are few examples in history in which the freedom men and women crave is delivered through outside intervention.  P.316

“As a nation we may take pride in the face that we are softhearted; but we cannot afford to be soft-headed.” FDR

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Audacity of Hope -- Chapter 7 -- Race [Mar. 17th, 2009|10:00 pm]
Twelve Months of Reading

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[mood |accomplished]

*To think clearly about race, then, requires us to see the world on a split screen -- to maintain in our sights the kind of America that we want while looking squarely at America as it is... p.233

*None of us -- black, white, Latino, or Asian -- is immune to stereotypes that our culture continues to feed us, especially stereotypes about black criminality, black intelligence, or the black work ethic.  p.235

*It's the added weight that many minorities, especially African Americans, so often describe in their daily round -- the feeling that as a group we have no store of goodwill in America's accounts, that as individuals we must prove ourselves anew each day, that we will rarely get teh benefit of the doubt and will have little margin for error...Most of all, it requires fighting off the temptation to stop making the effort. p.236

*More minorities may be living the American dream, but their hold on that dream remains tenuous. p.243

*An emphasis on universal, as opposed to race-specific, programs isn't just good policy; it's also good politics. p.247

*Rightly or wrongly, white guilt has largely exhausted itself in America; even the most fair-minded of whites, those who would genuinely like to see racial inequality ended and poverty relieved, tend to push back again suggestions of racial victimization -- or race specific claims based on the history or race discrimination in this country...Most white Americans figure that they haven't engaged in discrimination themselves and have plenty of their own problems to worry about.  p.247

*What's remarkable is not the number of minorities who have failed to climb into the midddle class but the number who succeeded against the odds;  not the anger and bitterness that parents of color have transmitted to their children but the degree to which such emotions have ebbed.  p.249

"That's the thing that's changed...the attitude of these kids.  You can't blame them, really, because most of them have nothing at home.  Their mothers can't tell them nothing -- a lot of these women are still children themselves.  Father's in jail.  Nobody around to guide the kids, keep them in school, teach them respect.  So these boys just raise themselves, basically, on the streets.  That's all they know.  The gang, that's their family."  p.251

*These are the stories of those who didn''t make it out of history's confinement, of the neighborhoods within the black community that house the poorest of the poor, serving as repositories for all the scars of slavery and violence of Jim Crow, the internalized rage and the forced ignorance, the shame of men who could not protect their women or support their families, the children who grew up being told they wouldn't amount to anything and had no one there to undo the damage. p. 252 (on a side note, I REALLY like this quote)

*Rather than evoke our sympathy, our familiarity with the lives of the black poor has bred indifference.  p.253 (this one too)

*Most blacks who grew up in Chicago remember the collective story of the great migration from the South, how after arriving in the North blacks were forced into ghettos because of racial steering and restrictive covenants and stacked up in public housing, where the schools were substandard and the parks were underfunded and the police protection was nonexistent and the drug trade was tolerated...They know what drove that homeless man to drink because he is their uncle.  That hardened criminal -- they remember when he was a little boy, so full of life and capable or love, for he is their cousin.  p.255

*They're unprepared, not because they're unloved but because their mothers don't know how to proved what they need.  p. 257

*Still, we can assume that with lawful work available for young men now in the drug trade, crime in many communities would drop; that as a consequence more employers would locate businesses in these neighborhoods and a self-sustaining economy would begin to take root... p.259

*...I was reminded that America has nothing to fear from these newcomers, that they have come here for the same reason that families came here 150 years ago -- all those who fled Europe's famines and wars and unyeilding hierarchies, all those who may not have had the right legal documentation or connections or unique skills to offer but who carried with them a hope for a better life...The danger will come if we fail to recognize the humanity of Cristina and her family -- if we withhold from them rights and opportunities that we take for granted, and tolerate the hypocrisy of a servant class in our midst... p.268

Just some deep thoughts from the Race chapter.

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Audacity of Hope -- Chapter 6 -- Faith [Mar. 17th, 2009|09:53 pm]
Twelve Months of Reading

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[mood |chipperchipper]

I think this is one of the most interesting chapters but don't have much to say about it, frankly because Obama pretty much says it all.  So I'll let him do the talking.  Before I do though, I will say I think part of what makes this chapter so interesting to me is that so much of the chapter is about his personal experience vs. theory and concepts.

*Our President routinely remarks on how Christ changed his heart, and football players point to the heavens after every touchdown as if God were calling plays from the celestial sidelines. p.199

*Ensconced in universities and large urban centers, academics, journalists, and purveyors of popular culture simply failed to appreciate the continuing role that all manner of religious expression played in communities across the country...Pushed out of sight but still throbbing with vitality throughout the heartland and the Bible Belt, a parallel universe emerged, a world not only of revivals and thriving ministries but also of Christian television, radio, universities, publishers, and entertainment, all of which allowed the devout to ignore the popular culture as surely as they were being ignored. p. 200

*Suffice it to say that today white evangelical Christians (along with conservative Catholics) are the heart and soul of the Republican Party's grassroots base... p.201

*They [average people] need an assurance that somebody out there cares about them, is listening to them -- that they are not just destined to travel down a long highway toward nothingness. p.202

* Religion was an expression of human culture, she would explain, not its well-spring, just one of the many ways -- and not necessarily the best way -- that man attempted to control the unknowable and understand the deeper truths about our lives. p.204

I love the description of his mother as one of "the most spiritually awakened person" in his life simply because she was curious and found joy in the world she discovered around her.

*You needed to come to church precisely because you were of this world, not apart from it; rich, poor, sinner, saved, you needed to embrace Christ precisely because you had sins to wash away -- because you were human needed an ally... p.208

*When we abandon the field of religious discourse – when we ignore the debate about what it means to be a good Christian or Muslim or Jew; when we discuss religion only in the negative sense of where or how it should not be practiced, rather than in the positive sense of what it tells us about our obligations toward one another; when we shy away from religious venues and religious broadcasts because we assume that we will be unwelcome – others will fill the vacuum. p.214

*Contrary to the claims of many on the Christian right who rail against the separation of church and state, their argument is not with a handful of liberal sixties judges.  It is with the drafters of the Bill of Rights and the forebears of today’s evangelical church. p.216

*Not only has America avoided the sorts of religious strife that continue to plague the globe, but religious institutions have continued to thrive – a phenomenon that some observers attribute directly to the absence of a state-sponsored church… p. 218

*To say that men and women should not inject their “personal morality” into public-policy debates is a practical absurdity; our law by definition is a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition. P. 218
    What our deliberative, pluralistic democracy does demand is that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific values. P. 219

*When science teachers insist on  keeping creationism or intelligent design out of their classrooms, they are not asserting that scientific knowledge is superior to religious insight.  They are simply insisting that each path to knowledge involves different rules and that those rules are not interchangeable. P. 219

*We would [charge Abraham with child abuse against Isaac] because God doesn’t reveal Himself or His angels to all of us in a single moment.  We do not hear what Abraham hears, do not see what Abraham sees, true as those experiences may be.  So the best we can do is act in accordance with those things that are possible for all of us to know, understanding that a part of what we know to be true – as individuals or communities of faith – will be true for us alone. P.220

*For many practicing Christians, the same inability to compromise may apply to gay marriage.  I find such a position troublesome, particularly in a society in which Christian men and women have been known to engage in adultery or other violations of their faith without civil penalty. P. 222

The whole paragraph the above quote starts gives a good picture of what I think Obama’s gay policies lean toward.  A desire for fairness and acceptance but no outright decrying of the ability for gay marriage to be allowed.  Whether that’s political manuvering before becoming President or his honest feelings probably doesn’t matter.  From other things I’ve heard, it seems part of his issue with the fight for gay marriage is the valid (in context) argument that “marriage’ is a religious situation and states shouldn’t be dictating how religions run themselves anyway.  And sounds like he’s pro Civil Unions, which is something.  For me I understand the church vs state argument from people in that head space, but I don’t know if I totally buy it.

I’ve actually now finished the book and should be posting my thoughts on the rest of the chapters in the coming days.  I’d love to hear from others as well.

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Moving Forward [Mar. 5th, 2009|12:58 pm]
Twelve Months of Reading

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[mood |busy]

So I know we've got tons of Obazma to get through but I've been thinking about the game plan beyond.  And the thought occurs every time I add something new to the pile for this club, what about the books in my shelves already?  Maybe this is only a problem I have.  A lot of my friends seem to have been able to catch up on everything on their shelves over the years.

So what about doing something where we just post about books we've read from our shelves?  Maybe sometime in the next few months post a list of what we each have and if anything matches up, we can read it together?  Maybe this idea doesn't work at all?

Just thinking.  I'll probably post about Obama's Faith chapter in the next couple of days.  Hope everyone is well.
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