Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Water and Climate Change in Texas

Warning: Senator Jim Inhofe says this is a hoax.

Stephen Jones sings Lord God of Abraham

Stephen Jones, a music major at the University of Oklahoma, sings "Lord God of Abraham" from Felix Mendelssohn's "Elijah" during the morning worship service at NorthHaven Church in Norman, Oklahoma on March 25, 2012.

Monday, March 26, 2012

30 Years of Evidence for Climate Change

Dr. Steve Dominy on the Name of God

Dr. Steve Dominy's sermon on "The Name of God" on February 26, 2012. The text for the sermon is John 6:25-40. This was Dr. Dominy's first sermon as pastor of University Baptist Church in Shawnee, Oklahoma.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Payday Lenders Leave You Shackled and Drawn

Last year, Oklahomans involved in the New Baptist Covenant movement determined to draw critical attention to the loan sharking that is legal under our payday lending laws.

A few days ago, USA Today called attention to the influence payday lenders are trying to exert on the U.S. Presidential election by their contributions to SuperPAC's.

Payday lending is just the tip of the iceberg of the predatory finance and investment system that we have in this country.

Bruce Springsteen describes the result of the inequities of our economic system in a number of songs on his new "Wrecking Ball" album. Here's my favorite:

Gambling man rolls the dice,
working man pays the bill
It's still fat and easy up on banker's hill
Up on bankers hill, the party's still going strong
Down here below we're shackled and drawn.

Shackled and drawn, shackled and drawn
Pick up the rock son, carry it on
We're trudging through the dark in
a world gone wrong
I woke up this morning shackled and drawn.
Every morning, someone borrowing money from a payday lender wakes up to find themselves shackled and drawn.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

On Richard Land and our National Debt

Associated Baptist Press is reporting that James Robison and Richard Land are doing their best to revive interest in the culture wars issues that are the bread and butter of the religious right, but they know that economic issues are likely to be paramount in this election. That's why Richard Land is quoted as saying things like:
Land predicted the economy is "going to be a huge issue" in the upcoming election.

"There are those of us who have been hammering away at the fact that you cannot separate the social issues from the economic issues," he said. "We’re spending 700 billion dollars a year in means-tested welfare programs trying to make up for absent fathers, and the states are spending another 200 billion dollars a year trying to make up for absent fathers."
As usual, Richard Land is pointing fingers everywhere but where they should be directed. Land has no one better than himself to blame for much of the government's deficit spending that is dragging down our economy. He was the head cheerleader for President Bush's unwarranted preventive war to deprive Iraq of its non-existent weapons of mass destruction. Debt is still piling up from Bush's unfunded wars -- debt that is projected to cost between $3.7 and $4.4 trillion dollars.

While both elected and religious leaders around the world were condemning the Bush administration's war with Iraq as unjust, Land was inventing rationales for military action.

A number of those absent fathers and absent mothers that Land is complaining about are absent because they died serving their country in Iraq.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Simple Gifts

An unusual ensemble at University Baptist Church in Shawnee, Oklahoma plays "Simple Gifts" by Aaron Copeland during the offertory on February 26, 2012. Their music preceeded Dr. Steve Dominy's first sermon as pastor of the church.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

On the Demise of Employer-Based Health Insurance

Via Mother Jones, the above chart from the National Institute for Health Care Reform graphically records the decline in employer-based health insurance for the non-elderly working age population.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Mitch Randall on Hagar and Ishmael

Dr. Mitch Randall, pastor of NorthHaven Baptist Church in Norman, Oklahoma preaches a sermon on Hagar and Ishmael as part of a 2012 Lenten sermon series on "Roads to Redemption." This sermon is entitled "Stressful Endings" and was delivered on March 11, 2012. His sermon text is Genesis 21:8-21.

The sermon is preceded by a dramatic presentation featuring Dr. Randall's wife, Missy, and his son Cole.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Trita Parsi on the Need for Diplomacy, not War, with Iran

Trita Parsi on Relations between the U.S., Israel and Iran from Bruce Prescott on Vimeo.

Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and author of A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama's Diplomacy with Iran speaks about the need for diplomacy rather than a rush to war with Iran. Parsi spoke at a lunch and discussion session sponsored by the College of International Studies at the University of Oklahoma on March 2, 2012.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

OK City to Host National Worshop on Christian Unity

Dr. William Tabbernee, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches and local chair of the committee making preparations for the 2012 National Workshop on Christian Unity, announces plans for the April 16-19 meeting in Oklahoma City. Additional information and registration materials can be found at www.nwcu.org.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Obama Administration's Timing Could Have Been Better

Ethics Daily has posted a preliminary summary of the meeting between Good Will Baptists and Obama administration officials yesterday. It was a good meeting.

I asked a couple questions during the meeting. The most important was a question I asked Paul Monteiro, Associate Director of Public Engagement.

Associate Director Monteiro distributed a sheet that promoted twelve "White House Community Partnership Summits" that will be held at cities around the country from February to mid-July. According to the handout, the 1.5 day summits will "bring senior Obama Administration officials and Agency Staff from diverse policy areas together with civic leaders, business owners, and other community stakeholders to discuss issues critical to each particular community, region, and the nation." He asked us to encourage members of our minister and clergy networks to attend one of the summits.

In my mind, these summits bore striking resemblance to the conferences that the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives hosted in politically strategic cities in 2004. David Kuo, in his book Tempting Faith described these conferences as a blatant effort to garner support from Hispanic and black religious leaders for then President Bush's re-election. So blatant that an extra conference was added in the last days of the re-election campaign -- in mid-October in Miami, Florida.

I asked Monteiro to distinguish his summits from the 2004 conferences during the Bush administration for me.

Monteiro replied that the summits were not organized by the "White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives." The summits were organized by the "Office of Public Engagement" and were addressed to a broader constituency. He also said he was familiar with David Kuo's book and knew that selections of host cities for the 2004 Conferences had been based on polling data that indicated they would have maximum impact on President Bush's re-election campaign. He stated the selection for the 2012 summits was determined by requests for assistance from the communities themselves -- there was no input from President Obama's re-election campaign and no polling data was consulted. Monteiro indicated that, in his opinion, it would be illegal for his office to do what Kuo claims was done in 2004.

There is no doubt in my mind that the interaction between Obama Administration policy makers and the public at these summits will be beneficial to both. Personally, to avoid any appearance of impropriety, I think it would be wise to refrain from holding such summits during years when presidents are campaigning for re-election.

Les Downs plays Frederic Chopin

Dr. Leslie Downs plays selections from Frederick Chopin at his piano recital at NorthHaven Church on February 18, 2012. He plays Mazurka in C-Sharp minor, Op. 50, No. 3 and Scherzo No. 3 in C-Sharp minor, Op. 39.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Les Downs Plays Darius Milhaud

Dr. Leslie Downs plays Darius Milhaud from Bruce Prescott on Vimeo.

Dr. Leslie Downs plays selections from Darius Milhaud's Saudades do Brazil, Op. 67 at his piano recital at NorthHaven Church on February 18, 2012. He plays Copacabana, Ipanema, Tijuca, and Gavea.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Where is the Red Line with Iran?

Dr. Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and author of A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama's Diplomacy with Iran, answers a question about where he sees the "red line" that should not be crossed in US-Iranian relations. The question was part of the dialogue at a brown bag lunch and discussion session sponsored by the College of International Studies at the University of Oklahoma on March 2, 2012.

Note: The picture frozen on the video is of the questioner, not Dr. Parsi.

Les Downs Plays Franz Liszt

Dr. Leslie Downs plays Franz Liszt's Consolation No. 2 in E Major from Harmonies Poetiques et Religieuses: Funerailles at his February 18, 2012 piano recital at NorthHaven Church.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Les Downs Plays Haydn

Leslie Downs Plays Joseph Haydn from Bruce Prescott on Vimeo.

Dr. Leslie Downs plays Joseph Haydn's Sonata in B minor at his piano recital at NorthHaven Church on February 18, 2012.