Friday, February 26, 2010

Big Blue Marble

Remember this show from the ‘70s? As a young girl, I anxiously awaited each new episode to gain a fresh perspective on the world around me. The 30-minute television series highlighted stories of children from around the world and encouraged viewers to join the Big Blue Marble pen pal club. This I did with enthusiasm; I can still remember the excitement of receiving that mail from Santa Barbara, CA, telling me the contact information of the pen pal I had been matched with. I corresponded with several pen pals for years, recalling in particular my pal from Ireland that would tell me first hand accounts of the violence she witnessed in northern Ireland during the political/religious unrest during the 1970s. The Big Blue Marble introduced to me a love of other cultures that continues to this day.

When I began blogging in 2007, it was primarily to write for myself. Probably like some of you, I find writing therapeutic, a creative outlet that never fails to lift my spirits and exercise my mind. But here, three years later, I am discovering other benefits and joys to blogging, not the least of which is connecting with other like-minded individuals around the world. To read about the daily activities of a homeschooling mom in Ireland, an inspiring church service in Scotland, insights from an American living in Russia or heartfelt encouragement from a nun in Greece ... the wonderment first discovered via The Big Blue Marble is alive and well in me.

I feel like I've come full circle in a sense because now I'm not only connected with kindred minds, but I have mentors as well - although they probably don't know it. Blogs such as Ten O'Clock Scholar, Charming the Birds from the Trees, Deb on the Run, Gladsome Lights and Cherished Hearts at Home to name a few, encourage me on a weekly, if not daily, basis. These authors, women/mothers/followers of Christ, have influenced me more than I can adequately describe; their writings and experiences are a testimony to godly living and the art of making a house a home. You inspire me toward that ideal of a Proverbs 31 woman and I’m grateful.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


"Men of high spirit endure offense nobly and willingly. But only the holy and the saintly can pass unscathed through praise."

St. John Climacus

Vainglory. I’ve been thinking of this a lot lately; it’s a word our culture doesn’t employ too much. Maybe we should. Maybe it would help to draw a more distinct line between self-esteem, confidence and dignity - which is good, and arrogance, vanity , vainglory and narcissism, which is bad. By definition, vainglory means “inordinate pride in oneself or one’s accomplishments; excessive vanity.” The opposite of vainglory is humility.

Maybe this is on my mind because I’m currently witnessing the negative effects of vainglory which is packaged up neatly in New Age philosophy through Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra and their ilk. The “enlightenment” of knowing thyself and listening to that voice within is not new. The terms are tweaked, Holy Scripture revised to tickle the ears of modern man and voilà, you have their bottom line: man is god. The idea is unoriginal and it’s disheartening to see how many still fall for this old lie. What was created as dignity morphs into vainglory:

“Vainglory cannot be killed; it strikes unseen by the victim, but is obvious to those around them who are often powerless to lend any assistance.” -Brian Price

The message of the Gospel is denying self in order to follow Christ; this is the only real freedom because ‘in Him we live and move and have our being’ (paraphrased from Acts 17). New Age philosophies appeal to that bedrock of our passions- desiring personal happiness & having what we want, now. This, of course, disregards anything or anyone who may get in our way. Oh,.. yeah, there’s also that little inconvenience of fact; when absolute truth is subjective, that child molester you read about in the news is justified. He’s just living out “his truth” after all. Drawing boundaries around morality includes various shades of gray.

As you can discern from my previous posts relating to chivalry, I view the ideals of the knight as closely related to life in Christ. As the knight denies self for the “higher good”, so I see the christian life. We lay down our passions - our gluttony, pride, lust, etc - in order to sink roots and blossom in this life. The fruits of which are love, peace, kindness, self-control, gentleness, patience, faithfulness and joy. One of the best articles I’ve ever read on the virtue of humility and the bane of vainglory comes not from a christian source, per se, but by Brian Price of the SCA: An Open Letter to Siobhan Medhbh O’ Roarke: On Humility.

Depicted in the artwork above is St. George.

For the purpose of this article, I think it's a great illustration of nobility suppressing vainglory.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Scent Memories

The following fictional piece is part of a creative writing challenge found at Magpie Tales; won't you join the fun?!

As he slowly made his way alongside the Danube watching the birds dive into the frigid water for a treat, his thoughts lingered upon the spacious interior of St. Martin’s Cathedral, where they had been married nearly 50 years ago. Time had written many sad lines upon his face although a few glanced heavenward when he smiled. This journey back to Hana’s homeland was long overdue; he could imagine her delighted face when those blue eyes gazed about the capital city, the spring sun kissing her rosy cheeks, her silver tresses dancing on the April wind.

Outside the cathedral a young girl of simple adornment had placed into his gloved hand a few long sticks of fragrant resin folded delicately in thin paper, bound tenderly with a small cotton string. He looked surprised; she only smiled, lowered her eyes and walked away.

Back in the cosy hotel room, he gazed out at the busy fountains, before settling into a supple leather chair. The paper softly crinkled as he removed an incense stick and twirled it thoughtfully below his nose. Holding the flame for long moments beneath the resin, a thin line of smoke began to waft calmly upward, the faint scent of roses soothing his senses. With closed eyes he could see her now as he first did, those many years ago - outdoors by the chapel, tending the garden.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Snow days and homeschooling ...sort of.

The photo is the Church of the Transfiguration, built in the 18th century on Kizhi Island in Russia. It came up recently as we’ve been homeschooling ... sort of. We’ve been covered up in snow and so, the kids have missed 8 consecutive days of school. We’ve had a great time playing games, working puzzles ... the living room has been converted into a major “fort” dwelling for my daughter. The blankets and sheets strewn over the chairs and coffee table have been in place for 3 days now and I’ve even ventured to crawl through myself joining the company of at least 10 stuffed animals, multitudes of silk flowers, fluffy pillows, a lazy cat and one delighted little girl. I’ve tried to make play time into an opportunity for learning as well.

Today, just outside the blanket fort, we sat and read about the Transfiguration of Christ upon Mt. Tabor. Yesterday the topic was St. Herman of Alaska and the day before that we were creating the distinctive and colorful onion domes atop Orthodox churches out of play-doh. As a guide we used photos from a history book on Russia. Reading about the construction of the domes alone is amazing... and it occurs to me, not for the first time, that architecture truly does inspire our worship.

Since this past Sunday we attended Forgiveness Vespers for the first time, this has also been a topic of conversation this week. I found a very poignant prayer to use... one worth sharing:

“My failure to be true even to my own accepted standards:

My self-deception in the face of temptation:

My choosing of the worse when I know the better:

O Lord forgive.

My failure to apply to myself the standards of conduct I demand of others:

My blindness to the suffering of others, and my slowness to be taught by my own;

My complacence towards wrongs that do not touch my own case and my over-sensitiveness to those that do:

My slowness to see the good in my fellows and to see the evil in myself;

My hardness of heart towards my neighbor’s faults, and my readiness to make allowance for my own:

My unwillingness to believe that Thou hast called me to a small work and my brother to a great one:

O Lord forgive."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Interview with Craig

Probably like most of you reading, the Facebook phenomenon has brought some smiles and reacquainted me with long lost pals. For this I am grateful. It has been good, in some cases, very good, to again be connected with folks I thought I’d never hear from again. On the flip side, I recognize some negative features about Facebook, (which is why I’m giving it up for Lent), and probably not even the obvious one you are thinking of, but I’ll save that for a future post. For now, I’d like to share my interview with Craig, one of those long lost peeps that I am happy to have crossed paths with once again.

I came to know Craig well during our college days as we both sang & performed with the show choir; fun times! We had been out of touch for about 18 years when in 2009, through Facebook, our paths crossed again. To my surprise, Craig’s journey had brought him through an experience of pastoring a megachurch in America and since I’ve been on this topic lately, thought it would be appropriate to pick his mind on the subject. He humored me. Thanks, Craig; I appreciate your honesty, your talents and your friendship.

1. What church were you pastoring in 2006? How many members did you have there and how would you describe a typical Sunday morning worship service?

I was at Riverhills Church in Tampa FL. 1800 members. Worship was led by a traditional robed choir, exuberant worship and music, followed by a 35 minute topical sermon.

2. What events/seminary/training led you to this position?

I actually did not go to seminary. Mainline pentecostal organizations do not require this. A very small minority of pastors have any classical education.

3. How many years did you serve in this church? What new challenges did you face here, serving such a large community of believers?

I served in Tampa for about 2 years. The biggest challenge of service there was the age/philosophical difference. I had a very outward looking philosophy of outreach and community involvement, and although the church was large, it still had a very old-fashioned view of ministry (the pastor was supposed to do all the visiting--in truth, he was supposed to do everything).

4. What were some of the strengths of this community?

In the interest of honesty, I still deal with quite alot of anger and hurt toward the leadership of that ministry, so it's hard to say much that is good. I will say that it is culturally rich. The church was only about 45% white. Latinos, African Americans, and even Eastern Europeans comprised the rest of the body. This broadened me a great deal.

5. You wrote on your blog, “Outwardly, I was encouraging the faithful. Inwardly, I was skeptical about many things my church was standing for (and against).” Can you elaborate on this? What sort of events or situations caused your skepticism? And were you able to collaborate with other church leaders toward a resolution on these issues?

To be honest, I was already becoming skeptical even before I went there. I had enormous success in the Columbus, OH area pastoring a congregation. But increasingly, Evangelicalism was coming to equal Republicanism. And I saw Acts 2:42-27 (just one example) as having no issue with things like redistribution of wealth. But I also (and primarily) became more and more fed up with what the "church machine" required of pastors and members. More and more huge facilities were being built and financed and I just couldn't see the justification for it anymore. I thought we were spending money on the wrong things. I used to say, "What if God allowed the doors of every church building to be locked forever? What would happen to the church?" I feel more strongly on this issue now than before.

I wasn't able to talk to church leaders about this. (or about growing strife in my marriage as Debbie become more disillusioned about the glass house of ministry life). You cannot express any weakness in church work. It will be punished. I still cry sometimes thinking about what some of those fellow ministers are going through that they can't talk to anyone about.

6. What were some of the weaknesses of this community? and, do you see these as general issues facing many Protestant denominations across the US or specific to your experience?

Weaknesses have already been listed for the most part. And they are definitely shared by Protestant denominations across the U.S. I read a statistic once that in America, we spend $100,000.00 for every convert. In Africa, they spend $5.00 for every convert. To me, this says it all.

7. In your life, has there ever been a time when you doubted God’s existence? And, if so, what event/situation/person/authors caused your faith to be renewed?

Yes, I have doubted God's existence. Not for long, but sure, I have. Authors that renewed my faith were mostly ancient (early church fathers--early middle ages). But I also gained alot of edification from Rob Bell and Mark Driscoll, who happen to be very different from one another.

8. I know from your writings that you have since left your position at this church, can you share why you left and what you are doing now?

I left because of total burnout. I eventually came to promote a local church that I did not believe in. Internal board conflicts (though few) were intense. Debbie was withering and so was I. I just couldn't take it anymore. I gave my overseer 3 months notice that I would be leaving. I turned down every offer to relocate and moved home to Ohio, where I returned to school.

9. How do you share Christ with people you meet in daily life?

Half of my closer friends now do not believe in God. I think they will all say they respect my faith more than many others' they have encountered, because I don't run from doubt. If there are historical incongruities in scripture, I am not afraid of that. It doesn't shake my faith. And my atheist friends are willing to listen more because of it.

10. I know music is a big part of your life, is this also an area of ministry for you now? Do you think people of different faiths can be brought together through music?

Music can bring people together, sure. I do not, however, believe that people of differing faiths can find harmony and utopia through music. Just a common love for the song.

11. What plans do you have for the future, after graduation?

I'm not sure, Amy. I have been accepting into both OU's MBA and PhD in History programs.

12. What advice would you give to a young seminarian who has hopes of leading a megachurch in America?

My advice will probably not be popular: DON'T lead a megachurch. I find it irreconcilable with God's plan and building his kingdom through relationships (oikos). Megachurches, for the most part, entertain. Relationships edify. I would advise finding a small church by the side of the road with no debt and getting to know his/her community over a lifetime, even if his/her name never becomes well-known.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Polishing the Silver

Her hands are familiar, soft to the touch, warm to hold.
They worked long and hard, gardening, cleaning, attending to paper-
Always in joyful company they gathered to polish the silver.

Her hands are familiar, I can see the golden wedding band still.
They cared for us, cooked for us, hugged us much.
Always in joyful company they gathered to polish the silver.

Her hands are familiar, I remember the holiday table prepared
Carrying the platters, the bowls, and goblets of mirth
Always in joyful company they gathered to polish the silver.

Her hands are familiar, yet distant now
Clasped in disquieted fret
The memories stolen by ruthless disease.
Our hands hold hers and we cherish the days
Of warm fellowship dancing round the silver.

©2010 ALT

My first Magpie Tale, dedicated to my beautiful mother-in-law, Josephine.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Magpie Tales: for the love of writing

Well here is something fun, a new blog dedicated to the "enjoyment of writers, for the purpose of honing their craft, sharing it with like minded bloggers, and keeping their muses alive and well", according to the description at Magpie Tales.

I found this creative writing challenge via Life at Willow Manor, a whimsical and artsy blog I've been following for some time now.  What a great way to have fun and improve my writing skills.  I've long believed that in order to be what you wish to become, you better keep company with those smarter, more experienced and talented than yourself.  And so, I'm taking on this challenge with the hope of becoming a better writer and what's more, I'll be able to read a variety of works inspired by the same photo... I relish opportunities to think outside the box!  Won't you join me?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Podvig; a lesson from the Russian Orthodox Church

Podvig. This beautiful Russian term cannot be translated into a single English word, but is best understood to us English speaking people as ascetic struggle; striving against our passions in order to grow closer to God.  Podvig is an essential element to life in Christ - one that I’ve been learning to embrace over the past six years.
As I look round and listen to friends who attend(ed) some of our megachurches in America, I’m perplexed by the comforts provided to congregants. With various worship services, some with contemporary music, others with traditional to afford members a choice... top of the line theater, sound and lighting equipment, big screens to project images to the back of the crowd, coffee bars and a mall like atmosphere outside of the sanctuary  ... tell me again, where is the sacred worship of Christ?  Oh, thanks, I see it now -- down the neon corridor and left at the nondenominational sign with the cross olive branches painted across it.
“We’ll do whatever it takes to bring the Gospel message to the multitudes” is the mantra of the megachurch pastor.  Comfy seats, full tummies, professional entertainment - all to usher you toward the foot of the Cross ..?   Don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT saying the Word of God cannot be heard in such places, I just wonder how it is that members can get past their coziness to work out their salvation in fear and trembling.
Enter in, podvig ~  a complete 180 from the idea of comfortable worship and salvation.  Let me share a true story to illustrate my point:
Six years ago, I was walking in a deep valley.  I was questioning the true nature of worship, watching my church dwindle to 15 members on a good Sunday, and going through a season of depression in my personal life.  I felt isolated, willing to quit church all together, and yet, it was only through my occasional encounters with Orthodoxy that I felt a measure of relief - of emotional healing.  It was then that I discovered church as a hospital rather than a learning center. As a christian of 30 + years, it was in the Orthodox Church that I discovered - for the first time - what sacred worship is all about.
On the 40 minute commute to church, I was bringing my two young children, then 2 and 6 years old with me.  This was no easy task.  They frequently bulked at going to a new church which made it difficult to get them fed, dressed and out the door... let alone the time of tears and arguing in the car on the way there.  And I should add here - this is nothing new to many moms out there!  This very situation is a recurrent theme of conversation I have with other moms even to this day.
But here’s the thing...  forcing myself to go to church anyway, praying that God would make peaceful this chaos in my mornings, going through the gauntlet was a means of receiving God’s grace and producing spiritual fruit.  This is why Holy Scripture tells us to rejoice through our trials, for they produce virtue in us. (Romans 5)   
Getting to church was my podvig six years ago; praise God for his faithfulness because nowadays my family rejoices in going to church!  Our willingness to embrace difficulty, to take the high road to follow Christ has produced so many blessings, not the least of which has been an attitude adjustment towards ascetic struggle; God bless the Russians and the depth of their Orthodox spirituality.
As a side note, I found the beautiful painting here.  I think my love affair with Russia is growing...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Soles for Souls

Just this past week as we were heading out the door for school, the kids & I heard on the radio about a program called Soles 4 Souls.  An area elementary school began an effort to help this national program with it's effort in Haiti and we quickly decided to jump on board.  The same evening when the family was all together, I'm glad embarrassed to say we gathered up 19 pairs of shoes in less than 10 minutes...  good grief what a sin to have that many shoes.  May they find their way to feet who truly need them.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Cultural War & Civil Disobedience

After posting yesterday, I was soon reminded of an important person I inadvertently left off my short list  - Charlton Heston - God rest his soul.  

Although Heston wasn't a man I would readily identify as humble, he most certainly was a man who publicly acknowledged God and spoke his mind on conservative values, political correctness and a was a great defender of the US Constitution.

I read Heston's speech at Harvard again last night and used a bit of it as a short lesson to my kids on the way to school today.  Heston's willingness to confront those shareholders at Time/Warner is something I would have loved to witness.

Charlton Heston's speech to Harvard Law School, February 1999  - Winning the Cultural War:

"I remember my son when he was five, explaining to his kindergarten class what his father did for a living. "My Daddy," he said, "pretends to be people." There have been quite a few of them. Prophets from the Old and New Testaments, a couple of Christian saints, generals of various nationalities and different centuries, several kings, three American presidents, a French cardinal and two geniuses, including Michelangelo. If you want the ceiling re-painted I'll do my best. There always seem to be a lot of different fellows up here. I'm never sure which one of them gets to talk. Right now, I guess I'm the guy.

As I pondered our visit tonight it struck me: if my Creator gave me the gift to connect you with the hearts and minds of those great men, then I want to use that same gift now to re-connect you with your own sense of liberty, your own freedom of thought, your own compass for what is right.

Dedicating the memorial at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln said of America, "We are now engaged in a great Civil War, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure."
Those words are true again. I believe that we are again engaged in a great civil war, a cultural war that's about to hijack your birthright to think and say what lives in your heart. I'm sure you no longer trust the pulsing lifeblood of liberty inside you, the stuff that made this country rise from wilderness into the miracle that it is.
Let me back up a little. About a year or two ago, I became president of the National Rifle Association, which protects the right to keep and bear arms of American citizens. I ran for office. I was elected, and now I serve. I serve as a moving target for the media who've called me everything from "ridiculous" and "duped" to a "brain-injured, senile, crazy old man." I know, I'm pretty old, but I sure Lord ain't senile.
As I've stood in the crosshairs of those who target Second Amendment freedoms, I've realized that firearms are -- are not the only issue. No, it's much, much bigger than that. I've come to understand that a cultural war is raging across our land, in which, with Orwellian fervor, certain accepted thoughts and speech are mandated.
For example, I marched for civil rights with Dr. King in 1963 -- and long before Hollywood found it acceptable, I may say. But when I told an audience last year that white pride is just as valid as black pride or red pride or anyone else's pride, they called me a racist.
I've worked with brilliantly talented homosexuals all my life -- throughout my whole career. But when I told an audience that gay rights should extend no further than your rights or my rights, I was called a homophobe.
I served in World War II against the Axis powers. But during a speech, when I drew an analogy between singling out the innocent Jews and singling out innocent gun owners, I was called an anti-Semite.
Everyone I know knows I would never raise a closed fist against my country. But when I asked an audience to oppose this cultural persecution I'm talking about, I was compared to Timothy McVeigh.
From Time magazine to friends and colleagues, they're essentially saying, "Chuck, how dare you speak your mind like that. You are using language not authorized for public consumption."
But I am not afraid. If Americans believed in political correctness, we'd still be King George's boys -- subjects bound to the British crown.
In his book, "The End of Sanity," Martin Gross writes that
    "blatantly irrational behavior is rapidly being established as the norm in almost every area of human endeavor. There seem to be new customs, new rules, new anti-intellectual theories regularly twisted on us -- foisted on us from every direction. Underneath, the nation is roiling. Americans know something without a name is undermining the country, turning the mind mushy when it comes to separating truth from falsehood and right from wrong. And they don't like it."
Let me read you a few examples. At Antioch College in Ohio, young men speaking and seeking intimacy with a coed must get verbal permission at each step of the process, from kissing to petting to final, at last, copulation -- all clearly spelled out in a printed college directive.
In New Jersey, despite the death of several patients nationwide who'd been infected by dentists who had concealed their own AIDS, the state commissioner announced that health providers who are HIV-positive need not -- need not! -- tell their patients that they are infected.
At William and Mary, students tried to change the name of the school team "The Tribe" because it was supposedly insulting to local Indians, only to learn that authentic Virginia chiefs really like the name, "The Tribe."
In San Francisco, city fathers passed an ordinance protecting the rights of transvestites to cross-dress on the job, and for transsexuals to have separate toilet facilities while undergoing sex change surgery.
In New York City, kids who didn't speak a word of Spanish had been placed in bilingual classes to learn their three R's in Spanish solely because their own names sound Hispanic.
At the University of Pennsylvania, in a state where thousands died at Gettysburg opposing slavery, the president of that college officially set up segregated dormitory space for black students.
Yeah, I know, that's out of bounds now. Dr. King said "Negroes." Jimmy Baldwin and most of us on the March said "black." But it's a no-no now.
For me, hyphenated identities are awkward, particularly "Native-American." I'm a Native American, for God's sake. I also happen to be a blood-initiated brother of the Miniconjou Sioux. On my wife's side, my grandson's a twelfth generation native-American, with a capital letter on "American."
Finally, just last month, David Howard, head of the Washington D.C. Office of Public Advocate, used the word "niggardly" while talking about budgetary matters with some colleagues. Of course, "niggardly" means stingy or scanty. But within days, Howard was forced to publicly apologize and then resign.
As columnist Tony Snow wrote: "David Howard got fired because some people in public employ were morons who (a) didn't know the meaning of 'niggardly,' (b) don't know how to use a dictionary to discover the meaning, and (c) actually demanded that he apologize for their ignorance."
Now, what does all of this mean? Among other things, it means that telling us what to think has evolved into telling us what to say, so telling us what to do can't be far behind. Before you claim to be a champion of free thought, tell me: Why did political correctness originate on America's campuses? And why do you continue to -- to tolerate it? Why do you, who're supposed to debate ideas, surrender to their suppression?
Let -- Let's be honest. Who here in this room thinks your professors can say what they really believe? (Uh-huh. There's a few....) Well, that scares me to death, and it should scare you too, that the superstition of political correctness rules the halls of reason.
You are the best and the brightest. You, here in this fertile cradle of American academia, here in the castle of learning on the Charles River. You are the cream. But I submit that you and your counterparts across the land are the most socially conformed and politically silenced generation since Concord Bridge. And as long as you validate that and abide it, you are, by your grandfathers' standards, cowards.
Here's another example. Right now at more than one major university, Second Amendment scholars and researchers are being told to shut up about their findings or they'll lose their jobs. But why? Because their research findings would undermine big-city mayors' pending lawsuits that seek to extort hundreds of millions of dollars from firearm manufacturers.
Now, I don't care what you think about guns. But if you are not shocked at that, I am shocked at you. Who will guard the raw material of unfettered ideas, if not you? Democracy is dialogue. Who will defend the core values of academia, if you, the supposed soldiers of free thought and expression lay down your arms and plead, "Don't shoot me."
If you talk about race, it does not make you a racist. If you see distinctions between the genders, it does not make you sexist. If you think critically about a denomination, it does -- does not make you anti-religion. If you accept but don't celebrate homosexuality, it does not make you a homophobe.
Don't let America's universities continue to serve as incubators for this rampant epidemic of new McCarthyism. That's what it is: New McCarthyism. But, what can you do? How can anyone prevail against such pervasive social subjugation?
Well, the answer's been here all along. I learned it 36 years ago, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., standing with Dr. Martin Luther King and two hundred thousand people.
You simply disobey. Peaceably, yes. Respectfully, of course. Nonviolently, absolutely. But when told how to think or what to say or how to behave, we don't. We disobey the social protocol that stifles and stigmatizes personal freedom.
I learned the awesome power of disobedience from Dr. King who learned it from Gandhi, and Thoreau, and Jesus, and every other great man who led those in the right against those with the might.
Disobedience is in our DNA. We feel innate kinship with that disobedient spirit that tossed tea into Boston Harbor, that sent Thoreau to jail, that refused to sit in the back of the bus, that protested a war in Viet Nam.
In that same spirit, I' m asking you to disavow cultural correctness with massive disobedience of rogue authority, social directives, and onerous laws that weaken personal freedom.
But be careful. It hurts. Disobedience demands that you put yourself at risk. Dr. King stood on lots of balconies. You must be willing to be humiliated, to endure the modern-day equivalent of the police dogs at Montgomery and the water Cannons at Selma. You must be willing to experience discomfort. Now, I'm not complaining, but my own decades of social activism have left their mark on me. Let me tell you a story.
A few years ago, I heard about a -- a rapper named Ice-T who was selling a CD called "Cop Killer," celebrating the ambushing and of murdering police officers. It was being marketed by none other than Time/Warner, the biggest entertainment conglomerate in the country -- in the world. Police across the country were outraged. And rightfully so. At least one of them had been murdered. But Time/Warner was stonewalling because the -- the CD was a cash cow for them, and the media were tiptoeing around because the rapper was black. I heard Time/Warner had a stockholders meeting scheduled in Beverly Hills, and I owned some shares of Time/Warner at the time, so I decided to attend the meeting.
What I did was against the advice of my family and my colleagues. I asked for the floor. To a hushed room of a thousand average American stockholders, I simply read the full lyrics of "Cop Killer" -- every vicious, vulgar, instructional word:
    I got my 12-Gauge sawed-off. I got my headlights turned off. I'm about to bust some shots off. I'm about to dust some cops off.
It got worse, a lot worse. Now, I won't read the rest of it to you. But trust me, the room was a sea of shocked, frozen, blanched faces. Time/Warner executives squirmed in their chairs and stared at their shoes. They hated me for that. Then I delivered another volley of sick lyrics brimming with racist filth, where Ice-T fantasizes about sodomizing the two 12-year-old nieces of Al and Tipper Gore:
    She pushed her butt against my --
No. No, I won't do to you here what I did to them. Let's just say I left the room in stunned silence. When I read the lyrics to the waiting press corps outside, one of them said, "We can't print that, you know." "I know," I said, "but Time/Warner is still selling it."
Two months later, Time/Warner terminated Ice-T's contract. I'll never be offered another film by Warner Brothers, or get a good review from Time magazine. But disobedience means you have to be willing to act, not just talk.
When a mugger sues his elderly victim for defending herself, jam the switchboard of the district attorney's office. When your university is pressured -- your university -- is pressured to lower standards until 80% of the students graduate with honors, choke the halls of the Board of Regents. When an 8-year-old boy pecks a girl's cheek on the playground and then gets hauled into court for sexual harassment, march on that school and block its doorways. When someone you elected is seduced by political power and betrays you -- petition them, oust them, banish them. When Time magazine's cover portrays millennium nuts as deranged, crazy Christians holding a cross as it did last month, boycott their magazine and the products it advertises.
So that this nation may long endure, I urge you to follow in the hallowed footsteps of the great disobediences of history that freed exiles, founded religions, defeated tyrants, and yes, in the hands of an aroused rabble in arms and a few great men, by God's grace, built this country.
If Dr. King were here, I think he would agree.
I thank you."
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