Wednesday, March 29, 2006

cool peace and justice festival in lexington in May

Find out about it here.

pax christi,


The State of the Union? Never Better........

The following is taken from Mike Medlock's (of the summary of the United States Consolidated Financial Statement for the year 2005. It is something to consider as we continue raising our children together.
(Continue reading....)

Those still suffering through that massive report will notice the following disclaimers from the Government Accountability Office, starting on Page 139 and pretty much continuing for the rest of the document. Following are some of the lowlights:

“A significant number of material weaknesses related to financial systems, fundamental recordkeeping and financial reporting, and incomplete documentation continued to (1) hamper the federal government’s ability to reliably report a significant portion of its assets, liabilities, costs, and other related information; (2) affect the federal government’s ability to reliably measure the full cost as well as the financial and nonfinancial performance of certain programs and activities; (3) impair the federal government’s ability to adequately safeguard significant assets and properly record various transactions; and (4) hinder the federal government from having reliable financial information to operate in an economical, efficient, and effective manner. We found the following:

“Material deficiencies in financial reporting (which also represent material weaknesses) and other limitations on the scope of our work resulted in conditions that continued to prevent us from expressing an opinion on the accompanying consolidated financial statements for the fiscal years ended Sept. 30, 2005 and 2004.

“· The federal government did not maintain effective internal control over financial reporting (including safeguarding assets) and compliance with significant laws and regulations as of Sept. 30, 2005

“· Our work to determine compliance with selected provisions of significant laws and regulations in fiscal year 2005 was limited by the material weaknesses and scope limitations discussed in this report.

Disclaimer of Opinion on the Consolidated Financial Statements

“Because of the federal government’s inability to demonstrate the reliability of significant portions of the U.S. government’s accompanying consolidated financial statements for fiscal years 2005 and 2004, principally resulting from the material deficiencies, and other limitations on the scope of our work, described in this report, we are unable to, and we do not, express an opinion on such financial statements.

“As a result of the material deficiencies in the federal government’s systems, recordkeeping, documentation, and financial reporting and scope limitations, readers are cautioned that amounts reported in the consolidated financial statements and related notes may not be reliable. These material deficiencies and scope limitations also affect the reliability of certain information contained in the accompanying Management’s Discussion and Analysis and other financial management information -- including information used to manage the government day to day and budget information reported by federal agencies -- that is taken from the same data sources as the consolidated financial statements…

The Nation’s Fiscal Imbalance

“While we are unable to express an opinion on the U.S. government’s consolidated financial statements, several key items deserve emphasis in order to put the information contained in the financial statements and the Management’s Discussion and Analysis section of the Financial Report of the United States Government into context. First, while the reported $319 billion fiscal year 2005 unified budget deficit was significantly lower than the $412 billion unified budget deficit in fiscal year 2004, it was still very high given current economic growth rates and the overall composition of federal spending. Furthermore, the federal government’s reported net operating cost, which included expenses incurred during the year, increased to $760 billion in fiscal year 2005, from $616 billion in fiscal year 2004. Second, the U.S. government’s total reported liabilities, net social insurance commitments and other fiscal exposures continue to grow and now total more than $46 trillion, representing close to four times current GDP and up from about $20 trillion, or two times GDP in 2000. Finally, while the nation’s long-term fiscal imbalance continues to grow, the retirement of the “baby boom” generation is closer to becoming a reality with the first wave of boomers eligible for early retirement under Social Security in 2008. Given these and other factors, it seems clear that the nation’s current fiscal path is unsustainable and that tough choices by the president and the Congress are necessary in order to address the nation’s large and growing long-term fiscal imbalance…

Adverse Opinion on Internal Control

“Because of the effects of the material weaknesses discussed in this report, in our opinion, the federal government did not maintain effective internal control as of Sept. 30, 2005, to meet the following objectives: (1) transactions are properly recorded, processed, and summarized to permit the preparation of the financial statements and stewardship information in conformity with GAAP, and assets are safeguarded against loss from unauthorized acquisition, use, or disposition; and (2) transactions are executed in accordance with laws governing the use of budget authority and with other significant laws and regulations that could have a direct and material effect on the financial statements and stewardship information. Consequently, the federal government’s internal control did not provide reasonable assurance that misstatements, losses, or noncompliance material in relation to the financial statements or to stewardship information would be prevented or detected on a timely basis. Our adverse opinion on internal control over financial reporting and compliance is based upon the criteria established under FMFIA. Individual federal agency financial statement audit reports identify additional reportable conditions in internal control, some of which were reported by agency auditors as being material weaknesses at the individual agency level…

“David M. Walker
Comptroller General of the United States
Dec. 2, 2005”

What the government is willing to admit is rather amazing. Perhaps they are hoping no one reads these things. I suggest we would all be better off if these reports were required reading for every high school in the country.

Mike Shedlock ~ “Mish”

The rest of Mike Medlock's summary, also very revealing, can be read at:
(sorry, I can't figure out how to do the links!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

million-dollar murray

i was reading this article today. it is a fascinating piece by malcolm gladwell about the high costs incurred by city governments in relation to a "hard-core" fraction of the homeless population. i was reading it while thinking about some of the guys i know and have known in our city. guys (and a couple of women) who are always in hospital, jail, or recovery.

one particular man came to mind as a stand out character. he is so consistently drunk and under arrest for public intoxication that police, jail workers, and street people alike joke about him having his own cell at the county detention center (complete with his name engraved into a plaque above the door) . lo and behold, this gentleman walks up to me while i'm reading this article and in his inimitable style proceeds to bust a few dance moves and hit me up for some change. if you live in lexington and spend any time downtown you will know him as James Brown. he was made famous a couple of years ago - it is really sad to see his freak-show celebrity, but that's another post...(see this link for more information.) i like to call this gentleman by his real name as he always does a double take (i learned his real name 7 years ago on one of the handful of occasions i have actually seen him sober) . i guess he is so used to his james brown alter ego that the dignity of being called by his given name comes as a bit of a shock.

anyway, it was a little happy coincidence. if you are interested in issues of homelessness and have friends on the street, go ahead and read the article. most of the time i have no idea how to move beyond the awkward helplessness of loving people who are battered against the streets (taking their cues, of course, from a broader culture of nihilism around them...they just can't afford their own private space for self-destructive drinking and drugging). when i have properly digested gladwell's article i'll post a little more.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

three springs farm

six of us journeyed out to dave and arwen's farm on saturday morning. we piled into CG's van for the trip out to carlisle and we enjoyed working our bodies with and against the earth to dig a trench and lay the foundation for a path.

we have been relishing the chance to get to know a local farming family and participate in Community Supported Agriculture. we are experiencing that particular grace that comes along when a handful of people seek to embody a theoretical ideal. somehow the gap between what is and what should be closed a little with each shovel load of soil. here are some pictures of the work. the growing season is coming and we're excited to think about the snow flurries giving way to sun kissed tomatoes.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Wendell Speaks

This is a good opportunity to hear Mr. Berry in person. in recent weeks I've been dipping into his latest writings, "The Way of Ignorance and Other Essays" (see a sample essay here). he is a remarkably eloquent and compelling essayist.

Central Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice
Annual Peace Fair and Dinner

Wendell Berry speaking...

Peace & Justice Fair: 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Vegetarian Dinner: 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Speaker: 7:00 p.m.

Fellowship Hall
Christ Church Cathedral
166 Market Street

Fair & Speaker - free & open to the public
Vegetarian Dinner:
$9.00 Adults
$5.00 Children 12 yrs. and under

Act now. Room for only 200.
To reserve a ticket contact Mary Alice Pratt at (859) 278-0833.

Monday, March 20, 2006

words from thomas merton

every week i receive a thomas merton reflection. sometimes i read it, sometimes not, but i'm always so grateful when i do. this week's is interesting. it's about communication. maybe you'll find it worth the read as well.

link: thomas merton reflection

World Water Day 2006

many of us have been practicing a Lenten discipline where we abstain from all beverages except water. we have been setting aside the money we might have spent on tea/coffee/beer/wine/milk/coke/etc. and collecting it to sponsor a clean water project in Uganda (Uganda was chosen because we have some friends in that country through the trip Billy and James went on).

the organization is called Water Aid and here's a link to information about their work in Uganda.

It's also a nice coincidence that this Wednesday, March 22nd is World Water Day.
here's the scoop...

In 1992, the UN General Assembly designated March 22 as World Water Day to draw international attention to the critical lack of clean, safe drinking water worldwide. It is a time when we are encouraged to pause and consider the largest public health issue of our time - the global scarcity of clean water.
The facts are mind boggling. More than 1 billion people world wide - 20% of the planet's entire human population - lack access to clean, safe drinking water. According to the United Nations, this world water crisis leads to the death of more than 4,500 children every day and is a leading cause of poverty, disease, and social instability world wide.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

malawi and bono

this is my first ever link to People Magazine.
A wonderful, tender story from Malawi in Africa.

...and this recent interview with Bono by my favorite Aussie chat show host, Andrew Denton.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Mountain Top Removal across the pond

my brother sent me the link for this article in the UK press:,,1728999,00.html

It is an opinion piece on the issue and does a good job of giving us an outsiders perspective on MTR and the current administrations failure to reconcile creation care with actual policy.

here's a taste:

That may appeal to a Texan oil man and cattle rancher but the inconsistency between the professed beliefs of the Christian right on 'intelligent design' and the conduct of environmental policy under Bush is staggering. If the flying squirrel, the copperhead snake and cerulean warbler, the sugar maples, the black gum and hickory trees of the forest of the Appalachians were, indeed, all designed by God, why destroy them so wantonly?

This is partly explained by a certain cultural entitlement to inconsistency which permits some Americans to complain about secondary smoke while climbing aboard their sports utility vehicles and, as Condoleezza Rice did last week, to list the human-rights violations in Iran while ignoring Guantanano. Yet this is not the whole story. A supreme right accorded by American individualism is to make a profit and, somewhere in the psyche of the quail-shooting conservative, decked out in his impeccable weekend hunting gear, is the idea that to assert dominion over the earth you must destroy.

It is all rather depressing, but let me make clear that there are good Americans out there, whose voices are only just being heard above the whir of the Republican money-counting machines - people such as Erik Reece and Robert Kennedy Jr and many unknown environmental campaigners. They deserve our support during this Appalachian spring, however distant.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The meaning of hope…

Through this empty time of my faith journey, I’ve been looking for anything to make me feel better. At the core of that, I’ve really been looking for anything that can make sense of the suffering of today’s world (right here in Lexington, no less) and the triumph of the cross over everything for all time. God’s spirit has drawn near to me at times offering comfort and at other times leaving me with a gaping silence. Such is the way of growing. But one missionary scholar and guide that Geoff and I repeatedly turn to is David Bosch. We finished one of his book, A Spirituality of the Road, with Lisa and Clinton last weekend. From it I received a crack of light and a bit of understanding that helps reconcile big gaps in my tenuous faith. So I’ll share this small piece:

“Christian hope does not spring from despair about the present time, however; it is based on that which is already a reality. It is both possession and yearning, repose and activity, arrival and journey. Hope is the connecting line between the already and the not yet, between the penultimate and the ultimate. We dream about the future by working to make it come true.”

“We dream about the future by working to make it come true.” Maybe that’s enough to go on for today.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Reflection from Cameroon

I have two dear friends(Baine and Laurie) in Cameroon working with She sent me this email yesterday and I thought I would post it for all, because of the sincerity of the reflection. Here you go!

Reading back through part of my journal today, I'm realizing how much I have learned just in the past couple of month. From my journal on December 6, 2005:

It seems that the most important human priority is to be comfortable. But it also seems that the most important thing that humans need is to be confronted with discomfort. To experience one area of discomfort seems challenging but tolerable; most would even say that this merits honor or reward. But what happens when someone experiences discomfort in numerous areas of life – all at once? How can such a person survive, in comparison to the deep, deep comfort that dictates every step of the lives of most? How does the person living in discomfort get into that situation? Do they choose that path or invite it? If so, why? Does God allow people to go down the road of discomfort (i.e., pain) only when they allow/ask for it or is it super-imposed?

Why does it hurt so intensely when I am uncomfortable? Am I pursuing discomfort in hopes of refining who I am? If, before inviting discomfort, I had the slightest memory of the vivid and seemingly unbearable pain of discomfort, I would probably opt for a more selfish, mediocre, “comfortable” life. Thank God the “birth pains” fade in light of the new creation that is born through discomfort. Thank God, even in the midst of this real and agonizing pain, for the desire to be refined and the willingness to endure and boldly face discomfort. That kind of boldness and purity comes only from the grace of Christ. Thank God!

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows you its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well developed, not deficient in any way. If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help.” James 1:2-5

With Love,

40 days

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. (Mark 1:9-13)

see what happened next by following jesus into the desert with this link.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

an ash wednesday message from God

wondering what kind of fast?
perhaps giving up "coffee/chocolate" is easier...

This is the kind of fast day I'm after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. What I'm interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.

Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The GOD of glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, GOD will answer. You'll call out for help and I'll say, “Here I am.”

If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people's sins, if you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down--and-out, Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. I will always show you where to go. I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places--firm muscles, strong bones.

You'll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You'll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again.