Saturday, March 28, 2015

Five Links 3: Trans-Pacific Partnership edition

Jamelle Bouie of Slate suggests the Senate Minority Leader spot that Harry Reid is vacating is a spot for a moderate, because this position represents all Democrats, not just the liberal wing… therefore Elizabeth Warren isn’t the right person for the job. If she became Senate Minority Leader she’d be pulled to the right and no longer be a firebrand for the left.

Ted Cruz, and increasing my vocabulary:
Douthat games out a scenario in which Ted Cruz, currentlythe only Republican who has announced his candidacy for President, becomes theRepublican nominee. Essentially, Cruz should hope for a crowd of centrists whacking one another and Rand Paul to be off in left field doing his own thing. Cruz then would need to find a few issues that separates him from the field and prove that he’s the only “true believer”… for example his position on Immigration (and potentially Common Core and the ACA). Essentially, Cruz could use a few dog whistle issues to paint the rest of the field as Republicans in Name Only (RINOs) in Reagan clothing.
Douthat believes Cruz’s main liability is his lack of likability… more specifically he noted multiple people have described Cruz as “Oleaginous.” A quick definition for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term (myself included), “1. Covered with oil 2. Distastefully complimentary.”

The Trans-Pacific Partnership:
This is an issue I’ve felt a little in the dark about, so I asked around and these were the places friends pointed me to: the Whitehouse, Krugman, Summers, and Wikileaks.
What is TPP? A trade deal being negotiated between the US and 14 or so Pacific nations, perhaps a little more NAFTA-ish than most people would like. It appears to be the economic portion of Obama’s “pivot to Asia.”
So, what are people saying?

The Good:
It’ll hold trading partners accountable regarding labor and environmental standards in a way NAFTA didn’t, thus TPP is “the mostprogressive trade deal in history.”
Asian countries are creating all kinds of trade pacts that are economically integrating the Pacific, if we don’t get on board, we get left behind.
It may add 0.5% to the national income of the nations involved.
It will revive the American manufacturing sector by opening up new markets for our goods.

The Bad:
A 0.5% increase in national income may be optimistic.
Most of the protections that benefit the USA will mainly help Hollywood and big Phrama—it’s about patents and copyrights, not labor, jobs, and the environment.
I’ve heard from friends over in Europe that the EU is crying foul on this agreement—though I do not know the specifics.

The Ugly:
The deal is being hammered out in a sort of secretive way.

So, a few thoughts:
If this is a race to the bottom, that’s no good, I hope the “most progressive trade deal in history,” statements are more than just rhetoric.
The idea that America can be cut out of regional markets is a relatively new one for a whole generation of Americans, who assume globalization is the norm and that the USA (or at least American Corporations) is its main driver. We’re living in a more multi-polar world economically and we will act as such.
My knee-jerk inclination is to separate “American Manufacturing” from Big Phrama and Hollywood, but truth be told entertainment and drugs are staple American exports.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sermon: I Want To See Jesus

  Here we are, close enough to Easter, or at least close enough to Holy Week, that we can see, in the distance, the resurrection Dawn… and we are deep enough into Lent, that we can see the story of this season in full.
         Covenant after covenant has come before us, so that the one promised by Jeremiah, the one placed within us and written on our hearts, 
this covenant is a relief to us.
         We know of the condemnation that is to come, we’ve heard of Christ’s upcoming death, we’ve been commanded to bear his cross, we’ve been driven out into the wilderness with him these 40 days… so Christ’s promise to draw us to him… Christ’s promise, more literally, to drag us to himself, comes as a great comfort.
         Drawn to our Lord, who is the life giving Seed, 
         promise placed in our hearts, so that we may know the LORD
The graciousness of this strikes us dumb
—or if we can speak, the best we can come up with is the pleading, yet wonderful, words of the Greeks in today’s Gospel, “We want to see Jesus.”… I want to see Jesus.

         I want to see Jesus
         I want to see Jesus, but
         But I look in the mirror.
         I look and see, that I am not right.
         I look at those heavy stones, etched 10 times.
         I look at the commands of God, and know I do not measure up… I know I’ve committed so many acts of idolatry, in so many ways
—I seek cover in those things, which are convenient, to be saved by them, instead of being covered by the Covenant God made with me. 
I look to my neighbors, and do not love them
—I injure them in many ways, by things I do and by things I don’t do. Even moral neutrality is active rebellion.
         I want to see Jesus but I am a sinner from way back
—every covenant, every agreement with God glints with my guilt
         Paradise Garden, gutted
         All of God’s promises to Abraham, undermined at every turn
         Freedom from slavery in Egypt, “let’s make a U-turn back to bondage.”
         God provides at every turn, let’s complain about it.
         Time and time again, I want to see Jesusbut
         But I am separated from God by my own sin.

         I want to see Jesus
         I want to see Jesus, but
         But this sinful world keeps me away.
         Measures me as not only failing, but by my very nature not welcome
         I’m a Samaritan
—as close as a shadow to being God’s people
—yet as unwanted as a pagan priestess, or any other pest.
         I’m Cain, Esau, Ishmael, Hagar, Edom… Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Greek, Roman… Pagan, Jewish, Heretic, Muslim, Catholic… Indian, Slave, Woman, Immigrant… Gay, Illegal, Single, Addict, Disabled, Elderly, Convict…
         I want to see Jesus—but I’m outside the gate, I’m one step too far, I’m not allowed at the feet of the Lord.

         I want to see Jesus
         I want to see Jesus, but I’m immoral, and I’m unwelcome.

         I want to see Jesus
         I want to see Jesusbecause
         Because all those laws which convict me,
all those times I’ve harmed other people instead of helping them, 
all those idols I’ve made… 
all those covenants… 
all those promises I’ve made… 
all those promises I’ve broken, 
all those contracts I’ve cut with God and then cut up in the wrongness of my soul… 
         They have been picked up, 
put together, 
made whole, 
put into me.
         Yes, I broke it all, yet God refuses to be through with me. God makes my soul right,
writes a new contract signed by him alone, 
promises me promises that are true, 
takes those laws meant to convict and makes them into teachings that are inside of me.
         I want to see Jesus, because the LORD has forgiven our iniquity and remembers our Sin no more!

         I want to see Jesus
         I want to see Jesus, because
         Because he draws me in.
         I want to see Jesus, because he drags me to himself.
         He, this seed once sown, who grows into many
         His roots grow deep, and destroy the fence that keeps me out
         His many arms and branches billow out and blow by any barrier.
         His goodness brings me in, 
his leaves are for the healing of all the nations
—for all of us, 
healing us all
—healing Cain and Egypt, 
salve for Pagan and Slave, 
food for Immigrant and Addict.
         I want to see Jesus, because as he is lifted up the very gravity of the universe is changed
—we are pulled to that pole and brought in from the cold.
         The gatekeepers flee, 
the rulers of this world are driven out, 
for they drove out the true ruler, they kicked to the curb the Christ.
          And with that we see everything in a new light
—we, like plants ourselves, are drawn to that light, birthed again in him.

         I want to see Jesus, because he upholds both halves of the bargain, for I cannot.
         I want to see Jesus, because his calling upon my life is irresistible.
         The fruitful life he bears will feed us forever.
         Eat of this feast of bread and wine
—the grain of God, the fruit of salvation, poured out for us.
Ingested, put within us.
Drawing us in, toward our Lord and our God.