The Age of AIDS

2412.jpgThe brilliant show Frontline on PBS will be airing an episode on May 30th titled “The Age of AIDS”. Frontline always delivers powerful and compelling insights into all the issues it confronts and I’m confident that this upcoming episode will be no different. Here is a note from the Frontline website:

“On the 25th anniversary of the first diagnosed cases of AIDS, FRONTLINE examines one of the worst pandemics the world has ever known in The Age of AIDS, airing Tuesday and Wednesday, May 30 and 31, from 9 to 11 P.M. ET on PBS (check local listings). After a quarter-century of political denial and social stigma, of stunning scientific breakthroughs, bitter policy battles and inadequate prevention campaigns, HIV/AIDS continues to spread rapidly throughout much of the world. Through interviews with AIDS researchers, world leaders, activists, and patients, FRONTLINE investigates the science, politics, and human cost of this fateful disease and asks: What are the lessons of the past, and what can be done to stop AIDS?”

Wise advice from the President

from the New York Times:

Bush said he would remind Western Hemisphere nations such as those that ”respect for property rights and human rights is essential,” that ”meddling in other elections … to achieve a short-term objective is not in the interests of the neighborhood,” and that the United States expects other nations to stand against corruption and for transparent governance.

”Let me just put it bluntly: I’m concerned about the erosion of democracy in” Venezuela and Bolivia, he said.

Wow.

(HT: Matthew Yglesias)

Crunch Time!

SunsGorilla.jpgTonight Holly and I will be going to our first ever “Game 7” of an NBA playoff series. We will be rooting for the hometown Phoenix Suns to pound the L.A. Clippers and their suddenly filled up bandwagon. It’s always great to “Beat L.A.” so hopefully tonight, we will take no prisoners. I am expecting to hear all the “sport rock” classics like Enter Sandman, Welcome to the Jungle, Right Now (the worst stadium rock song ever), and, of course, the best sport rock songs ever, Queen’s trilogy of “We Will Rock You”, “Another One Bites the Dust” and “We are the Champions”. Here’s to what will hopefully be a Suns win and to the Gorilla not pulling a “Frank the Tank”” when jumping through the ring of fire!

The Visual Da Vinci

Holly and I just got back from seeing the Da Vinci Code and I have to say that as a movie, it was very average. I actually found myself drifting off to sleep a few times. I am not sure if it was because the movie was poorly made or if it was the fact that I already knew what was going to happen. The book succeeded at two things: it created suspense for the reader and generated controversy. Knowing the book was fiction, the controversy never really hit home for me so the only aspect of the book I appreciated was that it was a nail-biting page turner. So with the one thing the story line had going for itself being absent, I ended up being pretty bored. Thinking back, I am not sure the movie was that poorly made. The acting was good, the plot was exactly like the book but the movie still failed to excite Holly and me. The only thing that would have made the movie more enjoyable was if the film makers would have taken more liberties with the book. Overall, my response was very much Larry David-esque: “ehh”

Thoughts on Immigration

1125516192F_sign.jpgSince the Immigration issue has been sizzling on the front pages for the past few months, it’s led me to some thinking about how I am going to approach the issue. Should I be ok with the “guest worker” program or should I favor the massive deportation of millions of “undocumented workers” or “illegal aliens” (depending on which side of the issue you may be on)? I realize that, for many, this is a complicated issue that will most likely never be resolved to everyone’s liking, but, while doing some research, I’ve come to find some very interesting responses from the religious right. On one hand you have some Christian groups (like this one and this one to name a few) that seemed to have conveniently forgotten those pesky little verses in the Bible about how we are to treat the enemies, trespassers, strangers, and the aliens among us. On the other hand, we have some organizations within the religious right (like this one and this one) that have stayed relatively silent on the issue. Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals had this to say regarding their lack of a stance on the immigration issue:

“When we have such differences of opinions in the constituency, it doesn’t make sense for NAE to take a stance. Members of Congress are having a difficult time of arriving at an appropriate policy and so are evangelicals, because it’s not easy.”

Because they are unsure of the “opinions of the constituency”, they are hand-cuffed from making any proclamations? Wow. This seems so unlike the religious right, doesn’t it? I guess their moral standards, according to this statement, aren’t necessarily based on Biblical principals but rather the majority opinion of the conservative religious base. That seems inconsistent with their approach with other issues such as abortion and gay marriage. When the majority of evangelicals aren’t convinced on an issue, then why would they waste their time convincing them one way or the other? It’s so much easier to ignore those messy “grey” issues and resort to the always effective “It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” and get a round of applause, right?

In my estimation, both of these approaches are insufficient. They both ignore the Biblical mandate for how those who are followers of Jesus are to treat those who have “trespassed against us”. Even though my vocabulary is limited, I am pretty sure that “forgive” and “incarcerate” are not synonyms. In addition to ignoring the Biblical teaching on this issue, these approaches also ignore the history of Pre-Colonial America and the treatment of the Native Americans by the European immigrants. How do we reconcile our policies of today with our actions during the colonization of America? How do we reconcile sending the Cherokees down the Trail of Tears while we protest our right to attack undocumented immigrants today? When it comes to issues where the law is not on the side of the religious right, such as abortion, we often hear about the “higher Law”, God’s law. Where was God’s law at Wounded Knee? Where was God’s law when European immigrants took over land they had no authority to take? (unless you accept gunpowder as a valid form of authority)

Maybe to some these past atrocities are water under the bridge and they shouldn’t be applicable to what’s happening in 2006. It may also be said by some that regardless of both sides of the issue, the law is the law and it must be blindly upheld and not challenged. These may be popular ways in approaching this issue, even among Christians, but in the end I believe that they are invalid and highly convenient. We have to face the history of our actions in order to move ahead with any kind of clear perspective. Is our policy going to be predicated on our standard of living or our love for others? To break the cycle, it may be helpful to embrace not just our “proud” history but also the dark corners of our progress up until this point.

Maybe we could be on the side of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who broke the law and refused to bow down to the king. Maybe we could be on the side of the midwives Shiphrah and Puah who broke the law by refusing to kill babies? This is an interesting contrast to my previous post regarding the NSA and the abuse of the FISA law. In one post I’ve protested the abuse of our laws, and in the next post I’m all for ignoring them. What am I thinking?

Here are some great links regarding this issue that are very informative and well worth your time:

Slactivist – Getting Ugly
Slactivist – The Minutemen Commit Sodomy
Mennonite Central Commity – Biblical Reflection on Immigration
Sojourners – Compassion, not Criminalization in Immigration Reform!

On the humorous/tragic side of things, watch Stephen Colbert hightlight Fox News’ John Gibon’s demand that white people make more babies. Props to Fox News for being totally racist!!