Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

Thursday, September 23, 2004

The Agincourt Project

When I was finishing up college I was given a grant by my school to write what I called "The Agincourt Project" (Agincourt).
The concept was that high school students were increasingly disengaged from high school studies, and the reason was because we were confining them to a life stage that did not exist.
Adolescence--I claimed--was a construct of Western civilization, and that all of the physical changes associated with functional adulthood were finite, yet we assigned adolescence to a twelve year transitional period. We take potential world changers with imagination and inquisitive minds and tell them to wash up and do their homework. In the church it's even worse--the virtues that we reward (implicitly or explicitly) are obedience, chastity, and study. A kid can act with fantastic courage, true moral or ethical conviction on an array of issues, and great kindness and be unrewarded.
We lift up the quiet kid who knows the Bible and doesn't get laid.
That being said, I think we need both, because study is critical, obedience is necessary, and messing up sex can wreck someone's heart, but I still think that we lift up the wrong stuff.
Lifting up the amazing potential of who God made us to be calls us to greatness.
The cure for moral weakness is not pure obedience, it's an understanding of what we're made for and living that way. Great challenge calls out great humans.
This concept, written in a more academic and more secular way, was the philosophical basis for Agincourt.
The next step was to figure out something important to do--in the case of Agincourt the task was pretty big--save the world.
Again, challenge calls forth excellence.
As Agincourt is a passion in my heart I will write about it some more later, but I tucked in my wife and I want to go hold her.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Complaining About Things

I have been watching the campaigns. They are exciting, and interesting, and captivating and depressing, like dancing with a beautiful woman who is looking at the guy across the room. It makes me sad.

I am an idealist. Not necessarily a nice person, but certainly an idealist.

I daydream of what could someday be in my life, in my marriage, at my church, in this country. I think of our nation as a beautiful idea, struggling to live up to our declaration of independence like a bold young sinner turned saint who has claimed eternity and now has to figure out what to do with tomorrow.

Great things require great struggle. Sometimes that struggle is internal. And in these cases, perhaps its best to shout these ideas from a rooftop in a desert, and then to remember what the fight is worth it.

So first, I will shout.

Mister Kurtz is dead, and in this case he didn’t go mad, he went stupid.

First, John Kerry, I’m glad you served, but that “reporting for duty” thing was absolutely ridiculous. My dad served too, and most of my friends dad’s, and the guy who sat next to me on the plane yesterday, and…well… pretty much everyone else around that time who didn’t back door out by claiming an apprenticeship of they were poor or being in the National Guard if they were rich.
Next, Vietnam Veterans for truth—shut up.
And Texans for Truth—OK, I admit, the part of me that was raised as a hard charging democrat (rather than an embittered centrist) smiled when you guys showed up, but go away. You’re not helping the country at all.

Next, Michael Moore and Rush Limbaugh, both of you bemoan the death of the center and how “radical” the other side is. That’s like the Taliban complaining about women’s rights. If you caused the problem you lose the right to complain about it. So shut up. Or tell the truth. And by the way, these things don't have to be mutually exclusive.

Back to the democrats, how dare you take a remarkably complex issue like stem cells and boil it down to “Reason versus Ignorance.” You are quite literally preying upon the sick, old, and stupid to punch back against the “You kill babies” zinger on your own polarized issue.

On that, the next time I hear some Republican talk about the evils of abortion after voting down some bill to give money and health care to some scared kid for whom abstinence only education simply discouraged condom use I’m going to…well I don’t know…complain on an unread blog I guess.

And on that same note, when did the debate over liberty begin to include “GW needs to get his hands off my uterus.” I have trouble reconciling an ultrasound with “It’s my body.” If Rumsfeld comes out tomorrow and says, “Yes Cokie, today we will deploy troops to ­­Sally Smith’s uterus, this argument makes sense, until then we need a stronger moral case.
And men, be men. If you did that this issue would pretty much go away.

OK, that’s good for now.

The thing is that as much as I am infuriated by these things, I can’t stop having hope. That's partly because I'm stupid, but not entirely.
I accidentally got placed in first class today (a nice accident) and sat next to a federal judge. We talked for about an hour and he was friendly, and insightful, and sought the truth, and analyzed, and did all of those things that we want our judges to do. And I was reminded of the strength of our still broken institutions.

Last night I sat outside of the airport after my cancelled flight (a less nice accident) and met a veteran, one of the guys who honest to God gave candy bars to the kids in Eastern Europe and let them drive the tanks and do all of those things that our GIs did when the world loved us.

And I was reminded that when justice and mercy are played together the chord is sweet.