Humor

Archbishop Tutu Underwhelmed With U.S. Version of 'Reconciliation'

Archbishop Desmond Tutu's excitement that Congressional leaders were going through a process known as 'reconciliation' was abated last week when he learned that the procedure was not, in fact, a healing process for two bitterly feuding parties, but rather a technical congressional procedure designed to address budget items and bypass a filibuster.

An Urgent Visit to the White House

It was a very special day, and I chose my necktie accordingly, a selection made easier by the fact that I only have two. One is covered with a photograph of brightly-colored fruit, a design that expressed my bold fashion sense during the roughly five minutes that photographic ties were in style. But these are more somber times than the summer of 1981, so I instead chose the beige tie with small blue medallions, a full decade newer, and the perfect understatement for meeting the president of the United States.

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Sojourners Magazine March 2010
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Thar It Blows...

I’ve been surfing the Internet, looking for ways to escape the coming apocalypse that ancient Mayans, using science available at the time, predicted for two years from now. This prediction was based on their assumption that the Mayan civilization would have run its course by 2012, instead of the weekend after they made the prediction, some 1,100 years ago. This really caught them by surprise. (Mayan scientist: “I figured that since we were the dominant Mesoamerican civilization we would be around for centuries, or at least until we could watch ourselves on the History Channel. On the other hand, we also thought we were descended from jaguars, which, on reflection, should have raised questions about our scholarship.”)

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Sojourners Magazine February 2010
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Offensive Medicine

The new year is dawning brightly—usually too brightly, depending on how late you stayed up on New Year’s Eve—and it is filled with hope and the unlimited possibility of a fresh start. For you, maybe. Me, I’m taking it one day at a time since I’ve got back cancer or something. It’s called basal cell carcinoma (sounds like the new dance sensation), and it’s spreading through my body as I write these words, possibly for the last time.

(Editor’s Note: Good lord, it’s only a PIMPLE! A dot! A drive-by procedure at the dermatologist. And don’t you dare take the whole day off!)

As I was saying, it’s a terrible condition. It starts as a tiny spot that, if left unattended, becomes a slightly larger tiny spot and eventually itches. In a very grave voice, my doctor told me I have only two choices:

• Surgery.

• Scratching.

I have tried the latter, but it’s hard to reach, even using a family member’s toothbrush. If I choose surgery, recovery time is unknown, and my colleagues at work might not see me for days, if not weeks, depending on whether I can change my Netflix account to 12 movies at a time. (Note to self: When caring friends bring over meals, hide the DVDs under devotional materials.)

My nursing-student daughter is strongly in favor of the surgical option (it was her toothbrush, after all), and says she looks forward to changing the bandage each day. Although, since she’s currently studying deep tissue trauma, she’d prefer that I play catch with a chain saw. She’d like the extra credit.

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Sojourners Magazine January 2010
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Trouble in the Garden of Liberty

While purchasing a slingshot recently, I began to wonder what message this might be sending to my credit card company, a business that pays special attention to my spending habits out of what I used to think was a deep sense of affection, or possibly love.

But it turns out they routinely monitor purchases to determine demographic tendencies for repayment. (Who knew? I thought they were just figuring out what I’d like for my birthday.)

This practice is known by many names: profiling, market segmentation, and Being Even Bigger Jerks Than We Thought.

Apparently, if you’re careful with your money or seek value in discounted merchandise, you’re not to be trusted. If you shop at Target or Wal-Mart instead of blowing your paycheck at an upscale jewelry store, the credit card company assumes you’ll probably lose your job, miss a payment, or get into such a deep financial hole that the only fair remedy is doubling your interest charges. It’s probably in the Bible someplace.

Credit card computers also note purchases associated with lower-income demographics, such as used motorcycle parts and generic soda, products I now only buy through a third party to mask my frugality. I figure if it works for Mexican drug cartels buying their guns in the U.S., it could work for me and my Econo-taste Cola. (Actually, if drug cartels bought their guns from Nordstrom, they could get a lower rate on their credit cards, not to mention air miles to use for smuggling. With the new charges for baggage these days, it’s good to know that the kilo of cocaine in your underpants won’t trigger extra fees, although it may itch a bit.)

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Sojourners Magazine November 2009
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