Monday, July 28, 2008


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Presidential Power

I've been worried for a while now about the trend in this administration toward strengthening the power of the executive. Now, while it's true that I'm not generally a fan of the Bush administration, that's not the reason that I'm opposed to increased executive power. It doesn't matter who is the White House, there still need to be appropriate checks and balances, even if that means that a future president that I love is blocked by Congress. I think that this kind of shift in power is a danger to the democracy. I think that it marks a turn away from republic toward empire, just as that that occurred in the Roman Empire.

Right at this moment I'm watching an old episode of Frontline that seems pretty good. I definitely recommend watching it. It not so much about the war or terrorism or any of that. That was just the vehicle used to expand presidential authority. That's the part that concerns me most.
I haven't written in this blog for quite some time. I think it mostly has to do with changing from a seminarian to a pastor. As a seminarian, I could write just about whatever I wanted, without worrying about there being repercussions. As a pastor, things are a bit different. It not that I'm somehow censored as a pastor. It's not that I'm silenced. But if parishioners are reading the blog, then I have to think about what reactions they might have to my thoughts and what effects that might have in the congregation.

For some pastors, that wouldn't be a problem at all. Some pastors have a very prophetic voice and are very clear and open about their personal views -- there is no separation between the inner thoughts and the public voice.

For me, though, that's not the way it works. I feel that as pastor, I want to be a bit more neutral. I want people to know that I understand and respect a wide variety of theological and political views. Certainly I have my own views. But that doesn't mean that I think everyone has to agree with me. If I am too open with my personal opinions, that could damage my credibility as a servant-leader of all the people.

Furthermore, I come from a very different context than most of the people in the congregation, with age being the most notable difference. If I'm going to be an effective pastor, then I need to be able to understand as best I can the other viewpoints in the congregation. To at least some degree, that mean suppressing my own feelings, because they simply don't make sense in this context.

Now, with almost two years under my belt at Coos Bay First UMC, I feel like I've gained some trust and credibility. Our relationship is a bit more durable. And it may be time now to be a bit less guarded.

Now, I know that I've tried to be more diligent about writing before, and haven't followed through. That may happen again. But we'll see.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Yes We Can

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Karthik's Blog

We made it back home safe and sound to Coos Bay, and Karthik is doing well. If you're looking for more news about him, check out his blog at Sorry about switching back and forth. I haven't had time to figure out how to post on that one from anywhere but my laptop, so I had to use this one while we were in India. But from now on, you should be able to find everything about Karthik at the other site.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Visa Process Complete

It's 2:45 pm on Thursday the 15th here in Delhi.

We made it safe and sound to New Delhi yesterday. After checking in to the hotel, which by the way is quite fancy, we made our way to lunch and then to the US embassy. Along the way, we caught a few of the tourist sites: the Presidential Palace and the India Gate. At the embassy, we filed the paperwork for the I-600. I didn't take too long, and before long we were back at the hotel. We ordered in room service and made it an early night.

Our driver (we have a driver) picked us up at 9:00 am to go visit the embassy-approved doctor. Karthik behaved very well, even during his immunization (Varicella), and we headed back to the embassy. A few more meetings. Some waiting. $380. By 12:40 pm we had his immigrant visa in hand. All finished with all of the paperwork. Now we are just waiting for our flight to leave India.

We'll spend the rest of the day here at the hotel, maybe order in a pizza tonight. Tomorrow our driver will pick us up at 9:00 am and give us a tour of the city. Then at 9:00 pm tomorrow we will make our way to the airport. Our flight leaves at 12:05 am for Bangkok, and then it's flight after flight, with 2-3 hour layovers, until we arrive in Coos Bay around 5:30 pm, still on Saturday the 17th.

Karthik is doing quite well. He's a bit upset that he can't move around more, since most of our time is in the hotel or the car or offices. But he sleeps quite well, and quite a lot, which is a blessing. And he loves moving vehicles. He does quite well with Melissa most of the time. The 11 hour flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco will probably be really hard, but in all I have high hopes for traveling. I'm really looking forward to getting home with him, where things will be more normal, and where we can eat or fix a bottle or walk around or play with toys anytime that we want to.

I probably won't write again from India, so it will likely be until we get to the states that I post again. Until then... I'm go to go upstairs and watch the India-Pakistan cricket match.

I probably won't write again from here in India, so I'll check in with you again

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Salaam Bangalore

Well, it's our last night in Bangalore. It's about 9:45 pm on Tuesday the 13th here. Tomorrow morning the taxi picks us up at 5:30 to go to the airport and then it's off to Delhi. There should be someone there to pick us up at the airport and take us to our hotel. Then, after we get settled, we'll go to the US Embassy to work on Karthik's immigration process. We way have to go back on the 15th, and maybe the 16th to get everything finished. Then begins our epic journey home.

I am so glad that we got to come here to Bangalore to get a sense of where Karthik is from. I know that we've only been here for a few days, and mostly we've only been in the same few places. Still, I feel like I understand this place much better than I did before we came, and I'm glad that I will have to stories to share with Karthik about the place that he was born.

This morning's trip to VCT was a bust. I think it reminded Karthik too much of saying goodbye to his foster mother yesterday. He was just inconsolable. But, we did get a chance to spend a little time with the orphanage staff that took care of Karthik for his first 6 months. And we got some good pictures of Bangalore during the trip there and back. We ended up leaving there earlier than we had initially planned, and came back here to the hotel, where he was much calmer.

Karthik is also worked on a cold at the moment, so that also makes him a little grumpy. And he still has bouts of severe grieving. And sometimes he just throws toddler tantrums. But over all he is adjusting very well, and I think everything is going to be just fine.

I am amazed by how much I already feel like Karthik's dad. We've only known him for about 36 hours, but still I feel very connected to him, even if he still isn't too sure about me. I knew that I would love him, because I did even before we met him. But I guess what I'm saying is that I'm surprised by how quickly I have settled into the role of dad. Somehow it seems very normal, even though it is anything but. I don't know.

We're not sure of the internet situation in Delhi, so I may not be able to write any more while we're there. I'll try to at least tuck into an internet cafe once for a short post, but even if I don't, know that all is well.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A New Day

It's 9:45 am on Tuesday the 13th here in Bangalore. Karthik is really doing remarkably well. Last night he had a whole bottle of milk, plus the beginnings of another one. He ate a little rice, but not much. He was really sleepy after dinner (which is at 9:00 pm here), and he went to bed easily.

He woke up a couple of times in the night. He looked around and saw that we are not "Ama" (Mama - his foster mom). He'd go into a crying spell for a little while and then wear himself out and fall asleep again. So, for the most part, he slept through the night.

This morning we gave him a bath. He didn't like it at all, but we made it through alright. Got him all decked out in new clothes and went down to breakfast. He ate a little bit of a kind of onion pancake, and a little yogurt. Also drank some water.

He obviously still grieving a lot, but he really is doing remarkably well. Melissa is the magic parent right now, the one he goes to, but he's been pretty good with me too. We are incredibly proud of his progress and a bit suprised. One fortunate thing is that he doesn't seem to have the stamina for a sustained fit. He can go on for several minutes, but then he gets tired and stops.

It is indescribably amazing to have him with us, to finally be his parents in fact, and not just in law. He is the most wonderful, most beautiful boy, and we are so incredibly happy, if a bit tired.

At 10:30 am we're going to go back to VCT to spend the day and play around. Tomorrow morning our flight leaves for Delhi, where it's off to do more paperwork.

With Karthik

We met Karthik today. At first he screamed bloody murder and kicked and wanted nothing to do with us. Then after about 20 or 30 minutes he was too tired to put as concerted of a fight. After a little bit, he fell asleep in my arms and took a nap.

After he awoke, it was some calm followed by some short bursts of crying. He wouldn't eat anything at lunch. He's still protesting, I think -- on a hunger strike. But pretty soon he'll get hungry enough that he'll have to give in and eat.

He fell asleep again in the afternoon with Melissa. He slept on the whole car ride back to the apartment. He's awake again now. As time is going by, there is less crying and more calm. He's really starting to attach to Melissa. He reaches out for her whenever she puts him down.

More later.