Monday, December 17, 2007

Who Says Lawyers Can't Preach?

This just in from the Little Blue State newspaper (names have been changed to protect the innocent) --

216th anniversary of Bill of Rights celebrated in Capital City

By M M, The News Paper

Posted Sunday, December 16, 2007

Capital City – Ruby, executive director of the Super Duper Civil Rights Organization of Little Blue State, said it used to be that she would give talks and point to civil rights abuses that occurred historically.

Someone in the audience would always say: "We're not like that. We won't do that," she said.

But Saturday, as she spoke at Bill of Rights Day in the Little Blue State, she focused on the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution -- the right of people to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure.

Ruby described it as "a bedrock of our government."

And she gave the crowd some timely examples that she said raise questions about how far a government can and should go: detention of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo, the government's use of security letters to get information about individuals and the FBI files on a pacifist group that is opposed to the War in Iraq.

Her fear, she said, is "at the end of the day, there will be a government that will be stripped of funding ... with nothing left but police powers."

Her organization is often widely criticized when attorneys defend unpopular positions.

"We only have one client," she said. "And that's the Constitution and its Bill of Rights."

When conflicts arise, "most of the time there's somebody out there who wants to limit those rights," she said.

Ruby was one of two speakers at the Capitol City Bill of Rights Day. The event marks the 216th anniversary of the adoption of the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution on Dec. 15, 1791.

Even before it was adopted, Ruby said, the document was controversial.

The guarantees outlined in the Bill of Rights "were already widely acknowledged in the colonies," she said.

In fact, the Little Blue State already had its own Declaration of Rights -- a document from 1776 that is "almost completely forgotten today," said state archivist, Document Man.

One argument opposing the Bill of Rights was that it covered rights the people already had or natural rights that couldn't be taken away, he said.

"The Bill of Rights was kind of an exclamation point," he said. "It confirmed what people believed."

Another argument against the document was that the fledgling nation didn't have a person with the power of a king who would hold so much power over the people, he said.

For Ruby, protection of the Constitution and Bill of Rights is not a partisan issue.

On Saturday, a member of the audience asked Ruby why her organization takes on cases like the Little Town, Pa., municipal ordinance that proposed punishing landlords and employers for doing business with undocumented immigrants.

The ordinance was struck down in July.

"The Constitution protects everyone in the United States whether they are a citizen or not," she explained.

Those who attended the anniversary got two special treats. First, they got to see the Little Blue State's copy of the Bill of Rights.

Document Man also brought out Little Blue State's signed ratification of the Constitution.

The document, written in faded brown ink, is an important part of Little Blue State's history, Document Man said.

"I pulled it out of the vault this morning," he said.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday Five: Rejoice!

Posted by Mother Laura at RevGalBlogPals

Can you believe that in two days we'll be halfway through Advent? Gaudete Sunday: pink candle on the advent wreath, rose vestments for those who have them, concerts and pageants in many congregations. Time to rejoice!

Rejoice in the nearness of Christ's coming, yes, but also in the many gifts of the pregnant waiting time when the world (in the northern hemisphere, at least) spins ever deeper into sweet, fertile darkness.

What makes you rejoice about:

1. Waiting?
Anticipation is a lovely thing. Lately, it seems life is moving so fast that anticipation isn't part of the process. Events arrive before I realize they're coming. My life can be described in one word: Vvvrrrrooommm.

2. Darkness?
I love candles, Christmas preparations, snow days, frosty windows, a warm place by the fire, a book, hot cocoa and dinner with friends.

3. Winter?
Cold. Cold. Cold. Wet. Wet. Wet. Finally, the sun has broken through the clouds and dense fog of the last few days and I am so grateful. Today is the kind of winter day I love -- crisp and bracing.

4. Advent?
I haven't really observed Advent this year, but I have lovely childhood memories of lighting Advent candles at church and at home.

5. Jesus' coming?
If you mean Christmas, I'm ready, but the second coming, not so much. It's impossible to separate the two anyway. As Sally noted, "we cannot take the Easter out of Christmas."
One Palm Sunday, a number of years ago, my then four-year-old son looked up at me during the reading of the Passion Play, stricken, and sobbed, "You mean they killed the Baby Jesus!" He was inconsolable at the injustice of it all. I've never looked at a nativity scene the same way since.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Laughing Lion

My friend Songbird wrote a beautiful sermon, Where the Wild Things Are. In it, she talks about bravery, lions, and her own wonderful courage.
A few years ago, she came to visit me and we went to a museum together. She bought a mug imprinted with Tony Sarg's illustration of the Laughing Lion and I bought a key chain with the same image. I carry it with me to make me feel brave and cheerful.
Unfortunately, the museum is very wary of anyone reproducing their images, so I will make do with a link to their shop, where you can purchase a Laughing Lion mug of your very own. Perhaps it will make you brave and cheerful, too.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Friday 5, Preparation, Preparation . . .

The Annunciation by Henry Tanner.
Visit The Art Archive for more info on this painting.
Sally at RevGals writes for this week's Friday Five:

This has been a difficult week for me, the death of a little six year old has overshadowed our advent preparations, and made many of us here in Downham Market look differently at Christmas. With that in mind I ask whether you are the kind of person that likes everything prepared well in advance, are you a last minute crammer, or a bit of a mixture.....

Here then is this week's Friday 5:
Before we begin, I want to acknowledge Deb, who posted one of my favorite paintings, The Annunciation, by Henry Ossawa Tanner. You can see it in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Second, my heart goes out to Sally and all those who grieve with her.

1. You have a busy week, pushing out all time for preparing worship/ Sunday School lessons/ being ready for an important meeting ( or whatever equivalent your profession demands)- how do you cope?

I try to off-load as many tasks as I can, but truth be told, I'm not very good at delegating. Mostly, I just put one foot in front of the other until I'm finished.

2. You have unexpected visitors, and need to provide them with a meal- what do you do?

Unexpected visitors are a way of life at our house, so I often just add to whatever I'm already making for dinner. It usually works out just fine.

Three discussion topics:

3. Thinking along the lines of this weeks advent theme; repentance is an important but often neglected aspect of advent preparations.....

and, unfortunately, I am neglecting it. Perhaps I should repent.

4. Some of the best experiences in life occur when you simply go with the flow.....

Absolutely true.

5. Details are everything, attention to the small things enables a plan to roll forward smoothly...

Also true. Too bad I didn't figure this out when I was younger.

Bonus if you dare- how well prepared are you for Christmas this year?

Eternal optimist that I am, I believe I'm prepared, but on December 19, I will realize that there are more things to do than time to do them.