I think it's important to speak truth. To do it parabolically, and provocatively, as Jesus did, so that people are willing to think new thoughts.

I used to have a beautiful green Hyundai, covered with bumper stickers. I had to give it up when I went to Morocco. But through the wonder of photos, I was able to retrieve all of my old bumper stickers, and then some. (Minus the one that said, "Reelect Gore in 2004.") And I was worried there wouldn't be room on the back of an American car- but I've even got space for two more!

A silver T-Bird just doesn't scream Abdul Muhib. But this back does. Now my baby's got back.

Some bumper stickers I just couldn't find, like one saying President Obama. But that's the magic of Makestickers.com. (Thank you Anne!)

Since you can't see some of them, I'll translate with hovertext:
Any society that gives up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.

Hard to get ΙΧΘΥΣ with feet. Unless you write it in with white-out.

I got inspired from some of the posters I've been putting up for my church, and created a couple others at Make Stickers.com. I could choose between a picture of Bush or Ossama. I went with this- I think we have a greater need to see an Arab Muslim terrorist as in the image of God.
I do believe that we should be willing to speak the truth of love, even if there is danger involved. And that, far too often in America, we stop in speaking the truth because we are concerned with fitting in with the culture. Yes, we should do that- but in form alone. Our content should be that of the Kingdom. And there is, I firmly believe, less persecution in America because we have been less of the Church. If the blood of the martyrs is truly the seed of the church, then woe to that church that no longer is willing to pick up its cross.
This isn't about being killed. It's about following Christ- which must involve the willingness to potentially face the ultimate sacrifice, and the ultimate reward.
So, I've been having a contest, to find out which of these will get me killed first on the freeways. Also, what the date will be. You can't take Dec 9th- I've already got money on that one. Winner gets my life insurance policy.


Say it with me. President Obama.

Yes, today I saw the man himself, the next President of the United States, Barack Obama. Very exciting. Last time I saw a presidential candidate was Dukakis. That didn't turn out so well.

But the last time I cared about a presidential candidate was when Carter was running for reelection. This is the first time I do when I can vote. Indeed, it's the first time I contributed to a campaign, however paltry the amount. He's the first candidate I've seen since Carter who takes his faith seriously, and lets it influence how he acts. Obama's different.

The evening began with some righteous West African dancing, to some seriously intense drums. Very impressive. Wish I could say the same for the act that followed. I think Obama was caught in Seattle traffic, and they needed someone to fill in, so they decided on the only guy who could play guitar backstage. Seriously, I wouldn't be dissing him like this if it had been one, or even two songs. We sat through five songs of a guy who couldn't hit a single note on key, singing five romantic songs about how he couldn't get the girl. Seriously. It was a total let down from the wonderful dancing.

Then Congressman Adam Smith- yes the same one who attempted to help me out with Homeland earlier this year- introduced Obama, sharing how he was a long-time supporter. I like Mr. Smith more and more.

I was maneuvering myself into the stage dive area, where most of us were standing, foregoing the seats in the back of the WaMu Theatre of Qwest (hashek) Field. Finally after a couple of false starts the main man came out to work the crowd on stage, specially chosen to represent all of Seattle. (Though I think we're actually more diverse than what was represented on stage.

It was truly a thrill to hear Obama share. That's how it was- more sharing than Clinton's listening, Gore's lecturing, or Jesse Jackson's preaching. It felt somehow intimate, and very honest, very genuine. There were moments of fire, but most of it was a man speaking to inspire quiet hope, and give a concrete plan of action. Sure, there weren't all the details, but it wasn't the venue for that. It was enough that there were plans.

Obama got the most wild applause when he spoke out against the current administration, or when he spoke about the war- against it, and his long term actions in support of peace. And there was even a heckler in the audience, only three people from me. Obama's hecklers are evidently people who call for the impeachment of Cheney, and sing while doing it.

In person, Obama lived up to his first name- that of power-blessing. And he holds a promise to be that for our nation.


When what's in a name doesn't sound as sweet.

My man Obama's been making the news lately, but not in a good way. It comes on the heals of claims that Obama is a closet Muslim; or that we can't elect someone with a Muslim-sounding name like Barack Obama ("Barak" means powerful blessing- no one objected when President Barak of Israel was in power, indicating it's common Semitic root); or even that his middle name is Hussein and therefore he is somehow tied to our arch-enemy-dictator. (Again, no one is bringing up the similarities between the first name of our current President and that of the evil King who wouldn't let the Colonies be free. In English and Arabic-influenced languages, both names are equally common.) It's mostly been the ultra-right-wing, but they are managing to plant doubts in people's minds, questioning "Did Obama truly give up Islam? Hsss." (He never was Muslim, but is actually an exceptionally devout Christian.) It's a subtle campaign, and a not-so-subtle campaign, to link Obama with terrorism, and therefore fear.

And now this. This past week a conservative online magazine, Insight Magazine, picked up the news that Obama had attended a madrasa when he was younger in Indonesia. They also suggested that this story was leaked to them by the Clinton campaign, who denies any involvement. Fox has of course found this to be a delightful story, and started running with it as fact- that Obama had been indoctrinated into fundamentalist Islam in his early years in a madrasa. While a VP at Fox has rebuked them for airing something online just because it's online (my former students, take note- Mr. Lee was not pregnant), evidently the Obama campaign is no longer giving Fox News first dibs at interviews.

I want to point out what is underlying all of this. While the school has made it clear that, no, it is not a training ground for Islamic radicals, Barack Obama did indeed attend a madrasa in his youth. For the Arabic word for school is "madrasa".

We've reached a point in our society where anything remotely related to Arabic culture, language, or the predominant religion there is suspect. There's a word for that, when we take common words in other languages and make them into something evil just because they're a foreign word; when we try to cast aspertions on someone because of their ethnic heritage or the ethnicity of their name. It's racism. It's Islamophobia. It's anti-Semitism. And it's evil.

The Far Right has taken this story and are repeating it, and repeating it, until moderate conservatives and the undecideds just might start to believe it. So that Americans will think of fear when they hear Obama's name, rather than hope. But fear is the mind killer. Some have learned FDR's words "We have nothing to fear but fear itself," and decided the descriptive should become prescriptive. If the people aren't afraid, make sure they learn to be afraid.

In the meantime, for the last three years I taught biology at a school in North Africa, where Arabic was the dominant language. I therefore daily worked at a madrasa, and I loved it. I guess that makes me a terrorist as well.