09 July 2008

Destination Elektrostal

A brief post from Helsinki, where we have about forty minutes before boarding our flight to Moscow. Just enough time to express gratitude for all the friends and angels who have brought us this far. I won't list them all, but I can't help but mention the very last of them on the U.S. side (as far as we could see ourselves!)--Ken Haase and Margaret Benefiel, who saw us off in Boston yesterday. The four of us had an amazing meeting for worship together in a quiet corner of Logan Airport.

And there's enough time to add a few righteous links:

I may be in trouble with some Friends for saying this, but I agree with Stanley Fish's New York Times column on the victory of "intentionalism" in the U.S. Supreme Court's Washington, DC, gun ban decision. The comments after his column are also worth reading. To me, it's hard to avoid the awkward conclusion that the writers of the U.S. Constitution really did want ordinary citizens to be able to keep arms. They also expected those citizens to use their arms for purposes consistent with democratic citizenship. By this logic, sensible regulations to confine arms to legal purposes would be justified. I wish I could spin the evidence another way, but I also want simple "intentionalism" to continue to be available for other constitutional issues than just guns--for example, our First Amendment rights, and the clear constitutional guarantees of due process and against cruel and unusual punishment. Those are worth not having things my way all the time.

Today's wet blanket department: "Rethinking missions trips." I actually support missions trips, but not uncritically. I can name some facilities that visiting Friends have repaired or painted too many times, but also some that would never have been built or repaired without visitors' help. And I blush to think of how many Bible schools have been conducted by visitors among local people who knew the Bible better than their guests.

"Torture in Democratic Societies."

Thanks to David Finke for this reference: A conversation with Bill McKibben.

We enjoyed a brief visit to Richmond, Indiana, last month. Aside from Richmond's Quaker roots and communities, one of its claims to fame is its role in the history of recorded jazz and blues. The site of the old Starr Piano Company and Gennett Studios was an undeveloped eyesore when we lived there, but great things have happened in recent years.

Just enough time for some dessert, too: Jean-Rene presents "Trouble in Mind":

PS: My compliments to Finnair for having a blues channel on their inflight audio program.


Simon Lemarchand said...

Great to see you back in Stal. Have been following your blog for a while. - Gleb

Johan Maurer said...

Hello! Yes, it is amazing and wonderful to be back. I've never been here in the summer, believe it or not. I hope that you're having a good summer and that we will be able to meet soon.

Simon Lemarchand said...

I'm usually available after 9 PM every day. My clinical condition won't let me face the sunlight in summer, so I have to seek refuge either at home or in the office (unless the UV is blocked out by the clouds, which had been the case for the few weeks prior to your arrival...) Also I've grown almost mute, only able to speak in short simple phrases in either language. Written language is what saves me from complete isolation; I thought of writing to you on several occasions (still remember your greetings handed over to me by Nick Afonin) but just didn't find a reason to bother you... over the months I've grown too tired of arguments of any kind, preferring to keep my judgement to myself. Would love to see you, Johan. There are rumors in the wind that you've come to stay for more than one year. What are your plans for July and August? If I'm not mistaken most of the local Quaker community has dissolved, everyone setting out on a route of their own (often leading to this or that Western state). I guess you've come on a mission different than religious enlightment this time. What would that be?

Johan Maurer said...

At 9 p.m., the evening is just beginning! Send me an e-mail; my gmail ID is johanpdx.