Archive for March 2007


March 29, 2007

I did see my oncologist on Monday. She said my favorite words, “Everything is perfect, perfect, perfect. See you in six months.”



Message for Tony Snow

March 29, 2007

Hi Tony,

I am a colon cancer survivor.

I am fortunate to be alive. I, too, had all of my colon removed as a result of my cancer at age 49, and I also had to go through six months of chemotherapy. I haven’t had a recurrence after 5-1/2 years. Last year, though, I had a scare–so I went through all of the dread. But I was lucky that it was a mistake, and I’m fine. I am truly sorry that this wasn’t the case with you.

Tony, our politics couldn’t be farther apart, but that just isn’t important when it comes to human issues like the one that you are facing now. My prayers are with you, because I know that they help–because I had people praying for me, and they helped me through that very rough time in my life.


Message to Elizabeth Edwards

March 22, 2007

Bless you, Elizabeth.

I am a 55 year old female 5-1/2 year colon cancer survivor.

I see my oncologist on Monday for a “routine” follow-up appointment, which I have every six months. I have a blood draw a week or so before my appointment, and then I go to see her. I spent the week with all of this internal high level of anxiety and dread–while pretending that everything is “routine” on the outside.

So far, so good.

But I know that things could be different at any time.

And you have gotten the news that I most fear.

Here is my unsolicited advice: Don’t listen to anything that the naysayers have to say. No one can live one person’s life except the person living it. They don’t know what you’re going through. And it’s none of their business.

May your treatment go well.
As Lance Armstrong says,
“Live strong!”

God bless you.

This American Life

March 22, 2007

I think that I’m happy to learn that This American Life is going to be on television. Then, on the other hand, maybe I’m not. Maybe listening to the program stretches my imagination–and that’s a good thing; and maybe watching it on television will stifle my imagination. I’ll keep listening, certainly. Maybe I’ll watch on an ongoing basis… I’ll give it a try, anyway. It starts tonight on Showtime. Maybe that in itself is wrong: for a public radio program to transition to a premium cable-and-satellite network. I’ll let you know what I think after I watch it.

A message to Hillary Clinton

March 22, 2007

I wish I could like Hillary Clinton as a candidate for president… or as a senator, for that matter. But I don’t. I don’t find her to be a leader. I don’t find her to be honest (and not exactly DIShonest–just somewhere less than fortright on the continuum, in her own way). I hated that she didn’t just LEAP out of her seat to stand up to condemn the statement that General Peter Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made regarding the morality of homosexuality.* And, of course, there is her whole thing about wanting to prove how “strong” she is on defense, how a woman can be macho, how Democrats don’t have to be cowardly. Consequently, her support for the war in Iraq–and for other things military–are not only unsatisfactory to me, they are absolutely unacceptable.

Hillary Clinton used to be strongly for the right things, and now she’s not: now she’s just a candidate for the presidency, searching for that middle ground that will satisfy everyone while satisfying no one. The bottom line is that she’s a political opportunist.

I agree with what Anne Lamott said in a recent interview:

Q: How are you feeling about the Hillary-Obama-Edwards, etc. question?

I’m not crazy about Hillary.

Q: Why?

Because I think she’s been too hawkish about the war for too long. She really strikes me as being an opportunist. But the main thing, actually, the truth is, I hate how she’s been about abortion rights. She has found, what she thinks, is a centrist and evangelical position. You know, Jim Wallis and the progressive Evangelicals, their position is that you can be pro-life and still be in favor of legal abortion, but that the actual solution would be for a lot fewer girls and women to need abortions. And that just doesn’t cut it for me. Obama, I like him, I like that he didn’t vote for the war. I really like John Edwards a lot. And I really like Al Gore.

With all the potential to be the best candidate, to be a great president… Hillary Clinton instead is showing herself to be mediocre.

Hillary Clinton, stop listening to your strategists and advisors. Listen to your heart and your guts–and to the American people! We need and deserve the best.


>*In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, when asked about the “don’t ask, don’t tell policy” of the Armed Services said, “I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts. I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way.”

What the church should be

March 20, 2007

I was unable to go to Washington last weekend.

At one point in my life, though, I was one of the young people like the ones in the article below. After high school, I spent a couple of years as a peaceworker to end the war in Vietnam and then as a campaign worker for George McGovern. No matter what shape the church is to take in the future, as Rick says, these young people are doing the work of the church–BEING Christ in the world–right now. The older people are too!

* * * * *

March 20, 2007

What church should be
Presbyterians of all ages connect faith and action in peace witness

by Eva Stimson

Photo of four college students
Whitworth College students, from left, Nicola Crawford, Zach Dahmen, Michael Vander Giessen, and 2006 graduate Eric Colby, drove 2,700 miles across the country to participate in the March 16 Christian Peace Witness for Iraq. Photo by Eva Stimson.

WASHINGTON — Nicola Crawford, a student at Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)-related Whitworth College in Spokane, WA, says that when she got an email earlier this year about the March 16 Christian Peace Witness for Iraq, she “decided it’s something I believe in.”

And that’s about all it took to convince her and a couple of other Whitworth students, Zach Dahmen and Michael Vander Giessen, to commit to driving 2,700 miles to Washington, DC, the week before mid-term exams. They hooked up with Eric Colby, a 2006 graduate of the college now working as youth director at Spokane’s Knox Presbyterian Church, who offered his 2001 Toyota Camry for the cross-country trip.

The four almost didn’t make it.

After driving for 34 hours straight they ran into icy conditions on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, just above Maryland. With Michael at the wheel, the car hit a patch of slush and slid into the next lane. The Camry bounced off the tire of a semi-truck and ploughed into a ditch in the median.

Because the car didn’t flip over or veer into oncoming traffic or get pulled under the wheels of the tractor-trailer, the young passengers came through with barely a scratch.

“Any other scenario that could have happened, we’d probably be dead,” Colby said in an interview later.

The car was another story. Not sure it could even be repaired, the four left it at an auto-repair shop in the tiny town of Warfordsburg, PA. They hitchhiked the rest of the way to Washington (about 100 miles), and headed straight to the National Cathedral for worship.

They were among the 222 people arrested in front of the White House later that evening.

“After everything, I have to say [the trip] was definitely worth it,” Dahmen said in an interview the next day. He said members of his congregation, Colbert (WA) Presbyterian Church, held an all-night prayer vigil the same night as the Washington, DC, event.

Colby said the young people decided taking part in an act of civil disobedience would give them “a chance to be heard.”

It was also a way of putting their faith into action, Dahmen said. “I want people to understand that following Christ is a lot more than going to church.”

“We believe in peace,” said Vander Giessen. “We felt the need to participate with our brothers and sisters.”

Rick Ufford-Chase, executive director of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and a key organizer of the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq, says the Whitworth students are examples of what he calls the “remarkable” participation of young people in the event.

“This thing was going out on [youth-oriented Web sites] Facebook and MySpace,” he said. College and seminary students flocked to Washington, and a number of them were involved in planning the service and march.

For Ufford-Chase, their enthusiasm confirmed something he has long believed: “When young people are given a clear, grounded way to connect their faith to what’s going on in the world, a way that has integrity, they will step up. This is the way to attract the next generation.”

Two women cutting vegatables in a kitchen
Katie Anderson, left, an intern working with the National Network of Presbyterian College Women, and Jen Ross, a Rhodes College student from Naples, Fla., helped out in the kitchen at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. They were among more than 100 Presbyterians who participated in a networking event the day after the March 16 peace witness. Photo by Eva Stimson.

Jen Ross, a student at PCUSA-related Rhodes College, in Memphis, TN, attended the event with four other students affiliated with the National Network of Presbyterian College Women. They were among the last group of people arrested after a long, cold wait in front of the White House, returning to their hotel about 6 a.m.

“I’m not tired at all,” Ross remarked the next morning, smiling brightly while chopping tomatoes in the kitchen at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in downtown Washington. She was helping prepare lunch for a networking event at the church, co-sponsored by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, the Presbyterian Washington Office and the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship.

“It was my first time doing anything like this,” Ross said, adding that she was scheduled to report on her experience in a “minute for mission” at her home church, Vanderbilt Presbyterian in Naples, FL.

Photo of two pastors
The Rev. Clay Thomas, associate pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Sarasota, FL, and retired Presbyterian minister the Rev. Gene Lefebvre, from Tucson, AZ, forged a cross-generational friendship while waiting to be arrested in front of the White House. Photo by Eva Stimson.

The peace witness in Washington brought together Presbyterians across a wide spectrum of ages and from far-flung geographical locations. Among them was young pastor and reccnt Columbia Theological Seminary graduate, the Rev. Clay Thomas. Six months into his job as associate pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Sarasota, FL, he felt compelled to come to Washington to “take a stand” for peace.

“Just being against the war is not enough,” he said. “A physical witness is one way of living out my faith.”

While he was making his “physical witness” in front of the White House, he met the Rev. Gene Lefebvre, a retired Presbyterian minister from Tucson, AZ. Lefebvre said the two got acquainted while waiting to be arrested: “I was standing in line and there was this strange guy reading from a Bible …”

The “strange guy” turned out to be Thomas, who read from Isaiah 58, then passed his Bible to a Quaker man next to him who read from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. As events unfolded, Thomas and Lefebvre looked out for each other and a cross-generational friendship blossomed.

Photo of a woman Jackie Rocha who attened the event in Washington, DC
Jackie Rocha, 83, came to Washington, DC, with a group from Palo Cristi Presbyterian Church in Paradise Valley, AZ. Photo by Eva Stimson.

One of the oldest participants in the weekend events was 83-year-old Jackie Rocha, who came with a group of eight from Palo Cristi Presbyterian Church in Paradise Valley, AZ. Rocha, who walks with a cane after breaking her hip a year ago, is a veteran marcher for civil rights and other causes. She walked part of the way from the National Cathedral to the White House, then caught a bus to Lafayette Park because of the slick streets.

She gave two reasons for taking part in the Washington events: “I would really like to see peace” and “I hate to stay home and dust.”

Two ministers who recently fled Colombia because of death threats were impressed by the peacefulness of the Washington events. The Rev. Milton Mejia, former executive secretary of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia, and his wife, the Rev. Adelaida Jimenez, flew up from San Angelo, TX, where they are now living, to attend the service and march.

Photo of the Rev. Milton Mejia and his wife the Rev. Adelaida Jimenez
The Rev. Milton Mejia, former executive secretary of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia, and his wife, the Rev. Adelaida Jimenez, who fled Colombia last year because of death threats, marveled that even the people who got arrested during the march in Washington were “calm and secure.” Photo by Eva Stimson.

In Colombia, people who speak out for justice and human rights risk kidnapping, torture and murder by government or paramilitary troops, they said. But participants in the Washington march “were calm and secure,” Jimenez said. “Even people who were arrested knew they would be OK.”

Mejia said he hopes Christians who oppose the war in Iraq will also oppose the civil war that is ripping apart Colombia. “That is why we wanted to be here,” he explained.

A lively buzz filled the fellowship hall at New York Avenue Church as Mejia, Jimenez, Rocha and more than 100 others at the March 17 networking event chatted in small groups, sharing their experiences and ideas for achieving peace.

From one end of the room Whitworthian Dahmen surveyed the scene, then smiled and commented wisely: “This is what the church should be — people of all ages, from all walks of life, coming together for a cause that’s bigger than they are.”

Word of the day

March 19, 2007

(and for the next 672 days, unless…)


Government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens.