July 2011 Archives

Kicking the Can -- 2030 A Book Review

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2030 Albert Brookes cover.jpg

Well well well. Minnesota's political leadership is boldly kicking the can down the road. "A historic day" as the news is saying, to basically not deal with any of the complex issue that need to be faced.

What really steams me, is that this is Minnesota. We've enjoyed a high quality of life, great education system, and a pretty decent bunch of people at about the same social class. I was raised to believe that you are not the sum of your net worth. Minnesotan didn't flaunt their wealth or put the rich on a pedestal. It seems that we've become so materialistic. It was ingrained in me that the rich aren't better than anyone else. Being rich doesn't mean you worked harder (re: Paris Hilton), or are better education (again PH- a highschool dropout), or have any particular blessing from God.

So what? Does everyone want so badly to be in the top 2% of wealthy that they have begun to see themselves in the top 2% of the wealthy? So much so that they (we) can't bear the thought of taxing them. What do people think-- that if they tax today's top 2% that they'll one day be the taxing themselves, their kids, their grandkids? Enough already. Our nation's political leaders are bound up with the wealthiest people and corporation who support their campaigns.

In terms of state spending and revenue. Be tough-- tough with spending and tough with taxing. Make it work people. I'm sick of the can being kicked down the road. Which leads me to the book review I wrote yesterday and submitted to the Star Trib. Don't know if they'll publish it. So here it is.

Also-- especially in light of today's news, READ 2030. It is one hell of a book.

Book Review

Twenty Thirty: The Real Story of What Happens to America

By: Albert Brooks

Albert Brooks' book takes on current issues that leaves many of us glassy eyed, but manages to create a riveting story of where America could be heading. In 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America, Brooks fleshes out some of today's most critical social issues and through believable characters and story lines that show us where we could be in a mere 19 years unless we begin to act like grown ups in the face of our so-called "new normal."

Brooks' first novel takes current trend of increasingly health care costs, the gap between the rich and poor, a crushing national debt, and demographic shifts towards an aging American population out to the year 2030. Characteristic of his larger body of work, he does so with humor, intelligence, and heart.

2030 imagines the lives of some average and not so average Americans in a period when America has ceased to be the empire that it is today. Characters such as angry disenfranchise youth, the AARP (the most powerful group in America) leadership, and a young woman whose pain comes from seeing the fall of her father from a middle class blue collar worker to being chronically underemployed and impoverished. The President of the United States appears in this novel with a sense of humor and real sense of what is right for the country. This character, more than others, seems to voice Brooks' own wry sense of humor and provides ballast for what could still be put right in the world

Reading this novel, I waited with President Bernstein to see how the American people would poll over giving China the rights to a major American city. "People wanted it done quickly, and at a low price, and that was the way it was going to be. It started with cars, went to food and clothing, and now it was the very places they were going to live and work. Resistance was not just futile, it was gone."

Brooks paints a picture of a world in which health care is miraculous, expensive, and out of reach for many. One main premise is the unintended consequences of finding a cure for cancer, which extended life for older Americans but places an even greater burden on younger generations to fulfill the social obligation of health care and retirement for older generations.

Brooks has succeeded in creating an artful and engaging scenario of the not so distance future that takes the reader from today's contentious civic discourse to the resulting dystopic future, should we persist upon our current path. 2030 is one of the more creative and, frankly, seemingly plausible of the increasingly popular genre of futuristic dystopic novels. Brookes immerses himself in building a plausible future and doesn't shy away from difficult and even controversial issues. He takes on such topics as the burden of entitlements on younger generation, and the impact of today's 'kicking the can down the road' approach to those issues, such as national debt and access to health care. We would do well to take heed of Brooks' message and work backwards from 2030 to today in order to create a more equitable and prosperous future.

You who are weary...

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meir_methodist_church_congregation_420x270.jpg
Sample congregation from England (photo from BBC's Faith Place)

Matthew 11:28
The Message (MSG)
28-30"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me--watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

I was asked to fill in for Minister Bev when she took a vacation the first part of July. I didn't know that would mean writing a sermon. It would have been easier if I had been given an agricultural passage, but the "Ye who are weary and heavy burdened" text turned out to be just the thing I needed to think about.

SERMON-- July 3, 2011

When Rick asked me to help with this service, I thought it would be like when the Minister goes to the Synod assembly and they provide me with a sermon. So a couple Sundays ago when I asked Rick who I should get the sermon from and he said "well- you prepare it" I thought that he was joking. But he wasn't kidding and he handed me the readings and the gospel lesson for today's service.

(Click on Continue reading, below, to see the rest of the sermon)

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