Saturday, January 25, 2014

World News From My Perspective

Disclaimer: I get most of my news from the internet and the rest from my family and friends.

I have an eclectic view of the world, and so do you. We simply can't help it. Everyone has a vanishing point, and due to the nature of perspective, it cannot be the same for any two people.

From my vantage  point, Afghanistan is losing several thousand troops and may face a tough transition. But then Afghanistan is no stranger to tough times. Does anyone know what's going on in Iraq (besides constant bombings)?Africa is not exactly fulfilling all of Mandela's dreams (yet).The Ukraine is streaming live video of what must be the longest continuing protest in history (unless you count France's ongoing protest against morality) over the government's involvement or lack of such in the European Union, while Germany is playing big brother (big sister, if you will) to the other members of the EU, and still manages to lead economically around the world. Egypt is just happy, for a change, that the  attention is diverted elsewhere, and it can make plenty of money on those sheets that cost twice as much if they're 'Egyptian cotton'. China (if we're talking economics, we can't leave out China) holds the biggest note from the US, who is making a slow comeback in financial matters, and absolutely can't seem to find a way  to keep random citizens from shooting strangers in public. Russia is simply too big and confusing to get my head around, especially now that Mr.Snowden is in exile(?) there. I think Russia is my vanishing point. By the way, China makes laws to keep the population down, and the US just legalizes abortion. Is there a difference in outcome? Due to the high price charged  to US in Kyrgystan, (where, let's face it peace doesn't exactly run rampant) Romania is soon to be the new host to most of those troops coming from Afghanistan, but is experiencing a shake-up due to a failure in the newly rolled out (and very expensive) overhaul of their national emergency system (similar to our 911).

In a nutshell: Afghanistan can't manage inner conflict, US steps in to divert attention from its money and family troubles, Germany props up everyone else, while China lends money to make money, but is very private about its own woes. Kyrgystan licks wounds over losing the American account by doubling rent. Romania isn't really ready, but then GI's don't need much. Did I leave someone out? I did leave a lot out, but I warned you this would be eclectic. Besides the rat infested ship drifting dangerously close to Ireland, there's relative calm in the UK.They have Downton Abbey and Sherlock. That's enough drama for one country.

Friday, January 24, 2014


By now most everyone knows about the massive troop draw down in Afghanistan. Whether it will be complete, or partial as has recently been recommended, a lot of military personnel will find themselves in Romania soon.

As Providence would have it, my baby brother, Dan Hamilton's chaplaincy in Bamburg, Germany has been chosen to set up the chapel in the new base in Romania. (Yes, that's Romania, as in the home of Dracula's Transylvania.) He and his crew (not sure how many) will be setting up what he's calling a FREE X, in the absence of a PX. 

Thousands of field weary troops will soon be descending on this new facility (in the process of  being built). Word is they're in need of (among other things) a change of socks. He's also asked for candies of all kinds. I'll be betting the nearest See's is afar off. Another plan is for regular movie nights (Redbox hasn't gotten to Romania yet) so used DVD's will come in handy.

Chances are you know someone who has a loved one in Afghanistan, and if so, consider giving a gift of support if you're able. If you live  in the Modesto, California area here are the drop-off locations for white athletic socks size 10-13 (higher top rather than low top because they wear boots). We'll post again soon for candy and DVD donations.
Community Business College 3800 McHenry Ave
Maris Media Productions 2521 Willow Oak Ct, Modesto Ca,95355
Veteran's Services 121 Downey Avenue
Any monetary gifts can be sent to me, (the Willow Oak Ct location is my address) and 100% of the money you send will go to buy socks or candy for the troops in Romania. We will take care of postage.

You can like us here on facebook and see regular updates. Thanks ahead of time to all of you for your generosity!

Amy Maris

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Unlikely Tryst

Between the hurry and flurry of the holidays and the unfolding of spring there is a no mans land of dead winter.
In that time we feel restless. Something is coming but in the meantime we must get on with the business of life, often without much daylight in which to do it. 
Even in sunny California, where the sun rules most days, the dead trees and cold dark nights hold us in the grasp of a paralyzingly pose between the old and the new year which has not yet unfolded most of it's wonders or bewilderments.
Here we must agree to the handshake of the in between. 
All the while the beauty of blossom and leaf lies hidden, yet growing. 
It is a dance of opposites, and we are in the middle of the dance floor, being led by fate.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas: A Review

If you happened to see telecast of the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast you may have known that the author of this book was the keynote speaker. And if so, I think you'll agree with me that Eric Metaxas is a compelling figure in his own right. His work on Bonhoeffer only legitimizes his voice.

This comprehensive history of Dietrich Bonhoeffer traces his life from the origins of his parents, to his untimely death by execution at age 39. One of the most helpful insights into the complex difficulties of second World War Germany is the detailed correspondence between the various religious leaders, especially of the 'Confessing Church'. This exclusively German religious entity literally shaped the essence of the conflict between Nazi ideology and the prominent conservative protestant bodies of faith. I found it particularly insightful regarding the particular and singular uncomfortable and confusing position that a man of Bonhoeffer's education and intellect must have experienced, as a somewhat wealthy German theologian and as a person with Jewish relatives. 

Perhaps the surprise for me was the gradual and fluid nature of the escalating climate of madness in a country which was not only historically the seat of reformed Protestantism, but also known for its high priority on proper order and precision in daily life. It is easy to  form a simplistic view as an American looking back with the full benefit of hindsight, and quite another thing to live in the center of a maelstrom, (as Bonhoeffer did) and make sense of what is happening around you.

Bonhoeffer's choice to 'work for the enemy' was one that not everyone could make. I find the cunning with which he juggled this and the role of fully engaged and compassionate pastor and theologian as perhaps the most fascinating element of his life.The book left me permanently riveted to the study of World War II
Germany. I highly recommend it. There is also a movie which provides a rather chilling picture (less warm than Metaxas depiction) but a good companion to the book.