The influence of others

I’m sure that whilst I was at the office this morning I had three different blog inspirations to choose from. However, a 2 hour journey home (which should’ve taken 45mins) seems to have drained them away.

One was going to be a fabulous theological discourse on the amount of influence God is allowed to have on the President of the USA.

A blog that’s well worth keeping an eye on is Thank You Ma’am, which I’ve mentioned before in relation to the author’s grammatical pedantry. Yesterday’s post was on the subject of JFK’s address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association and ended with this paragraph:

“I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials, and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.”

This quote preceded a statement which was intended to placate voters who had issues with JFK’s Catholicism:

“I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute; where no Catholic prelate would tell the President — should he be Catholic — how to act, and no Protestant minster would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference, and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him, or the people who might elect him.”

The question that Sharon (the blog author) rightly raises is: ‘Would a Protestant presidential candidate actually say, in a campaign speech, that he believes in an America where a church, church elders (or God) would not tell the President how to act?’

So, what I intended to do was waffle on about the relationship between church & state, especially in a legally secular, yet obsessively religious country like the US.

But instead, I’m going to just ask the question:
Would this even be an issue in the UK? Would people mind if we had a PM who publicly said that they listened for God’s guidance in matters?

Something to ponder…

On this day I am thankful:

That Obama won. Decisively.

That voter turnout was massive – a victory for democracy.

For randomly waking up at 6am enabling me to catch as much election coverage as possible before work.

For Mr Mark McShane, my A-level US Politics teacher, who taught me everything I needed to know to appreciate the true specialness of US elections.

(As the only young male teacher in an all-girls school, he was an influential person in my 6th form career…I’ll say no more. Actually, I’d better because that sounds rather dodgy! Just as the only half-way decent male in the vicinity, we thought he was hotter than he probably was. I loved him.)

For the wonders of modern technology that enabled me to communicate election elation to Mozambique and the depths of North Devon which apparantly was a media black hole at 8am this morning.

There is so much to say about this election, but I think other people will do it better. Suffice to say, it’s a landmark ocassion. There’s nothing like an idiot being President for 8 years to make the victory of a decent person all the more sweet. As a text from my Mum said last night, the last 24 hours have had a lot of similarities with May 1st 1997 when 18 years of Conservative rule finally ended and a bright new dawn of smiling Tony & Cherie (and Cool Britannia) emerged.

Thank-you America. You did good.

On election night

I received a comment on my last post from my American (but currently resident in Mozambique) friend Ian, chastising me for not writing about the election today. In his words:

“on ‘such a historic day’ all you can blog about is a 14 year old cyclist who lost shower gel?!?!?! :)”

I told him that I felt I didn’t have a lot of influence over the result; I’d blogged about it already; and I’d write something when the results are through. However, I’m feeling sorry for him because despite all his efforts, his absentee ballot only arrived today so he’s been disenfranchised.

To cheer him up, here’s a video of an Obama worship song.
Yes, you read that correctly, an Obama worship song.
(I found it here originally.)

For future reference:

Earlier today (over lunch, should anyone think I don’t do anything at work), I was checking up on some blogs. I ended up on a new one that seemed interesting, especially as the first post I read was about the author’s first wedding anniversary which was particularly relevant as my sister celebrated hers yesterday.

As I often do when I discover a blog I rather like, I went back to its first ever post to find out how it had begun, and all of a sudden I was reading the sweetest story. It had me almost choking with emotion. [When I say choking, I mean literally. I gasped in awe at how lovely it was and then laughed at my over-emotionalness, and it caught in my throat so I choked.]

The first post marked the author’s engagement and included the story of the proposal as written by her boyfriend. Read it if you’ve got the time, but in brief: he organised a trip to New York that she thought was for business – until her boyfriend turned up in Central Park. He proposed whilst a photographer took surreptitious pictures, and later on, took her to see Wicked.

That summary doesn’t do the story justice, but honestly, believe me – it was beautiful.

So here’s the thing, I’m writing this post so that my future husband knows how to go about proposing. I know I have no “future husband” on the horizon, but I figure that any guy who falls in love with me will at some point be so besotted with me that they read every single post on this blog in an effort to know how I tick. (Don’t snort with derision…it’s possible!)*

And this is what he needs to know:
– I LOVE surprises.
– I’m also a little bit dense, so it’s highly likely you can plan something wild and extravagant without me catching on in the slightest.
– I’m rather fond of New York, but to be honest, as long as the proposal’s location is romantic, I’m not fussed: Hampstead Heath, Regent’s Park, remote hill/lake in the country, Paris, New York…
– You can never go wrong with Wicked.

Am I being a little premature? Probably. But it’s always good to get these things written down!

*Please note: This is intended to be tongue in cheek. Please don’t read this thinking that I’m some scary, marriage-obsessed freak! I am perfectly, totally normal – promise.

Jumping on the Palin bandwagon

Last week I had Sarah Palin thrown at me.
I don’t mean literally, obviously, it was in fact another (rather pointless) addition to facebook’s superpoke and a friend thought it would be funny. Actually, he was right, it was funny – far better than having a sheep thrown at me.

This provided a timely reminder that there is just no way of escaping the US elections (unless I choose to hide in a cave for the next few months, but that’s unlikely). Yet again, the fate of the world lies in the hands of 300 million people (give or take several hundred thousand who are in jail or live in a state where votes aren’t actually counted…) and it’s scary just how tight this contest is now looking.

If you’d been anywhere near me on August 29th, you would have heard a gasp of incredulity as I glanced at the BBC News front page and discovered that McCain had picked Sarah Palin as his running mate. My incredulity has done nothing but grow over the last few weeks, culminating in the discovery on Friday that she only got her first passport LAST YEAR!

I know the US is a big country, that there’s not so much ‘need’ to cross its borders, but surely you’d be interested to, just once in a while? Especially if you can “see Russia from the kitchen window” [incidentally, she totally can’t]…would you not be the tiniest bit intrigued by what might be happening elsewhere in the world?

Surely, living in Alaska you’d want to go somewhere with sun, sea, sand and regular hours of daylight once in a while? (Having watched 30 Days of Night just the other week, I’m unlikely ever to set foot in northern Alaska, or possibly the entire state.)

I’m not going down the path of being overly critical of the women – kudos to her, she’s managed to raise a family and have a high powered job in a male dominated world – but honestly, it’s total tokenism to put her on the ticket. “You’ve got a black guy running for President? I see your Obama, and raise you the female governor of Alaska….that’ll get us the votes of all the women pissed off that Hillary didn’t win the nomination.”

At this rate, the night of November 4th could be as bad as election night 4 years ago: I was living alone at the time (& was unemployed – cheery!), stayed up to watch the coverage with a bottle of wine to keep me company and woke up fully-clothed the next morning with a hangover and the knowledge that the world had to put up with Bush for another four years. Doesn’t get much more depressing than that…

It’s pointless using this post to encourage my American friends to vote Democrat – most of them already do. But please, I beg you – for the sanity of the rest of the world – don’t repeat your past mistakes.

One last thing – you know why we have to care so much about the VP candidate?
Because the Presidential one is so old, and as the American saying goes, you do the math. For more musings on that subject, check out