If you hadn't heard, the David Oh / Jack Kelly race is too close to
call. The last precincts still need to get their results in, and then
there are absentee ballots to count, and likely a recount of
everything, but as of right now, David is up by 24 (!) votes: 60,291
to 60,267. This has got to be one of the closest races in the history
of City Council.

My day for David started at 7:45 in the morning, when I schlepped my
daughter to the polls to vote and then to hand out placards. Jada
played in the puddles and enjoyed the rain pelting her raincoat in
between doing her share of pushing literature, but it got too cold for
me to keep her out there in the elements and I had to run off to a
work-related meeting, so we bounced by 8:30. I only wish more people
had voted while we were there; the ones who did come were either aware
of David or open to hearing about why they should vote for him.

I had my wife text me results every half-hour after the polls closed
at 8 in the evening, as I was in the middle of a church leadership
meeting. At 9:30, I took the trolley downtown to McGillin's, where
David had rented out a room to celebrate or mourn, depending on the
outcome. And what a roller-coaster it was: David had started out
trailing by a couple thousand votes, but by the time I got to
McGillin's, he was gaining fast. I think it was about 10:30 when we
got the first announcement of him surging into the lead . . . only to
hear three announcements later that he had fallen behind. And so it
went - up 104, down 90, up 50, and so on and so on. At 11:30, people
were saying he was up 40 but it was too close to call tonight, so I
went home.

And that brings us to the present. Let's hope the recount is fair,
and that it's in David's favor. It would be a historic win, as David
would be Philadelphia's first Asian-American City Councilperson. And
it would mean we would have an honest, virtuous industrious leader in
a position of influence. As Mayor-elect Michael Nutter put it often
last night, it's a new day. Here's to David being part of it.





Door to Door in the Neighborhood

Yesterday and today I took the kids door to door around the
neighborhood to drop off pamphlets for my friend David Oh, who is
running for City Council at Large here in Philadelphia. David's
campaign office gave me a list of names and addresses to distribute
materials to in our ward - the 23rd Division of the 46th Ward is 3
blocks by 4 blocks - with explicit instructions that I was not to put
anything in anyone's mailbox, only on their doorstep, per election
rules. It hearkened me back to the few times I delivered newspapers
as a kid.

Of course, back then, I didn't have a 2 1/2 year old or a 10 month old
in tow. So things took longer than if I did it solo. But I chose for
them to tag along, not in the least because Jada walking the 24 blocks
with me and climbing up and down 50+ sets of porch steps would help
tire her out. I want them to know what it means to be an active
citizen, that one of the things you do is, when you find someone who
would make a good public servant, you get out there on a weekend and
wear out some shoe leather to help get him elected.


We sung an old hymn at this morning's worship service partly in honor
of two long-time congregants who had passed away in the past year: one
at the age of 85 and one at the age of 92. As we sung, "For All the
Saints," I couldn't help but think of another former congregant who is
now a saint, although he wasn't in his 90's or 80's or even 70's,
60's, 50's, 40's, or 30's.

Glenn, one of my very best friends, passed away in 2004 at the age of
29. As we sang the hymn's second stanza - "Thou wast their rock,
their fortress, and their might; thou Lord, their captain in the
well-fought fight; thou in the darkness drear, their one true light" -
I could not help but think of my good buddy. Jesus was Glenn's light
and rock in all the fights and all the darkness he tackled in his
short life.

I was reminded this morning, as we sung, that death is a very bad
thing. Glenn's death was devastating to me, and even more so to his
wife, his sister, and his parents. Hundreds of people attended his
funeral, and it was a somber occasion.

I was also reminded this morning, as I was at Glenn's service, that
death is also a gateway to glory, and in that sense a very, very good
thing. Our pastor this morning sounded the apostle Paul's precious
words in the thirteenth chapter of his first letter to the church in
Corinth: "For now we see in a mirror dimly; but then face to face." O
what a glorious thought, that for all the goodness we see in God
today, we take in but a fraction of what it will be like to behold Him
in all His glory.

How is it that death can be both awful and wonderful? It is because
the Person and act that defines us as Christians: when Jesus submitted
Himself to death by crucifixion, He was simultaneously undergoing the
basest and vilest form of death and securing the greatest and most
convincing form of victory. In the name of One like that, and after
an act like that, why wouldn't it make the most sense in the world for
death to be simultaneously dreadful and welcome?

Finally, I am reminded that for as full of a life as Glenn lived, as
these two old-timers we celebrated this morning lived, when they died
they did so before the fullest fulfillment of what they had pointed
their whole lives towards. In a very real sense, they walked in the
footsteps of some of the great men and women of the faith, who the
author of the book of Hebrews described in this way: "All these died
in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and
having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they
were strangers and exiles on the earth."

Some people, dare I say most people, strive all their lives to
accomplish something and to make for themselves a name and a place for
themselves on this earth. And yet the Bible suggests that the
greatest and most highly exalted individuals for all eternity are
those who died not having enjoyed what they had worked their whole
lives towards, and who died more in touch with their foreignness with
this world than with their sense of belonging.

Some day, we will all die; what, then, will be said of us? If I can
help it, I want it to be that I too fought a good fight, spent and was
spent for the Kingdom, and welcomed death not as keeping me from
accomplishing more but as no longer keeping me from my true

PS I did a little digging on the hymn, and found this site: http://www.stpetersnottingham.org/hymns/saints.htm. The author's tireless work in the slums of London affirm the notion that the people who are most heavenly-minded are precisely those who are of the most earthly good. I also like the fact that he preferred public transit over private carriages!

For All the Saints (William W. How, 1864)

1. For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
who thee by faith before the world confessed,
thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

2. Thou wast their rock, their fortress, and their might;
thou Lord, their captain in the well-fought fight;
thou in the darkness drear, their one true light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

3. O may thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold,
fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
and win with them the victor's crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

4. O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
yet all are one in thee, for all are thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

5. And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
and hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

6. From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's farthest coast,
through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

David Oh Link Dump

If you're still on the fence re: David Oh, I've rounded up some recent
media coverage to help you out (mostly courtesy of A Smoke-Filled

"Whole-city champions" (Philadelphia Inquirer):

"Considering voting for David Oh?" (Young Philly Politics):

"Developers' ties to a councilman test finance law: nearly 25% of Jack
Kelly's primary campaign funding was from entities tied to two
brothers" (Philadelphia Inquirer):

"Costume party: in the scramble for an at-large GOP council seat,
David Oh plays the role of Democrat" (City Paper):

"A conversation with David Oh" (Young Philly Politics):

"Oh, say, can you see . . . everywhere?" (Philadelphia Daily News):

"Sam Katz likes David Oh" (Heard in the Hall):

"At-large seats could use a few new occupants" (Northeast Times):


Vote for David Oh for City Council at Large

Please consider voting for David Oh for City Council at Large next
Tuesday. With the five Democratic at Large candidates shoo-ins to win
and Frank Rizzo likely to retain his seat on the Republican side,
there's really only one race in question, and that's David Oh or Jack
Kelly for the last Republican seat. Whether you're Republican or
Democrat, you should vote for David - the Philadelphia Inquirer thinks
so, as it gave David their endorsement this week. Thanks, and please
check out www.davidoh.org if you have any questions about David.

PS Here's David's latest campaign commercial:

You might also catch it
on the major networks this weekend.

West, South, North, Central

What a crazy day I had today. Special thanks for my limo company,
also known as SEPTA, for taking me all over Philadelphia. And I mean
all over: from our day care in Southwest Philadelphia to the Navy Yard
south of the stadiums to LaSalle University in the Olney section of
town down to Center City to pick up David Oh materials and back to
Southwest Philadelphia to pick up our kids. If you're keeping score
at home, that's four subway tokens and six miles of walking and about
an hour and a half of uninterrupted time on mass transit to catch up
on business magazines. Good times.


Crime and Violence

"Of course the Democratic debate is on TV," I replied to my wife
Tuesday night. Only it wasn't - except on MSNBC, which we don't get.
But it was here in Philadelphia, at Drexel University not far from our
house. So the next morning, I went to philly.com to see how everyone
did. Only to find the story not at all on the website's main page.
Instead, the main story was an officer shooting in a busy part of
downtown, uncomfortably close to where the debates were being held.
(In fact, the shooter fled from Center City in the direction of the
debates, and ended up in the Schuylkill River, which separates
University City from Center City, and they had to fish him out after
he had drowned.)

This shooting was bookended by yesterday's shooting of an officer and
subsequent manhunt uncomfortably close to my former boss' house, and
Sunday's shooting of an officer uncomfortably close to my house and
workplace. So that's three shootings of officers in four days, all at
a time when the national media has its cameras literally pointed at
Philadelphia. Not good times.

Even though we live in a very urban part of the country, it can be
easy to forget just how disenfranchised and lawless large portions of
our population are. But while it is not good for such violent
reminders to come so uncomfortably close to where we live, work, and
play, perhaps it is good for us to be uncomfortably reminded.

After all, the easy response is to find some community, possibly gated
and usually far from urban centers, where one doesn't have to worry
about crime and violence. But with crime and violence come the causes
of crime and violence, which are messy and systemic and spiritual and
personal and communal and deep-rooted. And most importantly, with
crime and violence come victims, perpetrators, and collateral damage
in the form of people whom God loves deeply and unconditionally.

In other words, we can decide that the beginning and end of the story
is the crime and violence; and if that is our lens, who wouldn't want
to do everything possible to avoid and to distance? Or we can decide
that as Christians who follow a God who loves all people and who calls
us to join in on that love, there ought to be a broader perspective of
crime and violence, to include the people and causes and results and
solutions; and that such a broader perspective would necessarily impel
us, by God's grace and in His love, to not avoid or distance but
rather to think and act and serve and care.

I want to be careful to not say that living close to urban centers is
necessarily more spiritual or more obedient than living in the
far-flung suburbs, because it's not. What I am trying to say is that
it matters how we view the front page of our local paper the week in
which three cops have been hit in four days. If we run because crime
and violence is the beginning and end of that story, I don't know that
we are doing what God would have us to do. If, instead, we pray and
consider and investigate and care, by God's grace and in His love, and
if we all as Christians choose into that posture, maybe we might not
only not run and hide, but also work towards some solutions and even
find and implement those solutions. And I think God would be pleased
that His physical body on earth was put into motion for such a cause
and in such a time.