Monday, March 31, 2008


'Everyday it seems we're wasting away ...'

In three and a half hours, Chris Daughtry opens for Bon Jovi in Denver and we will be there. Section AAA. Front row. Dr. ER won the tickets somehow.

Dr. ER has been lookin' forward to this for months. Me, too, because it makes her happy, although I dig Bon Jovi. And Daughtry. But mostly I'm wantin' to go for Dr. ER.

And this is what I feel like. Fevered. Sore throat. Snot slingin'. Burnin' chest. Hackin' cough. Sore muscles. Every few minutes it feels like someone sends a butcher knife into my head. It's gonna be a looong night.

But hey, I got a pocket full of Hall's drops and two packs of Walgreen's tissues. I'm a cowboy ...


Sunday, March 30, 2008


How can the One be 'far' or 'near'?

Don't know how Dr. ER does this sort of thing all the time. Woke up in 100 miles away in Tulsa, back to the house now to wash clothes, unpack and repack and get to the airport to go to Denver. Tiring. And I'm illin'. Ugh.

My back-pattin', BTW, was a second-place (with some others) in a spot news category, and a third-place in a feature writin' category.


Meditation for today at Fellowship Congregational Church, Tulsa:

"The important thing is not to stop questioning." -- Albert Einstein.


Leader: At times God seems far away.

People: At times we sense that God is very near.

Leader: But God does not come or go or move from place to place. God is not a thing, a being, a person who can be near one moment and far away the next.

People: Perhaps it is in our own thoughts and feelings that we sense that God is very near or far away. How can the One in all atoms and all places go far or come near?


"Eternal One, we admit there are days when we ignore Your presense. In our busy life we could not fit You on the calendar page. We are doing our best to pretend we are running the universe. Yet we get upset when our will is not done. We lament the things we have left undone. We double our efforts to control the future of the universe and discover we are having less and less fun. Help us to wake up to what is real and beyond our small self. Open our hearts to Your eternal Presence so we can return the job of running everything back to You. AMEN."


Saturday, March 29, 2008


Taking me back to Tulsa

Goin' to a sit-down supper with fellows and perfessional peers from across the state tonight in Tulsey Town, where we will distribute attaboys for work done in ought-ought-7.

Danged if I ain't up for another back-pattin' for somethin' or the other.

Ugh. And I have the creeping crud. I will endeavor not to breathe on anyone and will be totin' a lil bottle of Puer ... Peu ... Pu -- some of that hand disinfectant.

In the mornin' I might visit this church. I've got time, since my flight out of OKC to Denver isn't until 7:28 p.m. (Look at me! Mentioning gettin' on a plane all casual like. Who'da thunk it??)

I do this, the church thing, for y'all -- and I mean everybody I come in contact with here and in the RW.

I can be pretty petty and mean even when I go to church regularly. I miss more than one week in a row -- I will definitely have to miss a week from tomorrow 'cause I'll be on a plane -- and I'm just a sorry sumbitch.

I just *have* to go and sit down and shut up, and listen, and pray and sing.

Grace happens everywhere. But there actually IS something to that "where two or three" are gathered in My name" deal.



Wright, Obama and the Audacity of Truth

Great essay.


(Originally appeared in Lip.)

For most white folks, indignation just doesn't wear well. Once affected or conjured up, it reminds one of a pudgy man, wearing a tie that may well have fit him when he was fifty pounds lighter, but which now cuts off somewhere above his navel and makes him look like an idiot.

Indignation doesn't work for most whites, because having remained sanguine about, silent during, indeed often supportive of so much injustice over the years in this country--the theft of native land and genocide of indigenous persons, and the enslavement of Africans being only two of the best examples--we are just a bit late to get into the game of moral rectitude. And once we enter it, our efforts at righteousness tend to fail the test of sincerity.

But here we are, in 2008, fuming at the words of Pastor Jeremiah Wright, of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago -- occasionally Barack Obama's pastor, and the man whom Obama credits with having brought him to Christianity -- for merely reminding us of those evils about which we have remained so quiet, so dismissive, so unconcerned. It is not the crime that bothers us, but the remembrance of it, the unwillingness to let it go -- these last words being the first ones uttered by most whites it seems whenever anyone, least of all an "angry black man" like Jeremiah Wright, foists upon us the bill of particulars for several centuries of white supremacy. ...

Read it all.


Friday, March 28, 2008


Best Rangers-White Sox moment ever

Great shot. It was on the front page of every Texas newspaper on Aug. 5, 1993, the day after the old man whupped the kid.

Robin Ventura charged the mound when Nolan Ryan was on it. Ryan mugged cattle for fun. He cleaned Ventura's clock. And hey, Ventura is an Oklahoma State product, but he got what he had comin' to him.

Nothing will come close to that for a long time, especially tonight when the Texas Rangers and Chicago White Sox play an exhibition game at the Rangers' Triple-A ballpark in Oklahoma City.

But a friend and I, with our coats on, will be there just in case.

Let the vacation begin.


Thursday, March 27, 2008


'Traveling through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, boy!' (but it ain't too far off)

Quick! Pick! "Star Wars" or "The Dukes of Hazzard" -- which meant/means most to you? Why?

Myself: The Duke boys were just slightly overdrawn caricatures -- maybe not overdrawn at all, actually (until the last year or two of the series, when the whole thing became a funny book on TV).

But I knew of places like the Boar's Nest, and I knew people like those in the show.

"Star Wars" -- cool, very cool, but the tech glitz detracted from the story, to me.

Close call. But the Dukes win it.



(Tip o' the Resistol to Ronholio, for sendin' this my way.)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Bird and YankeeBeau, sittin' in a tree ...


Bird, my redheaded redneck stepgal, and her YankeeBeau have set a month and place for wedding:

July 2009.

In Jamaica!


Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Baptism tales

Friend of mine told me yesterday that he had a nephew, a teen, get baptized on Easter. The preacher was wearin' chest waders! That beats all. He might be -- no, he is a redneck. What a hoot!

Niece of mine, age 10, is fixin' to get baptized. She told her mama she's thinkin' about takin' a test tube and stopper with her, so she can bring back some of the water. That way, she said, she could look at her sin and think about it. And that is pretty dang profound, actually.

Brother and I were sittin' in church one time 20-odd years ago, watchin' an 80-somethin'-year-old man get dunked in the baptismal waters. My brother was known for bein' a fan of the horses. Threw a little money at 'em, I mean. As the old fella was gettin' his sins figuratively washed away, finally, at age 80-something, brother leans over and says, "And they call *me* a gambler."

In college, a Methodist friend and I, then a Baptist, were always cussin' and discussin' the relative merits of immersion versus sprinkled baptisms. Finally, in what I thought was a genuine effort to come to peace with him on the matter, I said, in all seriousness, "Well, I guess it really doesn't matter whether you''re sprinkled or baptized." He turned red in the face and stomped off -- and I honestly didn't know what I'd said to offend him. He let me know the next time we saw each other. Live and learn.

Younger cousin of mine wanted to be baptized the old-fashioned way, in runnin' water, not in the baptistry at the church. So we all loaded up in the bus and some of us in our cars and took off for the Arkansas River one summer Sunday evening. Preacher and my cousin walked down a boat ramp into the river and commenced the ceremony with all of us standin' around on the bank. Here comes some guys in a pickup pullin' a boat on a trailer. They were not amused. Some kids who roared by in a hot rod and tossed out some beer cans -- they were amused.

I was baptised at age 8. I've always said they should've poured in some Tide and agitated the water some.

Got a baptism tale? Tell it!


Monday, March 24, 2008


'The righteous anger of a prophet, as shown in scripture, must not be confused with hate speech'

Why Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas, is honoring the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

In March 2008, ABC News caused a public uproar by broadcasting spliced sound bites from a sermon that Wright gave shortly after September 11, 2001, in which Wright quoted Edward Peck, former U.S. Chief of Mission in Iraq, former deputy director of the White House Task Force on Terrorism under the Reagan Administration and former U.S. Ambassador to a number of countries, as allegedly having said:

"We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye ... and now we are indignant, because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought back into our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost."

Wright went on to state: "Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. And terrorism begets terrorism. A white ambassador said that y’all, not a black militant. Not a reverend who preaches about racism. An ambassador whose eyes are wide open and who is trying to get us to wake up and move away from this dangerous precipice upon which we are now poised. The ambassador said the people we have wounded don’t have the military capability we have. But they do have individuals who are willing to die and take thousands with them. And we need to come to grips with that. (Wikipedia)

You know, whatever the Rev. Wright's sins of excess were, they're NOTHING compared to the sins of silence on the part of most other preachers in this country. But where's the excess?

Here's a couple of threads from Dan's place, A Payne Hollow Visit, with some asinine comments from some reasl "biblical scholars."

Between Reality and Fantasy

Not This Time!

Last One


Sunday, March 23, 2008



Easter Sunday dinner with Big Brudder and Little Big Sister, and the to'ing and fro'ing to the Pig Out Palace in Henryetta, Okla., DONE ME GOOD. You might say my attitude has been Resurrected!

Y'all know what I gave up for Lent? WORRYING. I caught myself doin' it sometimes, and STOPPED -- not puttin' it off, but giving it up!

And then I woke up this mornin' weighted down with that crap. All morning, through church, and to the Pig Out Palace and back, when it hit me as this song was playin' on the radio: It was like God was saying: "You want this s--t back?"


It's where I learned about Jesus
And knowing where I stand
You can take it or leave it, this is me
This is who I am


I feel no shame
I'm proud of where I came from
I was born and raised in the boondocks
One thing I know
No matter where I go
I keep my heart and soul in the boondocks

And I can feel
That muddy water running through my veins
And I can hear that lullaby of a midnight train
It sings to me and it sounds familiar


And I can taste
That honeysuckle and it's still so sweet
When it grows wild
On the banks down at old camp creek
Yeah, and it calls to me like a warm wind blowing


It's where I learned about living
It's where I learned about love
It's where I learned about working hard
And having a little was just enough

It's where I learned about Jesus
And knowing where I stand
You can take it or leave it, this is me
This is who I am

Give me a tin roof
A front porch and a gravel road
And that's home to me
It feels like home to me


I keep my heart and soul in the boondocks

You get a line, I'll get a pole
We'll go fishing in the crawfish hole
Five-card poker on a Saturday night
Church on Sunday morning

You get a line, I'll get a pole
We'll go fishing in the crawfish hole
(Down in the boondocks)
Five-card poker on a Saturday night
Church on Sunday morning

Say a little prayer for me



Peace and joy to all y'all this day!


Saturday, March 22, 2008


We ought to wash one another's feet

John 13: 12-17.


Friday, March 21, 2008


'What Kind of Prophet?'

Amen. -- ER

What Kind of Prophet?
Reflections on the Rhetoric of Preaching
in Light of Recent News Coverage of Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.
and Trinity United Church of Christ

John H. Thomas
General Minister and President
United Church of Christ

Over the weekend members of our church and others have been subjected to the relentless airing of two or three brief video clips of sermons by the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ for thirty-six years and, for over half of those years, pastor of Senator Barack Obama and his family. These video clips, and news stories about them, have been served up with frenzied and heated commentary by media personalities expressing shock that such language and sentiments could be uttered from the pulpit.

One is tempted to ask whether these commentators ever listen to the overcharged rhetoric of their own opinion shows. Even more to the point is to wonder whether they have a working knowledge of the history of preaching in the United States from the unrelentingly grim language of New England election day sermons to the fiery rhetoric of the Black church prophetic tradition. Maybe they prefer the false prophets with their happy homilies in Jeremiah who say to the people: “You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you true peace in this place.” To which God responds, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name; I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. . . . By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed,” (Jeremiah 14.14-15). The Biblical Jeremiah was coarse and provocative. Faithfulness, not respectability was the order of the day then. And now?

What’s really going on here? First, it may state the obvious to point out that these television and radio shows have very little interest in Trinity Church or Jeremiah Wright. Those who sifted through hours of sermons searching for a few lurid phrases and those who have aired them repeatedly have only one intention. It is to wound a presidential candidate. In the process a congregation that does exceptional ministry and a pastor who has given his life to shape those ministries is caricatured and demonized. You don’t have to be an Obama supporter to be alarmed at this. Will Clinton’s United Methodist Church be next? Or McCain’s Episcopal Church? Wouldn’t we have been just as alarmed had it been Huckabee’s Southern Baptist Church, or Romney’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?

Many of us would prefer to avoid the stark and startling language Pastor Wright used in these clips. But what was his real crime? He is condemned for using a mild “obscenity” in reference to the United States. This week we mark the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq, a war conceived in deception and prosecuted in foolish arrogance. Nearly four thousand cherished Americans have been killed, countless more wounded, and tens of thousands of Iraqis slaughtered. Where is the real obscenity here? True patriotism requires a degree of self-criticism, even self-judgment that may not always be easy or genteel. Pastor Wright’s judgment may be starker and more sweeping than many of us are prepared to accept. But is the soul of our nation served any better by the polite prayers and gentle admonitions that have gone without a real hearing for these five years while the dying and destruction continues?

We might like to think that racism is a thing of the past, that Martin Luther King’s harmonious multi-racial vision, articulated in his speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 and then struck down by an assassin’s bullet in Memphis in 1968, has somehow been resurrected and now reigns throughout the land. Significant progress has been made. A black man is a legitimate candidate for President of the United States. A black woman serves as Secretary of State. The accomplishments are profound. But on the gritty streets of Chicago’s south side where Trinity has planted itself, race continues to play favorites in failing urban school systems, unresponsive health care systems, crumbling infrastructure, and meager economic development. Are we to pretend all is well because much is, in fact, better than it used to be? Is it racist to name the racial divides that continue to afflict our nation, and to do so loudly? How ironic that a pastor and congregation which, for forty-five years, has cast its lot with a predominantly white denomination, participating fully in its wider church life and contributing generously to it, would be accused of racial exclusion and a failure to reach for racial reconciliation.

The gospel narrative of Palm Sunday’s entrance into Jerusalem concludes with the overturning of the money changers’ tables in the Temple courtyard. Here wealth and power and greed were challenged for the way the poor were oppressed to the point of exclusion from a share in the religious practices of the Temple. Today we watch as the gap between the obscenely wealthy and the obscenely poor widens. More and more of our neighbors are relegated to minimal health care or to no health care at all. Foreclosures destroy families while unscrupulous lenders seek bailouts from regulators who turned a blind eye to the impending crisis. Should the preacher today respond to this with only a whisper and a sigh?

Is Pastor Wright to be ridiculed and condemned for refusing to play the court prophet, blessing land and sovereign while pledging allegiance to our preoccupation with wealth and our fascination with weapons? In the United Church of Christ we honor diversity. For nearly four centuries we have respected dissent and have struggled to maintain the freedom of the pulpit. Not every pastor in the United Church of Christ will want to share Pastor Wright’s rhetoric or his politics. Not every member will rise to shout “Amen!” But I trust we will all struggle in our own way to resist the lure of respectable religion that seeks to displace evangelical faith. For what this nation needs is not so much polite piety as the rough and radical word of the prophet calling us to repentance. And, as we struggle with that ancient calling, I pray we will be shrewd enough to name the hypocrisy of those who decry the mixing of religion and politics in order to serve their own political ends.

March 17, 2008


I do not know what to say to Him

Flannel cut-out Jesus marches readily from one scene to the next: entry ... supper ... prayer ... arrest ... questioning ... Cross ... tomb ... heaven.

Jesus Christ, Super Hero, boldly soars through history.

The Savior, in high art, is a majestic, holy figure, even in agony.

The man Jesus, from Nazareth, did not want to die. This reality hit me last night in a way it hasn't before. May your Friday be "Good."

Mark 14:32-42

They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. And said to them, "I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake."

And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, "Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want."

He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words.

And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. He came a third time and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand."

(New Revised Standard Version)
(Art: "The Agony in the Garden," 1455, Andrea Mantegna.)


Thursday, March 20, 2008


Maundy Thursday meditations in Cow Country

"The ballad of 'Silver Jack' came from some sophisticated writer and not from working men. Its setting is a camp of Michigan lumber cutters, but John A. Lomax heard it in cow country and put it in his Cowboy Ballads. Its burden is conformity versus free thinking.

"A fellow in camp by the name of Robert Waite, tonguey and 'what they call a skeptic,' said hell was a humbug, the Bible a fable, and the Savior 'just a common man.' Silver Jack yelled, 'You've got to take it back.'

" 'They fit for forty minutes
And the crowd would whoop and cheer
When Jack spit up a tooth or two.
Or when Bobby lost an ear.

" 'But at last Jack got him under
And he slugged him oncet or twicet,
And straightway Bob admitted
The divinity of Christ. ...

" 'Then someone brought a bottle out
And kindly passed it round. ...

" ' ... And the spread of infidelity
Was checked in camp that day.' "

(from J. Frank Dobie, Cow Country (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964), 231.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Let's keep talking about race

Obama has opened a conversation about race that we all need to continue. If you haven't heard his speech, or read it, please do. Right here.

Depending on whether we all, or most of us -- or at least enough of us -- keep on talking, it could be a real historic text.

Let's have testimony time, brothers and sisters. Let's confess our sins, and profess our hopes.

Here's a big ball of contradictions to start:

I am a Southerner. I am a liberal (by present standards). I love studying Southern history -- all of it.

I venerate the Rev. Dr. MLK Jr., Robert E. Lee, and Confederate Brig Gen. Stand Waite, Cherokee, among other Southerners.

I do not venerate Abraham Lincoln, because while he "saved the country," whether the country should have been saved, or the states set loose to follow their own destinies (and it would NOT have been pretty), was one of the twin sparks for the war, the other one, of course, being what to do about slavery. Lincoln did the legal equivalent of burning the village in order to save it.

I fell in love with the first little black girl I ever saw, in Head Start the summer of '70.

Someone close to me, an adult, told me when I was very little something like: "If you call a nigger a nigger, he'll come in the night and slit your throat in bed."

As a teen, I looked at the Klan, flirted witht he romance surrounding it, and was revulsed -- because of the message of the Cross of Christ. I try to see Jesus in every face now, red or yellow, black or white. I tend to dislike people now for what's inside them, not what they look like on the outside.

The first minorities I knew were little brown boys and girls: Cherokees.

At Lousiana Downs once years ago, I accidentally bumped into an old black man so hard it knocked him to the floor. He got up apologizing, brushing me off. I'll never forget it. It was a God moment.

Years later, in Mobile, Ala., I stopped for gas in a ... I pause, but it's true ... in a black part of town (language habits) ... and for the first time in my life found myself among black people in a situation where I didn't feel like I was an intruder, or that they were. I realized later that that's the effect of the middle class.

But then another time, I found myself just outside the French Quarter in New Orleans and was scared to death. And I realize now that that's the effect of the angry, self-destructive spiral of poverty, just outside the lights of wasted wealth.

And another time, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, I, a white guy, was very self-conscious to be driving a pickup with an Oklahoma tag -- they say "Native America" on them -- in Lakota country. And when Dr. ER ran into a Total in Pine Ridge, S.D., proper, she came out and said she felt like she was in a foreign country, because the signage was in Lakota and there was Lakota flute music playing and she was the only white person in the place.

Daddy ER used the word "nigra." He was born in 1914. Most white Southern men of his generation did.

I have used the n-word in reference to Obama, but in what I meant to be a kind of sophisticated-humor-enlightened-white-person sort of way. Talking to Dr. ER. We laughed -- and she is no more racist than I am. We both, though, are products of our upbringing and our region.

The word "Injun" has crossed my lips. Our family word for Chinese cuisine is "slope food."

There are at least a dozen Confederate flags here in my home office, including two full-sized one tacked to the ceiling: a navy jack (what's known generally as "the Confederate flag," which even knowledgeable people miscall the "battle flag" [here's the battle flag]); and the First National, which is the actual "Star and Bars."

I used to have a Confederate flag license plate on the front of my vehicle. I used to have a bumper sticker that says "Southern by the Grace of God," complete with battle flag. I might again some day. I do now carry a keychain with a plastic battle flag for a fob.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008


37 minutes, 39 seconds to a genuine vision of the perfection of a more perfect union

I've never been prouder of a primary vote. If Hillary Clinton had any humility, or class, she'd sit down -- for the party and for the country and for the future.



4 seconds to LOL -- if yer old enough

LOLOLOL. Thanks to the Dallas Ranch Branch for this here hoo-ha! :-) "Blonde goes back to work after several years at home."



Cowcatcher fails on ER's Train of Thought

It was a big steer. Five-year-old, looked like. An ox, actually. Fat. Slow. Chewing that cud. Dullard's eyes staring at nothing. Tail switching. Flies swarming. Bovine, in the truest sense of the word.

Standin' right there on the tracks.

The critter was slowly chewin' the same bits of dry straw over and over and over, thick tongue slopping out the sides of its mouth, snot slingin', gas comin' and goin' from both ends, anus puckering like an old man's toothless old mouth before dumping a load of tobacco juice into a caked-over, 10-year-old off-brand coffee can -- shit plopping on the ties, rails, everything.

In plain sight. Not even in dappled shadows around a bend. Not even just beyond a rise. Just right there.

And I drove right into it.

My cowcatcher flew one way, that stupid son-of-a-bitch steer flew another, and the ER Train of Thought derailed.

And here my train lies, engine busted and wheeeezing, coal car spilled, caboose toppled, engineER sprawled, bloodied, overalls torn, arms busted and legs akimbo.

It ain't a pretty sight.



They're coming to take me away, ha ha!


They're coming to take me away, ho ho, hee hee, ha ha!


To the funny farm, where life is beautiful all the time ...


And I'll be happy to see those nice young men in their clean white coats, and they're coming to take me away, ha haaaa!

Monday, March 17, 2008


I just called someone who claims to be a brother in Christ, but seems totally without Grace, a stupid son-of-a-bitch

And it felt good.




Wholly Weak

Gad. Depression-era-style events are takin' place in Washington and New York. Don't be afraid to grab onto yer saddle horns with both hands, boys. We are fixin' to rodeo like we ha'nt rodeoed in 70-odd years.


Sunday, March 16, 2008


Peace Pole; Palm prayers; pathetic pol

(The photo: The Rev. Robin Meyers, senior minister of Mayflower Congregational UCC Church in Oklahoma City, sets a Peace Pole in the church lawn Sunday, March 16, 2008. Photo by ER.)

Scripture: Luke 19: 37-42.


Lord of Life, we remember the story of the "triumphal entry" of Jesus into Jerusalem, except that it was not a triumph at all. This is no victory parade, but something closer to a theater of the absurd. Kings do not ride donkeys to their coronation, and messiahs do not weep over the city that welcomes them. These are the tears of eternity, shed for all of us who still do not know the things that make for peace. Teach us, we pray, to weep also -- and then wage peace. In the name of Jesus our Teacher and Lord we pray, Amen.

A PRAYER WRITTEN BY THE REV. YOUSIF AL SAKA, an elder in the Presbyterian Church in Baghdad, offers one word, full of poignancy and promise:

We beseech You, we humble ourselves for the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, to send your Holy Spirit to shade the land of Iraq,

so that peace may prevail in its dwellings, and the acts of violence, kidnapping and persecution may cease;

so that the displaced may return to their homes, the churches may reopen their gates without fear from shells and explosion;

so that smiles may be seen again on the faces of children that have been stolen from them here in this difficult time;

so that the elderly may lean back on their chairs in comfort and tranquility saying farewell to their children when leaving for school or work without anxiety or fear;

so that mothers think only of happy, prosperous, and peaceful futures for their daughters and sons.

O Lord, have pity on us, we Iraqis. Let the light of your face shine on us, bless us, strengthen our belief, and bestow patience upon us.

(Read a little more about it.)

FINALLY, ONE MORE THING on Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern: She did not merely voice her opinion that homosexuality is a sin, as some have claimed.

She compared homosexuality to terrorism, she likened it to pedophilia, and she called it a cancer.

The terrorism reference made the headlines. I'd missed those last two details, which the preacher pointed out this morning.

I remain unconvinced that "hate speech" should be legislated any more illegal than any other kind of speech -- but just barely.

Because those words are fighting words, and they are an invitation, if not an enticement, to violence. Sally Kern should be publicly shamed and shunned.


Saturday, March 15, 2008


Erudite Longfellow Redneck

ER now has a middle name! Blame Geoffrey, who tagged me with the Middle Name Meme, and credit Angry Ballerina (and she is PISSED) for her lone vote, which christened me thus. :-)

Erudite Longfellow Redneck.

(What? I'm a wanna-be lit critter. What were YOU thinkin'? [snicker])

Here's the meme:

1. You have to post the rules before you give your answers.

2. You must list one fact about yourself beginning with each letter of your middle name. (If you don’t have a middle name, use your maiden name or your mother’s maiden name).

3. At the end of your blog post, you need to tag one person (or blogger of another species) for each letter of your middle name. (Be sure to leave them a comment telling them they’ve been tagged.)

L -- Loyal to my wife. Utterly. Otherwise, there's no way in hell this living arrangement -- me in Oklahoma, she in Colorado -- would work. I seriously cheated on a serious girlfriend one time (with a Deadhead, in the back of a VW microbus, in college, during a party, really), and I never forgot it. My then sweetie never found out, as far as I know. But the feeling it left me with haunts me still. (Note my use of "seriously" and "serious"; I did go through a period in the early '90s when the women and the smoke and the whiskey and the dancehalls and all were just a blur and we all seemed to just take turns with one another. Not recommended.)

O -- Ornery. Mama ER raised two ornery boys. I'm one of 'em. Synonyms include moody, balky, quick to anger, smart-alecky, smart-assery, ass-hattery, borderline sneaky, occasionally mean and potentially downright devious if the cause seems right.

N -- Noodling ... (see video) fascinates me. But like bull riding, I'm pretty sure that by the time I had adequately steeled myself with copious amounts of adult beverages, the law of diminishing returns would leave me incapable of the task. Which is to say; About 7 beers would make me willing, but about 7 1/2 would make me unable.

G -- God loves me. It's God's love for me, which envelopes me through Christ, that gives me total freedom to doubt, to question, to probe, to be happy, to be angry, to admit failure, to acknowledge success, to have hope, to admit when I have no hope, to take the Bible seriously but not much of it very literally, and to take other faith traditions seriously, and to be able to sleep at night with the kind of peace that passes understanding -- when I accept it -- and, increasingly, is allowing me to not give a rat's ass what anybody else -- especially other Christians -- thinks about any of it.

F -- Faith. And works. Not faith OR works. What the hell else could "Faith without works is dead" mean?

E -- Erudite. It means well-read, learned, studied, has knowledge, has read a shitload of books. I am, in fact, all of that. "Erudite" does not mean "brilliant," or even "smart," or even "knows what he's talking about" -- which is why it cracks me up when someone, once in awhile, accuses me of braggin' about my smarts. Nope. Never said I was smart. (Some definitions of "erudite" include "wisdom" as a synonym. Eh. Wisdom comes from experience, not books.)

L -- Lonesome a lot. Not just because Dr. ER is away. I can be lonely in a crowd. And I HATED Sundays before we got married, and sometimes afterward even, until I started going to church again a couple of years ago. Now Sundays are tolable. Still melancholy sometimes, but tolable.

L -- Liable to regret this period of my life one of these days. I know I regret some previous times, and some decisions I've made, when at the time everything seemed hunky-dory.

O -- Oklahoman. I am an Oklahoman. No matter where else I live, or for how long, I will be an Oklahoman. My emotional ties to place are just that, emotional -- to the point of irrational sometimes. But they're real.

W -- Wish I could afford to quit my job, go to work part-time and go to seminary, or work on a pee aytch dee, or both!

Tags anon.


Friday, March 14, 2008


Some cow sense

J. Frank Dobie on cowboy story-tellin', or any other kind of lyin' -- including writin' fiction, I reckon:

"I like a 'matter-of-lie kind of man.' He must be an authentic liar. The art of the authentic liar lies in giving homely, realistic details to everything connected with his preposterous inventions. Unlike the bishops of all religions, he does not expect his impossibilities to be believed; he merely expects his ingenuity to be appreciated. His aim is to lie in such a manner that the credulity of imagination will not be straightjacketed by skepticim of the intellect."

(from J. Frank Dobie, Cow People (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964), 76.

Ross Santee on cowboy Martin Dodson:

"He was the loneliest man and the man of the most contradictions I have ever known. When I first knew him he carried a Bible and a six-shooter. He was gentle with horses, children; his courage was never questioned; he had a biting humor often misunderstood by the men he worked with; he didn't have many friends; he didn't want any, but anyone in his presense respected him. I can hear him now saying, 'Sir?' to someone he didn't like. What he meant was: 'Damn you, say Sir to me.' He was so good at his job and knew it so well he was frequently out of patience with men who, suposedly, should know and did not. With him, if it wasn't perfection, it wasn't right."

(Ibid., 89)

I like to pretend, at my most vain, that at my very best, them there words fit me at least as good as a pair of Nocona boots.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


My heart would wither in my breast!

"ER, do you pray?"

"I can't help it."

"Does it work?"

"As long as one prayer leads to the next, as one breath leads to the next."


This is the most honest description of Christian prayer -- or any other, I dare say -- that I've ever read:

"Godric's View of Prayer"

What's prayer? It's shooting shafts into the dark. What mark to strike, if any, who's to say? It's reaching for a hand you cannot touch. The silence is so fathomless that prayers like plummets vanish into the sea. You beg. You whimper. You load God down with empty praise. You tell him sins that he already knows full well. You seek to change his changeless will. Yet Godric prays the way he breathes, for else his heart would wither in his breast. Prayer is the wind that fills his sail. Else waves would dash him on the rocks, or he would drift with witless tides. And sometimes, by God's grace, a prayer is heard.

--from Frederick Buechner, "Listening to Your Life," George Connor, comp., ed. (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992): 66.

Talk about prayer! I dare you to be honest. :-)

(GKS! I can't help but think of you! We were kin through the love of Christ before we knew one another. You became my brother through your prayers for me and mine -- strangers, all! -- borne by the love of Christ, when my mama was dying just a year ago! ... I weep.)


Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Neil shows ass; avert your eyes

This is GREAT. Ha ha ha. I didn't even GO to the Fundamentalist Candy Store. The BS came delivered! LOLOLOL! Home delivery!

WAY TO GO BUBBA! See what you wrought? Lovely.

Neil's words, unsolicited and undesired, from the crazy thread on this fairly harmless post:

Bubba, you rock. I can’t believe you have the patience to dialogue with these phonies. And I really can’t believe I actually came back here and read this thread.

“There is also the likelihood that the writer of Matthew took something that Jesus that he and-or others vaguely recalled hearing, and went to Scripture to give it the spin he desired.”

What an idiot.

” . . . Jesus seminar . . .”

What a double idiot for looking to those super-frauds for any truth about Jesus.

Re. Alan - the resident poster boy for gay marriage is another super fraud. He plays the otherwise-doctrinally sound Christian here then waxes eloquent on his own blog about the virtues of gay camping: tubes of lube on the picnic tables, fluid sleeping arrangements, and checking out other guys equipment when hanging out with dozens of naked guys in a pool. Yeah, I love hearing guys like him teach me about the biblical view of human sexuality.

Go ahead and delete this, ER. I’ll copy it so I can use it at my own blog sometime.

And you have the nerve to criticize my blog! What a raging hypocritical heretic you are.

Posted by Neil to Erudite Redneck, B.S., B.S., M.A. at 9:14 PM

Hey, Neil: No, YOU rock. You are a walking, blogging example of how NOT to be Christ-like even while clinging to every jot and tittle of the Bible -- you idolator.

Neil, you're a shame and an embarassment to Kairos (and deep apologies to my friend who loves Kairos chiefly for its ecumenism, which Neil utterly betrays.)

Here's the phony.




Lust in the gut

Stumbled across in the ether:

"He that but looketh on a plate of ham and eggs to lust after it," said C. S. Lewis, "hath already committed breakfast with it in his heart."



Tuesday, March 11, 2008


OK, OK! I'll put a headline on this! :-)

UPDATED: Ha! First time since ought-ought-4, when I started this humble blog, that I just plumb forgot to put a headline on a post. ... Rhodiola(sp?) update: I've decided to just take one a day (250 mg), which might should be OK, since I weigh in at about 275. Two a day was too much, for sure, and I probably had some residual presence of Mr. Phentermine still in my system; I'm off him for a good while).

Back to regular programming ...

This hyear is my neighborhood. Ain't it pitiful? No alleys! God help me, I can't get my pickup into the back yard! It's nuts. Never again.

Sigh. There's lots more important things to blog about it. I just think my bitcher is worn out.

Oh! There's this! KAREN! Tell me about yer experience with Rodeo-la. or Rhodesia, or whatever that herb is.

I've been taking them since Saturday -- 250mg in the a.m. and 250mg in the p.m. -- and all they do is make me aggressive and reckless -- and so I've stopped. 'Cause I am both of them enough without any help.


Monday, March 10, 2008


Id jits

Eliot Spitzer is an idiot. We got one high-profile law-and-order Democrat. And he's an idiot. Go away.

Sally Kern is an idiot. Say your piece. But homosexuals are worse than terrorists? She's an idiot. Go away.

That is all.



Monday Inspiration

This just gives me a big ol' lump in my throat. (Apologies to Carrie Underwood!)


The real one: :-)

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Weekend of CATastrophe

First, The Lady gave me a bath! Then, My daddy ER took down my very own personal savannah, the Christmas tree! O! Eh! Ehh Ehhhh! -- Ice-T

Friday, March 07, 2008


Furry friends a fix for Friday frenzy

Man, Fridays are a lot harder and more involved for me than they used to be, for some reason. And Bird knows how to rub it in! She sent me this pic by phone just now from a Houston suburb where she's living with YB. Made me smile.

"What the boys and I are doing," she wrote. :-) That'd be Fenway and Apollo, my granddogs! But I can't tell 'em apart from here!


Thursday, March 06, 2008


What IS the 'overall message of Scripture'?

First, Romans 14 got me the other day. So, once again, I endeavor to perservere not to judge fellow Christians, even if they insist on judging me -- even when they judge me all the way out of fellowship.

Doesn't mean I won't challenge them, or disagree with them, or call them on BS when arguing for public policy.

Public policy ain't the fellowship: It's the arena -- the irony being that while the world still wants to feed Christians to the lions, Christians bring their own dang lions to the arena to sic on one another.

Now. Focus on the Family Action has held Barack Obama up to ridicule -- yes, they did -- by trumpeting his mention of the Sermon on the Mount as a general guide for his faith in explaining why he believes in civil unions for homosexuals.

The story is rife with incredulity. Of course, I find it incredible that FOTF Action, or anyone else, can't see, or chooses to ignore, what Obama was saying.

FOTF Action's John Barner said: "We are always saddened as evangelical Christians when others who identify themselves as Christians do not have the high view of Scripture that we believe is so important."

High view of Scripture? Are you kidding me? Holding to the literalness of the Bible keeps it in the mud.

Words are poor attempts to explain ideas; words are wholly poor vessels for expressing holy things. But, words are what we have, so we use them. We take them seriously, but not always literally, or we never get out of the mud.

Barner said: "We believe isolated portions of Scripture should not be used to justify a personal preference or a social position that goes in a different direction than the overall message of Scripture."

I agree. But he's pointing to the Sermon on the Mount as an "isolated portion of Scripture," when it actually is a summary OF the overall message of Scripture.

And FOTF is the one actually using isolated portions of Scripture to justify a personal preference: the social position that homosexuals should not have the right to freely associate in the same way as heterosexuals do simply because they are homosexuals.

Barner said: "We believe Scripture is pretty clear in proscribing and affirming that marriage is to be an exclusive, lifetime relationship between a man and a woman."

Maybe. So what? Scripture is pretty clear in its explanation that God in heaven is "up there," the devil and hell are "down there," and we are "right here" in the middle. And it's wrong.

EL posted on this, and, of course, we disagree. In the spirit of Romans 14, I tried not to make it personal. I'm working on that.

So, what do you think IS the overall message of Scripture? It sure isn't "homosexuality bad."


(BTW, the guy in the picture is Van Dale Hudson, evangelist, and I'm sure he and I disagree on this, too., But I'd still call him "Brother." ... Google is amazing! Search Images for overalls and preacher, and voila!)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


It's scary to be me at 3 o'clock in the morning

Smething propelled me out of bed in here to pull my vintage 1960 copy of Barry Goldwater's "The Conscience of a Conservative" AND John Kenneth Galbraith's "The Great Crash, 1929" off the shelves.

It's fixin' to get real bad, y'all. I can feels it. I can feels it.

If the political parties in this country had any sense, each would be sayin' to the other one: On second thought, y'all can have the White House. See ya.


Tuesday, March 04, 2008


To Dr. Ed "Doc" Paulin!

In 1986, I was one of one, maybe two, kids to earn a "B" in media law at Oklahoma State, taught by Dr. Ed "Doc" Paulin. It was known as the hardest course in the J-school. There were no A's.

Doc Paulin encouraged me to apply for the Sears Congressional Internship Program, in D.C., which changed my life by broadening my experience, therefore my perpectives -- and saved me from unthinking "thinking" about politics.

Doc Paulin also said things about people's capacities to HEAR and LISTEN and multitask incoming information -- the phone! the fax! the unimagined 'Net! the TV on in several rooms of the house -- that left us dumbstruck.

It made him something of a prophet, in my book, although those wild ideas never gave him any traction in academe, as far as I know.

I saw him a couple of years ago, at Oklahoma State, and he struggled yet couldn't remember me, but was kind anyway -- or at least not rude, since his patience with pretty thin, a reminder that patience, or even kindness, is no measure of the greatness of good influence. ...

Former KOSU General Manager Ed Paulin

STILLWATER, OKLA. 2008-03-04 KOSU remembers former general manager Ed Paulin. The veteran broadcaster and educator died Saturday, March 1. Ed Paulin was 83.

© Copyright 2008, KOSU




'Best Friends: Some fuzzy thoughts on all the dogs I've loved before'

Took Riker, the Pembroke Welsh corgi, my stepdog, to the vet this morning. Nothing serious. He's developed an on-and-off-again front limp.

Of course it was off this morning. The vet probed and prodded and groped the poor old critter, found nothing broken or out of place, and then gave me some kind of anti-inflammatory med for him.

Riker's just gettin' on up there. He's about 13.

Y'all forgive me, but all of my dang feelers are all touchy, for a lot of reasons.

Takin' Riker to the doc, helpin' him in and out of my front floorboard, since he can't do it by himself anymore, thinking about him gettin' old -- and the sudden realization that what I really want to do for a livin' is WRITE -- reminded me of this piece.

Published Nov. 17, 1997. Publisher retains the copyright.


Best Friends:
Some fuzzy thoughts on all the dogs I've loved before

The neighbor’s dog, the neighbor lady says, has no name, but he is called “Pooch” because that’s what she thought when she first saw him.

He’s a fine old hound, part something and part something else, and he’s usually quiet, which is really all I ask for in a dog until some stranger actually enters the premises or the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the premises uninvited.

But his name should be “Radar.” Like Radar on the TV show “M.A.S.H.,” who could hear the choppers flying in wounded soldiers before anyone else, the neighbor dog can hear the sirens of police cars, fire trucks and ambulances several seconds before people can.

And like Radar, he sees fit to announce it to the world -- about the only time I hear a peep out of him. But this is no peep. Can dogs bellow? This is a bellow. Or something. Sort of a plaintive wail. But sometimes it sounds like he’s almost mooing. It’s hard to describe.

But it is unmistakable, once you’ve heard it. And it is the oddest sound I’ve heard come from a dog in a long time. He howls in the key of E. I just happened to have my guitar out the last time he took to hollering. It’s an E, always. Weird.

The soon-to-be-stepdog, Riker, is already living on the place, and he seems to get along with the neighbor dog. The biggest hoot so far came when the neighbor dog was announcing incoming sirens the first time with Riker present.

Good grief. There was the neighbor dog locked on that E. There was poor Riker, trying his best to keep up with the neighbor dog’s bellowing. At first, there were a few tentative barks. Then Riker sort of warbled a little. But damned if he didn’t finally land smack dab on that E with his pal next door.

There hasn’t been a pooch on my premises for at least 15 years. The future stepdog, a Welsh corgi, is a fine addition to the environs, even when he’s barking at every leaf that falls, every shadow that passes and every alley cat that saunters by.

He’s got me to remembering all the dogs that came before him, and there were more than a few way back when in Oklahoma.

So, to all the dogs I’ve loved before …

There was Lady, a German shepherd, when I was tiny. My dog, Lady. My big brother had a German shepherd named Lady, too. Used to be, he’d tell stories about his dog Lady, and I’d tell stories about my dog Lady. It wasn’t until a few years ago that it dawned on me that it was the same doggone dog.

There were Puppy and Blackie, nondescript pups my dad brought home from the stockyards one day. They disappeared not long after. A rabid skunk was found on the farm. My dad took no chances. The pups were just gone all of a sudden. My brother probably thinks they were his, too.

There was Snoopy, a red-brown mutt that was cute as a button as a pup, and pretty handsome when he was older – until he went middle-aged crazy after my indiscretion with the kind of “new dog” that always breaks old dogs’ hearts.

Snoopy couldn’t compete with Duke, the new dog in my life, so he’d hit the road for weeks at a time. Later, it was months between visits. He was the running kind, a rake and a rambler. If he heard music in his dog mind, it was old Jimmie Rodgers train songs. Snoopy lived on the lam, for sure. He’d come home and sometimes he’d be banged up, but never very badly. And he’d always be famished. He’d eat up, heal up, get petted up and then be gone again. Then, he just stopped coming around.

Ah, Duke. He was some kind of mix. They were all mixes of some sort. You know, just country dogs. Duke was a cool little guy, weighing in at about 25 pounds, with lots of white and a little dark gray. His name was Duke Ellington for one reason: so his full name would be Duke E. (Redneck) and so I could stand out in the yard and holler “Duuuuke-eeeey!” Yeehaw. Attention-seeking behavior, yes.

Poor Dukey. Once he’d succeeded in wresting my affections from Snoopy, and Snoopy had taken off, Duke became my full-time bud. It didn’t last very long. Dukey died with a chocolate chip cookie in his mouth. I tossed him a cookie and he got all excited and made a beeline for the highway. Seconds later, there was Dukey, spinning on his side, gone, cars and trucks stopped all over the shoulder, and a bit of cookie still in his mouth.

That did it for me for quite awhile. There was real mourning here. It took a long time to chisel his name into a concrete block for a headstone, but I did, and placed it where Dukey was buried at the end of what used to be a milk barn.

Eventually came Coconut, a little more-black-than-brown wienie dog. She was the niece, I think, of a dog belonging to kin of mine in Dallas. Just a puppy. We called her Coco. Clambering off the school bus one day, I saw her apparently sunning herself in the middle of our big gravel circle driveway.

“Here, Coco!” “Here, Coco!”

No response. This was not my first rodeo, when it came to the untimely demise of beloved critters, so I took a deep breath, steeled myself and walked up to her. There was a little pool of blood. Now, I’d had dogs hit out on the highway, but in our own driveway?

My brother was the culprit. Let’s see, I was about 12 or so. That made him about 24. He and his low-riding Corvette whacked Coco upside the head as he was leaving the house. He claimed to know nothing about it. Right. Another one bites the dust.

Why’d we keep taking on dogs with it so unsafe on the farm? There was probably some denial going on. The state highway was a lonely one for a long time. Maybe we just didn’t accept that it was no longer a country road, what with all the traffic coming and going from town, Fort Smith.

We didn’t tie dogs up because we just didn’t believe in it. It seemed crueler than letting them take their chances. And we didn’t have a fenced yard, I think, because to us, a fence was made of barbed wire and was meant to keep cattle from roaming, not dogs. Pity a country dog tied to a tree or stuck behind a fence.

Somewhere in there were Tiger and Snowflake, a few that just answered to “Hey” or anything else you hollered – and Prissy, And boy was she. She was “Pet of the Week” in the Fort Smith paper. When we picked her up at the animal shelter, the little terrier was shaking like a leaf.

Prissy was the only pooch my mom ever let in the house, because she was in such pitiful shape. She just stayed swaddled in her blanky in her little box, shaking, for weeks, wide-eyed, paranoid. Loud noses and sudden movements freaked her out. It took a long time for her to decide that nobody on the place was going to beat her. Damn the one who did. But, she turned out to be the happiest one of the bunch.

Riker, the going-to-be stepdog, is a happy little fellow, too. He’s as safe as can be. He’s a crate-trained city dog. He’s got more yard now than he’s ever had, behind a secure chain-link fence. And he’s taking full advantage of it.

And he’s got a stepowner who, for all the old grief for all the dogs he’s loved before, still has a doggie-shaped hole in his heart that the little guy fits to a T.


Monday, March 03, 2008


Mama kind of comfort food

Thinkin' about Mama ER had me wantin' simple Mama ER-type supper last night, so I had a little leftover steak, and nuked a can of turnip greens and a can of butter beans.

Buttered the greens, and garliced and red peppered the beans (OK, Mama ER would not have put garlic and red pepper in the beans). White bread and butter with it. Good stuff.

Last night's tornados morphed into this morning's snow -- and blisteringly sharp, ice-cold wind. So, I'm thinkin' comforty kind of vittles for supper tonight, too:

Fried bologna and sauerkraut ought to do it. Cornbread, if I can think of a place to stop and get some to-go on the way home after work. Maybe some form of tater. I've got a chub bologna, which'll slice up into fine medallions.

Usually, I'd slice some weinies and toss 'em in a pan and boil 'em, in some kraut. But I don't have any weinies at the house, and I do have that chub.

Now, Mama ER could cook. But sometimes she'd just open up cans and packages. Which, I think, helps explain why on one hand I loves trying new foods and gourmet cuisines -- and on the other, sometimes a can of potted meat and stack of crackers'll do me.

Name yer right-out-the-pantry-or-icebox, heat-and-eat comfort food! NO recipes allowed. :-)


Sunday, March 02, 2008


Houses are just houses ...

This is the piece for which my peers presented me with a first-place accolade last night. It ran almost exactly a year ago. Copyright retained by the publisher. To Mama ER, who died a year and a week ago.


(MY HOMETOWN) -- The light fixture over this bed has rattled every time a train has passed, on the Union Pacific line out of Van Buren, Ark., since the house was built in 1978.

Sometimes it rattles before I notice the train. But then I hear the rhythmic clatter of steel wheels on steel rails, the sound swimming over hills and ravines here for ages and slaloming among houses and businesses that weren't the first time I noticed the rattle.

An engineer blows his air horn at every country crossroads: Paw Paw Road about a mile east, Cottonwood Road a quarter-mile east, Dyer Boulevard, three-quarter mile west. The trains are lined up tonight, one after another.

Neither the traffic on now-always-busy U.S. Highway 64, right in front of the house, nor the screaming semi-tractor trailer trucks barreling up and down Interstate 40, just a half-mile south as the crow flies, detracts from the train sounds.

The trucks on the interstate come close. They're always loud at night. Something about the lay of the land collects and funnels the noise and sends it right into this room, my room, the one at the end of the hall next door to Mama and Daddy's.

These sounds are as familiar to me as my own face in the mirror, although unlike my face, they have not changed a lick over the years. The trains and trucks have never bothered me at night or kept me awake.

Tuesday night it was all too loud because the house was so, so quiet.

(Mama ER) is gone.

(Mama ER), 84, died Sunday night, three months and three days after she went to a hospital in Fort Smith, Ark., with trouble breathing, 86 days after risky surgery at Oklahoma Heart Hospital in Oklahoma City, a big gamble with a bigger potential payoff in improved quality of life, and 50 days after the stroke that took away any real chance for her to win.

Tuesday night, I thought it odd that this house, a brown brick ranch, had never felt more like home. "Home" has always been a toss-up between this one and the farmhouse next door where I started growing up, which Daddy and his daddy built in 1946.

Wednesday at sundown came a snapshot for my memory to go with those cherished train and truck sounds.

After the funeral at First Baptist, after a graveside prayer, the Twenty-third Psalm and "Amazing Grace," after most friends had left and all but me, my brother and two sisters remained, I gave some attention to the Creator and his handiwork.

The Lord gave it back in "good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over," as Luke 6:38 puts it.

Sitting alone on the tailgate of my truck, I looked west to the farmhouse, where my brother lives now. The whole sun, situated between the one column and front outside wall, seemed to be setting on the porch. A pecan tree older than me, almost spooky in its denuded dead-of-winter bleakness, towered over the house, silhouetted against sundown.

Mama and Daddy's old room was on the left, the walk-through bathroom in the middle, the other bedroom - my two big sisters', then my big brother's, then mine - on the right.

I remembered my baby bed in Mama and Daddy's room, then sleeping on a pallet, or on the divan, in the living room, then getting my own room when my brother moved out.

Of all things to remember about the old house this week, how odd that I would think about where I slept in it - the same place these thoughts began in the "new" house, under that rattling light fixture, with the trains clackety-clacketing and the big trucks screaming in the middle of the night before my sweet mama's funeral.

Then, there on a tailgate, where many profound thoughts have come to this country boy through the years, it dawned on me: These two houses, as fond of them as I am, are just houses.

Home is where the heart is. I get it now. My heart is with Mama and Daddy, who are in heaven, doctrinally speaking, but with me always now in immediate reality. Home, I think, finally, can be where I lay my head.


Saturday, March 01, 2008


'The Moses Code'

Watch, see my comments below, discuss!

OK. I must admit that seeing someone say, "I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life," is a bit disconcerting. But just a bit. Because I'd need more of an idea of what he means by that.

If I am, by God's Grace, a child of God, and if, as they say, we children of God are God's hands and feet, and his voice, in this realm, then saying "I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life" might not be as heretical as it sounds. On the other hand, the trailer has no mention of Christ, so there's no reason to assume that's what the man meant.

I must further admit that the source that led me to this movie causes me to give it, and the ideas expressed therein, at least in the trailer, the benefit of the doubt.

I found it here, at Slice of Laodicea, which seems to be a wholesaler of fundy candy, specializing in apocalyptic confections. And I discovered Slice of Laodicea through a dark essay at this post at EL's place.

New Age oddities and jargon aside ("vibrations," "manifestations," etc.), how is the central theme of the trailer (it seems to be, human beings, as children of God, are holy creatures, and we should love ourselves, so we can love our neighbors) much different from what Jesus said was the Greatest Commandment in the Law, and the Second, or, Micah 6:8 (if "humbly" here is taken to mean "honestly," which acknowledges that while flawed as humans we also are holy as God's creations), or, Pico della Mirandola's "Oration on the Dignity of Man," or, Matthew Fox's ideas on "Original Blessing" -- all of which, while outside the mainstream, are "Christian" by definition, if one accepts that Fox is a Christian (and I do)?

By the way, I'm not endorsing the movie, as if that would matter. I'm just not going to condemn it based on that trailr, as if that would matter.



Straight up or sideways

Straight up, it is today. Ha. This morning, I'm takin' a load of trash and tree limbs to the dump ("municipal transfer station"), and from that lowly beginning I'll cruise into job-application territory at midday (there's an opening at a federal gubment agency in the Denver area I'll apply for), and then this evenin' it's to an awards dinner where yours truly is among those up for tokens of appreciation and respect from some of our writin' and editin' peers.

Speakin' of writin' and editin' and readin' and such -- here's a fine tale of two would-be rare-book thieves who have proven that crime, like stupidity, does not pay.


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