Saturday, January 31, 2009


'Why identify as a Christian, ER?'

Asked, over at Lee's place.

Answered, in the spirit of 1 Peter 3: 15, off the top of my head (therefore I reserve te right to revise and extend my remarks).

In the words of the great American philosophers, The Byrds, later seconded by The Doobie Brothers, and later others:

Jesus is just alright with me.

Truths, by the way, are universal if they're truths. So no, as far as the teachings of Christ, they're not unique.

Teachings *about* Christ -- which is usually what Christians disagree about most -- even share some similarities with other belief systems.

I think Jesus of Nazareth was divine in some way -- that is, closer to God/theGround of All Being/the Creator/pick a label, than most other human beings.

I think the things he is said to have said about God, so radical in first-century Palestine, are radical still today. Not only "Love God, love others, love yourself" in a mental-philosphical-emotional sense, but get out among the least of humanity, love them with your presence as well as your giving; blow off religious structures and traditions and rules when they get in the way of living and loving.

I think that interpreting this radical Galilean sage as the Messiah was a logical thing to do for his earliest followers, since by following him they already had started to make a fundamental break with the orthodoxy of their day; they either had to find a way to extend some strains of their pre-Jesus world view and concept of God to envelope Jesus and their experience with him, or experience an even more violent psychic break, the kind that would have left them spiritually adrift and hopeless.

I think the Greek interpretation of Jesus as a human expression of Logos also is a logical way for Greek gentiles to interpret the Jesus phenomenon, tying him, as it did, to existing concepts of the divine principle of the universe, the basis of the cosmological order, or however you want to say it.

Both, the Jewish Christian interpretation and the Greek interpretation, which ties together sort of in the Jewish concept of Wisdom, or Sophia, express the same basic idea:

The man Jesus, whether by pointing to God by attracting human beings to one another through his teachings; or by demonstrating fidelity to God and humanity by standing up for God's love of (or animation of, or empowering of, or whatever) humanity and the divine call for humans to love one another to the bitter end of his own execution -- whichever -- I find the attraction to him, the study of him, the call to follow him and mimic him, irresistable.

As much harm as Christians have occasionally done to the world, I find the teachings of Christ worth pondering and worth basing, or attempting to base, a life on.

The sheer scope of differences over time, and among contemporary believers, as to who Jesus is/was, what it all means, etc., make the casual but serious study of theology fascinating to me.


Friday, January 30, 2009


On barbaric YAWPS and other human writes

First this, sent to me by Mr. Big Big Sister:

A writer died, and due to a bureaucratic snafu in the hereafter, she was to
be allowed to choose her own fate: heaven or hell for all eternity. Being
very shrewd for a dead person, she asked St. Peter for a tour of both.

The first stop was hell, where she saw rows and rows of writers sitting
chained to desks, in a room as hot as a thousand suns. Fire licked the
writers' fingers as they tried to work; demons whipped their backs with
chains. Your typical hell scene.

"Wow, this is awful," said the writer, appalled. "Let's see some heaven."

In a moment, they were whisked to heaven and the writer saw rows and rows of
writers chained to desks, in a room as hot as a thousand suns. Fire licked
the writers' fingers as they tried to work; demons whipped their backs with
chains. It looked and smelled even worse than hell.

"What gives, Pete?" the writer asked. "This is worse than hell!"

"Yes," St. Peter replied, "but here your work gets published."

Why do you write?

I write for a living. I write to think. My favorite quote about writing, in fact, is H.L. Mencken: "People can't write because they can't think." I edit, myself and others, because I love all writing and try to make it better whenever I can. Professionally, I write to inform and to educate. Personally, I write to inform, for laughs, to help people think and to try to persuade.

But I can't write fiction.

Above all, whether it's news, blogging or my scholarly history writing, I wtite for posterity. I've been blessed by the writing of countless writers who came before me. I hope I'm leaving something behind that future writers will find useful.

Oh, yeah. Then there's that whole barbaric YAWP thing.

Why do you write?


Thursday, January 29, 2009


House Repubs hang together

Good. That'll make it easier to hang them together.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Has the peacock grown a conscience?

NBC rejects some Super Bowl ads.

Conscience? Naaah. Bidness decisions, all.

(Can I say "peacock"?)


Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Okies on ice

Ugh. Not a pretty sight.


Monday, January 26, 2009


Bring back the filibuster

Sounds odd coming from me, I reckon, since filibusters are a tool of the minority, and my party is in the majority. But here's the deal:

For the past eight years, the mere threat of a filibuster has been enough to derail legislation that had clear majority support -- but not the supermajority needed to kill a filibuster. Forget that.

President Obama, a student of the Senate's particular rules as well as the legislative process, and the U.S. Constitution, should make the GOP talk its lungs out over the stimulus package.

Did you hear, or read, any of the talk from the Sunday talk shows? John McCain and other GOP senators acted like there hadn't even been an election, the Republican approach to governing hadn't been repudiated, and the voters hadn't called for ACTION on the economy.

Make 'em read the damn D.C. phone book until they choke!

Actually, though, I think the Dems are gonna pick off the two Republicans needed to pass the thing.


Sunday, January 25, 2009


'In the beginning ... something'

Dr. Robin Meyers, senior minister of Mayflower Congregational UCC Church, OKC.

Jan. 11, 2009 sermon: "In the Beginning ... Something."

Sure. You've got 30 minutes to spare. It'll be worth it.


Saturday, January 24, 2009


Review mirrors

So, I just wrote a book review for a state history journal. An actual perfesser of some sort also has reviewed this book in the American Historical Review Journal.

I purposefully did not read the AHA Journal review until I'd finished my own next-to-last draft.

I just read the AHA Journal review, and was surprised at how little the reviewer actually engaged the book as a book. He basically summarized it, and concluded with a negative observation.

Sheesh. Once again I am reminded that academic credentials and academic station indicate little about academic ability -- although my fellow reviewer's ability to distill a book into a smooth gloss is greater than mine, at least in this instance.

But, truly, someone generally familiar with the outline of the subject, time and place could have read the intro and concluding paragraphs of each chapter, skimmed the text for upper-case words and proper nouns, and written the other review -- just like a college kid.

See, I think a book review usually should not only summarize an author's work, but do so following the same outline as the author, which necessarily makes a review a little clunky, if you refer directly to chapters or sections anyway, as I do -- which means my reviews are a little clunky.

Interestingly, where he appeared to praise the style, calling it "fine writing," I suggested that it was too compacted given the subject matter, a negative -- which actually is another way of saying the same thing. I thought the writing needed to breathe, although I admitted I saw no ready way to air it out without cutting important material.

And, and, I am 99-percent sure there is a basic, grievous, error of fact in the book -- the misnaming of a famous person, thrice! -- and he did not catch it and I did.

Of course, I will make double-dog-damn sure I'm right before I reveal that the author is wrong.



Made me laugh *and* vomit a little


Friday, January 23, 2009


Foxworthy, Engvalls, White, (the Cable) Guy

Hoew I spent my Friday night. Just shinin' my R, y'all.


Thursday, January 22, 2009


Feodor reports from the inauguration

Blog buddy Feodor, at my request (although I'm almost sure he would have done so anyway) -- :-) -- did me the honor of writing out his thoughts and experiences with family in D.C. at the inauguration of President Obama.


By Feodor

Ha! It was like an Irish wake held outdoors in Duluth.

We traveled Amtrak from NYC at 5 AM, met my in-laws in a crowded Union Station in DC, took two cabs to well north of the White House and walked downhill to the Mall, arriving on the lawn in filtered fashion through the security gates at 9 AM.

We quickly joined a small band of about fifty thousand on one side of a section mid-way between the Capital and Lincoln Memorial. It was a homey cluster, the size of my hometown, gathered around one of several Jumbotrans, which worked beautifully. The hugging started early as we began to greet and meet those around us and an interest in keeping warm drew us close together. One young man was from Missouri, but he was the only one I met who was not from the east coast. Singing and chanting could be heard constantly and it seemed everyone had purchased a little American flag to wave. Some had Jamaican, Bajan, and Bahamian flags. Many people had Obama’s image somewhere on a cap, hat, sweatshirt, etc. We regretted not seeing more vendors on our way down to the mall to search for a Panamanian flag (my mother-in-law comes from Panama). One couple was Trinidadian, though the husband was from Tabago. They were from New York, too, but I never asked why people from T&T are called Trinidadian and Tabago gets left out. White folks were plentiful, too, though, don’t get me wrong. But they tended to keep to themselves. We are a private lot, comparatively, in the world. Or maybe I am just talking about Yankees mostly.

The next three hours were spent adjusting bunched up sweaters and corduroy shirts that tended to shift under coats and scarves with all the hugging, paying occasional attention to the pre-ceremony ceremonies, and talking about what a great and noble discomfort it was to be here. The buzz and electricity in the wider air seemed to always be there when we lifted our heads. We tried to get a view of the size of it all, but there was no way to take in the horizon toward the Capital or Lincoln Memorial – just too many people. We could see north and south, though, and knew we were positioned between the Smithsonian and the Museum of the American Indian.

People kept saying they wished they had brought a flask of something and talked about the best rum, the best roti, and the best places on the eastern seaboard to get them.

My daughter hung in there but only by keeping inside of a big band of people to keep the wind away.

All the pre Obama-oath festivities were drowned out by waves and waves of various cheers, singing, chanting, laughing, bouncing. When it came time for Obama's oath, though, a hush came down and crying ensued as we heard what we thought was a faulty speaker at the oath taking.

By this time, emotions all around -- in my family and with so many in the immediate visual space -- were oddly mixed with the sounds of chants and cheering from farther out on the mall in every direction. Obama's speech came through in parts, as his more forceful lines were greeted by cheers that blurred the next few lines he spoke. But for our collective of half a hundred, the tears and the amazement being spent to absorb the moments eclipsed his speech. We retrieved it later online.

Weariness and now an oblivion to cold and crowd brought a kind of halt to the hugs and excited talk that filled the first two or three hours. Most people seemed to be held in quiet interior reflection as we stayed out the last moments of the poem, chorus, and Rev Lowry’s prayer. We had come to a silent inwardness, still tearful but softer, and dispersed with cheers still going on but much less forceful.

Except for my daughter who kept the cold away by repeating and repeating and repeating Lowry's last refrains.

In the end it was a physically draining and emotionally draining experience of "being there" and absorbing the finality of completion of fourteen months of almost daily attachment to the news of the campaigns and the election. We worked to put ourselves in a position to share this half-day with more people than I have shared anything with, outside of taking the train to work with eight million New Yorkers. It created the physical experience that paralleled the calendar slog and the meaning was drawn from joining those around us in acknowledging what was wrought in this time of our lives.

The inaugural pomp and circumstance was lost for those of us without tickets, amid the masses, the fences, the security, and the travel, the cold and the wind. We tried to find a bar with room to fit afterward, but the old folks weren't that interested and neither was my daughter. We eventually grabbed cabs back to Union Station, got some food and waited for our trains back to NY and NJ respectively.

I have to say, as an observer/participant and inside man so to speak, that for black Americans there is a tremendous amount of importance that is not rooted in Barack's political achievement. It is not that a black man achieved supreme political power that is the ground of their pride and inspiration. It is not even Barack alone as a figure. Black families, especially middle class black families, have been as supportive of Democrats and political causes as they are of Barack's politics. They rejoice as Democrats that he occupies the White House and they feel that his cabinet picks are “pretty good” and have various reservations according to personal opinion.

But it is the whole family that brings the tears and the swell of emotion. Barack was hardly mentioned without Michelle, the girls, AND the mother being mentioned as well.

Michelle is an example of professional success and good motherhood, done without out-sourcing every task but done with her mother's help. Michelle is a great pride for black women of all ages. The delight the country is taking in the girls is the delight black girls have always missed in the wider public. The grandmother represents how so many black families operate in an extended mode that is cohesive, supportive, and geared for success and providing their children with opportunity and love, contra popular representation of broken and isolated families.

Black people have been hungry for the decades since MLK to have white America and the world see black people who are whole and healthy, to see black people held up as equal heroes to white achievers and not from the realm of sports or pop art. It is the respect that is wanted, not the power per se.

Black girls still choose white dolls in studies, particularly in working neighborhoods. Black people grow up having to come to understand and shed the influences of television, magazines, and dominant culture conversations that lead them to feel as children that their hair, their skin, their being is not normal, that they don't really belong.

These suspicions often are confirmed by the responses of teachers, employers, even friends, and they all have to do the work of exorcizing these demons in late adolescence and early adulthood.

This hurt is inside every African-American with whom I am intimately familiar. The work has been done by every African-American I know that has succeeded in life.

A Democrat in the White House is what they want. Respect is what they need and are due.

They feel they got both yesterday.

And they hope (with less tentativeness than ever) it is a harbinger of permanent change.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Oklahomans to U.S.: 'Welll, sheeit'

I call this the Oklahoma "Welll, sheeit," response to dealin' with things you just cain't change or do nothin' about.

Bless our hearts. I'll take it.

G'Obama! G'Obama!


Tuesday, January 20, 2009


God bless the Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery

Amen! And, amen!



Today is the day We, the People, have made

Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

G'Obama! G'Obama!


Monday, January 19, 2009


Republican cats

'Cause their eyes aren't opened. Get it? Get it? :-)

Srsly, Ice-T, left and Eames are both Obama-lovin' hope-filled, unabashedly liberal Democats for Jesus.


Sunday, January 18, 2009




"Lord of Life, forty years after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., a part of his dream is about to come true. As the nation and the world turn their attention to the inauguration of the first black president in American history, we hear the singing of a new song, and we rejoice at the capacity of human beings to hope. Make us all mindful that the task he faces is enormous, the challenges are immense, and the change will not happen overnight. In the meantime, give to each of us the capacity to sacrifice for the Common Good. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, our Teacher and Lord, we pray, Amen."

(Our extremely rational preacherman had a little fun with the "forty" business this morning. But who's to say? The Lord does move in myterious ways ...)


Saturday, January 17, 2009


'Lakota, Oklahoma?'

Would any of y'all read a well-written but scholarly book about how, after Lt. Col. Geo. A. Custer got dead at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in June 1876, the U.S. government came dang close that fall to moving the Sioux to Indian Territory, present Oklahoma?

And the tribes that were already here, for the most part, were ready to welcome them -- in the name of humanity, *and* for their own political purposes?

'Cause I could write it. And, you know, I don't have enough to do (snort).

Do tell.


Friday, January 16, 2009


Our Father, who art in Google ...

How Google is Making Us Smarter -- from Discover magazine.

I think this has fascinating ramifications for those of us for whom mind is as important to faith as heart. Busy day, though. Y'all start.


Thursday, January 15, 2009


Mister of Divinity

I probably will never go to seminary. But Feodor had a wonderful idea.

"Between myself, GKS, and your pastor and others, you could come up with a lean list of 25 books or so that could cover biblical, historical, and theological ground to which seminary would introduce you.

"Your mind at work on a systematized lineup of material is all you really need to get up to speed. I would be happy to initiate a list and you can send it around for criticism and editing, updating with alternate selections, and proposing opposing perspectives.

"I really think that what you may lose in the early years from participating in a graduate program, you could crisply make up with participation in the different venues you have available. Adult ed. in seminars, conferences, and a class or two of upper level seminars at Phillips or elsewhere would round off excellently, and far cheaper."

So, this is an open invitation to all my bloggy buddies to recommend five o six books, treatises, monographs and what-have-you on the aforementioned subjects.

I'm looking for academic works, BUT please feel free to recommend popular, but rich, books, as well. (Examples: John Shelby Spong, Marcus Borg, Gary Wills, Bart Ehrman.)

Feodor has already recommended one:

Hans Frei, "The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative: A Study in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Hermeneutics."

Y'all go. Help me become a Mister of Divinity. :-)

Thanking you in advance,


Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Moanin' Mona

I don't know when I've seen such a decently written but totally out-of-touch column on current affairs. Mona Charen is out of touch with the tenor of the times. Out of touch with the country. Out of touch even with the Republican Party, for the most part.

You know how I've gotten ahead a little in life? By running a deficit -- for my house, my vehicles, for other things that make life good -- and even letting it get out of hand to make a great leap forward (hee hee) now and then: specifically, when Dr. ER and I together signed on numerous dotted lines for our house, and when each of us individually signed for gargantuan student loans.

Deficit schmeficit. Screw the U.S. deficit -- at least until we get this economy moving ahead again. And after the crisis has passed, let's realize that running a deficit of manageable size, and occasionally of seemingly unmanageable size, actually is an important tool of a household, a business, an economy and a government.



Onward and upward Christian soldiers?

Is it just me, or do Darby, Scofield, et al. and dispensationalism owe as much to Comte and positivism as anything?

I mean, all that systemizing and elaborate proof-texting and stacking up such wobbly eschatological houses of cards ... It's all very pseudoscientific and industrial, in its way. I'm just sayin'.

Oh, and don't forget! Be afraid! Be very, very afraid!


Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Blogged down

Why is it that when I started this blog, in the throes of my final semester of a history master's, in the hardest class or seminar I've ever had -- the Reformation -- I had more time to blog, and to blog thoughtfully, than I do now?

Dr. ER says the mind gets brittle -- Mama ER used to say "brickle" -- as it ages. Is that it? Is it *that* fur of a piece from age 40 to 44?

Is it that I worry more than I did then, leaving less room for thought? Is it that hard work, whether physical or mental, begets hard work and greater capacity?

Is it that with Dubya on the way out, I'm just not as worked up about stuff in general as I used to be? Is it that I try not to let Focus On Everybody Else's Family, and fundies in general, get me so riled up anymore?

I dunno. I just feel like I haven't had much to blog of any import lately. Maybe I never did. All we are is dust in the wiiiiiinnnnnndddddd ...


Monday, January 12, 2009


ER: Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestant

At The3rddegree's suggestion, I retook the Belief-o-atic quiz.

Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestant.

Whew. Last night I took it and it came back Unitarian Universalist. Sleeping must reawaken my inner Trinitarian. :-) Actually, the other time I took the quiz, it was a close race among UU, Mainline/Lib Protestant and Neo-Pagan.

Y'alls' selves?


Sunday, January 11, 2009


ER has turned fully liberal

Time for another political check. This is the first time, I think I've ever come up straight "Liberal." It's been "Conservative Democrat."


Based on your answers to the questionnaire, you most closely resemble survey respondents within the Liberal typology group. This does not mean that you necessarily fit every group characteristic or agree with the group on all issues.

Liberals represent 17 percent of the American public, and 19 percent of registered voters.

Basic Description

This group has nearly doubled in proportion since 1999, Liberals now comprise the largest share of Democrats and is the single largest of the nine Typology groups. They are the most opposed to an assertive foreign policy, the most secular, and take the most liberal views on social issues such as homosexuality, abortion, and censorship. They differ from other Democratic groups in that they are strongly pro-environment and pro-immigration, issues which are more controversial among Conservative and Disadvantaged Democrats.

Defining Values

Strongest preference for diplomacy over use of military force. Pro-choice, supportive of gay marriage and strongly favor environmental protection. Low participation in religious activities. Most sympathetic of any group to immigrants as well as labor unions, and most opposed to the anti-terrorism Patriot Act.

Take the (slightly dated) test.


Saturday, January 10, 2009


Political compass check

I do this about every six months or so. I'm never off more than a couple points one way or the other, always libertarian left, close to the middle of the quadrant.

Economic Left/Right: -4.75.
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -3.74.

Take the test: Political Compass.

Where do y'all stand?


Friday, January 09, 2009


All trucked up

Flat tire. Parking lot. State building. Capitol area.

Jack fell. Jack broke. Got dark. Ride home.

Left truck. Way tired. Heavy sigh. Long day.

Oh well. Stuff happens. Weekend project: Get it home.

Night all.


Thursday, January 08, 2009


'Not having received what was promised'

I love this.

The following passage is taken from a seminary commencement address.

Christ is our employer as surely as the general contractor is the carpenter's employer, only the chances are that this side of Paradise we will never see his face except mirrored darkly in dreams and shadows, if we're lucky, and in each other's faces.

He is our general, but the chances are that this side of Paradise we will never hear his voice except in the depth of our own inner silence and in each other's voices. He is our shepherd, but the chances are we will never feel his touch except as we are touched by the joy and pain and holiness of our own life and each other's lives.

He is our pilot, our guide, our true, fast, final friend and judge, but often when we need him most, he seems farthest away because he will always have gone on ahead, leaving only the faint print of his feet on the path to follow.

And the world blows leaves across the path. And branches fall. And darkness falls.

We are, all of us, Mary Magdalene, who reached out to him at the end only to embrace empty air. We are the ones who stopped for a bit to eat that evening at Emmaus and , as soon as they saw who it was that was sitting there at the table with them, found him vanished from their sight.

Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Rahab, Sarah are our brothers and sisters because, like them, we all must live in faith, as the great chapter put it with a staggering honesty that should be a lesson to us all, "not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar," and only from afar.

And yet the country we seek and do not truly find, at least not here, not now, the heavenly country and homeland, is there somewhere as surely as our yearning for it is there; and I think that our yearning for it is itself as much a part of the truth of it as our yearning for love or beauty or peace is a part of those truths.

And Christ is there with us on our way as surely as the way itself is there that has brought us to this place. It has brought us. We are here. He is with us -- that is our faith -- but only in unseen ways, as subtle and pervasive as air.

-~Frederick Buechner

It made me think of this (and I apologize in advance for the cheesy "video." I love the song).

Which made me think of this joke:

Father Murphy walks into a pub in Donegal, and says to the first man he meets, "Do you want to go to heaven?"

The man said, "I do Father."

The priest said, "Then stand over there against the wall."

Then the priest asked the second man, "Do you want to got to heaven?"

"Certainly, Father," was the man's reply.

"Then stand over there against the wall," said the priest.

Then Father Murphy walked up to O'Toole and said, "Do you want to go to heaven?"

O'Toole said, "No, I don't Father."

The priest said, "I don't believe this. You mean to tell me that when you die you don't want to go to heaven?"

O'Toole said, "Oh, when I die, yes. I thought you were getting a group together to go right now."

All of which is to say: I feel about "Beulah Land" or "heaven" or a fuller realization of Christ in me, and in life and such, or however you want to say it, about like I used to feel homesick when I was in college.

I had tasks at hand, work to do, but I missed my mama and daddy and brother.

Now, I have tasks at hand. Work to do. But sometimes I "miss" my Holy Abba, Father -- Papa.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Deacon of Hope

Me. A freakin' deacon. This year and next. The mind boggles. :-)

Humbled and excited, for lack of a better word.


About the pic: Saint Stephen, one of the first seven deacons in the Christian Church, vested in a dalmatic, holding a Gospel Book and a martyr's palm; around his head are three stones (from the Demidoff Altarpiece, 1476, by Carlo Crivelli).

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Thank God for the church calendar

I was fully grown before I knew there were such things as a church calendar, liturgy and Christian holy days in addition to Christmas and Easter. Just not part of the Southern Baptist tradition.

Now, I can't imagine a faith life without them. There's no voodoo involved or anything. It's just that being a human means I'm a creature of habit. And after spending many years cultivating bad habits, I find strength for living, and a measure of peace, in cultivating good habits.

I know today is the day of Epiphany. I know that Ash Wednesday is Feb. 25. I know that Easter is 40 days later. I'll probably attend a Maunday Wednesday service.

The point is I'm thinking about it all. "Christmas" is no longer one day. "Easter" is no longer one day. And both to me now are so much more than they were when I was growing up.

Not that there was a thing wrong with the way I grew up. But I need reminders for living every other aspect of my life, and I'm glad there are formalized reminders to help me live my Christian faith life.

Yesterday was a bummer. First Monday back to work. My academic friends are gearing up for a new semester, and I'm jealous. Part of my melancholy was purely chemical: I'm taking phentermine again to get a jump start on losing some weight -- and yesterday was the first day off it after six in a row on it, which is always a little down. Dr. ER is sick. Both of our dogs are geriatic and have bad backs and are on meds for it. Ice-T, our big kitty, has got something wrong with him. I owe the state historical journal a book review. My own book languishes. A journal article sent back to me for revision languishes. Almost all of my books are still in boxes in the garage from the carpet-laying. It hit me over Christmas that my Bird is gone for good, when she and her YankeeBeau bought a dang house! I'm looking 45 in the eye.

There's a big fat paragraph of whining -- factual, but whining nonetheless. I've had worse emotional bottoms, but I think this is one. Enough!

As Dr. ER pointed out, "At least you're not in Gaza."

I should be ashamed. But ...

Once in awhile I literally hit my knees at the foot of the bed and throw myself, such as it is, with the hope of Christ, onto the mercy of the Cosmos and God, God's Self. Did that this morning. Now it's time to cowboy up. Wish me well, y'all.


(About the photo: The Three Magi: Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar, from a late 6th century mosaic at the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy.)

Monday, January 05, 2009



Feodor brought this great work, by Conrad Aiken, to my attention. It fits my melancholy Monday mood -- with Dr. ER's and my 45th birthdays looming -- perfectly. ...


Sunday, January 04, 2009


Gaza as an Indian reservation, under siege

Israel's disproportionate response will cause it, and us, more harm than good. It's out of line with the Torah: it's an eye for an eye -- not 500 eyes for an eye. Israel's actions are immoral. Hamas hotheads' is, too.

Gaza is about 6 miles wide and 18 miles long. (For those who know Oklahoma City: that's roughly Pennsylvania Avenue east to Interstate 35, from the Logan County line to downtown.) In that small space are 2 million people -- about four times the population of Oklahoma City crammed into a space about one-fifth the size of OKC.

Without much basic infrastructure. With a blockade on. With an elected government that was not the one either Israel or the United States hoped for -- so much for democracy being the cure-all.

God gave Israel land, Scripture says. But it came with conditions. Israel is violating those conditions. Israel, the people, will survive, as it has for millenia. Israel, the nation-state, has always had its work cut out for it. (The current issue of The Christian Cenury has a great and incredibly timely package on this, but I can't find it online.)

Imagine the United States herding 2 million American Indians onto a reservation and blocking trade, causing starvation and desperation. Better yet, read some history, because the U.S. did do that at times, just not to the scale of the Israel-Gaza tragedy.

Israel started this round of violence. There was a cease-fire. Israel took out some Hamas leaders by assassination (so says Rabbi Michael Lerner, a rare source for this, which goes against the master narratve at hand). Hamas then let its makeshift rockets fly. Again. Israel retaliated. Again.

I had to force myself to join in the Prayer of Confession this morning. I still have mixed feelings about it. Hamas is evil. Israel has a right to defend itself. But is Israel in the right in how it's responding? I don't think so.


Lord of Life, we grieve the death and destruction of human life in the Gaza strip. We know that the hatred is deep on both sides, but the firepower is almost entirely in the hands of Israel, using weapons we have provided, and following our example of responding to threats with overwhleming force. As we begin the new year, let the church of Jesus Christ, the Jew from Nazareth, be fearless in condemning what must be condemned. For this road leads to annihilation, not peace. In the name of the great and fearless Jewish prophets we pray, and for the soul of Israel. Amen.


Saturday, January 03, 2009


My help meat, before and after ravishing




Drastic weather requires drastic action

It's 75 fricking degrees! On Jan. 3! It's nuts.

I gotta grill steaks! Ribeyes comin' up!

Look! Beef porn!!!

What're y'all doin' this fine day?


Friday, January 02, 2009


By God, Wal-Mart's done gone to meddlin'!

Mr. Wal-Mart, suh! Stand down, suh!


LOCUST GROVE, Va. (AP) — Wal-Mart wants to build a Supercenter within a cannonshot of where Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant first fought, a proposal that has preservationists rallying to protect the key Civil War site.

A who's who of historians including filmmaker Ken Burns and Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough sent a letter last month to H. Lee Scott, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., urging the company to build somewhere farther from the Wilderness Battlefield.

To arms! To arms!

^&*(%!!!! -- and that's the historian talkin' not the supposed partisan.

Read all about it.



Random shootin' from the lip

The Senate should seat Roland Burris. The only way the Senate can reject him is to seat him, then see if it has the two-thirds needed to eject him.

Israel has to be able to defend itself. Any nation has that right. But ... I don't know. What's going on in Gaza is not a very Christian thing for Israel to do -- wait ...

"Revolutionary Road" looks like a good story, which means it might be a good movie.

The history books will not list 1907, 1933 and 2008 as the worst years for the financial world. We ain't seen nothin' yet. Maybe 2009. Maybe 2010.

Es todo.


Thursday, January 01, 2009


A measured, hopeful take on the Rev. Rick Warren and the Obama inauguration

By Robin Meyers, senior minister of Mayflower Congregational UCC Church, Oklahoma City.

(Author of "Why the Christian Right is Wrong.")



You say you want a resolution?

Why bother?


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