Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Whither the Bible?

Feodor raised questions in a previous post that I wanted to explore today. The questions explode in this blog, which I've been engaging a little lately: De-Conversion. From what I've seen there, almost all of the decons lost their faith when they realized the Bible wasn't what they'd been taught it was.

Feodor wrote:

Here is the problem: how can a community be a Christian community while mistrusting its own sacred scriptures... especially the centrally pivotal group of the gospels, the very texts revealing the figure of our salvation. I am not saying there are no answers to this problem. But, so far, all the answers given by the historical approach are not satisfactorily complete as to erase the dilemma.

Do we open up the canon of the bible to add further diversifying witness? And which of the previously excluded texts do we include? Five? Ten? Twenty? Why not twenty-one? Which get in and which do not? We are back to the very same work as those who made decisions in council over two hundred or more years.

Or do we dissolve the notion of the canon, leaving all things open? Bring in to the worship and formation of the community gnostic ideas? Bring in Buddhist ideas, zoroastrian thought, shinto, confucian, sufi practices? This would be an historically unprecedented move and would constitute the disestablishment of the Christian tradition of understanding ourselves.

Such communities already exist: Ethical Culture, for one and a pretty good one for all that. And they could use the influx of money.

This option, perhaps the right one, would seem to be the logical conclusion - and the one of integrity - for where the historical approach leads. For who can stop the relativist bleeding? If a christian wants to remain a christian, how does he or she do it on the basis of the historical approach?

(The rest of Feodor's thoughts are in the first comment).

What say ye all?


Monday, March 30, 2009


Jack Handy (snicker) couldn'ta said it better

"Masturbation can sometimes be wrong and it can sometimes not. If you masturbate thinking about how pretty the flowers are and how you want a puppy, essentially that's not wrong. But most times, that is not the case. I believe that when one masturbates a high percentage of the time they are fantasizing about a sexual partner therefore making masturbation lust. Lust, as the Bible states, is a sin. But masturbation is something that people in general should stay away from because it's hard not to lust whilst doing it."

Words of wisdom and inspiration from FSTDT.

Jus' a little somethin' to kick start yer Monday!


Sunday, March 29, 2009


Going for it, therefore ...

Preacher gave me his personal blessing. Indicated that he wasn't surprised. Said he can see me doing it.

Therefore, I am going to apply to the seminary, aiming, initially, for an 18-hour Certificate in Graduate Theological Studies. Starting this fall. I am going to fill out the FAFSA. I will take a loan. After that, we'll see.

And I have begun the process of exploring licensure as a minister, which is not ordination but is a credential for supply preaching.

There you have it. That's the plan. I reserve the right to revise and extend, or to change my plan.


God help me. :-)


Saturday, March 28, 2009


Free from Frei

Ugh. I just finished Hans W. Frei's "The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative: A Study of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Hermeneutics." Ugh. Ugh. Damn Germans. Clunkiest, most dense work I think I've ever read.

I wish someone would write a paraphrase of it, like the "Living Bible." :-)

And, I think it's put together almost exactly backwards. As a history of ideas more than events, I think the present and near-present -- or the latest period under consideration -- would have been a better place to start, followed then by peeling back layers to get to earlier thinking.

Or, at least start with a chapter that sets the present as the stage -- because when it comes to histories of ideaa, the present has to be the stage for understanding past thinking, IMHO.

I'm gonna have to think about this and skim it some before I can even figure out what his thesis is. Y'all who've read it, feel free to enlighten me. Note that I'm not saying the book wasn't worthy of the effort it took to read it. Just, ugh. :-)

Next up is something that's popcorn by way of comparison, but judging from the first skimming, it's perfect timing that I read it -- and the fact that a gal at church, knowing something of where my thinking is regarding formal academic pursuits, just handed it to me last Sunday morning and said I ought to give it a looksee:

John Ortberg's "If You Want to Walk on Water, You've got to Get Out of the Boat."

:-) A cursory glance at teh Google revealed no Ortberg critics and I have great respect for the one who recommended I read it. So I will.

(Should take about 20 minutes after slogging through Frei, he faux-grumbled ...)


Friday, March 27, 2009


The Holy Spirit ...

Is ...

Is not ...

Means ...

Means not ...

Does ...

Does not ...

? What say you?

(How's that for a little light Friday fare?)


Thursday, March 26, 2009


Dang cat didn't write a headline, so here

Eh! Ehh!! My daddy iz reeding dis buk by Edgur Ailin Poe andz it haz a terribel story "The Black Cat" whre a kitteh iz kilded so I iz put mysef in this scawy pitcher to scar my daddy when he sings on his 'puter todays!

Bad Daddy!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009


God, mammon and me

Of course, I'm hooked now.

You know, people talk about "the call," or "a call." I've not wrestled with that much.

My call is to be a communicator. I *am* a communicator.

What I've communicated, and how, have changed over the years, but I've usually been fortunate enough to be tasked with communicating information and ideas that interest me, or excite and inspire me -- or at least that don't bore me to tears.

"Discernment" is sort of another thing: What do I do with this "call."? That's where I am now, and that, friends, up up to God, mammon and me -- all I can do is be willing, and try to put myself in situations where it could happen.

The off-the-rack price for an M.Div. (87 credit hours) where I'm looking is about $50,000, not counting books, fees, and gas to Tulsa and back (110 miles from my house to there).

There is no reason for me to quit my job. No regular class meets more than once a week. There are intensive week-long seminars once in awhile. And this fall, they're tiptoeing into online classes.

First-year tuition is half price: about $250 per credit hour. Merit scholarships and others are possible -- and I am a pretty smart feller, and have papers to show it -- :-) -- but then the place positively reeks of brilliance so that might not get me too far! And, my church might help.

Another part of "discernment" regards WTH I'd do with an M.Div. once I got it -- at just shy of 50 years old. I can write, and I can preach. I can administer.

But could I pastor? That'd be the biggest "God thing" of all in this, 'cause I can't see it. But who can say?

This fall, I could take Intro to the Hebrew Bible (Genesis to Kings) and Intro to Christian History (Reformation to modern), on site and Hebrew Wisdom Literature during a weeklong seminar in October.

Calling God. Calling mammon. Hello-o-oo? Are y'all really calling me?


Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Good Lord! ER, a seminarian?

Hmmm ... I'm almost sure I'm going to try to take a class this fall at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa.

It's a Disciples of Christ school with a covenental thing with the United Church of Christ, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and others of the nonfundamental ilk.

Thoughts, encouragements, discouragements, karma, whatever, please, while I'm gone to check the place out today.


Monday, March 23, 2009


Y'all're gonna have to talk amongs yerselfs


Busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kickin' contest! I got time to react today, not think!

Possible topics:

Obama versus Cheney.

The Dow.

The weather.





Sunday, March 22, 2009


'O, Jesus, my feet are dirty'

"O, Jesus, my feet are dirty. Come even as a slave to me, pour water into your bowl, come and wash my feet. In asking such a thing I know I am overbold but I dread what was threatened when you said to me, 'If I do not wash your feet I have no fellowship with you.' Wash my feet then, because I long for your companionship. And yet, what am I asking? It was well for Peter to ask you to wash his feet; for him that was all that was needed to be clean in every part. With me it is different; though you wash me now I shall still stand in need of that other washing, the cleansing you promised when you said, 'There is a baptism I must needs be baptized with.'" -- Origen


Saturday, March 21, 2009


'Smirchy and holy is all one'

Human beans being rhythmic critters, highs and lows are ever present -- in loves, likes, passions, thoughts, habits and faiths.

The experience of living in time, the more of it you get under your belt, tends to stretch the present, lifting up those lows and hauling down those highs, flattening the extremes of the experience of life.

So it seems to me. Time beng relative, some people get it, and this, quicker than others: "Life is Grace," as Frederick Buechner put it.

"Smitchy and holy is all one ... "


It happened one day when we was coming on to some holy feast or other. I was in the kitchen yard helping cut up a pig they’d slaughtered for it the day before. I’d been there for the slaughtering as well, catching the blood in a pail for black pudding when they shoved a knife in its throat and helping drag it over to the pile of straw where they got twists for singeing off the bristle.

We poured water on the carcass and scraped it and singed it again and finally with a gambrel between the hind legs, hoisted it up to a crossbeam. Then a monk with yellow braids sliced open its belly and groping around up to his elbows delivered it of a steaming tubful of pink slippery insides I carted off to the kitchen in my two arms.

They left it hanging overnight to cool with a sack wrapped round its long snout to keep the cats from it and the next day after matins the yellow-braid monk and I set to cutting it up, Ita being at her quern across the yard from us.

Hams, trotters, eyepieces, ears for making brawn with, brains, chops -- we was laying it all out in the straw when Ita come over and drew me aside to where we kept a black stone on the wall for whetting. She told me with Jarlath’s leave she wanted me to go with Brendan though she didn’t so much as know my name then.

“It’s a smirchy sort of business you’re at with that pig, some would say,” she said. “There’s many a monkish boy either he’d beg out of it or turn green as a toad doing it. But it’s neither of those with you, I see. You could be laying the holy table for mass the way you set those cuttings out. That’s the deep truth of things too no matter or not if you know it.”

Ita’s eyes disappeared entirely when she smiled.

“Smirchy and holy is all one, my dear,” she said. “I doubt Jarlath has taught you that. Monks think holiness is monkishness only. But somewheres you’ve learned the truth anyhow. You can squeeze into Heaven reeking of pig blood as well as clad in the whitest fair linen in the land.”

-- from Brendan, by Frederick Buechner; also the March 20 reading in Listening to Your Life: Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner.


Friday, March 20, 2009


John and Milton, sitting in a tree?

Could it be?

Just wonderin'. 'Cause we got monetary s--t goin' down AND fiscal s--t goin' down. I mean, you gotta look past each of the dudes' overarching philosophies and look at the nuts and bolts of gubment, the money supply and the economy.

I'm thinkin' they're either up there (or down there) kickin' up their heels and dancin' a jig, or kickin' each other's arses.

What say y'all?



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Check out: Information Age Prayer!


Thursday, March 19, 2009


Gay-themed skit hits the fan in Grandfield, OK

Class project based on "The Laramie Project" hits the fan in Grandfield, Okla.

Not surprised. But since I used to know peeps there and was in and out of Grandfield -- "Hub of the Big Pasture" -- alot, it makes me sad.

Focus on the Family will probably present the town fathers with a Dobby Award or something (my recommendation for an FOTF award recognizing both unChristian intolerance *and* James Dobson's personal influence on the bloody front line of the bullshit "Culture War.)

One note: The teacher resigned; she wasn't fired. Like it makes much of a difference.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009


'Water Grave'

"I want to show my Heavenly Father the man I used to be has finally died."

Daily. Hourly. With each breath.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Meet Toothface and The3rdDegree

Now that Blogrolling is bakc up and running, and I've added these guys, welcome ...

Toothface, by Luke, who I met at De-Conversion.


The3rdDegree, by, well, by The3rdDegree, who I knew in the RW before he moved to Chicago.

Luke is a seminarian, and The3rdDegree has an M.Div and an M.A. and is a social worker.

It's gettin' to where you can't sling a cat (disputed) around here without hittin' a seminarian or an ex-seminarian! :-)

Welcome, y'all!


Monday, March 16, 2009


Totally Depravity

The Depravity Scale aims to standardize the ambiguous "heinous, depraved, atrocious and cruel" terminology of capital and other criminal codes, as well as "outrageous" designations in civil and family court cases. The Depravity Scale does not address who is depraved, but rather, whether a specific event reflects depraved motivation and behavior.

Take a quiz. Help with a study. Do a good deed.

The Depravity Scale.


Sunday, March 15, 2009


ER preaches a sermonette: 'The Soul Market'

I had the privilege of being the worship leader this morning at church. That means I led the Prayer of Confession and had a few minutes to present a Prayer of the People, just before the offering was collected.

First time I'd done anything in front of a church since I was a teenager. Biggest group I've ever spoken before, too, between 300 and 400, maybe a little more.

For what's it worth, here's what I said.


First, I have to say, I love y'all, and I thank God every day for you.

In the fall of 1911, famed conservative evangelist Billy Sunday calculated, with some fanfare, the cost of his own evangelistic crusades in America’s big cities. It came to $450 per soul saved.

Souls came cheaper than that in Boston, the city’s pastors boasted: $143 at the Congregational Church, $70 at a Baptist church, and a mere $3.12 each at a Methodist Episcopal church, which must have found a fire sale, so to speak. It was all in the New York Times.

Souls have gone way up since 1911. In 2001, the cost per baptism in the United States had skyrocketed to $1.5 million, according to missiometric specialists.

It turns out that the value of souls, like real estate, depends on “location, location, location.” Nowadays, the cheapest souls come in places like Mozambique, Ethiopia and Tanzania, where the price point ranges from about $1,500 to $2,500. Upscale souls, in places like Japan, Switzerland and Bermuda, range from $2.7 million to $2.5 million apiece. Actually, that says more about where the wealth is in the world than anything about the value of souls, or people.

The cost of souls rises and falls with inflation and recession, of course. And at times, around certain flimflamming preachers, irrational exuberance falsely inflates their value and a soul bubble forms. Then comes a bust, a market collapse, and when a snake-oil-peddling preacher falls the price of souls crashes because demand dries up. Such is the rhythm of the marketplace.

That’s the religion business. It’s market share. Very Western. There’s not much holy in it, in my book, which is still the Good Book, even with all its mysteries, not an Excel spreadsheet and generally accepted accounting practices.

On a more serious note, the cost of missions is real. Church budgeting is important, and has been at least since St. Paul handled collections for the poor saints in Jerusalem. My prayer is that we continue to let God and philosophers decide whether and how to separate the soul from the person, and that we keep ministering to people, especially, like Paul, to the poor, of pocket as well as spirit, in the name of Jesus. Would the ushers come forward to collect our gifts and offerings?


PRAYER OF CONFESSION today at church (BTW, the way my prayer and this prayer, written by the pastor complement one another wasn't planned):

Lord of Life, we often live by illusions whic need to be shattered. We walk as if in a dream, believing that what goes up will never come down, and that what is here today will not be gone tomorrow. We worship idols and we turn faith into a game of buying and selling God's favor. Teach us, we pray, what Jesus was doing when he entered the Temple and turned over rhe tables of the money changers. Let us not worship the marketplace, lest we turn our friends into consumers and our loved ones into assets. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth our Teacher and Lord we pray, Amen.


Saturday, March 14, 2009


Did Jesus used to be a kinda redneck racist?

Looky here! Just look rightcheer! Provocative! Explosive! Plumb nucular! Read it -- then put on yer welding helmet and read the comments at the end of it! Hoo boy.


By Miguel De La Torre
Monday, 23 February 2009

(ABP) -- Our faith tells us that anyone can come to Jesus. The evangelistic message is that Jesus will turn no one away. We can come just as we are, ill and diseased. All who seek healing will find salvation and liberation in the arms of Jesus, for his unconditional love accepts everyone -- regardless of their race or ethnicity.

Or does it? Matthew 15:21-28 recounts the story of a Canaanite woman who came to Jesus desperately seeking a healing for her daughter.

The Canaanites during Jesus' time were seen by Jews as being a mixed race of inferior people, much in the same way that some Euro-Americans view Hispanics today, specifically the undocumented. The Canaanites of old -- like Latino/as of our time -- did not belong. They were no better than "dogs."

For this reason Jesus' response to the Canaanite woman is troublesome. When she appealed to Jesus to heal her sick child, our Lord responded by saying: "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. It is not good to take the bread of the children and throw it to the dogs." ...

Read the rest of "Was Jesus a Racist?" by Miguel De La Terre, associate professor of social ethics at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, from American Baptist Press.


Friday, March 13, 2009


Is the word 'redneck,' and its use, racist?

In response to the post about the Redneck Bank, Feodor wrote:

"Race-based marketing from a myopic hinterland where Palin gets 100% support."

And he wrote:

"Who can justify marketing such well-intentioned financial institutions as Sambo Savings & Loan, Coolie Credit Union, Redneck Bank? And how does one do so?"

Then I wrote:

"Until day before yesterday, I never, ever, heard anything about 'redneck' being racist. Not ever. My mind boggles."

So, since I wear the label myself with a little admittedly perverse pride, I want to know:

Is the word "redneck," and it's use, racist? How? Why? Etc.


Thursday, March 12, 2009


Redneck Bank -- 'where bankin's funner'!

Yep, it's a real bank, (with sound) the online bankin' set-up of the Bank of the Wichitas, headquarted in Snyder, with branches in Elgin, Medicine park and Cache, all in southwest Oklahoma.

Of course, Ah love it! And, some of the best innerst for a checkin' account offered anywheres!


Wednesday, March 11, 2009



(And-or people up to whom I've looked, not family or actual friends)

Off the top of my head, more or less in order, over time:

Johnny Cash -- after I read "Man in Black" at church camp waaay back in the day.

Paul McCartney -- no explanation.

Beau and Luke Duke -- srsly. They had a Dodge Charger, I had a Dodge Charger, and after it got rear-ended through no fault of my own, bending the frame, requiring the doors to be balin'-wired shut, I *drove* it more or less like the Duke boys did theirs.

Merle Haggard -- to this day. Great songwriter and storyteller, good guitar player, great set of pipes, and he sounds like he's from the same part of the country as I'm from, because he was born to Okies in the Okie Dust Bowl part of California.

Phil Donahue -- before he got weird. His TV talk show actually was what I had in mind when I took my first journalism and speech classes at Connors State College in '82-'83.

Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward -- after I read "All the President's Men" and learned the journalism behind Watergate.

Eric Severeid (Sevareid(?) -- whom I met in his declining years.

Garth Brooks -- for his talent both on stage as a performer and off stage for his marketing (advertising degree from Oklahoma State).

Dale Earnhardt -- after Dr. ER and I got back into watchin' racin' on TV, in '98.

Kevin Harvick -- for the way he handled himself, and Dale's former ride, when Earnhardt senior was killed at Daytona in 2001.

E.E. Dale -- 1890s cowboy, native of Old Greer County, Texas, student of Frederick Jackson Turner and pioneering Oklahoma historian.

Angie Debo -- ballsy Oklahoma historian in a time when women weren't supposed to have, uh, balls.

Keith Olbermann.

Maybe some more will come to mind.

In the meantime, you? Who? Why?


Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Truckstop coffee and a lost honeybun

By the end of my senior year in high school, in '82, the gal I'd been goin' with since eighth or ninth grade was married and knocked up by one of my friends. Such is the young redneck life.

Summer after high school, I met another girl, at the Future Homemakers of America car wash fund-raiser, and before long was smitten to the point of askin' her daddy if I could marry her.

He said yes, and she said yes, but not right now, thank-you.

Well, that went to hell and ended with a ring-throwin' showdown in the one shopping center in town, 'cause she wanted to spend every weekend at the local dirt track where her uncle ran a car. I like racin' and all, but dang. Every weekend?

High school sweetheart knocked up by one of my hillbilly friends? Love lost in the smoke and dust of a 3/8-mile race track in the next county?

I was feelin' mighty low for a young 'un -- only 19 or 20. I didn't even want to drink.

I remember a few nights of bein' particulary pathetic, sittin' and starin' into my coffee at one of the truck stops in town, listenin' to Merle Haggard sing "Going Where the Lonely Go" on the jukebox. It still comes to mind when I'm lonesome.


Monday, March 09, 2009


Country Plowboy and a Texas Woman

Gettin' my redneck on -- in self defense. I've just let too much get to me too much lately, so I'm regroupin' a bit, circlin' my own wagon, sendin' out my own posse to rescue myself.

Somethin' like that. My bent bein' to look to the past, why, let's go!

"I'm a country plow boy, not an Urban Cowboy," Hank Williams Jr. sang in the song linked below, and it rang true for me.

'Cause it was a real farm I grew up on, 150 or so acres around the house, and another few hundred acres a few miles away in the Arkansas River bottoms.

It wadn't some "acreage" in an exurb.

Somebody around here called this place a "gated community" the other day. If there's a gate here, in my mind it's an aluminum cattle-pen gate hung between two corner posts latched with rusty balin' wire.

Now, I do live in a suburb, goin' on 10 years -- and we moved to it so Bird, my redheaded redneck stepgal, could continue her cello instruction.

If it'd been up to me, we'da landed where I might could have some livestock-type critters. But it didn't happen.

Kills me that I can't get my pickup into my back yard, 'cause there's no alley and not enough room between the dang houses to get back there from the front.

Then, later in life -- and back to the song -- to be specifical, my boot-scootin' dancehall days in Texas, this tune became an anthem. I did "love" me some Texas wimmin.

Then, I caught one fer good in Dr. ER. :-)

Not in a dancehall. On line, when she was finishin' up her pee aytch dee at Oklahoma State.

It all just beat all I'd ever thought up and it still does.

Here's ol Bocephus:


Sunday, March 08, 2009



Church hit me right where it counts today: head, heart, relationships, with peeps in the Real World and here.

Deacons met. I get to serve on the ecclesiastical council of a candidate for ordination. The ministry support committee on which I serve for a seminarian met. Various and sundry church-related functions are set for the next several weeks.

Grounded. Today I got grounded in the practical, everyday work of the church as a church -- the kind of inside baseball that allows it to be a force for good, and for the Gospel, in the world.

It came after a few days of being buffeted by winds of theological theory. A good day, today is.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION today at church:

Lord of Life, help us to be honest and open when it comes to our friendships. Anyone can be an acquaintance. Friends are rare, and give us the opportunity to argue and risk disagreements. To be in covenant with a friend, whether part of our family or not, is not a picnic. Sometimes we will argue and disagree. This is the sign that the covenant matters, as well as the friendship. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, our Teacher and Lord we pray, Amen.



Saturday, March 07, 2009


A rare deliberate dropping of F-bombs on ER

:::UPDATED UPDATED with a Harry Nilsson classic, at bottom. I'm just gonna get this F-bombing out of my sytem! LOL ... UPDATED UPDATED UPDATED:::

Dedicated to ... well, it'll be obvious: All you hateful sons-of-bitches. Cutest song, EVer! :-)


"F--k You (Very Much)," Lily Allen

Look inside,
Look inside your tiny mind
Now look a bit harder
Cause we're so uninspired,
So sick and tired,
Of all the hatred you harbor

So you say,
It's not okay to be gay
Well I think you're just evil
You're just some racist,
Who can't tie my laces
Your point of view is medieval

F--k you,
F--k you very very much
Cause we hate what you do,
And we hate your whole crew
So please don't stay in touch

F--k you,
F--k you very very much
Cause your words don't translate,
And it's getting quite late
So please don't stay in touch

Do you get,
Do you get a little kick
Out of being slow minded?
You want to be like your father,
It's approval you're after
Well that's not how you find it

Do you,
Do you really enjoy
living a life that's so hateful?
Cause theres a hole where your soul should be
And you're losing control of it
And it's really distasteful

F--k you,
F--k you very very much
Cause we hate what you do,
And we hate your whole crew
So please don't stay in touch

F--k you,
F--k you very very much
Cause your words don't translate,
And it's getting quite late
So please don't stay in touch

Look inside,
Look inside your tiny mind
Now look a bit harder
Cause we're so uninspired
So sick and tired
Of all the hatred you harbour

F--k you,
F--k you very very much
Cause we hate what you do,
And we hate your whole crew
So please don't stay in touch

F--k you,
F--k you very very much
Cause your words don't translate,
And its getting quite late
So please don't stay in touch

Harry Nilsson, "You're Breaking My Heart." A song from my childhood. Srsly.

Friday, March 06, 2009


I need a fix 'cause I'm going down

The tune's on my mind this morning because of the dust-ups over yesterday's post; because I'm goin' down, letting the news in which I wallow of occupational necessity get to me; and I need a fix, but am holding to my Lenten pledge.

Oh, and because I saw the movie "Across the Universe" last weekend and it is surrealistically great. Here's the song in the movie (give it a minute to get to the song):


Thursday, March 05, 2009


Flexing my warm, living fingers

I've said for years: "I hold my nose and stand with the Left because I just can't stand to stand with the Right." Look it up.

Here's one reason I hold my nose: Gun control.

Proposed federal licensing, tracking, etc., of personal firearms.

No way is this bill passing as written, although it could very well make it through the House Judiciary Committee, and some elements of the bill probably *will* and probably *should* pass.

But, egad! Here's a billion dollars or so raised for the GOP in the 2010 midterm elections.


Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Heretics for Jesus

Who's in?



Fat Black Cat Blues

So, whenever the places I've worked have been under major stress, the suits have been seen walking-walking, earnestly, brows furrowed, walking-walking, having meetings, carrying clipboards or notebooks, walking-walking, jaws set, marching almost, walking-walking.

This morning, it was Ice-T and Eames, who were walking-walking, looking at me with hard eyes, walking-walking, meowing and trilling, coming and going from the kitchen back to the bedroom, walking-walking, earnestly, having meetings, jaws set, marching almost, walking-walking.

ER & Dr. Er's Kitties Inc. was under stress. Revenue had dried up. Coffers were empty.

I'd let their feed bowls get completely empty. They were not amused. So, they went to walking-walking (this is code; when I see walking-walking, that is, unusual stress, at work, I call Dr. ER and say just that, "walking-walking," and she knows what I mean).

So, I need some kitty tips! Eames, the girl kitty, is just more than 1 and still as lithe and spry as she ever was. Ice-T, the boy kitty, is 3-plus, and has gotten as fat as I want him to get.

I guess I should quit letting them browse.

But if I do that, Eames will find a way to get on the Internet and order food brought in -- that or find a way to get into the pantry. If I don't, I'm afraid Ice-T will get so fat and lethargic it'll hurt him; he already has hell gettin; to his, ah, nether regions, when he's self-cleanin'.

This is what I mean when I say we're not cat people. Some of you *real* cat people got any suggestions?



Shopping in Texas (or Oklahoma)

This here's funny, I don't care who ya are.


Tuesday, March 03, 2009


'Conservative-Liberal Dichotomy of the Bible'

This is interesting. Some of the other stuff on this site is wack, but I've just glanced at it. But this is good:

It is typical for many unfamiliar with the Bible to assume that the Bible is 'conservative' in its world view and that it encapsulates and supports the 'right wing' point of view. One of the reasons for this popular misconception is that the 'right wing' expression of religion is so loud and vocal, and this seems to relate to the research which indicates that the relationship which exists between conservatism and fear and right wing viewpoints and resistance to social change finds expression in a greater tendency towards aggression. Because right wing religion is more forceful and aggressive in its approach it tends to overpower more liberal expressions of the religious tendency, and this aggressive occupation of the spot light, combined with intolerance for ambiguity and differing points of view combine to leave 'liberals' voiceless in the dialog between church and the wider society (you will never find a liberal perspective elucidated on Christian television, as one example, since Christian television has been aggressively dominated by the Religious Right, and due to their intolerance for ambiguity or diversity and their belief system which incorporates only certain absolutes, they deliberately promote only their own narrow point of view. The end result of this process is a false impression among many people outside the church that both the Bible and the Christian religion are right wing in their orientation).

Read it all.


Monday, March 02, 2009


Countdown to 'Saving Grace'

Can't. Wait. New season. 9 p.m. Central tonight, TNT. Holly Hunter as Oklahoma City detective Grace Hanadarko. Still hot! Great show!


Sunday, March 01, 2009


A testimony of sorts, from ER

Via Facebook, I've become reacquainted with a guy, now a corporate lawyer, who I knew years ago and with whom I would spar over matters of faith, the Bible and so on.

We were both college kids working a summer in a factory. He was a major skeptic.

I was surprised to learn from his Facebook page that he'd become a Christian, at age 37. So, I asked for his testimony -- quaint term, useful exercise -- and he gave it, and I did so in return.

Here 'tis. Feel free to do likewise, or not -- with a testimony of faith, conversion, deconversion, rediscovery, whatever. As we like to say in the United Church of Christ, "whereever you are on your journey, you're welcome here." (Srsly, despite occasional flare-ups.)

First, I reserve the right to revise and extend my remarks, or to change my mind, like the Book of Jonah says God did regarding the destruction of Ninevah (a point I will drive to anyone who insists that "God never changes," or, that God is not "still speaking, or any such:

First, some nuts and bolts:

I was saved at 8 at First Baptist Church in XXXXX. I remember consciously responding to the invitation to become a Christian and follow Jesus during an altar call. Over the course of the next several weeks, the pastor came to our house several times and walked me through some Scriptures -- the main one being the very one that to this day keeps me grounded:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

Then I got dunked. Part of the youth group through high school, and I developed a taste for beer at the same time. At 19 or so, as the Southern Baptist Convention got more and more fundamentalist, and my church did, too, I saw a temperance statement show up in the front of our hymnals. It pissed me off, because I was there every time the church doors were open, including the monthly business meetings, and this had never come up: The deacons had taken it upon themselves to put it in there. I knew enough about Baptist polity to know that was wrong. So, I quit going.

Rarely ever went to church during college, but never left faith otherwise. ... For 10 years in Texas, I attended but never joined a United Methodist church. ... Early-mid 1990s, I was in love with, and lived with, a girl who was a recovering alcohol and crack addict -- until she quit being clean. Long story. Point being, those were some dark days, but I don’t think God has ever seemed closer. In 1997, I married a cradle Catholic who had been abused by Baptists as a kid.

Moved to OKC and (my job) in 1999. Grad school, M.A. in history, completed in 2004, which is when I started my blog, where I found myself regularly cussing and discussing politics and religion and matters of faith with fundamentalists, as well as others. I realized that as long as I was not active in a church, I really had no leg to stand on to make any kind of argument about the faith life, Christianity or anything else. That prepared my mind.

Hurricane Katrina prepared my heart -- it broke it for me to see all those helpless people, and it reminded me that I had lost sight of the fact that the main object of the faith life is not the salvation of ourselves but the extension of Grace, and Love, and Kindness, and Giving to others in Christ’s name.

About the same time, I saw the United Church of Christ “Bouncer” TV ad; it shows a bouncer turning people away from a traditional-looking church if they looked “different” -- make that “gay.” And I wept. And I repented of the unthinking homophobia I grew up around and inherited.

And I started attending a local Congregational church that is affiliated with the United Church of Christ. That was in 2005. In July 2006, I joined. In 2007, I volunteered for the Communications Committee. This year, I’m a deacon.

Those are the nuts and bolts!

A couple of years ago, the Lenten reading-lecture series at church was on “This I Believe,” the book and NPR program. We wrote out our own 500-word “This I Believe” essays. This was mine:

“This I Believe’

The preacher’s message was so clear I thought I could draw it. So I did.

With a dainty “lady’s” pen and pad from Mama’s purse, a huge black thing with a vicious metal snap and a hard, flat bottom with sharp corners, I drew what I heard the preacher say.

At top: “God,” just the word, with some lines for light rays around it. At bottom: A stick figure of a boy: Me. Between, another stick figure, a cross, for Jesus.

I put the cross there because the preacher said, according to the Old, Old Story, God loved us so much that he put it there: “A Savior came from Glory.”

I looked up and Mama smiled at my handiwork. As a hymn played, I stepped out into the aisle and I walked to the front, and I prayed with the preacher.

This I believe: At that moment, the spirit of Jesus, my friend, helper, Savior in ways even more mysterious to me today than then, at age 8 -– his spirit of honesty, openness, willingness, kindness, love and justice -- did, in fact, come into my heart.

Grace, Grace -- “marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, freely bestowed” -- found me, in a Southern Baptist church in a small Southern town. In that congregation I first learned my privilege and obligation as a Christian to give grace away as freely as it was given to me.

That was then. Jimmy Carter knows. Bill Moyers knows. I dare say Bill Clinton knows.

The sprit of Jesus saves.

The spirit of Jesus saved me from racism when in my teens, the Ku Klux Klan tried to resurrect. I could not square such rhetoric and meanness with the Gospel as preached at that little church.

The spirit of Jesus saved me from the mood of greed that dominated the 1980s when I was in college, a worldly spirit perfectly depicted in a familiar dorm-room poster of the era: “Poverty Sucks,” it says, over a big photo of a big man, a self-satisfied prig wearing jodhpurs, tweed jacket, sporty cap and riding boots, glass in hand, wine in an ice bucket on the bumper of a gaudy Rolls Royce.

The spirit of Jesus kept me in the 1990s, lingering, loitering it seemed at times, whispering, tickling the ears of my soul, pricking my heart, even as I went my own way in my own prodigality, wasting my substance, living riotously.

Not long ago, the spirit of Jesus wrecked a particularly stubborn cultural vestige of my upbringing, destroying my selfish, unthinking bias against same-sex orientation, as sure as he destroyed the money changers’ tables in the temple.

But, I want to be greedy. I want to waste my substance. I want to think myself better than others, black others, homosexual others, other nations' others, other religions' others. It’s natural.

There is God, me, and the spirit of Jesus, saving me from myself, when I let myself go. It’s supernatural, but really so clear you can draw it.

In a discussion later, I added:
“The only thing 'fundamentalist' in what I wrote is the setting. Very careful to use the ambiguous 'spirit of Jesus' to signify that, to be honest, I don't know whether it is the Lord God Almighty himself in the Person of the Son, or Jesus in the squishier and mystical 'where two or three of y'all get together, there I am in the midst of you' sense -- but that whichever, the point is, it TOOK that day back in '72, and my God consciousness, in the Judeo-Christian sense, has followed me around like the bowl of Creme of Wheat in that old TV spot ever since.

A few weeks ago, an atheist asked me why I am a Christian. I said:

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, irresistible.

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.

And 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.

Anyway, there’s more than you ever wanted to know. Yourself?


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