Friday, June 15, 2018

What Does it Profit a Man if He Gains the Whole World?

RE: The suggestion that Trump has "lost money" as a result of becoming president (because his very shady numbers are reportedly less in 2017 than in 2016, says Forbes)...

That is one way of looking at it. Another - I think more accurate - way of looking at it is that ALL other presidents divested themselves from their businesses. Thus, all other presidents made $0 from their businesses while in office.

Trump, on the other hand, refused to divest from his businesses. As a result, he continues to make tens of millions of dollars - maybe more - from his businesses.

He does so largely in secret and with unnamed, offshore accounts so we don't even know who he is doing business with. He is the least transparent of presidents. And so we do not really know the state of his financial affairs... who is making money with him from him and who he's making money with and from.


Regardless, making FEWER tens of millions of dollars is not a sign that one has not profited from the presidency. His money is complex. It involves his income, but also his outgo (in settling lawsuits and paying off bribes and mistresses and other more shady dealings... also, how much of his supposed loss is due to his own damned incompetency, cheating, lying and payoffs? Becoming president may have nothing to do with any losses, other than the light was shining on his shady dealings more and people were maybe more likely to not cave to his bullying).

PROFITING LESS - even if it turned out to be true, and frankly, I'm dubious - is still profiting.

All other presidents' profit from their businesses? $0, because they divested.
Trump's profit? Tens(?) of millions of dollars.

"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Class and Humility VS Greed and Crudity

"Woe to those who enact evil statutes
And to those who constantly record unjust decisions,
So as to deprive the needy of justice
And rob the poor of My people of their rights,
So that widows may be their spoil
And that they may plunder the orphans.

Now what will you do in the day of punishment,
And in the devastation which will come from afar?
To whom will you flee for help?

And where will you leave your wealth?"                                         

~Prophet Isaiah

"For the love of money is the root of ALL SORTS of evil."

~St Paul

"But woe to you who are rich,
    for you have already received your comfort.

Woe to you who are well fed now,
    for you will go hungry.

Woe to you who laugh now,
    for you will mourn and weep."


"Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. 

Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 
Your gold and silver are corroded. 
Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. 

You have hoarded wealth in the last days.

Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 

You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. 
You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter."

~St James

Because Character and Justice Matter.

Because Greed Harms, Sickens and Destroys.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Free Movement is a Basic Human Liberty

Damn it! THIS.…/teen-killed-after-ice-re…/index.html

This story is why our immigration policies are immoral, criminal and an affront to human rights!
It should not be treated as a crime to move from point A to point B, especially if point A is potentially dangerous. Of course, you should move away from one place if your life or the life of your family is threatened there!

The free movement of people is a basic human right. Seeking safety in moving away from danger or threat to a safe place is a basic human right.

Our US policies are killing people, tearing apart families, terrorizing innocent, decent, hard-working people. Our policies are an affront to human rights and basic human decency. When did we become such heartless thugs, willing to send people to their deaths and stirring up fear of these darker-skinned and poorer citizens from oppressed nations to enact these immoral policies?

And, if it makes a difference to you, this is NOT a problem unique to the current president. It has been our policy way too long, Obama was doing much the same thing. It has gotten much worse under the current president, but it's not unique to him.

Let's start a movement to embrace human rights and end our terrorism and sending innocent people to their deaths.

Wake up, US! We're on the side of oppression and that ought not be.

And may God Damn our current irrational and terrorist immigration policies to hell.

Word of warning: DON'T comment on this post unless you're prepared to offer helpful changes/an end to our current deadly and anti-liberty policies and this God damned president who is making it so much worse. I will delete any xenophobic, fear-mongering, hateful, terrorist-supporting, anti-immigrant comments that attempt to defend this home-grown terroristic policy.

Fuck that shit.

Friday, June 1, 2018

All the Weird Love

They were odd and
quirky and
maladjusted and
just plain

and they enjoyed
their own damned company

within the greater tribes of
Oddballs and Misfits.

They were the moon and
All the Stars in the night sky
to each other.

And love,
and love,
and love...

Happy Anniversary!

Love you, Donna!

Monday, May 14, 2018

All Things are Made, New

To step into an early spring forest
is to step into a new world

The old life has past

and all things are made new.
And yet, no.
The old remains
and all things are made new.

Saturday, May 5, 2018


The point of this post is simply to review what the Bible does (and doesn't) say about the people of Sodom, and why specifically they were known for their wickedness, at least as recorded in the Bible. There are many (myself included, once upon a time) who have it fixed like a stone in their head that the "sin of Sodom" was homosexuality.

By reviewing the Biblical accounts that touch on Sodom, we will see that the Bible itself literally, factually, demonstrably nowhere makes this case. Rather, it is the case that traditionalists have had this opinion of it and that is what they/we read into it... oftentimes so strongly that we can not see that it is literally not there.

I'm omitting the Biblical references that merely mention the name Sodom, without any context or commentary on the nature of the people there. Instead, I'm looking only at the passages that talk about why Sodom had its evil reputation.

From the Beginning, then...

[Gen 13, no mention of details, only that they were wicked...]

The two men parted company: Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom.  Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.

[Gen 14 contains a story about a battle between various nations where Abram's nephew, Lot, was kidnapped by these other kingdoms as well as people and goods from Sodom. Abrams staged a raid and rescued Lot and others. Afterwards, the king of Sodom requested that Abram and he split the goods and people rescued. Abram responded that he'd only take what was his, that he didn't want anything from Sodom. But that's all that's stated.]

[Gen 18 is the story of Abram pleading for the sake of Sodom, because there are at least a few decent people living there... God reports that God is going to check out Sodom, to see if they're really as bad as rumored (interesting aside: the omnipotent God doesn't appear to know how bad they are, taken literally). Again, literally no specifics about the "sins of Sodom..."]

Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

[Gen 19, the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. We find that Lot is living in Sodom and is visited by "messengers" who are supposed to be angels from God. In the story, the "men of Sodom" surround Lot's house...]

Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

“Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.

But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door.

[That passage above, Gen 19, is the one people cite when they think about Sodom being destroyed because of homosexuality, or "homosexual behavior," some people will distinguish. But look at it, there is literally NO mention of homosexuality. Instead, what you see is an attempted gang rape.

And indeed, gang rape is bad, wicked, wrong, no doubt. But, gang rape is not an indictment on sexuality itself. Consider (and, if you're going to comment here, answer this question): IF you read a text that talks about the evil of rape, male on female... do you recognize that as an indictment on heterosexuality? Would you say of that text, "Clearly then, we see that heterosexuality is being condemned in that passage..."?

No, of course you wouldn't. No one should, anyway. Recognizing the evil of rape is not at all to say that, "and thus, sexuality is itself evil..." That would be an exactly wrong and awful conclusion to reach.

So, no reasonable person can say, "Because this story contains a reference to an attempted male-on-male gang rape, that is clearly saying that Sodom was destroyed, at least in part, due to homosexuality." That conclusion simply can NOT rise out of that passage. That is an example of reading INTO the passage something that is literally not there.

So, so far, we have seen that Sodom was considered evil, but with no direct references to what they did there that made them evil. NOW, we can see that at least one thing that made them evil was that they were all ("all the men [and boys] of the city of Sodom") willing to engage in gang rape. The story so far does not SAY that is why Sodom was destroyed, but the destruction comes following that and, I think most reasonable people will agree that gang rape IS an evil thing.]

[The next few references to Sodom are all more or less like this passage from Isaiah 1, where it is a general comparison of bad nations to the evil nation of Sodom. These point out that Sodom was bad, but does not go into details...]

Unless the Lord Almighty
    had left us some survivors,
we would have become like Sodom...

[...or this one, in Isaiah 3, that alludes to arrogance and obviousness of their sin, but not to specifics...]

Jerusalem staggers,
    Judah is falling;
their words and deeds are against the Lord,
    defying his glorious presence.
The look on their faces testifies against them;
    they parade their sin like Sodom;
    they do not hide it.
Woe to them!
    They have brought disaster upon themselves.

[Then, in Ezekiel 16, we have something that is more specific that explains WHY Sodom was evil and destroyed...]

our older sister was Samaria, who lived to the north of you with her daughters; and your younger sister, who lived to the south of you with her daughters, was Sodom. You not only followed their ways and copied their detestable practices, but in all your ways you soon became more depraved than they. As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done.

“‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: 
She and her daughters were arrogant, 
overfed and 
they did not help the poor and needy. 
They were haughty and did detestable things before me. 

Therefore I did away with them as you have seen. Samaria did not commit half the sins you did. You have done more detestable things than they, and have made your sisters seem righteous by all these things you have done. Bear your disgrace, for you have furnished some justification for your sisters. Because your sins were more vile than theirs, they appear more righteous than you. So then, be ashamed and bear your disgrace, for you have made your sisters appear righteous.

[And so, HERE we have some specifics and, lo and behold, not once is "homosexuality" or "homosexual behavior" mentioned. Not one time.

Now, there are vague references to doing "detestable things" and one could GUESS that MAYBE it was a reference to "homosexual behavior," but it is literally not there. That would be a guess from out of the blue. Like, "It says "detestable things..." that MUST be talking about twerking and doing the salsa!" would be a guess from out of the blue, not based upon the text, but, well, not based on anything, just a wild guess.

Clearly, the sins that lead that list are at least relatively clear: Being wealthy and, in that wealth, being overfed and unconcerned with the poor and needy. THAT is a pretty specific explanation of what brought about Sodom's downfall literally from the text.

Guesses about "maybe it's speaking of 'homosexual behaviors...'" are just that, wild guesses, NOT from the text, but from prejudice and traditions.]

[Beyond that, the rest of the Sodom references in the Bible are of the sort that were general warnings, "Be careful or you'll end up destroyed like Sodom..." with no specifics. There IS one verse in the NT that is in that vein, but offers something more specific. From Jude 1...]

 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns 
gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion.

[Here, we have a reference to "sexual immorality and perversion," that at least COULD be referencing homosexual behavior, if you wanted to make that guess. But it could be referencing gang rapes (which we know had been attempted). It could be just general licentiousness. It could be using children for sexual purposes, which we know was a problem in these areas in these times. It could have been many things and there is literally NOTHING in the text that suggests it should be interpreted as "homosexual behaviors."

And that is the point of this post, that and no more. That the traditional hunches that 'the sin of Sodom" included - or were mainly - related to "gay behavior" is literally not found in the Bible. It just isn't there. At all. Not hinted at. Not alluded to. Certainly not clearly affirmed.

Those who embrace that human hunch do so because of tradition, NOT because of the text, because the text clearly, literally does not contain that suggestion.

I will just note that, as I have said in the past, it was THIS realization - that no matter how strongly I believed that "the sin of Sodom" was/included "homosexual behavior," it's simply not there in the text of the Bible - it was that realization that began me down the road to changing my position on homosexuality and Christianity, from the more traditional one to what I hold to now.]

Monday, April 30, 2018

There Will Be Teeth in the Grass

"And when you give me your clothes
And when we're lovers at last
Fresh air, perfume in your nose
There will be teeth in the grass

And when you give me your house
When we're all brothers at last
There will be food in our mouths
There will be teeth in the grass

And when there's nothing to want
When we're all brilliant and fast
When all tomorrows are gone
There will be teeth in the grass..."

~Sam Beam


"Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!
    Why would you have the day of the Lord?
It is darkness, and not light,
    as if a man fled from a lion,
    and a bear met him,

or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall,
    and a serpent bit him.

Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light,
    and gloom with no brightness in it?

I hate, I despise your feasts,
    and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.

Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
    I will not accept them;
and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,
    I will not look upon them.

Take away from me the noise of your songs;
    to the melody of your harps I will not listen.

But let justice roll down like waters,
    and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."

~The Prophet Amos

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Not Impossible

She placed the stars in the sky each night 
as the sun set low and red
"I used to think it was impossible
but now I know better," she said.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Word of God (Can Not Be Contained)

The Word of God is not contained!

Reasonably speaking (if one accepts the notion of a God), the Word of God is that which God says, that which God thinks, that which God wants.

Many conflate “the Bible” with God's Word, because we've used that term as a title for the Bible over the years. But the Bible doesn't call “the Bible” God's Word, nor has God. That's just our tradition.

Which is fine as long as we don't forget that the tradition does not need to be taken literally.

What IS God's Word then? Seems to me that IF one believes in a Good and Gracious God, a God who is defined as Love, then God's Word is ALL that is good and true and pure and loving. As we find in the Bible where the author of Philippians writes...

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true,
whatever is noble,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable -
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -
think about such things.

~The Apostle Paul (probably – Philippians 4)

IF one accepts a Good, Loving God, then ALL that is good and loving (just, pure, kind, compassionate, helpful, brave, unwavering, etc) is of God. That which is hateful and cruel is NOT of God.

And IF all that is good and loving is of God, then it stands to reason that all those words that promote that which is Good and Loving are at least passing on themes of God's Word, God's Will... if not God's Word outright.

In the CS Lewis book in the Narnia series, The Last Battle, the Calormenes are a (crudely drawn) Muslim-like people who worship Tash. This is a clearly false and evil god in the book. One of the Calormene citizens, Emeth, has been a devout follower of Tash all his days. Near the end, he meets Aslan. This is the story of that meeting...

There came to meet me a great Lion... then I fell at his feet and thought, “Surely this is the hour of death, for the lion will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him...”

But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, “Son thou art welcome.”

But I said, “Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine, but the servant of Tash.”

He answered, “Child, all the service thou has done to Tash I account as service done to me...
no service which is vile can be done to me and
none which is not vile can be done to him.

Emeth replied, “Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days.”

“Beloved,” said the glorious One, “unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly, for all find what they truly seek.”

~CS Lewis

The Word of God, or so it seems to me.

Scripture points to Jesus, not the other way around...
the point of Scripture is not to lead us back to Scripture.
The point of Scripture is to lead us to Jesus Christ.

~Rachel Held Evans

The Word of God, or so it seems to me.

Take someone who doesn’t keep score,
who’s not looking to be richer,
or afraid of losing,
who has not the slightest interest even in his own personality:
he’s free...

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise, so I am changing myself...

Very little grows on jagged rock. Be ground.
Be crumbled, so wild flowers will come up where you are...


The Word of God, or so it seems to me.

You do not have to sit outside in the dark.
If, however, you want to look at the stars,
you will find that darkness is necessary.
But the stars neither require nor demand it...

The way we live our days,
is the way we live our lives...
~Annie Dillard

The Word of God, or so it seems to me.

I feel safe in the midst of my enemies,
for the truth is all powerful and will prevail...

Life is a hard battle anyway.
If we laugh and sing a little as we fight the good fight of freedom,
it makes it all go easier.
I will not allow my life's light to be determined by the darkness around me...

Religion without humanity is very poor human stuff.

~Sojourner Truth

The Word of God, or so it seems to me.

...As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go.

Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection..

Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you...

Whether we and our politicians know it or not,
Nature is party to all our deals and decisions,
and she has more votes,
a longer memory,
and a sterner sense of justice than we do...

Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of supply and demand;
it is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy...

~Wendell Berry

The Word of God, or so it seems to me.

The wind blows wherever it pleases.
You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.
So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

~Jesus (John 3)

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me
will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these.

~Jesus (John 14)

Jesus did many other things as well.
If every one of them were written down,
I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

~John 21

The Word of God, or so it seems to me.

And the Word of God is not – CAN not be contained.

Thanks be to God.

Friday, April 6, 2018

You Know Who Hated Immigrants? The "Sodomites."

I've been doing a little reading in the Bible about Immigrants/Foreigners/Strangers. As hopefully we all know by now, the term is used frequently in the Bible, almost always in defense of those sojourning in a nation not their own. We see “alien” often listed with widows and orphans as people who we should be especially welcoming to and supporting of. And why was this? Because then, as now, the widowed (often, the poor woman with limited resources), the orphaned (those with no familial support) and the foreigner were all people with limited support and prone to being maligned and abused and taken advantage of, especially in a culture where support was almost exclusively linked to family.

I'll probably be posting more eventually, but wanted to share one new insight I had today...

Interestingly, I found that the very first appearance of the word, alien is the Lot story (Genesis 19), where the “all the men” of Sodom (recall that town?) were angry at Lot for welcoming in strangers (very strange, they were considered angels in the story, so VERY foreign...) and for being “judge-y...” You see, they wanted to gang rape the visitors and Lot dared to refuse to remove his protection from the visitors.

The word, “alien,” is used in this story by the men of Sodom as a sneering epithet towards Lot (“...this OUTSIDER comes and acts all self-righteous!...”) as the outsider being all moral and defending the angel/visitors (also, very much “aliens” or sojourners).

This use of “alien” as an epithet, is very much the same way that our current administration and the anti-”illegals” crowd uses “immigrants” and “Mexicans” and other “outsider” words as an epithet, to suggest that being an immigrant is akin to being a monster, a rapist, a threat.

So, in this first use of the word “alien” in the Bible, we see its embrace as an epithet by some of the people who are now-famous for being evil. And, as we see later in the Bible (Ezekiel), the Sodomites were NOT known for being evil for “being gay” (contrary to popular wisdom,) but for refusing hospitality to strangers/immigrants/foreigners.

Of course, good, reasonable, moral people should - in contrast to these evil ones - embrace the outsider and the immigrant – especially those merely seeking safety and refuge – because, as God often reminds the people of Israel, “YOU, too, were once aliens, and mistreated... don't do that!”

Monday, April 2, 2018

Some of Jesus' Teachings, This Easter Week

Jesus, at the beginning of his ministry, explained what his mission was...

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because God has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
God has sent me
to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and
recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free..."

And when John the Baptist asked Jesus if he was "the One," Jesus said...

"Go and tell John what you hear and see:
The blind receive their sight
and the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear,
and the dead are raised up,
and the poor have
good news preached to them."

And when he was teaching a lesson to a wealthy man who'd invited him to dinner, Jesus said...

"When you give a dinner or a banquet,
do not invite your friends or your brothers
or your relatives or rich neighbors,
lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid.
when you give a feast,
invite the poor, the sick, the lame, the blind,
and you will be blessed..."

When the rich young ruler asked what he needed to do in order to be saved, Jesus said...

"If you want to be perfect, go,
sell your possessions
and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven.

Then come, follow Me."

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, 

“Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle 
 than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

When Jesus gave his most complete recorded sermon, the sermon on the mount/plain, Jesus taught...

“Blessed are you who are poor,
    for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now,
    for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
    for you will laugh.

Blessed are you when people hate you,
    when they exclude you and insult you
    and reject your name as evil,
        because of the Son of Man.

Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

But woe to you who are rich,
    for you have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now,
    for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
    for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
    for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets."

and Jesus continued teaching...

"Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. 
If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.
Give to everyone who asks you, and 
if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 

Do to others as you would have them do to you."

And when Jesus taught his parable about who is in the Realm of God, Jesus said...

"Come, you who are blessed by my Father; 
take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, 
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, 
I was a stranger and you invited me in,
I needed clothes and you clothed me, 
I was sick and you looked after me, 
I was in prison and you came to visit me."

And then Jesus' parable addresses those who aren't in the God's Realm and their terrible fate...

"Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 
For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, 
I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 
I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, 
I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, 
I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me."

Jesus' teachings, this week of Easter, where our current president just told us, in not so many words.

"Happy Easter, everyone... and by the way, we're NOT going to allow those DACA Dreamers to be welcomed after all! Nasty Mexicans and liberals are making me do this!"

What a way to remember the teachings and life of the one we celebrate on Easter.

And upon entering Jerusalem, following the praise and adoration of Palm Sunday, Jesus saw the vendors in the temple taking advantage of the poor in the temple (selling "approved" doves - the offering the poor gave - at a great profit, Jesus was outraged.

My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? 
But you have made it a robbersden.”

...Because of his anger at those who were taking advantage of the poor (and others).

After this event, the Bible tells us...

"The chief priests and the scribes heard this, 
and began seeking 
how to destroy Him..." 

And then, Easter.

Happy Easter, all. May we remember the teachings of the Easter God.