Thursday, June 30, 2005

To the editor

“The war reached our shores on September 11th, 2001,” President Bush said in his recent speech. “Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war,” he continued.

Bush can repeat that lie (and has) 10,000 times, yet it will always remain a lie. Truth does not come by way of repetition.

Shame on Bush for lying to his country. And shame on us for letting him.

It seems that the opposite of truth is not falsehood, but ease. Apparently, it is easier for Bush to lie about his invasion of Iraq and easier for us to believe it.

It is such a shame. While we've certainly had our faults as a nation, we've always had such grand ideals and hopes. Has it all been for nothing?

I expect that, in the end, the books will record the Fall of the US thusly:

“The United States of America was a once powerful nation that stood for many lofty ideals, including liberty, truth and justice. She fell quickly when the fear of outside attack led her people to support leaders with contempt for both truth and justice and only a foggy concept of the notion of liberty.”

Truly, what a shame.

End Of Days?

End Of Days
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

You know the apocalypse is coming...

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

My anabaptism

I was born a poor Southern Baptist child.

Life was never easy for me.

Just kidding. I had a great childhood, fantastic parents and a smooth religious upbringing in a church that was conservative in a traditional sort of way, but never in that more eerie, fundamentalist manner. Our family was at church at least three times a week and often more frequently than that.

I have wonderful memories of playing around that large church building. Of summer camps and youth retreats. Of adults who truly cared about me and my welfare. They were, in many ways, everything good that church can be.

(Let me pause to give a “shout out” to the good folk at Victory Memorial – the living and those gone on.)

Perhaps what I treasure most was that my teachers and mentors at Victory taught me to take the Bible seriously. And I did. And I do.

The only problem was, that as I grew up to take the Bible seriously, I came to a different theology than theirs. It was similar to Southern Baptist, but not very. I explored and read and visited. My belief system had some commonalities with Nazarenes, but not quite. Some of the Church of God communities seemed pretty cool. The Methodists had their Wesley brothers, whom I admired.

But none were quite right.

Then, one day while visiting a used book store, as I'm wont to do, I came across a title that intrigued me: Living in Christian Community, by Art Gish. As my Bible studies had introduced me to the concept of communal living (as in the early church), the title caught me eye.

I bought the book and read it with much joy and relief. Here, at last, were people who believed as I did. Gish writes in his book about the Mennonites, the Hutterites, the Bruderhofs, the other words, what I now know as anabaptist (and related) theologies. Folk with a belief in a simple lifestyle and peacemaking.

It has been almost 20 years since my happy epiphany. In the time since, I've had the great good fortune to leave the Southern Baptist church and begin attending the strange medley of faith traditions that is Jeff Street Baptist Community here in Louisville. What transcendent joy there has been in this journey!

Perhaps another time, I'll write more on this. For now, I'll just leave a link to a source on anabaptists, for those who are curious.

On anabaptists:

On Art and Peggy Gish - great folk right over in Ohio:

[sidenote: Art Gish also wrote Beyond the Rat Race as well as other material. Look for his stuff, which is often out of print.]

Monday, June 27, 2005

Balthasar Hubmaier - an early anabaptist

Balthasar Hubmaier - an early anabaptist
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Hubmaier was an influential early anabaptist who was put to death along with his wife in 1528 for heresy.

He wrote a great deal including the treatise, Concerning Heretics and Those Who Burn Them, which was in support of religious freedom (including the freedom to not be religious at all).

Saturday, June 25, 2005

A Smoky Mountain story

Our last night in the Smokies we spent in Townsend, TN. It is a vacation spot I highly recommend.

It is a small, quiet town in a wondrous setting, the antithesis of Gatlinburg. They have a fantastic little music store there (Wood-N-Strings) where we spent a good while playing various very beautiful and well-made dulcimers, guitars, fiddles and a "banjammer" - half dulcimer/half banjo. There are also opportunities to rent tubes, kayaks and various water transports to take out on the pleasant river that rambles alongside the town at a fun clip.

We ate out at a restaurant after we settled in at the hotel and the food was fine. After dinner, I made my way upstairs to the bathroom. As I was getting ready to enter, an older gentleman walked out, looked up to me and grunted in a hard-to-decipher voice, "Fullacrap. Be careful."

I paused in my response, not sure what the right answer to this comment would be. After a long second or two, I nodded and slowly said, "Thanks," not knowing what else to say.

As he walked on, I wondered how badly I needed to avail myself of the room, but decided to go on in.

After getting in and surveying my surroundings carefully, it finally occurred to me what the fella was saying - "Floor's wet. Be careful," not "fullacrap..."

Well, that made more sense.

Using questionable judgement, I related this story to my family when I got back to our dining table. We laughed and laughed - the kids especially. And Sarah kept having me repeat what I thought he said, "Say it again, Dad. Say it again." (And again home the next day. And several times since.)

I just hope I wasn't rude to the gentleman.

Things aren't always as they seem.

If only every town was this honest...

If only every town was this honest...
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Ya gotta have faith...

It happened again last night. I was biking home when some young fella with close-cropped hair pulled up beside me in his flag-draped pickup truck at a redlight and hollered out, “Why should we stop Bush?” (My bike has a bumper sticker with words to that effect).

I responded, “Because he's a war criminal and all war criminals should be stopped.”

He replied, “Oh, I guess that means that Churchill and Roosevelt were war criminals, too,” and drove away laughing and shaking his head.

I know that I'm mostly preaching to the choir, but for the occasional Iraq War supporter who might stray to my humble blog, allow me to answer a question or two.

While I'm a pacifist and generally against all wars, Churchill and Roosevelt don't fit the definition of war criminal. They never invaded another country unprovoked, as Bush and Hitler did.

It's about consistency: We don't want the Saddams and Hitlers of the world invading countries unprovoked (despite whatever reasons they might have), we shouldn't invade countries unprovoked.

As to the question of whether or not our earlier leaders were war criminals, I'd say that we have, in fact, committed war crimes in our checkered past. Certainly the targetting of two civilian centers (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) and the deliberate decimation of these cities qualifies.

It's a little thing I like to call the Golden Rule – just do unto others, ya know? It's funny that so many conservative Bible believers don't really think that the Golden Rule works on an international level. As if God has one set of rules for people and a different set of rules for governments.

Yes, we need to work on better ways to confront murderous tyrants. We just ought not become murderous tyrants ourselves in response.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A New City

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.

Revelations 21: 1

As I walked to work this morning, I had a vision. A vision of a new city. A different city.

As I walked to work and the cars growled, belched and swore their way past me, I envisioned a city with no cars – where the cars, trucks, motorcycles and even lawnmowers were all simply gone.

My initial thought was how sweet it would be to be rid of the ever-encroaching noise. Can you imagine?! I would expect the silence would be deafening, at least initially.

Where I usually heard a gritty hum along with roars, honks, skids and booming radios, there would be a blessed peace. A distinct absence of volume.

And then, as I acclimated to the new silence, I would begin to hear again all those sounds that had been subverted – the birdsongs, the wind through the trees, children playing in the distance, laughter. Down on busy, busy Main Street, I might even be able to once again hear the Ohio rolling towards the ocean!

You know, it could happen. Our oil supply is reaching its peak, and will soon spiral away to nothing.

Probably today's children, and almost certainly the next generation will live to see the end of affordable gasoline. The question is: What will we do then?

There are some who'd see the end of the gas-powered auto as a sign of the impending end of the world. Mass chaos and hysteria. The total collapse of society.

But that need not be.

As I thought about my quiet, car-free city more, I rejoiced in all the other changes that would come.

I envisioned people moving within two miles of where they work, play and worship. I saw lives designed around homes and not around autos. I saw the revival of neighborhood stores. I saw tons and tons less pavement (big cities tend to be from 25 – 50% paved).

Concrete and tar were replaced by greenery and new homes.

In a charming bit of irony, suburban folk agonized about wanting to stay in their distant enclaves but realized that they just couldn't afford to and sadly they watched the suburbs being torn down to make way for farms! The new farmland that emerged had to rely upon sustainable farming methods – not petro-fertilizers.

In yet another irony, the wealthy moved back to the cities and all those McMansions in which they'd invested so much were sold for a pittance to those less well off.

Some businesses were hurt and some disappeared altogether. The gas stations in my vision were gone, but they were replaced by locally-owned bakeries, restaurants and small businesses. In fact, in my daydream, nearly all the large multinational companies ended up losing out. They couldn't transport their products across the world affordably to stock their MegaPantries and so they just closed.

But other businesses replaced those and it was okay. Maybe we couldn't eat strawberries in December, but that only served to make them all the more sweet in June. The local couriers' trucks disappeared but they were replaced by bicycles.

Our collective health even improved thanks to all the walking that returned as a commonplace activity and the absence of so many pollutants.

In my daydream, I was making my way to work along with thousands of others – pedestrians, cyclists, those in wheelchairs and scooters in a glorious harmony of humanity. No longer separated by our cars, we struck up conversations as we walked.

One lady thanked the Lord as a sweet morning breeze blew a honeysuckle scent our way. Another gave praise to Allah as we entered the deliciously cool shade of a tree. People actually stopped to admire the piercing blue bloom of a morning chicory. The children were running safely in the streets without fear of being smashed. Our friends with asthma were able to join us in the walk to work. Toxic Air warnings were a thing of the past.

And through it all was the intricately distinct absence of the noise, threat, smoke and speed of the auto. The cars all went away and we couldn't believe we ever got along with them in the first place.

Amen and let it be.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

A somewhat modest wish

Another summer poem while I'm still catching up. More new postings to come soon, I hope.

I wish it were true:

That seeds always bloomed

That creeks never ran dry

That mosquitoes sucked nectar

That children never cried

But what would we do, then,

with all of those flowers and

With all of that water?

And if not for tears,

Could we know laughter?


I wish that mosquitoes sucked nectar.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

What I've been doing for Summer Vacation...

I've friends who've been to the Isle of Iona in Scotland, others who've told me about blackwater rafting (ask about it) in New Zealand, I've a coworker who is just returning from a vacation in Iceland! I hear and treasure their stories and feel a yearning to travel abroad a bit myself.

But then, I have weeks like these last few where I've had the good fortune to travel about my region and realize there's so much I've yet to see right here.

I've travelled through Kentucky and Tennessee a good deal lately. I went down through Booger Hollow and crossed Stinky Creek and camped for free at Pine Mountain. I drove the winding dirtrock road up to Jerusalem Ridge – where Bill Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass music, grew up. I walked out on his Ridge and looked down in to the valley below and could hear the high lonesome sound of nature that Brother Bill put to music.

I've crossed the imaginary line that divides the Bluegrass State from the Volunteer State and reveled in it all. While on vacation, we drove from Kentucky's Pine Mountain to Tennessee's Smokey Mountains and it was all so Good.

I've seen a five foot long snake quietly slide away from me to safety, spooked a skunk and breathed to tell about it, watched in awe as a deer soared over a fence and soared in spirit myself as I watched the circular flightdance of countless hawks. I've skipped rocks with my son and daughter in a tributary to the Pigeon River and slept on the ground perhaps not too far from where John Muir slept as he made his sojourn from Louisville to Florida.

And it was all so Good.

So, while I experience the yearning for travels to a distant land at times, I still have so much to see and learn and experience right here. Perhaps one day I'll be able to heed Muir's advice:

Wander a whole summer if you can. Thousands of God's blessings will search you and soak you as if you were a sponge, and the big days will go by uncounted. If you are business-tangled and so burdened by duty that only weeks can be got out of the heavy laden year, give a month at least. The time will not be taken from the sum of life. Instead of shortening, it will indefinitely lengthen it and make you truly immortal.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Smokey Mountain waterfall

Smokey Mountain waterfall
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

I'll get a post in as soon as I have a few minutes to sit and write, but for now, another pic from my recent travels.

Thursday, June 9, 2005

An Honest Cool

Okay. I'm back, sort of.

Once I finished our vacation, I had to go out of town for work.

So, until I have a chance to regroup, I'll celebrate the onslaught of Kentucky's hot and humid 90 degree weather with a pre-recorded rant, of sorts.

an honest cool

You may keep your mechanized ice wind

and your chilled illusions of comfort.

Keep your indoor, in car, in sidious summer "life"

and rest easy in your climate-controlled hell.


give me the quiet honest cool

of a sweet night breeze

at the end of a hard warm summer day.

I'll gladly take respite from the sun's rays

in the smooth gray shade

of a gracious oak.

I will celebrate the splash of a spring fed creek

and the sprinkle of children at play

and the sudden summer shower

at the end of a long august day

and I will rest my head

soft and easy

on my pillow and sleep.

cool purple bliss

cool purple bliss
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.