Sunday, December 31, 2006

Here's Hoping...

Cheryl Dancing
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Three and a half years ago, in March, 2003, I began to wear a black armband. It was the day of the invasion of the sovereign nation of Iraq.

I wore it to mourn the loss of US lives that began immediately and which have continued unabated. Lives lost in an immoral and ill-conceived war.

I wore it, too, to mourn the loss of innocent Iraqi lives, caught between two madmen.

But perhaps most of all, I wore it because I mourned what it meant to our nation. I was under no illusion that we are an innocent nation - no nation is. But this particular invasion seemed so far beyond the pale of morality, legality or advisability that it was particularly appalling to me.

And it wasn't just the invasion of Iraq that I grieved, but all that seemed so wrong with many of the policies that the current administration had come to represent - the arrogance, the dependence upon fossil fuels, the allegiance to corporations, the disregard for science and open debate.

I was grieving our lost way.

I wore that armband for nearly every day in the three and a half years since. A reminder. A sign. A protest.

For now, though, I have removed the armband.

Hope for a new year? Maybe. Certainly it's not an expression of belief that the Democratic shift of power will help us find our way much better. And still, the regime that orchestrated so much of what I felt wrong remains in power and unindicted.

Still too, the ideals held in esteem and the systems held in place by most of us grieve me and I don't see much hope for change without a dear cost.

Nonetheless, I'm removing the armband and will keep my hope in my family and community - hope for a better day to come.

Happy New Year...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Hospitality as Resistance

Crocus Bloom
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

In this season of get-togethers and parties, I’d like to share an excerpt of a sermon my pastor preached not long ago in a series on Hospitality. Hospitality as resistance! (There’s more of the series found here.) These comments are fitting with some of our recent conversations here.

…The Pharisees, as you may or may not remember, were one of the renewal movements of Jesus’ day. They were attempting, in a time of Roman occupation, to keep their identity as a people intact by being “holy, as God is holy,” to keep themselves separate from everyone else.

Do you remember what I said about how after the exile, some of the Jews were trying to become pure again, to regain their identity as God’s chosen people, by divorcing their foreign wives? Well, now hundreds of years later, the Pharisees are essentially doing the same thing. They are scared that they are going to be assimilated into the Roman culture, scared that they are going to disappear. How do you fight that? You stay separate from everybody else. Kind of like some of our fundamentalist Christian sisters and brothers today.

And so practically, what that meant for the Pharisees (and for some of our fundamentalist brothers and sisters) was that their major focus had to do with the laws regarding purity. The Pharisees didn’t have the police power to enforce these rules about purity, but what they did have was the power to ostracize. If you didn’t conform to the purity rules, then you would lose your civil and religious rights… You would lose your place as a child of Abraham in the life to come (once again, similar to Christian fundamentalists, who say that if you don’t follow a certain set of rules, you’ll go to hell).

And the major tool that the Pharisees used to ostracize people was to refuse table fellowship. To share a meal with a person was an expression of acceptance; to refuse to share a meal symbolized disapproval and rejection. And so, of course, the Pharisees would not share a meal with the non-observant, or the unclean. It was their way of keeping everybody and everything in its place, including the economic structures.

By the way, when the Pharisees here say that Jesus is eating with sinners, they’re referring, not to people who have individually sinned, which is how we often use the word, but to people, who because of their status in life, because of their occupation, or because of physical differences, or because of their poverty were deemed sinners.

And so after the Pharisees criticize Jesus, saying, Why is your Teacher eating with tax collectors and sinners? Jesus responds by saying, It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: “I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,” for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

Jesus confronts the Pharisees with the fact that for all of the talk that they’re doing about making the people of Israel into a holy people, a kingdom of priests, the only ones they’re interested in are the ones who are already holy, already righteous, already paying their dues.

Jesus, on the other hand, is going after the riffraff, the sinners. Jesus is building a radical new society made up of all of God’s people, and he, of course, interprets who God’s people are in a totally different way. Jesus is painting a picture of what Israel was to be, an inclusive community reflecting God’s compassion, a table of hospitality, where everyone is welcome.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Out of frying pan...

Embury Methodist Church
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Before I got otherwise engaged with holiday happenin's, I wanted to point out an interesting study begun over on Michael's blog on the topic of gays and Christianity.

As those of you who've been visiting here long at all probably know, I and my church (where Michael also attends) disagree with the notion that homosexuality is wrong. That is, we are fully supportive of gay marriage and healthy gay relationships, just as we are of healthy straight relationships and that we don't think the Bible disagrees.

It's not that we have gay friends and therefore we're wanting to set aside "what the Bible plainly says," but rather that we disagree with the notion that the Bible plainly says anything about loving gay relationships. We're not embracing sin, we're disagreeing with the church tradition that says homosexuality in and of itself is a sin.

While I've talked about it before here and made my case, Michael is infinitely more the biblical scholar than I am and will surely be able to defend our position better.

Be sure to check it out if you are so inclined.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Happy Holidays, Blessed Break, whatever you celebrate, I wish you well.

Thank everyone for participating (those who commented and those who just read along) in the look at Jesus' famous, practical and beautiful Sermon on the Mount. The conversations took some turns I didn't see within those passages but I reckon we're all going to read what we read into it.

I was asked by someone recently: How do you see 2007, this Christmas Eve?

The person referenced me to a column by "conservative" Dennis Prager who pointed out the difficulties facing our world and the hope to be found - said he - in embracing Traditional American Values (TM).

I thought it a good question to ponder this time of year. There certainly is a lot to be pessimistic about.

Unlike Prager, I don't think those who say they value America's
traditional values offer much to make things better. I think those who
DO value many of America's traditional values have something to offer, but we have some serious debits working against us.

We have globally lived beyond our means. Or rather, we who are wealthy have lived beyond our means and the world desires to emulate us - an impossible and undesirable dream. The world can't support 7 billion Wealthy Western (ie, over-consumptive) lifestyles.

I have some hopes that our oil will peak sooner rather than later, but
in a gradual enough way that will allow for us all to tighten our belts
and re-order our lives in a way that doesn't result in the deaths of
too many millions of people.

Hopefully, gas prices will jump up another $2 or so in the next year or
two - shocking us with the realization of how dependent we have made ourselves on a resource that is disappearing. Hopefully, this will lead to folk abandoning the personal auto en masse, abandoning Stuff imported from around the world and embrace locally produced and self-produced goods and food.

Hopefully, we have already realized the folly of trying to defeat
terrorism by embracing terrorism and that we'll start treating
terrorism as the serious crime it is (with many complex reasons and
solutions) rather than a war to wage against some other nation. We must not feed the terrorism beast as Bush's policies have done.

It is a bleak picture, if one is inclined to accept bleak.

Despite the current state of affairs, I find great hope in my God, my family, my church and community. But humanity's foolishness is a force to be contended with and I'll have to agree with Prager at least in his assessment that times are tough.

Here's hoping to a Celebration of the Prince of Peace and an honoring of his Ways. Here's hoping to a wiser new year and a new Great Awakening.

And you? How do you see the world this coming year?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Narrow Gate...

Graveyard Exit
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

“Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.

“Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.

“Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?'

“Then I will declare to them solemnly, 'I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.'

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.

“And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”

When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
Matthew 7:13-29

Monday, December 18, 2006

Pearls Before Swine

Perro y Cerdo
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

“Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.

“Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove that splinter from your eye,' while the wooden beam is in your eye?

“You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother's eye.

“Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.

Matthew 7:1-12

Friday, December 15, 2006

Consider the lilies of the field...

Field Of Gold
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.

But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.

For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.

No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat (or drink), or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?

Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?

Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin.

But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them.

If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?

So do not worry and say, 'What are we to eat?' or 'What are we to drink?' or 'What are we to wear?'

All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.

Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.
Matthew 6: 20 - 34

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

(But) take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.

When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.

But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.

But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.

Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

This is how you are to pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread;
and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors;
and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one.
If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.

When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.

But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.
Matthew 6: 1-19

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Be Perfect...

Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.'

But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.

And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.

"It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.'

But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

"Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors, 'Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow.'

But I say to you, do not swear at all; not by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is his footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.

Do not swear by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black.

Let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes,' and your 'No' mean 'No.' Anything more is from the evil one.

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.'

But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on (your) right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.

If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well.

Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.

Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'

But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.

For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same?

And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?

So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5: 27-48

Friday, December 1, 2006

Let Your Light Shine

Kentucky Sunset
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

More of Jesus' words from the Sermon on the Mount:

"You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.

"Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.

"Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.

"Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.

"Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

"I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

"You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, 'You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.'

"But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, 'Raqa,' will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, 'You fool,' will be liable to fiery Gehenna.

"Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

"Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison.

Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny..."

Matt. 5:13-26, New American Standard Bible

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Blessed are you...

Andy and Reyna
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.

"You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.

"You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for.

"You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

"You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.

"You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.

"Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble."

Matthew 5: 1-12

Sermon on the Mount

Distant Lighthouse
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

In this coming month in which Christians and many others celebrate the birth of Jesus, I thought I’d take a few days to post what is perhaps Jesus’ most well-known (and yet simultaneously unembraced?) sermons – the Sermon on the Mount. My more traditionalist blogging friend, Roger, actually made the suggestion in an email and I like this message so much, I thought I’d post it here.

A version of this appears in the books of both Luke and Matthew, I’ll use the version found in Matthew, chapters 5-7.

So as to provide a perhaps slightly different angle on the passage, I’ll be using the translation called, The Message, which attempts to put things in more modern language. It loses some of the poetry found in other versions, but it also sort of freshens things up for those who may have read this passage dozens or hundreds of times.

I will break it down into half-or-so a chapter at a time. I invite anyone to feel free to make comment along the way.

Happy Holidays, and Peace, Good Will to us all.



With two entire people complaining about my choice of versions (The Message), I'll switch over to some other translation. I'm nothing if not accomodating and I want to spend any discussion time talking about the content, not the translation.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Rules for Right Living

Paul, Greg Juggling
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Some rules for living a-right from Wendell Berry:

1. Beware the justice of Nature.
2. Understand that there can be no successful human economy apart from Nature or in defiance of Nature.
3. Understand that no amount of education can overcome the innate limits of human intelligence and responsibility. We are not smart enough or conscious enough or alert enough to work responsibly on a gigantic scale.
4. In making things always bigger and more centralized, we make them both more vulnerable in themselves and more dangerous to everything else. Learn, therefore, to prefer small-scale elegance and generosity to large-scale greed, crudity, and glamour.
5. Make a home. Help to make a community. Be loyal to what you have made.
6. Put the interest of the community first.
7. Love your neighbors--not the neighbors you pick out, but the ones you have.
8. Love this miraculous world that we did not make, that is a gift to us.
9. As far as you are able make your lives dependent upon your local place, neighborhood, and household--which thrive by care and generosity--and independent of the industrial economy, which thrives by damage.
10. Find work, if you can, that does no damage. Enjoy your work. Work well.

What do you think? What rules would you add or take away?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Faith of our Mothers...

Sophia and Susan
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Many Christians who dislike Welfare (and when they say “welfare,” they’re talking about “the gov’t redistribution of wealth towards the poor,” moreso than gov’t redistribution of wealth towards the wealthy, which is where most of our tax dollars go) like to say that gov’t providing for the poor is like stealing, which is clearly a sin. They say nowhere in the Bible can one find support for such actions.

As our church has been studying in Ruth here lately, I’m reminded of how wrong that statement is.

Ruth is a poor young widow in Israel – and a foreigner from a hated nation, to boot! But Ruth does not starve because God implemented in Israel a means of taking care of the poor. In Leviticus 19, God commands:

When you reap the harvest of your land, you are not to reap to the very edge of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You must not strip your vineyard bare or gather its fallen grapes. Leave them for the poor and the foreign resident; I am the Lord your God.

This is just one of many rules (including the Jubilee Laws) that God implements in the gov’t of Israel to make sure that the poor don’t go untended and that wealth does not accumulate in too few hands. It is a constant theme of the Old Testament, along with many rebukes when the poor go untended and oppressed and when wealth accumulates in too few hands, as seen in Jeremiah 5:

They have become fat and sleek. They have also excelled in evil matters. They have not taken up cases, such as the case of orphans, so they might prosper, and they have not defended the rights of the needy. Should I not punish them for these things? This is the Lord's declaration. Should I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?

Yowch! God’s in the business of avenging God’s Self against nations who don’t have a plan for taking care of the poor.

Now, we can disagree as to the helpfulness or hindrance of TANF or Medicare or other programs, but for Christians concerned with God’s Word, we clearly have excellent models in the Bible of gov’t assistance. And we can see that it was this very gov’t assistance that kept Ruth from starving and dying.

Ruth, who was the great-great-great-etc-grandmother of Jesus - whose birthday we are preparing to celebrate, but who may not have been born if his ancestors had been allowed to die because a nation refused to act in solidarity with the poor.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Fall Sunflowers

Sunflowers at Jeff St
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Goofy Baptists in the news, again.

The Southern Baptists have once again spent time getting right down to the heart of Christianity (he said, snarkily). This time, in North Carolina:

GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP)--The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina strengthened its membership criteria Nov. 14 to specify churches that do not support homosexuality and do not allow homosexuals to be members until they repent.


They are free, of course, to make whatever rules their little hearts desire. My question is, are they taking this approach to every sin? Will all churches who allow the greedy to be members be ex-communicated as well? How about all churches who allow those who drink alcohol? Who watch R-rated movies? Look at the bra ads in JC Penney magazines? Who are bad tippers?

As those who regularly stop by here know, I disagree with the notion that homosexuality is a sin, biblically speaking. But even assuming that they were right on this point, what is it about that particular “sin” that causes such consternation amongst some? Why single out this ONE supposed sin as a litmus test as to whether or not you can be a Southern Baptist in good standing in North Carolina?

Is it because of all the time Jesus spent rebuking gays? Oh, wait. Jesus never talked about homosexuality.

Is it because of the way that homosexuality is condemned dozens of times throughout the Bible? Oh, wait. The idea of homosexuality as a sin only appears about five times in all the Bible.

Does anyone know why some folk spend so much time, money and energy focusing on this marginally biblical offense (according to them) to the exclusion of most others?

One of a Kind

Wild Jordan
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Here's a fun little website, How Many of Me? that asks the digital question: How many people in the US share my name.

You can enter your first and last names and find out how many of you there are in the US. For instance, there are five Dan Trabues, three Donna Trabues, three Sarah Trabues and, according to this site, ZERO Jordan Trabues (my son's name). They've obviously missed at least one.

Still, it appears that he's one of a kind.

But then, I sorta knew that already about both my kids...

How many of YOU are there?

[I found this at Hipchickmamma's fine, fine website - thanks!]

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A repeat

Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

I originally blogged this poem last March, but wanted to run it again at a more seasonally appropriate time...

The Last Farmer's Ghost
dtrabue fall 2001

Haunting empty fields
of overgrown weeds,
walking the rows where corn once grew,
she moans and mourns the
lost season.

The hallow ground, now laying
fallow ground.

She died and no one was there to bury her
and so she haunts and walks
as she always has
this earth only dear to her.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Blue Skies Ahead?

Autumnal Bucolia
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

I stopped along the river this morning. A fog was lifting. Blue skies were being hinted at above.

Along the river, trees stretched their branches high, nearly clean of their golden leaves.

A new day was upon me, and a new season, too.

The debris of the previous season was carried along by the gentle river, feeding life in its passing.

New days are a good thing. They bring encouragement, hope, a chance to begin again. New seasons remind us that all things pass, the bad and the good, and that life goes on.

Is this to say that the new day is inherently better than the old?

I’d suppose that would depend entirely upon what we do with the new.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

The Bible, War and Peace, Part I

Embury Methodist Church
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

[Adapted from an earlier post of mine]

When looking at the Bible in regards to war and peace, it will be evident that there is at least an apparent leap in positions. The Old Testament seems to not blink at the use of war. Jesus, on the other hand, is consistently portrayed as peace-loving. We are commanded to love our neighbors – even the disagreeable ones! Even those who are our enemies!! We are commanded to turn the other cheek. To overcome evil with good.

The New Testament seems completely devoid of support for violence-as-solution, at least for Christians (a case can be made that waging war may be a legitimate role of gov’t). All of which points to, if not a command not to wage war, at least a teaching for Christians to not take part. To suggest that all this “love your enemy, overcome evil with good,” talk allows for sometimes killing them (and their children and neighbors) is to do damage to our language.

And so, if one is a Bible believer and wants to take the Bible seriously, then one has to consider how to reconcile this seeming chasm. Let’s begin with a look at the OT.

Early on in the OT, you have God as sole deliverer. That is, God's people were in trouble and God saved them by God’s own hand, without any military support from the people.

As in the story of the flood.

Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, "I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them...” ~Genesis 6

As in the Exodus.

[I will sing to the LORD because God has won a glorious victory; God has thrown the horse and the rider into the sea... ~Moses' song

The concept of Israel wanting to depend upon kings who will lead an army with horses and chariots (military strength) and God rebuking Israel for these desires is repeated throughout the OT.

Later in the Bible (in Joshua, Judges...), you have mixed situations of God winning the fight, but then Israel's army going in and mopping up (often killing all survivors).

As in Joshua, as in Gideon, later on, as in David and Goliath.

One might be tempted to ask, "What changed? Before God wanted to be the sole deliverer and now God is willing to let an army do some of the work? Has God changed?" And I think that is a good question to ask. More on that later.

Throughout this time (Joshua and the settling of Israel, pre-Kings), you still have God telling Israel to not have a standing army, to not have the latest in weaponry (chariots and horses). God wanted Israel to trust in God, not its military. "I gave you the victory...your swords and bows had nothing to do with it." Joshua 24

When Israel began demanding a king, like all the other nations, God was opposed to the idea, knowing rightly that it would lead to Israel's trusting in its own power and not God. Samuel warned Israel that going the King route would result in a king that drafts their sons into a chariot army, that would make their children work for the king, that would tax them to support this military and royal infrastructure, but, as we know, the people persisted and God relented.

Did God relent because it was the right thing? Clearly not.

God warns in Deuteronomy: When you do get a king..."he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the Lord has said to you, "You shall not return that way again." Neither ... shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.”

In other words, God is telling Israel not to try to get many chariots and horses for defense, but to rely upon God.

In Deuteronomy, God goes on to say that "When you are in battle, and you see chariots and horses and are outnumbered, do not fear. I will be with you."

Despite these warnings and rules, the time of the Kings in Israel was the most war-torn period of the OT. And, it seems to me, this is exactly BECAUSE Israel was trusting in an army.

And so, for those who point to the OT as a reason for supporting our military, it seems to me that they're comparing apples and oranges.

Israel, when it was most right with God, had a small volunteer army only used for special occasions when God called for it.

We have the most massive military machine on earth.

Israel did not use the latest technology available.

We are always on the cutting edge of destruction technology.

Israel was trusting in God to deliver.

We are trusting in our military and hoping that God uses our military to deliver us.

The concept of God in the OT using an army or allowing an army to kill to further God's will (as in when Israel was overtaken by the evil Assyrian army) in no way endorses us taking part in such an army.

Or, at the most, you might stretch that to say that there are certain times when God has told some to go and kill the men, women and children of a kingdom; but if we were to consider doing so, well, we better be pretty damned sure that it's God speaking.

Myself, I don't see it happening.

The Bible, War and Peace, Part II

Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

I think of Isaiah, whom God had run around naked for three years. Does that mean you and I ought to be running aroung naked? No. That was a specific occasion called for by God. But our norm should be not running around nude.

As in nudity, so in war. As Christians, our norm must be Jesus, who taught us to love our enemies, to stand up to evil but turn the other cheek.

And you know, Jesus did reinterpret the law ("You have heard it said, 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,' but I tell you to turn the other cheek...You have heard it said, 'Hate your enemies,' but I tell you: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.")

Does that mean that Jesus thought God had changed? No, but it could mean that people were wrong in their interpretation of what God had done. Or simply that Jesus had an even better teaching from God. Regardless, this is a definite change from Old to New Testament.

Maybe there would come a time where God would call us to do something (like kill) that is so completely far outside the norm of Jesus, but that would be the exception rather than the rule and even then, we must trust in God to do the delivering and not a military.

In short, I might concede the concept of an army based on the OT, but only if said military is done in an OT manner:

1. volunteer army amassed in time of crisis
2. only when God has told us to
3. without all the latest military weaponry and
4. without the HUGE drain on the budget that accompanies disobeying the first three rules

Actually, upon thinking about it, I probably would concede the concept of such an army.

Regardless, if we’re trying to reconcile the Jesus who commands us to love our enemies and overcome evil with good of the NT and the God who apparently sometimes allowed for armed forces – but always with limits and with the emphasis on relying upon God and not the military, we must consider the whole.

We can’t reject the clear meaning of Jesus’ teachings to accept the example given in the OT (where it is never commanded for us to behave in that manner).

Am I possibly incorrect in my assumptions about what the Bible says about God and Peacemaking? Sure. As are those who support war-as-solution. We’re fallible humanity and prone to get it wrong.

All the more reason to be prudent in our support of war. If we start off with the assumption that war will always be a great evil, then we will be less likely to rely upon war and truly treat it as a last resort.

Ultimately, the Bible tells us, vengeance belongs to God. If some want to view the “warrior Jesus” some people see in the book of Revelation as a significant portrayal of Jesus, I’d respond by saying that Jesus is God and God can seek vengeance wherever God pleases.

But the Jesus portrayed in the Gospels is the Jesus in whose steps we have been commanded to follow, who, “When he was insulted, he returned no insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten; instead, he handed himself over to the one who judges justly.”

These are the steps we're to follow in.

Monday, November 6, 2006

I've been to the mountaintop...

Treetop Jesse
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

This past weekend our church took part in our annual fall retreat.

Some people look forward to Halloween, others to Christmas or Easter as their favorite time of the year. Me? I look forward to our fall retreat.

With time, I'll write more about it later. For now, if you want to see the preliminary slide show, you can see it here:

2006 Jeff St Retreat

You can click on the Slideshow option at the top right of the page or you can look at the individual photos.

Hallelujah and amen!

[By the way, any Jeff Streeters who attended: If you could send me any good photos of yours, I'd be glad to add them to the collection - especially if you have any "Talent" Show shots, I missed most of those. - Dan]

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Wanna buy some prime real estate?

Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Now, as through this life I've rambled, I've seen lots of funny men.
Some will rob you with a pistol, some with a fountain pen.
Now as through this life you ramble and through this life you roam,
You'll never see an outlaw rob a family of its home. ~Woody Guthrie

Let me get this straight: Bush and the Republicans are in an uproar over recent comments John Kerry made in a joke whose point was to keep kids in school.

Bush and the majority of the Republicans in power – who have twisted truths, led us into an immoral and possibly illegal invasion of a country, in the process strengthening terrorism rather than reducing it. Who have increased Big Government, forsaken conservative values, placed corporate flacks in the roles of defenders of our environment and energy policies, engaged in a war against science and the environment.

THIS Republican leadership is upset and trying to start a national uproar about an admittedly poorly worded and executed joke whose point was to encourage kids to do well in school? Are you kidding me?!

Fortunately for us, we, the people are smart enough to recognize a desperate attempt to change the subject when we see one.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A dark poem at the end of a dark month

Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

My pastor related to me recently how a friend of the family was one of the over-100 US children killed in Iraq this month. Not to mention the hundreds of Iraqis killed there.

One would think that we might realize that, as Thomas Jefferson said, "War is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrong; and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses."

In horror of the bloodshed going on in my name, I will repeat a poem that I posted during my first month of blogging.


Shame on your god
Your arm-breaker
Your life-taker
Your freemarket witch
Your sonofabitch
Damn your god!
Who preaches war
That corporate whore
That distorts scripture
So the rich can get richer
On the backs of the poor
Taking more and more and more...

Shame on your god
Your upside down
Vulgar, hideous clown
Your backwards, inside-out
Bloodthirsty boyscout
And shame on you

We had a perfectly good God
Prince of Peace
Making a feast
For ALL God's children
Black, white, straight, gay
Preparing the Way
Good God! We had a Good God

And you killed him

You religious,
You white washed tombs,
You serpents,
You blind guides,
You gnat-straining, camel-swallowing, hellspawn-making
Blind Fools

Shame on you
And shame on your god.

And shame on us all - to the degree that we worship at this god's feet.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Blue Revolution

Gold Tree Blue Sky
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

From the Dem's website:

Comes this proposal, a call to action from a flawed party in response to an even more flawed party's seriously flawed current leadership:

When the polls close, we propose that Democrats across the country gather outside their County Election Office for a candlelight vigil to Count Every Vote, all wearing the same color: Blue.

Imagine a Blue Revolution, every bit as joyous and historic as the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, the Cedar Revolution Lebanon, the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, and the other democratic revolutions of recent years - right here in the United States of America.

Be sure to vote next week (unless you're voting for most incumbents, in which case, be sure to stay home). Time for a clean sweep, y'all. And by all means, let's keep an eye on them polls and not stand for even a bit of Dieboldery.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sour Grapes

Wild Grapes?
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

(As an aside: Anybody know what plant this is in the photo? The leaves and vine look very grape-like, but obviously, the fruit isn't grapes.)

A letter to the editor:

I must protest.

After weeks of misleading political ads from Republican Congresswoman Anne Northup, in which she distorts Democrat challenger John Yarmuth’s positions – using his words taken out of context – she’s complaining now that one of Yarmuth’s ads is taking her out of context? The Republicans seem to be doing their best to assassinate Irony!

But that’s not what has me irritated. What I want to know is why the Courier Journal considers Northup’s complaints against Yarmuth top-of-the-front-page material when she’s been doing the same thing to Yarmuth for weeks?

Northup and the Republicans in power are desperate and getting dangerous. They want to tell us NOT what they believe but rather what we ought to think the Democrats believe; and they’re doing so even if they (the Republicans) have to distort and lie to do so.

If Northup has a problem with deceptive ads, then let her lead the way to change by removing her deceptive ads and talk instead about her own positions. I’m guessing her votes and positions are nothing that will help get her elected, but at least she’d be honest.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Out of the Ashes

Burnt Sign
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

A couple of news notes:

First, I had my Yarmuth for Congress sign up three weeks ago. John Yarmuth is the Democrat running for the 3rd Congressional District here in Louisville against arch-Republican, Anne Northup. Northup has voted in support of Bush's and the Republican's policies nearly in lockstep.

In doing so, she has not represented her constituents in our progressive city and it is time for her to go. These policies are demonstrably failed policies.

Anyway, a week after having posted my Yarmuth sign, some coward came along in the dark of night and stole it. A horribly un-American action to take, but sadly not that rare. I promptly replaced the sign.

However, today upon coming home from church, I found my Yarmuth sign burned to the ground. Some fool came in to MY yard and started a fire! I've filed a police report and sent the story to the news. Hopefully, this is an isolated incident. Standing by...

Secondly, I want to announce that my church has kicked off our annual Reclaiming Christmas Project. Information about this year's project can be found at the Jeff Street blog.

The Reclaiming Christmas Project is an effort to simplify our extravagant Christmases and send support to (this year) our Muslim brothers and sisters in Morocco.

Out of the ashes of an unsustainable society, God's Kingdom can always emerge.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Welcome Home

Welcome (Clear Creek Music Festival sign)
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Return from Sabbatical

Our pastor has returned from a Sabbatical and we are overjoyed to have her back. She preached her first sermon since returning this last Sunday and knocked the ball out of the park.

She tackled the tough passage where Jesus tells his disciples "The poor, you will always have with you..." which has so often been used like a club against the poor instead of in the context of a God who sides with the poor.

Here's an excerpt:

It was cold when I woke up on Friday morning. I lay there for a few minutes in my warm bed, and I thought of the women of Tarmilat [Morocco - one place Cindy has sojourned while Sabbating], and I wondered what it was like for them to wake up on such a cold morning. Would their blankets have kept them warm, I wondered, as I imagined them cooking bread over their fires in the early morning darkness.

That led me to think of the migrants that I heard about while I was in Morocco. I had the incredible privilege of sharing a lunch with two of Karen’s best friends, David and Julie, who work with migrants in Casablanca and Rabat. They explained to me that there are currently at least 15,000 migrants from Africa in Morocco, and that there another 300,000 on the way to Morocco.

These people have fled or are fleeing from their own violence-ridden, poverty-torn countries, and they come to Morocco hoping to be able to make their way to Europe, which most often involves a very dangerous crossing of the Strait of Gibraltar. Once they get to Morocco, however, they are often robbed and beaten and worse by gangs of thugs, this has already happened, most likely, in their countries of origin, but it happens again and sometimes again, they are sometimes rounded up by government officials and transported back out of Morocco, i.e., dropped out in the desert of Algeria with no more than the shirts on the their backs.

And though the King of Morocco says that they are allowed education and health care, they are always refused both when they actually show up to get it, which is seldom, because they don’t want to be rounded up and dropped out in the desert, right? Though a family was so desperate a few weeks ago that they brought their 12 year old daughter, to the hospital twice. She was denied service both times, and died.

So David and Julie, fresh from that great grief, told me how they provide for some of the very basic needs of these families. They do intake several days a week, and then have to decide who they can help with the little that they have. We talked about the possibility of Jeff Street entering into a sister church relationship with the church in Oujda, which is on the border of Morocco and Algeria, and is the entry for the migrants into Morocco. It was Karen’s idea, and David lit up at the prospect.

For $200 a year, he said, they could buy 50 blankets or 50 jackets for the migrants. They are living out in the woods, he said, waiting for a safe time to enter the country. And you could buy them some Bibles, too, he said, explaining that many of the migrants from Nigeria beg him, beg him for Bibles. In fact, I took him about twelve to give out, and he said, ‘Oh, they will be so happy!’

And so, back to my warm bed, after I thought of the women of Tarmilat, I thought of the migrants near Oujda who need blankets and Bibles so badly.

And then, I wondered about our homeless guys here, the ones who come to our Hospitality Program every morning. Many of them sleep outside, and I wondered if they had blankets yet, if they had jackets, if they had socks.

Oh yes, the poor are all around, and we can help them anytime we want. Here, and maybe in Oujda, too, down the road a ways.

And it strikes me that this is an invitation that we, in our particular place and time in history, must not take for granted.

Amen, and welcome home.

[See video below, featuring Jeff Street folk and friends and music from last Sunday. I experienced some technical difficulties in the recording, so there are a few hiccups. With apologies. - d]

Pastor Cindy's Back!!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Woody's Roundup

Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

A poem from Woody Harrelson. Like him or not, you gotta admit he's an interesting fella, check out his website sometime:

Thoughts from Within

by Woody Harrelson

I sometimes feel like an alien creature

for which there is no earthly explanation

Sure I have human form

walking erect and opposing digits,

but my mind is upside down.

I feel like a run-on sentence

in a punctuation crazy world.

and I see the world around me

like a mad collective dream...

Morality is legislated

prisons over-populated

religion is incorporated

the profit-motive has permeated all activity

we pay our government to let us park on the street

And war is the biggest money-maker of all

we all know missile envy only comes from being small.

Politicians and prostitutes

are comfortable together

I wonder if they talk about the strange change in the weather...

Do you dare to feel responsible for every dollar you lay down

are you going to make the rich man richer

or are you going to stand your ground

You say you want a revolution

a communal evolution

to be a part of the solution

maybe I'll be seeing you around.

Here's hoping Woody wins an Oscar for his role in A Prairie Home Companion.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Father and Child Reunion

Dan and Sarah closeup
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

I'm posting this just 'cause I like it.

Also, I'll note that I've finally got around to adding Pocket Full of Mumbles to my sidebar, as well as a relative newcomer (new to me) whose page I like to visit, even though we seem to disagree: TigerHawk.

I've removed a couple of other links, not because I was unhappy with them but just because they hadn't been posting. Life gets in the way of blogging sometimes and that's a good thing.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Spirit Bear

Spirit Bear
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

We had a lovely pre-fall-peak trip to the Smokeys this last weekend. It was just a couple of days, but 'twas quite life-giving. While there, we had a chance to do a bit of nature-watching and made a few attempts at nature photography.

Unfortunately, the batteries gave out on me when we spotted the coyote (I believe it was a coyote) and the dusk was too much for my camera for the black bear and deer shots, which all came out quite fuzzy.

Instead of throwing them away, though, I just manipulated the fuzzy photos to retain a bit of a memory. This black bear bolted across the field and then the road in front of us, only 50 feet away and gave us the thrill of the weekend.

Spirit Deer

Spirit Deer
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

God Bless Them

Amish Crossing
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

In the aftermath of Monday's violence, the Amish have reached out to the family of the gunman, Charles Carl Roberts IV, 32, who committed suicide during the attack in a one-room schoolhouse.

Dwight Lefever, a Roberts family spokesman, said an Amish neighbor comforted the Roberts family hours after the shooting and extended forgiveness to them. Among Roberts' survivors are his wife and three children.

"I hope they stay around here and they'll have a lot of friends and a lot of support," said Daniel Esh, a 57-year-old Amish artist and woodworker whose three grandnephews were inside the school during the attack.

-from an AP story

Be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.

For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

Sometimes, we are overcome with confusion, not knowing what is right and what is wrong. But sometimes a child, a friend, a community takes a sweet and impossibly powerful step and we know, beyond all doubt, that this is Right and Holy.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Cormorant Stretching

Cormorant Stretching
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

I have been called,
and am often called back, to the River.

There lies something compelling in her
lapping waves and
I of necessity return to the water,
mother of our town and
feeder of our thirst.

I approach the River's edge and reach
to feel the playful bounce of her wave,
to brush its cap back on windy days
and to slide my hand over its glass
on calm.

I want nothing so much, when
My body and soul
Have had enough of this old world,
As to lie there in the shade of a kindly sycamore
And the River's gracious presence.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Mountaintop Removal
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Father Neo has put up a post asking what is the nature of evil - how is and should it be defined and who should do the defining?

I think this might generate an interesting discussion and thought I'd point people his way. The post and discussion can be found here.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Country Church

Country Church
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

NOW Will You Repent?

And turn from your wicked, wicked ways?

From the New York Times today:

A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The complete story from CNN.

This report, the National Intelligence Estimate, is the most comprehensive assessment yet of the war in Iraq and is based upon analyses from all of the US intelligence agencies. In other words, this is not more of the same stuff that so-called "liberal" and otherwise sensible folk have been saying since 2003 (when, in fact, intelligence agencies were already saying that increased support for terrorism would result in Bush's planned invasion of Iraq). This is from Bush's own intelligence people.

For most of us, it was obvious that if you invade a country unprovoked and take actions that will result in the loss of thousands of innocent lives, that you would not do anything but throw gasoline on an existing fire.

Will this be the straw that breaks the camel's back? Will the US citizenry finally say, "Ya know, this guy just doesn't know what he's doing? I'm sure he WANTS to stop terrorism - we all do - but his actions are just doing the opposite of that. He has failed miserably."?

Or will the hardcore supporters of the Bush administration write off this report from ALL of the US intelligence agencies as part of the Vast LW Conspiracy (TM)? And even if the hardcore supporters remain behind him (I don't really expect much else), will the rest of the nation finally say, No more.

Lord God, may it be so.


On a sort of related note:

"What's human sacrifice," he asked, "if not sending guys off to Iraq for no reason?"

-Mel Gibson on the Iraq War

I don't reckon Gibson will remain in the good favor of his Right-ish supporters with comments like this. The question now is, just how harsh a backlash will there be against Gibson from the Right now? I mean, he can make questionably anti-semitic comments and be forgiven, get drunk and be forgiven, but no way does he get a pass on criticizing the invasion.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Graveyard Exit

Graveyard Exit
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Jane Addams

It was 75 years ago that Jane Addams was the co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize – the first American woman to win the prize – and coming up on the 100th anniversary of the publishing of her book, Newer Ideals of Peace. She shared the Nobel with Nicholas Murray Butler for her courageous, outspoken promotion of peace during World War I – a particularly unpopular stance at the time.

She’s also known as the Mother of Modern Social Work. She is a fascinating woman worthy of reading more about. I offer a few quotes from her below.

I do not believe that women are better than men. We have not wrecked railroads, nor corrupted legislature, nor done many unholy things that men have done; but then we must remember that we have not had the chance.

For ten years I have lived in a neighborhood which is by no means criminal, and yet during last October and November we were startled by seven murders within a radius of ten blocks. A little investigation of details and motives, the accident of a personal acquaintance with two of the criminals, made it not in the least difficult to trace the murders back to the influence of war. Simple people who read of carnage and bloodshed easily receive its suggestions. Habits of self-control which have been but slowly and imperfectly acquired quickly break down under the stress.

Hundreds of poor laboring men and women are being thrown into jails and police stations because of their political beliefs. In fact, an attempt is being made to deport an entire political party.

And, this one is a favorite of mine, one that I think resounds loudly these days.

The essence of immorality is the tendency to make an exception of myself.

I encourage anyone to look up more information on this inspiring lady. You could begin with the Nobel site:

(Has anyone read her book on peacemaking?)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Ishmael and Whorled Leaves

Bike Shirt
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

The crew over at Whorled Leaves is currently reading the book, Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. Ishmael is fiction, but it's more philosophy than anything else.

The bulk of the book involves a series of socratic dialogs between the Teacher (Ishmael) and the Student. The Student has come to the Teacher because he wants to Save the World (fairly grand, that), and the Teacher wants to teach just that.

The Teacher is trying to get the Student to question the Story that we've told ourselves, the assumptions we make about how we MUST live and whether or not the Story that we've been told is a lie and if there isn't a better Story.

In other words, the book is suggesting that our ways as we've built civilization are unsustainable and that we must learn new ways or die. I found it an interesting book although I'm not sure if I accept all of Ishmael's conclusions, and suggested it to the Whorled Leaves group for a book study (we have books we read and discuss each month at WL).

I suggest you may want to visit WL and read the discussions - even get involved and offer your insight, if you'd like. About this particular book, but about all the books we read there. They never fail to be fascinating.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Fall Chives

Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

New Book on Peacemaking

David Cortright has a new book out, Nonviolence and the strategy against terrorism, which sounds very promising. As ALL of us are desirous of not engaging in war unnecessarily (and all the awful destruction that accompanies war), we owe it to ourselves to research the alternatives. If we can stop terrorism by means other than war, then surely this is a cause we can all rally around - pacifist and warrior, left and right.

An excerpt from an essay by Cortright at Sojourners:

"Bush administration officials and many political leaders in Washington view terrorism primarily through the prism of war. Kill enough militants, they believe, and the threat will go away. The opposite approach is more effective and less costly in lives. Some limited use of force to apprehend militants and destroy training camps is legitimate, but unilateral war is not. In the three years since the invasion of Iraq, the number of major terrorist incidents in the world has increased sharply. War itself is a form of terrorism. Using military force to counter terrorism is like pouring gasoline on a fire. It ignites hatred and vengeance and creates a cycle of violence that can spin out of control. A better strategy is to take away the fuel that sustains the fire. Only nonviolent methods can do that, by attempting to resolve the underlying political and social factors that give rise to armed violence."

It would seem hard to argue against such sound logic.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Banjo Feller

Banjo Feller
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

God is Out of Business?

I've incorporated some changes, whittled down a few verses (sorry, I didn't include them all, even though there was a lot of great stuff there - I was trying to keep it a manageable size) and reposted it below.

Whaddya think? I think it could still use some refining, so, feel free to make further suggestions.

God is Out of Business
(Since Walmart Set up Shop)
by committee (Daddio, Dan, Deb, Eleutheros & GreenmanTim - doesn't have the same ring as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, does it?)

1. Well Ol' Sam has passed away
But Walmart grows and grows
Economic prosperity
Except for the stores they close
And now that Sam has gone
To Heaven's golden shore
He's found the perfect location
For a brand new SuperStore (TM)

CH: Oh God is out of business
Since Walmart set up shop
St Pete just couldn't compete
Heaven was just a mom and pop
Eternity's been outsourced
There's no money in Grace
They tore down Heaven
And put a Walmart in its place

2. There've been changes up in heaven,
It's not what you've been told
Sam Walton's rearranged things
He won't be undersold.
He's gone and built a Walmart
Where the check outs all check in
And stocked with cleaning products
That will wash away your sin


3. Our Savior takes you by the hand
And leads you through the aisles
Piled high with bargain merchandise
For miles and miles and miles
Those tiles in the produce aisle
Look like they're made of gold
Right up to the Golden Arches
Where McWater-of-Life is sold.


4. There's profit now in Paradise
With Walmart running things
Your halo comes from China,
Likewise your robe and wings.
The cherubim and seraphim
They work all day for free
And Satan's got a sweatshop
where Heaven used to be.

And I thought we could squeeze in a little Hymn Singing:

In the sweet Buy and Buy
Now that Walmart's there,
you can buy and buy (Lots of stuff!)
In the sweet Buy and Buy
You can shop at the beautiful store


Sunday, September 10, 2006

What if...?

Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

I can't remember if I've mentioned it here or not, but my teenage son said it would be a fun "reality" show to find a racist or homophobe or some other troubled person, make them think they're dying, then, while they're asleep, change the room to something sorta "heavenly"-looking and when they wake up, they're told that they're dead and in heaven but it is populated by the folk they hate (ie, heaven's full of gays for the homophobe, full of Muslims - and God prefers to be called Allah! - for the religious elitist, full of unrepentant warriors to the pacifist, etc).

A little sick perhaps, but fun and educational to be sure. (How many would choose to stay, I wonder?)

In fact, that's my question of the day: What if you got to heaven and it was populated with folk that you thought no-way-in-hell would be there? Would you stay or request a transfer?

Thursday, September 7, 2006

My Church, Jeff Street

My church, Jeff Street
Original artwork by Jeff Streeter, Charlie Merrill

It occurred to me that, while I’ve talked about my faith, I’ve never really talked about my church here. That’s a shame because I have the privilege of attending a truly fantastic church.

I probably hesitate because I’m not of that school of Christianity that actively proselytizes, trying to recruit folk in to the dipping pond. For us, sharing the Good News has a lot more to do with actual good news than any particular brand of religion.

We’ve been attending Jeff Street Baptist Community at Liberty for ten years now. We are a different sort of church.

Jeff Street, cont'd...

Kids In Leaves
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

We’re nominally Baptists but rejected by the Southern Baptists. We’ve been called the Church of the Last Resort by those ready to leave the established church altogether. We’re a rowdy and fun-loving collection of (often recovering) Baptists, Catholics, Presbyterians, Anabaptists and probably not a few Others.

We’re a Peace Church. We’re an Open and Affirming Church. We’ve the greatest preacher – Pastor Cindy – in Louisville, in Kentucky (so far as I know), and quite likely, in all of these United States of America.

We’re urban and gritty in our location and commitments but rural and free in spirit. We were formed by a reformed riverboat gambler and murderer in the 1800s as a mission with and to the outcasts of society and have remained much the same through our history.

Jeff Street, cont'd...

Men In Tights
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

We are (or have been) the home of the Urban Goatwalker, the Grueling Toadsuckers (aka the Sabbath Economics group), the Jeff Street Left-leaning Men’s Ballet Club (aka, the Men in Tights), the Endangered Animals Club, Firedoor Man, Captain Mellow, Cindy the Hoer, Father Roberto, the Peacemakers Group, the Women’s Spirituality Group, the Reclaiming Christmas Project, storytellers, singers, cyclists, salty saints, poets, prophets, priests, rabble rousers and troublemakers of all shapes and sizes.

That is who we are in a very big nutshell (and I’d love to tell you the story of some of those names and titles sometime…)

Perhaps, most of all, I love my church because we love each other. We’re not always in agreement on every topic (we retain too many Baptists to be that), but we get along famously just the same. We have fun together. We mourn together. We do great stuff together. For instance:

Each fall, we have a church retreat where we play games, pray, sing and have silly skits together.

Jeff Street, cont'd...

So Happy Together
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Each spring, we have an Earth Day service where we thank God for this blessed creation and challenge one another to be true stewards thereof.

Each Christmas, we celebrate the Reclaiming Christmas Project, in which we encourage one another and family to not give to us – because we have so much already – but rather give to a project to build a well in Nicaragua, or help teach shepherds in Morocco to read, or some similar project.

Each month we host the Urban Goatwalker, a coffeehouse for all, but especially for our homeless and mentally-challenged friends who don’t often get to be out at a restaurant enjoying coffee and snacks and listening to (and performing) live music and poetry.

Each Easter morning, we party like a buncha loons.

Jeff Street, cont'd...

Easter 2003 Celebration
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

In addition to the regular holidays, we also like to celebrate Turn Off Your TV week, Buy Nothing Day, Bicycle Month and enjoy at least a few potlucks during the year. What other church would have Supertramp and Abba quoted in sermons? Or sing Yellow Submarine as an invitational? Or Blow Up Your TV as special music?

We regularly do stuff together in small groups – eating lunch or dinner, going to see a midnight showing of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, going to concerts or dances or having our own stringed hootenannies.