Monday, May 29, 2006

What's the Fuss?

I read The DaVinci Code fairly early on, before there was much of an uproar. I enjoyed the read and didn't perceive it as an attack on Christianity because IT IS FICTION.

When I did start hearing about some churches and christians taking offense, I was a bit surprised because, after all, IT IS FICTION. The DaVinci Code is available in the library under the Fiction category. The writer wrote it as a piece of fiction. Therefore, what he claimed or didn't wasn't a big concern for me because, as I've noted, IT IS FICTION!

I finally went to see the movie last night and it occurred to me that there's another reason why I wasn't bothered by The DaVinci Code.

There's nothing wrong with it from a Christian point of view!

Even if every word in The DaVinci Code were true [SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVE MANAGED NOT TO KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE CONTROVERSY YET!] and Jesus did marry Mary Magdalene and fathered a child, there's nothing unbiblical or un-Christian in the thought. Yes, it's extrabiblical. Yes, it is against our understanding of Jesus as a single man. But if it were true, there's nothing in the notion that should hurt anyone's faith.

Gospel writer John himself tells us, "There are many other things that Jesus did, so many in fact that if they were all written out, I do not suppose that the world itself would hold the books that would have to be written." It could be entirely possible that this story could be one of those unwritten stories and it would do nothing - NOTHING - to invalidate the Gospel as we know it.

What such a story does is challenge our traditions, and for those with a huge investment in the traditions of the church, I suppose this story is a bit threatening. But there is nothing in this story - which, by the way IS FICTION - that ought to worry anyone's little head a single bit.

Sleep soundly church. If you're having nightmares, I'd suggest it might be a chance for you to evaluate your dependencies upon traditions, as opposed to what is actually contained within the Bible.

Mother Mary...Magdalene?

Mother Mary
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Happy Birthday, Ralph Waldo and Rachel!

Yesterday was Ralph Waldo Emerson's birthday. Tomorrow is Rachel Carson's. Great writers and thinkers ought to be remembered along with their words.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Emerson, along with Thoreau, Margaret Fuller and others made up the Transcendentalists. A description of Transcendentalism in the words of Ralph Waldo, "We will walk on our own feet; we will work with our own hands; we will speak our own minds...A nation of men will for the first time exist, because each believes himself inspired by the Divine Soul which also inspires all men."

More quotes from Emerson:

Commerce is of trivial import; love, faith, truth of character, the aspiration of man, these are sacred.

Don't be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.

Good men must not obey the laws too well.

As we grow old…the beauty steals inward.

Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Rachel Carson
Rachel Carson is sometimes called the Mother of the Modern Environmental movement, she published Silent Spring in 1962, alerting folk to the dangers of pesticides. She had an excellent way of writing about detailed and complex scientific issues in beautifully poetic language.

Some samples:

The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.

To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of year, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.

Happy Birthday Rachel and Ralph, the world is richer for their work and your works.

Police Boat on a Foggy Morning

Police Boat on a Foggy Morning
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Mary Wollstonecraft quote

Mary Wollstonecraft, author and mother of Mary Shelley (who wrote Frankenstein - one of my faves) said:

No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks.

Discuss, if you so desire.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Jeff Street String Band

Jeff Street String Band
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Today we had our annual Earth Day Hootenanny and Dinner on the Ground at church. I know, Earth Day was last month, we always have ours about a month late. It's just our way.

Check out more info at the Jeff Street blog.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Bike to Work Day!!!

Roger Cycling the Loveland Trail
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Friday is Louisville's Bike to Work Day. The weather here in Kentucky is crisp and cool and practically begs you to leave your car at home (or maybe even give it to a worthy cause) and engage the Green World outside our doors.

I leave you with Edward Abbey's words:

It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it's still here. So get out there and hunt and fish [AND BIKE - dan] and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for awhile and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space.

Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: You will outlive the bastards.

"Breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air," or at least as much of it as you're likely to find in your community.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Happy Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

To my mom, Mary and my kids' mom, Donna. What a lucky guy I am.

Happy Mothers Day!

Having seen this over at Marty's place, I thought I'd share the wealth. Julia Ward Howe, the author of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," wrote this powerful speech in the days following the Civil War (from which Mothers Day sprung as an anti-war effort!)

Great stuff, thanks Marty.


Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of fears!

Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.

We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says "Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."

Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.

Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

Julia Ward Howe
Boston, 1870

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Good Night, and Have a Pleasant Tomorrow

City Lights
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Whaddya Wanna Bet They Squander It?

Right now, with Bush's ratings flushing ever closer to the 20's%, the Dems are enjoying a significant lead in polls. From CNN:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A CNN poll released Wednesday may continue the anxiety for the GOP, showing Democrats with a 14-point advantage over Republicans among registered voters asked their preferences in this year's midterm elections.

The poll, conducted for CNN by Opinion Research Corp., found that 52 percent of respondents who were registered voters said they were leaning toward voting for a Democrat, while 38 percent said they were leaning toward a Republican.

But knowing the Democrats, they'll mumble and bumble around, fail to come up with a definitive voice that sets them apart from the Republicans, and the races this fall will be closer than they ought to be.

I still think things look bad for the Republicans - they've done so much wrong - this should be a shoo-out of the Ghastly Oligarchy Party and a shoo-in for people with new and better plans and some sense of morality and courage.

But I have my doubts.

UPDATE: With the announcement today that three telecommunication firms provided the National Security Agency with domestic telephone call records from tens of millions of Americans, and added to that the big stock market dip, I'd say there's a good chance that within a week or two, Bush will reach that 29-ish% approval rating.

UPDATE II: No sooner were the words off my fingers than Wasp Jerky points out it's true:

NEW YORK President Bush’s job approval rating has fallen to 29%, its lowest mark of his presidency, and down 6% in one month, according to a new Harris poll. And this was before Thursday's revelations about NSA phone surveillance.

Of 1,003 U.S. adults surveyed in a telephone poll, 29% think Mr. Bush is doing an “excellent or pretty good” job as president, down from 35% in April and 43% in January.

Roughly one-quarter of U.S. adults say “things in the country are going in the right direction,” while 69% say “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track.”


What do you think? Are elections going to be close this fall or will the GOP be tossed like last week's garbage?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


President Bush suggested Wednesday that he'd like to see his family's White House legacy continue, perhaps with his younger brother Jeb as the chief executive. The president said Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is well-suited for another office and would make "a great president." "I would like to see Jeb run at some point in time, but I have no idea if that's his intention or not," Bush said in an interview with Florida reporters, according to an account on the St. Petersburg Times Web site...


and that huge retching sound you hear is the sound of a billion sensible people.

Library Lincoln

Library Lincoln
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Francisco Teaching Dan to Farm

Francisco Teaching Dan to Farm
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

From my visit to Nicaragua...

Uncle Sam and Bathseba

I've been following the hand-wringing over the "immigration problem" amongst many of late. And I can recognize there is a problem of sorts. Truly, we can't accept the whole of the world in to the US, at least, I don’t think we can.

At the same time, especially as it relates to Central America, it seems to me we must own up to our part of the problem. We have pushed “Free” Trade Agreements with our neighbors to their detriment.

Yes, I know they are free nations that could have refused to sign on to any agreements we’ve offered, but we must also keep in mind that the playing ground is not level. According to a couple of sources I found, illegal immigration has increased 60-80% since NAFTA.

You see, most of our Latin American neighbors are not exactly in bargaining positions. They have little choice but to accept what treaties the US offers. And, if they don't, they will be perceived to be an upstart nation like Bolivia, Cuba or Venezuela that the US perceives as a threat. Because of their real life experience with US invasions, overthrows, coups and wars in Latin America, they know that there is a clear and present danger from the US if they don't go along with our wishes.

As I thought about this, I recalled the story from the prophet, Nathan. You may remember Nathan in the Bible, who confronted King David after David had treacherously killed a faithful leader in his army so that David might take his wife, Bathsheba – adding her to his vast harem. Nathan approached the haughty and mighty king, saying:

Judge this case for me! In a certain town there were two men, one rich, the other poor.

The rich man had flocks and herds in great numbers.

But the poor man had nothing at all except one little ewe lamb that he had bought. He nourished her, and she grew up with him and his children. She shared the little food he had and drank from his cup and slept in his bosom. She was like a daughter to him.

Now, the rich man received a visitor, but he would not take from his own flocks and herds to prepare a meal for the wayfarer who had come to him. Instead he took the poor man's ewe lamb and made a meal of it for his visitor.

What shall we do with the rich man in this story?

In our story?

What is one to do with a bully that imposes their own (perceived) best interests on others, regardless if it's in the others' best interest?

What are you to do if you are a farmer and barely making a living selling their goods at the market, when FTA's come in and US agribusinesses can sell their produce at 1/2 the price that you can afford to sell them? Sneak illegally over to the US so that you might feed your family?

I ask, as Nathan asked, what shall we do with this rich, powerful and arrogant person?

Yes, we could say to Nathan, "Well, that poor guy can just go get another lamb!" but to say that would be missing the point of the story indeed and expose on which side we have cast our allegiance.

Monday, May 1, 2006

Our Beloved Sarah

Fiddle Girl
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

This is my beloved daughter...

My wife, Donna, wrote a lovely essay for our daughter, Sarah Grace, who was baptized yesterday.

To beloved Sarah on the occasion of your baptism:

Today is a joyful day! Of all the decisions your dad and I get to make this is the one we would most want to make and the one we absolutely cannot. It’s been your decision to give your heart and this life you’ve been given to God. And we are way happy about that.

There are three pieces of advice I want to share with you. First, keep your eyes on God. You and I have a nighttime prayer, “I lie down this night with God and God will lie down with me. I lie down this night with Christ and Christ will lie down with me. I lie down this night with the Spirit and the Spirit will lie down with me. The three of my love will be lying down with me. I do not lie down with sin nor will sin or sin’s shadow lie down with me. I lie down this night with God and God will lie down with me.”

We had prayed one night and I noticed some weird light over your bed and was trying to figure out what weird reflection it was, and you said with mustard seed faith, “Oh, I know what that is. That is the eye of God watching over me.” Not only have you recognized God’s eye, but you have had your eye on God as well and it shows.

When you were 6 years old, you would pray sitting in your bed with your face upturned, not disrespecting God but like you wanted to talk turkey with a friend with whom you were well acquainted.

Second, let God lead you out of your comfort zone.

Another decision you made for yourself when you were about 4 was that socks were an abomination to God and human feet. You gave them up for Lent and all time beyond and declared the right of toes to be free-flowing and unrestricted. Other than a brief relapse when you first fell in love with the game of soccer, you were resolute in your no-sock living.

Then, Christmas before last, Ms. Peggy asked you to play the lead role of Gabriele in the Christmas pageant, but horror of horrors, she said that all angels should wear tights. I felt sure this was a complete deal-breaker, but you said you would do it. I watched you on the morning of the Christmas pageant, pull on the loosest pair of tights I could find in the city of Louisville (and that’s not easy – there’s a reason they’re called tights), with your face a mixture of resolute determination and a look that suggested you’d eaten 50 lemons for breakfast. I have to admit I didn’t have the faith that you could do it.

But you donned those tights, the halo and trumpet, and I said to your daddy, “my goodness, that girl sure does love Jesus, doesn’t she?” Now I don’t know if all angels need to wear tights, but I do know that there will be other instances where God will ask of you something that is difficult and I encourage you to take a deep breath and follow where God leads.

Third, listen for the still small voice of God that only you will hear. You know, because you stand over by the piano with us every Sunday we do the Lord’s Supper, that your brother came up with his own song echo. So, Cindy Weber would sing “Come and dine the master calleth, come and dine” (and Jordan would sing in that increasingly deep voice ”Come and dine”), “you can eat at Jesus’ table all the time” (“all the time”), he who fed the multitude turned the water into wine, to the hungry now he calleth come and dine (“come and dine”).

You began to sing it, too, and Diane Moten and I could never refrain from smiling at that echo. This last Christmas as you sang with the other kids, you heard your own echo and harmony part and sang it and made Miss Peggy cry with joy upon hearing it. It just came to you because you were attuned and listening.

That’s what being a part of this church family is all about: singing all together, even while doing your unique part. Learning from the faith journeys of others even while you find your own special path in following God. Your dad and I will fail you, you know that we already have and we are sorry about that, but you have this huge church family that loves you and will support and challenge you and encourage you, even on tough putting on tights kinds of days. Lean on them and love them and learn from them.

A day will come and I hope not soon when you’d just as soon your dad and I take an extended vacation to Mars or places far beyond. When that day comes, look to these much less annoying and good people to hold the Christ light for you in the nighttime of your fear. They will keep you afloat.

So, today, know how very joyful we are at this decision you’ve made! Know how beloved you are by God, by us, and by this faith family!