Friday, December 28, 2007

John Muir Quotes

Sun Behind Tree
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
For inspirational, well-wrought quotes on natural themes, it's hard to beat John Muir. He writes of nature and human nature with a poetic flourish.

I offer a few Muir quotes today, just because.


I used to envy the father of our race, dwelling as he did in contact with the newmade fields and plants of Eden; but I do so no more, because I have discovered that I also live in 'creation's dawn.' The morning stars still sing together, and the world, not yet half made, becomes more beautiful every day.


We find in the fields of Nature no place that is blank or barren; every spot on land or sea is covered with harvests, and these harvests are always ripe and ready to be gathered and no toiler is ever underpaid.


Death is a kind nurse saying, "Come, children, to bed and get up in the morning;" a gracious mother calling her children home.


Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.


There are no harsh, hard dividing lines in Nature. Glaciers blend with the snow and snow blends with the thin invisible breath of the sky. So there are no stiff, frigid, stony partition walls betwixt us and heaven. There are blendings as immeasurable and as artraccable as the edges of melting clouds.


The evening flames with purple and gold...the mighty host of trees baptized in the purple flood stand hushed and thoughtful, awaiting the sun's blessing and farewell.


...Unfortunately, MAN is in the woods, and waste and pure destruction are making rapid headway. If the importance of forests were at all understood, even from an economic standpoint, their preservation would call forth the most watchful attention of government.


In God's wildness lies the hope of the world the great fresh unblighted, unredeemed wilderness. The galling harness of civilization drops off, and the wounds heal ere we are aware.


You hear strange whisperings among the tree tops, as if the giants were taking counsel together. One after another, nodding and swaying, calling and replying, spreads the news, until all with one accord break forth into glorious song, welcoming the first grand snowstorm of the year...


To ask me whether I could endure to live without friends is absurd. It is easy enough to live out of material sight of friends, but to live without human love is impossible. Quench love, and what is left of a man's life but the folding of a few jointed bones and square inches of flesh? Who would call that life?


Go, and read some more:

Or read some of his books - that'd be a great resolution for the new

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
From the second chapter of Matthew, we are reminded that the birth of Christ was not celebrated by all...

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage."

When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.

They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: 'And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.'"

Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance.

He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage." After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.

They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.

When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him."

Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, "Out of Egypt I called my son."

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.

Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:

"A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more."

When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead."

He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel.

But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there. And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee.

He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, "He shall be called a Nazarene."

Scary, powerful, wonderful times, those were.

These are. Merry Christmas and a courageous new year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Down to Earth

Kate, Paul and Charlie
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
The video link above is to a slide show I created using photos of my 2003 trip to Nicaragua (many of the photos from my friend, Sascha, who went to Nicaragua along with me) along with a snippet from a song, I Cannot Sleep.

I Cannot Sleep is a song available on a new CD by my friends Paul and Kate. Paul and Kate are the folk duo, Down to Earth and this song is from their debut album, Fiercer Love. I highly encourage anyone who likes this snippet - or folk music in general - to check out their website,

Paul and Kate are a husband/wife team - Louisville musicians who've been singing together for ~15 years (and who we enjoy hearing from regularly at our church). They are a folk group playing the best of music, accompanying themselves on guitar, hammered dulcimer, congas, harmonica and an occasional bowed psaltery and maybe even a nose whistle?!

The album, Fiercer Love features several of Paul and Kate's own beautiful songs - from Kate's ethereal version of Mary's Magnificat to Paul's compelling page of family history retold in Old Reliable, among others.

The album also features songs by Bruce Springsteen (a haunting version of The Ghost of Tom Joad) and Garnet Rogers, among others. Each of the songs on the album speaks in one way or another about social justice, of good news for the poor, liberation for the captive and does so with perfect harmonies and fantastic instrumentation.

In addition to Paul and Kate's music-smithing, the album features some extra musical work from well-known local musicians Tim Krekel (who formerly played with Jimmy Buffett) and Brigid Kaelin, an up and coming singer-songwriter herself (and my daughter's piano teacher!).

I highly recommend the album - if you like acoustic music with a conscience, you should check them out at

Friday, December 14, 2007

Winter Bicycling

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
I'm posting this one more for the folk in the midwest and northeast, as we're not experiencing any winter weather here in Louisville just yet.

In fact, here in Louisville, it's pretty easy to get around on foot or on bike year round. We have VERY few icy road days. So, I'm posting a nice little excerpt from a fella associated with the group. The author lives in Alaska and I'd reckon knows a bit about cycling in winter weather.

After 6 years of daily commuting to work on a bicycle year round I have to admit it is far more practical than even I would have thought. At first I was just doing it for the exercise. But then it became obvious to me that I was having an easier time getting around than most of the drivers on days when it was really slippery.

Further, drivers always arrive at work complaining how cold it was. I would arrive warm and awake.

Drivers would rush out of work early to start their cars so they could ride home in a warm vehicle. They would then let them idle for anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour. I never idled my bike. It was always warm enough for the ride home.

Drivers would get stuck in snow. (I used to stop and help, now I just ride by and wave).

Most of all it is just plain enjoyable. The air is fresh and clear, it is usually dryer in the dead of winter which keeps your bike cleaner. Riding in falling snow is quiet and peaceful. Making the first track on a road in the morning is fun.

So there you have it. Dress appropriately, be safe and have a healthy winter. However you get around.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Bible and Economics

Gold Leaves
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
I haven't done two Bible and Economics postings in a row, but since this was the passage read and sung in church yesterday, I thought the timing was right.

As is often the case with these money and morality passages, I never noticed the economic implications growing up (it never being pointed out). And yet, there's a pretty strong message to be had here. Scary, even.

From Luke 1 - Mary's Magnificat - the song she sang when she discovered she was pregnant with Jesus:

And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for the Lord has been mindful of the humble state of this servant.

From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me--holy is God's name. God's mercy extends to those who fear the Lord, from generation to generation.

God has performed mighty deeds with God's arm; The Lord has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.

God has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.

God has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.

God has helped God's servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants for ever, even as God said to our parents."

As my pastor said in her sermon yesterday, if most of us deal with the "rich" part of this passage at all, we tend to spiritualize it. "Oh, Mary didn't REALLY mean that God sends away the rich empty - she must be speaking of those who put their faith in riches. Or perhaps those who aren't humble. That's not a line to take literally as it seems..."

And, why wouldn't we think thusly? We are the rich, after all. Do we really think God sends us away merely because we are rich, as Mary directly says here?

For my part, I will say it again: For the person swimming for their life, letting go of that which weighs them down is not necessarily bad news... Being made empty - so that we might be filled again - why, that's Good News.

You think?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Bible and Economics

Sir Drew, the Just
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Another of the ongoing series (here, here, here, here, here and here) where we look at biblical passages that touch on economic issues, matters of poverty and wealth.

Today, we’ll look at a story told to King David by his advisor, the prophet, Nathan, in 2 Samuel.

This was just after David had treacherously killed a faithful leader (Uriah) in his army so that David might have Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba – adding her to his already vast harem of wives and concubines (sorta makes you wonder exactly when it was that David was a man after God’s own heart, as we’re told).

In 2 Samuel 12, we see Nathan approached the haughty and mighty king to confront him, 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."

In Nathan’s story, King David was clueless and outraged.

"Then David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, "As The Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity."

Nathan’s brave response (to a king who could have him killed)?

“You are that man.”

Now, I’ll admit that this story seems marginally related to wealth and poverty, since the story being told is a morality story setting up David to see his own sin. But I think it is just another example in the Bible associating great sin with great wealth and power.

David as a poor young man had been faithful to God, had learned to depend upon God. But as David became the horribly wealthy and powerful KING DAVID famed in song and story, his center of faith and morality shifted. He was able to justify all manner of naughtiness to support his licentious ways.

And that is yet another reason why I think that the consistent biblical lessons we find about wealth and poverty is not that money = bad, but rather money = a trap. For the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil.

I think the only problem with calling wealth – especially excessive wealth – “merely” a trap is that it’s all too easy to agree. “Yep. It sure is. And most folk out there ought to be careful that they aren’t consumed by consumerism. Fortunately, I’m on my guard, so a small smackerel of consumption on my part is not a bad thing. But you ought to be careful…”

A Very Simple Christmas to us all?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Payne Hollow painting, by Hubbard

Whilst visiting our friend, Green Man Tim (Walking the Berkshires), I happened upon this post, which references a Survivalist's (Constitutionalist's?) website listing 100 Items to Disappear First in a real emergency.

Given our recent and on-going conversations about Peak Oil, I thought it interesting and wanted to post a few of the top 100.

1. Generators (Good ones cost dearly. Gas storage, risky. Noisy... target of thieves; maintenance etc.)
2. Water Filters/Purifiers
3. Portable Toilets
4. Seasoned Firewood. Wood takes about 6 - 12 months to become dried, for home uses.
5. Lamp Oil, Wicks, Lamps (First Choice: Buy CLEAR oil. If scarce, stockpile ANY!)
6. Coleman Fuel. Impossible to stockpile too much.
7. Guns, Ammunition, Pepper Spray, Knives, Clubs, Bats & Slingshots.
8. Hand-can openers, & hand egg beaters, whisks.
9. Honey/Syrups/white, brown sugar
10. Rice - Beans - Wheat...

13. Water Containers (Urgent Item to obtain.)

17. Survival Guide Book...

25. Thermal underwear (Tops & Bottoms)
26. Bow saws, axes and hatchets, Wedges...

41. Flour, yeast & salt
42. Matches. {"Strike Anywhere" preferred.)...

And, of course,
53. Duct Tape


You can see the complete list at the link above. What's missing? What would be on your Survivalist list if Peak Oil (Global Warming, Water shortages, stupid presidents, name your catastrophe) causes the worst to happen?

[On a marginally related note, today's photo is of a painting by Harlan Hubbard of the Hubbard's Payne Hollow homestead.]

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Culture Wars 1, Common Sense, 0

Merry Christmas
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
In the news:

SAGINAW, Mich. -- Tightening budgets have forced Mt. Pleasant to take Christ out of their Christmas.

The traditional Dickens Christmas Festival has been re-named the Dickens Holiday Festival so the city can advertise in local schools.

In order to get more bang for their buck out of a thinning advertisement budget, the organization wants to put fliers in schools. For that to happen, the word “Christmas” had to be removed...

“We changed the name this year for the schools because we wanted to advertise in the school brochures and the schools have a list of words you can’t use like Santa, Christmas and Nativity. So did a brochure for the schools and we took those words out.”

Two things:

1. Why in the world did the school put words like Santa and Christmas on a list of words they can't use? Why in the hell do they even HAVE a list of words they can't use (allowing for not having obscenities)??

2. Why in the world does anyone care what the city calls its Holiday celebration?

On a more cheerful note, feel free to visit my church's blog - Jeff Street - to read about our Reclaiming Christmas Project this year.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas in the Trenches

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
For better and for worse, it’s that season again and the Christmas songs have begun a-playing everywhere. I thought I’d share one of my favorite new classic Christmas songs, John McCutcheon’s Christmas in the Trenches. What’s great about this story is that it is based upon a true story – a modern Christmas miracle, if you please.

McCutcheon’s music beautifully compliments this song. If you’re not familiar with it, check it out sometime. It’s a great one.

Christmas in the Trenches

My name is Francis Tolliver, I come from Liverpool.
Two years ago the war was waiting for me after school.
To Belgium and to Flanders, to Germany to here
I fought for King and country I love dear.

'Twas Christmas in the trenches, where the frost so bitter hung,
The frozen fields of France were still, no Christmas song was sung
Our families back in England were toasting us that day
Their brave and glorious lads so far away.

I was lying with my messmate on the cold and rocky ground
When across the lines of battle came a most peculiar sound
Says I, "Now listen up, me boys!" each soldier strained to hear
As one young German voice sang out so clear.

"He's singing bloody well, you know!" my partner says to me
Soon, one by one, each German voice joined in harmony
The cannons rested silent, the gas clouds rolled no more
As Christmas brought us respite from the war

As soon as they were finished and a reverent pause was spent
"God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" struck up some lads from Kent
The next they sang was "Stille Nacht." "Tis 'Silent Night'," says I
And in two tongues one song filled up that sky

“There's someone coming toward us!" the front line sentry cried
All sights were fixed on one long figure trudging from their side
His truce flag, like a Christmas star, shown on that plain so bright
As he, bravely, strode unarmed into the night

Soon one by one on either side walked into No Man's Land
With neither gun nor bayonet we met there hand to hand
We shared some secret brandy and we wished each other well
And in a flare-lit soccer game we gave 'em hell

We traded chocolates, cigarettes, and photographs from home
These sons and fathers far away from families of their own
Young Sanders played his squeezebox and they had a violin
This curious and unlikely band of men

Soon daylight stole upon us and France was France once more
With sad farewells we each prepared to settle back to war
But the question haunted every heart that lived that wonderous night
"Whose family have I fixed within my sights?"

'Twas Christmas in the trenches where the frost, so bitter hung
The frozen fields of France were warmed as songs of peace were sung
For the walls they'd kept between us to exact the work of war
Had been crumbled and were gone forevermore

My name is Francis Tolliver, in Liverpool I dwell
Each Christmas come since World War I, I've learned its lessons well
That the ones who call the shots won't be among the dead and lame
And on each end of the rifle we're the same

How about it? You have a favorite Christmas song?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

fall Leaves 2
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
...if a little late.

Been a bit busy holiday-ing. Fall has peaked and gone on by already. The trees that were beautifully afire two weeks ago have mostly lost their leaves and we've mostly moved to the more austere beauty of winter in these parts.

The drought in my region somehow failed to stop the trees from showing their fall colors. We had a decent amount of rain this fall so perhaps that helped.

A couple of seasonal quotes, and then we'll move on.

I sit beside the fire and think
of all that I have seen,
of meadow-flowers and butterflies
in summers that have been;
Of yellow leaves and gossamer
in autumns that there were,
with morning mist and silver sun
and wind upon my hair.

~J. R. R. Tolkien

The breezes taste Of apple peel.
The air is full Of smells to feel-
Ripe fruit, old footballs,
Burning brush
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.
The bee, his hive,
Well-honeyed hum,
And Mother cuts Chrysanthemums.
Like plates washed clean with suds, the days
Are polished with a morning haze.

~September, John Updike

Monday, November 19, 2007

Tear Down That Interstate!

Hubbard Painting
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Submitted 11/19/2007

Here in Louisville, we have been trying for a few years to get a couple of new bridges built: One spanning the Ohio downtown and one further east. At a cost of a few billion dollars, of course.

The reasoning being is that we have more traffic load than our roads can bear. But, as I’ve heard noted before, trying to solve traffic problems by building more roads (and bridges) is like trying to solve obesity issues by buying a larger belt.

There is a local group here who have encouraged the exact opposite (sort of). The 86-64 campaign has been encouraging city leaders to consider actually removing Interstate 64 which runs along the Ohio – cutting off downtown Louisville from the river which birthed us.

They’ve suggested this partially – but not solely – for aesthetic reasons. The Build More Bridges crowd would have us increasing the size of the monster that keeps us from the river, making a bad problem worse. Naturally, the supporters of the Build More Bridges solution loathe the 86-64 people, who are threatening their bridge solution.

In today’s local paper, the Bridges people wrote a letter criticizing the 86-64 people. They said that getting rid of I-64 downtown threatens our economy and, besides, this was already decided four years ago. I responded to their letter:

I'm writing in response to the “Build the Bridges” letter in today's paper. They suggested that getting rid of I-64 downtown "would eradicate any chance of having any bridge built for the foreseeable future, effectively jeopardizing our region's economic vitality."

He went on to note that this has already been decided, back in 2003.

What they fail to take into account is that gas prices have more than doubled since 2003. Experts from many fields are telling us that we are peaking out on our available affordable oil.

In the coming decades, we will no longer have access to cheap oil. With oil supplies diminishing, we will simply not be able to drive as we've done the last few decades.

Those who support continuing with the assumption that we WILL continue to get around as always are not facing this new reality. Short of any evidence of new fuel supplies (in the amazing quantity and cheap price that we've had with oil), it would behoove us to begin planning for new means of transportation.

The Bridges Coalition suggested that the 8664 plan will "derail progress." But planning our future on last century’s solutions is the surest way to derail progress.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Originally uploaded by paynehollow
We've begun, at church, to study Ched Myers' Sabbath Economics. It is a great little booklet (~70 pages) - in fact, it's the second time that we've studied it! - that walks you through what the Bible has to say on money matters.

I will probably make a few comments on our study here as we proceed through it. Myers' introduction begins by suggesting that "economic and social justice is woven into the warp and weft of the Bible. Pull this strand, and the fabric unravels."

He describes the consistent biblical themes on economics, "Sabbath Economics," and begins by saying that the Bible's views on economics can be summarized in three axioms:

1. The world as created by God is abundant, with enough for everyone - provided that human communities restrain their appetites and live within limits;

2. Disparities in wealth and power are not "natural" but the result of human sin, and must be mitigated within the community of faith through the regular practice of redistribution;

3. The prophetic message calls people to the practice of such redistribution, and is thus characterized as "good news" to the poor.

And before anyone gets their knickers twisted, Myers has not said anything in the above about government redistribution of wealth. Just pointing to the reality that in the Sabbath Laws, in the Jubilee laws and in the example of the early church, a sharing and redistribution were all commonalities.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Oh, no, you di'n't!

Sassy Girls
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
My pal, Roger - a friend from church - had some good commentary at the end of our last long dicussion about how we read the Bible and, since it was there at the tail end, I thought I'd stoke the fire and post it here for consideration.

The gist of the point for the faithful folk from my church and in our tradition is that we take the Bible literally enough that we don't accept the additional teachings some are attempting to tie to Christianity. They may sometimes be reasonable additions, but our point here has just been that some are asking us to believe things that the Bible doesn't ask us to believe, and we are hesitant to do so. We're literalists, in that regard.

And, I suppose an additional point for us is that, just because we don't interpret the Bible the same way as others do sometimes, does NOT mean that we reject the Bible, reject God's authority or anything like that. There's a difference between having a difference of opinion on interpretation and rejection of God's Word.

It would seem to be rejecting God's Word only if you conflate your take on the Bible with God's Word. Poor idea, that.

Roger's comments:

Bubba you wrote, “When Jesus cited Scripture, He said, 'It is written,' as if it that is the final word on the subject, not as if it were some merely human work, but as if every passage was revealed by God Himself.”

If I'm not mistaken, earlier you suggested that this phrase was used to identify written scripture and the phrase, “You have heard that it was said,” was used to identify an oral tradition familiar to Jesus' hearers. You have made some very detailed arguments, so I offer my apologies if I've botched the details.

I'd like to suggest two possible different interpretations here.

One is that instead of differentiating between degrees of authority of the teaching that was to follow, these phrases were used to identify the sources of what he was going to use. If this is true, interpreting the passage to imply that it is the final word revealed by God Himself would be adding meaning that may not be there.

I don't have as much problem with the “revealed by God” part, though as I do with the “final word” part.

Which brings me to my second suggestion. Jesus seems to give a different "final word" in the in the Sermon on the Mount.

Just before he begins to use the “you have heard that it was said to the people long ago,” Jesus says,

“Do not think I have come to abolish the law and the prophets. I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of the pen will by any means disappear from the law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
~Matthew 5:17-20

At this point in the Sermon Jesus begins to reinterpret parts of the law and the oral tradition to present his teachings on justice and peace. I don't think Jesus is suggesting that what is written is the final word.

I believe Jesus is saying that the reason the righteousness of the Pharisees needed to be surpassed was their neglect of peace and justice. I think that the focus of every teaching that follows in the Sermon either talks about peace and justice or what it is that keeps us from doing peace and justice.

That's not to say there aren't important elements of justice and peace in the law and the prophets. There are. I'm not throwing them out. But I believe humble obedience to Jesus' teachings about all of us living in peace and justice with each other is a more important component in entering the kingdom of heaven than affirming inerrancy or infallibility to any part of the Bible.

For what its' worth....

And that commentary was followed by my equally beloved church brother, Michael's comments, who said:

The big divide doesn't seem to be, as it often appears on the surface, between those who believe the Bible and those who don't, but between those who attempt to have a "flat Bible" hermeneutic in which everything is claimed to have equal and non-contradictory authority (and, thus, Jesus is allowed to say nothing new and must be squeezed into a mold made by a certain reading of the OT apart from Jesus) and those of us, including Dan, Roger, and myself, who believe that Jesus is the final authority and the hermeneutical key to Scripture (see Heb. 1:1). All else is to be interpreted or reinterpreted and given various levels of authority based on Jesus.

And, as I have said in previous debates between Dan and Bubba, the attempt to separate the teachings of Jesus to those about him made by the NT writers is a failure--a non-starter. The higher one's Christology the more one should be careful to obey Jesus' teachings--since they are not the teaching of just any 1st C. Rabbi but of the WORD Made Flesh.


By the way, be sure to go to Michael's blog and scroll down to some of his series on The Creation - which touches very much on some of these same interpretive issues.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Foxes have Holes, Birds have Nests...

Redtail Soaring
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Support our veterans!

Unless they're homeless bums, then let them pull themselves up by their own combat bootstraps?

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- More than 25 percent of the homeless population in the United States are war veterans, although they represent only 11 percent of the civilian adult population, according to a report to be released Thursday.

On any given night last year, nearly 196,000 veterans slept on the street, in a shelter or in transitional housing, the study by the Homelessness Research Institute found.

"Veterans make up a disproportionate share of homeless people," the report said.

"This is true despite the fact that veterans are better educated, more likely to be employed and have a lower poverty rate than the general population..."

..."These findings highlight the need to provide veterans with the proper housing and supportive services to prevent homelessness from occurring in the first place," said Nan Roman, the organization's president. "If we can do that, then we can greatly reduce the number of homeless veterans in general."

Other veterans -- nearly 468,000 -- are experiencing "severe housing cost burden," or paying more than half their income for housing, thereby putting them at a high risk for homelessness.

Full story here
Birds have nests, foxes have dens
But the hope of the whole world rests
On the shoulders of a homeless man...

~Rich Mullins

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Pay Attention!

NEW YORK ( -- Oil prices set another record high Tuesday, jumping over $2 on fears of dwindling supplies in the United States, projections for strong worldwide demand and a falling U.S. dollar...

U.S. light crude for December delivery gained $2.72 to settle at $96.70 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, surpassing the previous closing high of $95.93 set Friday. Crude hit an intraday high of $97.07, surpassing the previous intraday record of $96.05, also set Friday.

Crude, already up over $2 in morning trade, rose further after the Energy Information Administration issued a report showing worldwide demand unchanged despite high prices.

EIA said the forecast for oil use growth worldwide in 2008 was unchanged at 1.5 million barrels per day. This was despite the fact prices have risen 20 percent.

The agency said world oil use would grow by 1.8 million barrels per day
in the current quarter, slightly below previous estimates due to a drop in U.S. demand.

The world currently consumes about 85.6 million barrels of oil a day.

Total U.S. petroleum consumption is expected to increase by 0.5 percent in 2007 and 1 percent in 2008, despite the higher oil and petroleum product prices. Continued economic growth and forecasted colder average temperatures this winter than last winter could combine to push demand higher.

The rising demand's impact on prices was noted.


And what does ever-growing demand (in spite of increased costs!) and a limited supply mean, my economics students? And with what shall we replace all this energy?

Pay attention to these oil and water issues and live accordingly, seems like wise advice to me.


Oil prices hit a record high of $97 a barrel on Tuesday, but the next generation of consumers could look back on that price with envy. The dire predictions of a key report on international oil supplies released Wednesday suggest that oil prices could move irreversibly over the $100 a barrel threshold in the not too distant future, as the global economy faces a serious energy shortage.

This gloomy assessment comes from the International Energy Agency, the Paris-based organization representing the 26 rich, gas-guzzling member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The agency is not known for alarmist warnings, and its World Energy Outlook is typically viewed by policy wonks as a solid indicator of global energy supplies.

In a marked change from its traditionally bland, measured tones, the IEA's 2007 report says governments need to make urgent, bold decisions on energy policy, or risk massive environmental and energy-supply crises within two decades — crises and shortages that could spark serious global conflicts.

"I am sorry to say this, but we are headed toward really bad days," IEA chief economist Fatih Birol told TIME this week.

[source ]

Conducting a Psychotropic Measurement Process

Ultimate Frisbee
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
I'm undergoing an assessment process, in an Aristotelian effort to determine the categorical logic - the syllogism, if you will - of a non-standardized measurement device upon which I've floundered in my travels and travails in the ehtereal blogosphere. It is with an integral acumen of the deficiencies of my erudition that I expurge this shibboleth upon my keyboard today.

This has been an assessment device - if it had been a substantive exigency, you would have been handed an onomasticon or its pedantic equivelent. This has only been an assessment device.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Jeff Street 2007 Retreat

My church, Jeff Street just had our annual retreat this last weekend, where we danced and laughed and prayed and sang and were not a little bit silly. It was perhaps the most beautiful weekend we've ever had for one of these - the trees were at their peak of color and, drought or no, they were beautiful, as was the weather and the company.

Feel free to stop by the church blog to see some of the photos.

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth, who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!

From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength because of Your adversaries, to make the enemy and the revengeful cease.

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what are we that You take thought of us, and our children that You care for them?

Yet You have made us a little lower than God, and You crown us with glory and majesty!

You make us to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under our feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, whatever passes through the paths of the seas.

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!

~Psalm 8

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Where's Solomon when you need him?

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Three Southeastern governors who are in Washington to lobby for water rights amid a potentially catastrophic drought are likely to put the Bush administration on the spot.

If the administration decides to bolster Georgia's drinking supply,
Alabama and Florida may claim it's crippling their economies to satisfy uncontrolled growth around Atlanta. If it continues releasing water downstream to Alabama and Florida, Georgia could argue that one of the nation's largest cities is being hung out to dry...

At issue is how much water the Army Corps of Engineers should capture in federal reservoirs near the head of two river basins in north
Georgia that flow south into Florida and Alabama.

So, exercise some Solomon-like wisdom. To whom does the water belong? Who has priority and why?

How do we decide matters such as this equitably? How does an unfettered market resolve it? How does a Republic with elected representatives handle it?

What do the small gov't types think of this?

I would imagine, if there were no regulations (ie, totally free market)
in place, then Georgia would consume as much as it wanted and Florida and Alabama would just be out of luck. And it wouldn't matter if Georgia were using the water irresponsibly (growing grass in the middle of the desert, as they do in Arizona, I hear).

But then, the water doesn't belong to Georgia, not to the person from
whose land it originates. Unlike land, water is something that we have not privatized. Is that good or not?

Interesting but difficult questions, I think.
WASHINGTON — The Army Corps of Engineers would hold back more water in Georgia lakes as the governors of drought-stricken Georgia, Florida and Alabama work toward a water-sharing agreement, under a plan brokered by the Bush administration.

The proposal — which would bolster Atlanta's drinking supply at the expense of users downstream — was announced Thursday after the governors of the three states met with Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and other administration officials.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Thy Word...

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Since some of our biggest difference sometimes is not in what the Bible says, but in how we read the Bible, I thought I’d post some thoughts on that.

Now, I’m no theologian. I’ve not attended a seminary or a Bible college.

But I have read the Bible a good bit. I’ve been part of churches where they teach it all my life and studied on my own, as well. So, these are my amateur thoughts. I think some of them are fairly straightforward and difficult to disagree with, but we’ll see.

What do you think?


1. The Bible never in any of its pages tells us to take its words literally - that is a human tradition. Inerrancy, infallibility, the Bible is perfect, these are all human takes on the Bible and not biblical teachings themselves.

2. The Bible never in any of its pages tells us that we MUST consider the 66 books of the Bible as "Scripture." This, too, is a human tradition.

3. "God's Word," is what God says. As such, it is larger and more comprehensive than just the Bible. The Bible contains God's Word, but God's Word is not wholly contained within the Bible. The Bible itself tells us that God is too large and wild to be contained by a building, that all the stories of Jesus could not be contained within its pages.

4. That being the case, we know that God reveals God's self in many ways, not just the Bible. The Bible itself tells us that God's Word is written on our hearts and in nature.

5. Of course, the Bible is not God, nor something to worship. If we elevate it to the place of Perfection, we need to be careful not to begin worshiping the thing describing God rather than God's Self.

6. So why this human tradition surrounding the Bible? It's certainly not without reason.

With much prayer and research and debate, Christian protestants have agreed that the 66 books of the Bible ARE scripture for us, God's Word for us. This is a point with which I agree.

The 66 books of the Bible are a special and unique revelation of God. I agree with that much of that extrabiblical teaching. That notwithstanding, I still understand that it is a human tradition to consider it as such and not something handed down to us from God's hand - nor did God audibly speak to the Council and say, "These 66 books shall ye consider to be my Word."

7. Just because many consider the 66 books of the Bible a unique revelation from God does not mean that everyone accepts the extrabiblical teaching that we must take those 66 books literally.

8. And no one does. I'm sure we all agree that we don't take the Bible literally literally. We recognize that some stories are parables, some are mythical in nature, some are historical, but not told in the same manner that a history book written today would be written, some written to a particular place in a particular time, that some places hyperbole and other literary techniques are used.

Yes? And that we must use our logic, human tradition and understanding to come to an understanding about what to take literally today and what not to take literally. Most of us don't advocate the Sabbath Laws, the Holiness Code, the Jubilee laws. We don't usually think we should literally pluck an eye from our heads, nor that we should "sell our goods and give it to the poor."

Or DO some think it all – each and every line – should be taken literally for our lives today? I don’t think so. I think we mostly agree that there needs to be some interpretation involved.

9. Similarly, the tradition of considering OT Law as coming in three flavors - some that can be ignored and some that are eternal truths - is an extrabiblical teaching - a construct to explain why we don't believe in literally heeding each and every rule written therein.

10. If we DO think we take the larger teachings (setting aside the parables, hyperbole, etc for a minute) of the Bible literally, then we have to say that God sometimes commanded or endorsed killing children, genocide, rape, slavery, selling your children, polygamy and a long list of nasty yuckiness that we reject today as being Moral or Holy.

Where in all that do we disagree?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pyramid Scheme?

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
NEW YORK ( -- The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and anti terrorist efforts abroad could cost the country $2.4 trillion over the next ten years, according to a report Wednesday.

The money, over 70 percent of which would go to support operations in Iraq, includes the estimated $600 billion spent since 2001, Congressional Budget Office Director Peter Orszag said in testimony before the House Budget Committee. That estimate includes projected interest, since the government is borrowing most of the funds required.

The $2.4 trillion would pay to keep 75,000 troops deployed overseas from 2013 to 2017. About 210,000 troops are currently deployed. It does not include the Pentagon's normal spending, which in 2007 is estimated to be about $450 billion.

The estimated $2.4 trillion works out to about $21,500 per American household.



This, from the fiscal conservatives???

Tell, you what: I pass.

No thanks, I'll keep my $21 k. Let's let the 30% (?) who support the war pay $63,000 per household (or however that math works out) and the rest of us will pass. Referendum time?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dan, Jordan Donna

Dan, Jordan Donna
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
My boy's been baptized. Outdoor at the end of October.

We figured he was taking a mighty bold step of faith, getting baptized outside that late in the year, but we had 80 degree weather today.

The water, I'm told, was not similarly warm.

Well that's it, boys. I've been redeemed. The preacher's done warshed away all my sins and transgressions. It's the straight and narrow from here on out, and heaven everlasting's my reward.

The preacher says all my sins is warshed away... Neither God nor man's got nothin' on me now.

C'mon in boys, the water is fine.

I'm busting with pride. Forgive my sinning.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Angel Band

Buddy, can you spare some free speech?

Storytellin' Dave
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
So, the city of Louisville, my hometown, has proposed an “aggressive” panhandling ordinance. Apparently there is an epidemic of panhandling aggressiveness of which I was unaware (even though I'm on our downtown streets every day).

This ordinance criminalizes the action of asking for money near banks, ATMs, schools, outdoor dining facilities, parking garages, bus stops and on private property. Also, near automobiles, streets, highways, parking lots, parks, playgrounds and/or port-a-potties! And never after dark (as defined by the Courier Journal’s weather page).

I kid you not.

Of course, what that means is that this proposal would make it criminal to ask for money anywhere downtown and in most of the outlying areas, since that list is pretty all-inclusive. I’m supposing that it would still be okay to panhandle from a canoe or other flotation device sitting out in the Ohio River – as long as there were no port-a-potties nearby.

But not after 8:18pm tonight (“after dark,” as defined by the law for this time of the year).

So call your homeless and mentally challenged pals up and let them know to meet at in the middle of Ohio any time after 8am and before 8pm and panhandle away. But, they’re only allowed one “panhandle” per person. Any more than that and it becomes “aggressive.”

I had no idea how serious this problem has become. And it must be serious, since we’re talking about restricting free speech rights of individuals, some who may well have served in Viet Nam to protect those rights (“Hey pal, help a homeless vet?”).

But how about this? Instead of taking the serious action of criminalizing free speech, what if we could find another way to deal with this “aggressive solicitation” problem which has become, according to the ordinance, “extremely disturbing and disruptive to residents and businesses” and has contributed to “enhanced fear, intimidation and disorder?”

Here’s my modest proposal: Suppose you’re walking along next to an ATM or Port-a-Potty when, suddenly – out of nowhere! – a suspected panhandler comes along. You avoid eye contact, looking at your watch or reading the signs on the Port-a-Potty, but it doesn’t work – they approach you after all and ask, “Excuse me, do you know what time it is?”

Run! Run for your…oh, wait, it was just a request for the time. Or was it? Are they trying to get you to give them your watch?? They repeat the question, thinking you haven’t heard. But there it is! A repeated request for assistance! Aggressive panhandling.

Quick! Call the cops…no, no, dang! You don’t have a quarter to make the phone call. I suppose you could ask someone – no! You’re still too close to the street and it would be a crime.

Okay, no problem. Just tell them the time and walk away.

“It’s time for you to get a job, buddy!”

But no sooner do you walk away when another one comes along. “Can you spare a quarter for a Viet Nam vet, pal?”

Listen closely, here’s what you need to do:

Say, “No.”

If you don’t wish to give him any money, just say “No.” Then walk away. Just like that, it’s over. And, on the outside chance he asks a second time, pleading with you, “Aw, come on, not even a dime?” Say, “No,” a second time.

Repeat as needed.

Call me crazy, but I think this just might work and certainly would be preferred over placing restrictions on our free speech.

After all, who knows when you just might want to borrow a quarter, yourself?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Sour Grapes?

Wild Grapes?
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
So, Al Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on education about human impact upon the environment. And the gnashing of teeth has certainly begun.

Feel free to post here the funniest, saddest or most ironic thing you've heard from our friends on the Right about Al Gore's Nobel.

The first couple I've heard have been relatively mild and of the "Stupid Nobel people. Don't know nothin'" type of commentary.

(Not that this complaint is without merit - Henry Kissinger?? REALLY??!!)

Still, this should make for some interesting sour grape mashing.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Bible and Economics...

Beanblossom Covered Bridge
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
From Jeremiah...

"[The wicked] do not plead the cause, the cause of the orphan, that they may prosper; and they do not defend the rights of the poor. Shall I not punish these people?" declares the LORD. "On such a nation as this, shall I not avenge myself?"

Jeremiah 5:28

"For, if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly practice justice between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, nor walk after other gods to your own ruin, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever."

Jeremiah 7:5-7

O house of David, thus says the LORD:
"Administer justice every morning; And deliver the person who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor…”

Jeremiah 21:12

Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place.

Jeremiah 22:3

"Did not your father eat and drink, and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; then it was well. Is that not what it means to know Me?" declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 22:16

"Leave your orphans; I will protect their lives. Your widows too can trust in me." [God speaking]

Jeremiah 49:10

Thursday, October 4, 2007

With insults like these...

Beanblossom Mennonite
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
I just received recently what is perhaps the grandest insult I think I've ever had. Seriously.

Check it out:

Given the inordinate amount of time the Gospel writers devoted to the Crucifixion and the week leading up to it, and given the focus of the Apostles on “Christ crucified” rather than just His excellent ethical instructions, I must suggest that Dan puts perhaps too heavy an emphasis on Jesus’ teachings...

??!!! Isn't that great?!

Man, if that's the worst thing that anyone ever says about me, I'm doing pretty well.

Just thought I'd share that little tidbit.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Stars and Stripes

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
I've been following the testimony going on before Congress here lately about Blackwater USA - the "bodyguard" firm that appears to be more rightly considered a US mercenary unit.

Testimony from Jeremy Scahill, investigative reporter for The Nation magazine:

...The stakes are very high for the Bush administration because the company involved, Blackwater USA, is not just any company. It is the premiere firm protecting senior State Department officials in Iraq, including Ambassador Ryan Crocker. This company has been active in Iraq since the early days of the occupation when it was awarded an initial $27 million no-bid contract to guard Ambassador Paul Bremer. During its time in Iraq, Blackwater has regularly engaged in firefights and other deadly incidents. About 30 of its operatives have been killed in Iraq and these deaths are not included in the official American death toll.

While the company’s operatives are indeed soldiers of fortune, their salaries are paid through hundreds of millions of dollars in US taxpayer funds allocated to Blackwater. What they do in Iraq is done in the name of the American people and yet there has been no effective oversight of Blackwater’s activities and actions. And there has been absolutely no prosecution of its forces for any crimes committed against Iraqis. If indeed Iraqi civilians were killed by Blackwater USA last Sunday, as appears to be the case, culpability for these actions does not only lie with the individuals who committed the killings or with Blackwater as a company, but also with the entity that hired them and allowed them to operate heavily-armed inside Iraq–in this case, the US State Department.

All this talk has made me wonder: If many so-called conservatives don't trust the government, don't think the government can be trusted to do things correctly or cheaply, why, then do they express such confidence in the US military? Why not farm out all our soldiering to mercenary units such as this one?

Is the government incompetent and incapable of running social assistance programs or medical programs, why is a government military trustworthy and reliable - and not merely trustworthy and reliable, but the "best military in the world!"? Where is the consistency? How can a government be incompetent to run welfare, but capable of dispatching by far the most expensive, expansive military program in the history of the world?

[NOTE: It will be obvious to all who know me at all that I'm not advocating turning over military operations to mercenaries - God forbid! - nor am I necessarily advocating a nationalized healthplan nor welfare in general. I'm just wondering how anti-government types explain their reasoning.]

[OTHER NOTE: Write your representatives and demand an end to the use of mercenaries by our government and that mercenaries who behave badly be prosecuted. This undermines our national security, not to mention our already tarnished integrity.]

Friday, September 28, 2007


Jesse Blur
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
I’ll keep it short and sweet. Here’s a quote with which I’d think most people could agree.

We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.

~CS Lewis


Monday, September 24, 2007

Shawshank Redemption

Pelican Sunrise
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
I'm not that big a fan of Stephen King - I haven't gone out of my way to read his books or anything, although I've probably read one or two. BUT, since it's his birthday this month and since one of his books went on to become one of my favorite movies of all time, I'll honor King by offering a few quotes from Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.

For those who don't know about it, it's about a fella - Andy Dufresne - who ends up in prison and spends a good long while there, along with his friend, Red, who serves as the Narrator of the story. It's one of my top ten movies of all time.

"... what I'm doing in here isn't all that different from what I was doing outside. I'll hand you a pretty cynical axiom: the amount of financial help an individual or company needs rises in direct proportion to how many people that person or business is screwing.

The people who run this place are stupid, brutal monsters for the most part. The people who run the straight world are brutal and monstrous, but they happen not to be quite as stupid, because the standard of competence out there is a little higher. Not much, but a little."


"Warden, it smell pretty damn bad."

"Never mind, I said!" Norton cried.

Colorously, Tremont's voice floated back: "Smells like shit. Oh God, that's what it is, it's shit, oh my God lemme outta here I'm gonna blow my groceries oh shit it's shit oh my Gawwwwd -" And then came the unmistakable sound of Rory Trement losing his last couple of meals.

Well, that was it for me. I couldn't help myself. The whole day - hell no, the last thirty years - all came up on me at once and I started laughing fit to split, a laugh such as I'd never had since I was a free man, the kind of laugh I never expected to have inside these grey walls. And oh dear God didn't it feel good!

...Well, friends and neighbours, I was the one who went. Straight down to solitary, and there I stayed for fifteen days. A long shot. But every now and then I'd think about poor old not-too-bright Rory Tremont bellowing oh shit it's shit, and then I'd think about Andy Dufresne heading south in his own car, dressed in a nice suit, and I'd just have to laugh. I did that fifteen days in solitary practically standing on my head. Maybe because half of me was with Andy Dufresne, Andy Dufresne who has waded in shit and came out clean on the other side, Andy Dufresne, headed for the Pacific.


That's the story and I'm glad I told it, even if it is a bit inconclusive and even though some of the memories that pencil prodded up (like that branch poking up the river-mud) made me feel a little sad and even older than I am. Thank you for listening. And Andy: If you're really down there, as I believe you are, look at the stars for me just after sunset, and touch the sand, and wade in the water, and feel free.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Guilty Pleasures...

Grizzly Dan and Solly 2
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
I heard someone talking about John Wayne yesterday and that got me to recollecting. It may or may not surprise some of you that this peace-loving, so-called "liberal" is still a fan of some John Wayne movies. And, while I want to post on several topics that have risen of greater merit, I thought I'd stop to share some fond Wayne memories.

Now, understand, he had horrible politics and made some awfully racist, misogynistic and militaristic comments, he still could make an entertaining movie with some humor and (sometimes) grace.

One of my favorite quotes from one of his movies was from The Greatest Story Ever Told - the Easter movie where Wayne had a bit part as the soldier at the cross who said, in his own John Wayne style - "Waww, truly this was the sonofgod."

Some of my favorite movies of his include Rio Lobo, El Dorado and McClintock (which is sexist, racist steaming pile of poo, but fun nonetheless - Lord forgive me - I think it's sort of a campy satire of the characters Wayne normally played).

Some quotes:

"I've had my back broke once, and my hip twice, and on my worst day I could beat the hell out of you."

from The Cowboys

"I have found a certain type calls himself a Liberal...Now I always thought I was a Liberal. I came up terribly surprised one time when I found out that I was a Right-Wing Conservative Extremist, when I listened to everybody's point of view that I ever met, and then decided how I should feel. But this so-called new Liberal group, Jesus, they never listen to your point of view..."

~John Wayne's own self

And, of course, some great lines from the Oscar-winning True Grit:

[Attorney] Goudy: [cross-examining Rooster] How many men have you shot since you became a marshal, Mr. Cogburn?
Rooster Cogburn: I never shot nobody I didn't have to.
Goudy: That was not the question. How many?
Rooster Cogburn: Uh... shot or killed?
Goudy: Oh, let's restrict it to "killed" so we may have a manageable figure...

Goudy: I believe you testified that you backed away from old man Wharton?
Rooster Cogburn: Yes, sir.
Goudy: Which direction were you going?
Rooster Cogburn: Backward. I always go backward when I'm backin' away.

Rooster Cogburn: When's the last time you saw Ned Pepper?
Emmett Quincy: I don't remember any Ned Pepper.
Rooster Cogburn: Short feisty fella, nervous and quick, got a messed-up lower lip.
Emmett Quincy: That don't bring nobody to mind. A funny lip?
Rooster Cogburn: Wasn't always like that, I shot him in it.
Emmett Quincy: In the lower lip? What was you aiming at?
Rooster Cogburn: His upper lip.

And, as he's confronted four deadly criminals at the film's climax - they're all out in a field, all on their horses, all armed. Rooster plans to capture the lead bad guy, Ned Pepper (ably played by Robert Duvall)...

Ned Pepper: What's your intention? Do you think one on four is a dogfall?
Rooster Cogburn: I mean to kill you in one minute, Ned. Or see you hanged in Fort Smith at Judge Parker's convenience. Which'll it be?
Ned Pepper: I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man.
Rooster Cogburn [a bit taken aback, then angry]: Fill your hands, you sonuvabitch.


You got favorite John Wayne quotes? (Let's not do the awful ones - and there really are some borderline evil quotes John Wayne, the man, said in real life. Let's stick to the interesting or uplifting.)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

How to Have a Normal Conversation...

Sore Loser...
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
I’ve tired a bit of the many attacks coming from those (usually Christians,usually right-leaning) who disagree with me. Now when I say that, let me be clear: I do not mind in the least that they disagree with me. I ask them and anyone PLEASE disagree with me if you think I’m wrong.

Show me what I’ve said that was wrong and how it was wrong and you will be doing me a favor. Please disagree with me, you’ll be helping me learn.

So, when I say “attack,” I am not talking about mere disagreements. And that is at the root of some of our problems with communicating with one another.

I say, “Attacks are bad,” and they respond, “You wouldn’t have me correct you??” I didn’t SAY anything about correction, I said something about “attacks” and they (those who disagree with me) will read “attack,” assume I mean “disagreeing” and complain that I don’t want dissenting voices.

That’s called a strawman argument. They’re knocking down an argument that I didn’t raise and ignoring the original argument. It has happened repeatedly with me (and others I’ve seen) and comes especially from the Religious Right (in my experience).

Now, I’m absolutely sure that there are those on the Left who do the same thing, and probably in similar numbers, I just don’t generally see them – I don’t encounter that many doing the same thing. I must hang with a more reasonable set of Lefties…

Typically, it happens like this:

Commenter(s): Dan, you hate the Bible.

Dan: That is a lie. I don’t hate the Bible, I love the Bible.

Commenter(s): You twist the Bible’s words, Dan. You add to the Bible what isn’t there and you take away parts of the Bible that you don’t like.

Dan: That is a lie. I have not added anything to the Bible – short of my interpretation, which we all do when we read the Bible – nor have I taken anything away from the Bible. But, by all means, if it’s true, show me where I have added to or taken away from the Bible. Show me how I hate the Bible.

Commenter(s): It’s obvious, Dan! Anyone who has read what you’ve written knows that you hate the Bible and twist its words!

Dan: Fine, show me where I did this hating and twisting then so I can learn from my mistakes.

Commenter(s): You have said that the Bible is corrupt, and one can’t love what is corrupt, therefore, you must hate the Bible!

Dan: I have never said the Bible is corrupt. Those are your words. If you think I have, then show me so that I may learn from my mistakes and apologize for going astray.

Commenter(s): You have said that you don’t interpret Verse 1 the same way that God wrote it. Therefore, you must think it’s corrupt. Therefore, you must hate God’s Word!!! It’s all right there!

Dan: Again, these are all lies. I have said that I don’t interpret Verse 1 the same way YOU interpret it, I DON’T, therefore, think the Bible is corrupt, and I DON’T hate the Bible.

Commenter(s): I never said you hate the Bible. I said you hate parts of it. The part where you think differently than God! And if you hate part of it, then it’s a fair statement that you hate all of it.

Dan: ??? If you think this is the case, show me where I have said that I think differently than God and hate what God wrote and you will have done me a favor. Otherwise, I’m left to assume that you are bearing false witness against me.

Commenter(s): Oh, no! I’m not playing that game, Dan. I’ve seen how you go around sowing seeds of discord. People correct you and you act all innocent and then repeat your same lies and blasphemies. You’ve been corrected already. People have shown you where you’re wrong. Go back and read them yourself! I mean, it’s quite evident that you think the Bible is corrupt and that you hate God’s Word, twisting it so that you can remake God in your image…

Dan: ????? !!

And on it goes. The above, of course, is a much shortened and over-simplified version of what happens. The individuals involved DO sometimes offer at least some attempt to point out where they think I’ve strayed. But inevitably, it involves their interpretations of my words, rather than what I’ve actually said.

Why is this?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Just for the joy of it...

a drawing
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Some REAL Wendell Berry poetry. Excerpts from...

Some Further Words

Let me be plain with you, dear reader.
I am an old-fashioned man. I like
the world of nature despite its mortal
dangers. I like the domestic world
of humans, so long as it pays its debts
to the natural world, and keeps its bounds.
I like the promise of Heaven...

...I don't like machines,
which are neither mortal nor immortal,
though I am constrained to use them.
(Thus the age perfects its clench.)
Some day they will be gone, and that
will be a glad and a holy day.
I mean the dire machines that run
by burning the world's body and
its breath.
When I see an airplane
fuming through the once-pure sky
or a vehicle of the outer space
with its little inner space
imitating a star at night, I say,
"Get out of there!" as I would speak
to a fox or a thief in the henhouse.
When I hear the stock market has fallen,
I say, "Long live gravity! Long live
stupidity, error, and greed in the palaces
of fantasy capitalism!" I think
an economy should be based on thrift,
on taking care of things, not on theft,
usury, seduction, waste, and ruin.

~Wendell Berry

[Read the whole, wonderful, thoughtful poem here.]

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Mayhem of the Mad Farmer...

Youth Group
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Each year, our youth group from church goes to a camp called UniDiversity. A good time is generally had by all.

This year, my son and I were picking up his supplies for the camp and he requested getting a case or two of Red Bull energy drinks. "Sure!" says I.

Well, apparently, mixing youth, caffeinated energy drinks and a long road trip is a poor idea. Or so I've been informed. Our lovely pastor and youth minister - chaperones for the trip - thought I'd lost my mind to do such a thing to them.

Upon arriving in North Carolina, the group spent some time with displaced Jeff Streeters, Greg and Terry. Greg penned the following poem in my honor.

He did a really great job of mimicking Wendell Berry AND of skewering a thoughtless dad. Check it out:

Mayhem of the Mad Farmer
for Dan Trabue

by Greg Yost

with apologies, I'm sure, to Wendell

His mind a hay wagon overburdened, axles bending under load.
Women in loose cotton (O Tanya!), herons,
That son of a bitch, Jayber Crow.
Too much! The cord binding reckoning to reason frays...

The tractor runs full throttle through the fence, shattering morning
The red bull tramples dawn's sweet clover.
Calves bawl.
Sown in caffeine, the fields bring forth their chatty harvest, bitter on
the tongues of the aged.

The Farmer's mind is dark, heedless of that pain. Hollow.
Journal of his mischief as yet unread.

Then a homecoming of friends. Where is a sequoia in which to hide?
This Farmer is standing in deep humus.
His stammered denial ("Why, I am not knowing too high a commuter")
Falls like dead seed on ruined ground.

Ask yourself: Will this satisfy a woman satisfied to bear a child across
state lines?
Will this disturb the sleep of a woman near to sleep?

The dusty barn, grapes swelling on the vine,
Pigs in the farmyard, the laughter of old men who have known hard
Cool breezes promising needed rain and the rich soil gathering it in.
Children, dogs, canning jars, draft horses, bees, and pickup trucks.
These and other rural things now bestow their gentle earthly wisdom,
alas, too late:

Watch your back, Farmer. Payback is hell.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Bible and Economics...

Pelican Sunrise
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Another of the ongoing series (here, here, here and here)where we look at biblical passages that touch on economic issues, matters of poverty and wealth. I was going to lump "The Gospels and Acts" all into one grouping, but it became clear that there was too much material to squeeze it into one post.

Then I decided to do "Economics in the Gospels" but still there was too much to cover. And so, I offer today merely "Luke 12 and Economics."

[Jesus speaking...]
"Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrow.

"I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God…"

Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me."

He replied to him, "Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?"

Then he said to the crowd, "Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one's life does not consist of possessions."

Then he told them a parable. "There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.

"He asked himself, 'What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?'

"And he said, 'This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, "Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!"

"But God said to him, 'You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?'

"Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God."

He said to (his) disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear. For life is more than food and the body more than clothing.

"Notice the ravens: they do not sow or reap; they have neither storehouse nor barn, yet God feeds them. How much more important are you than birds!

"Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your lifespan?

"If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest?

"Notice how the flowers grow. They do not toil or spin. But I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of them.

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

"As for you, do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not worry anymore.

"All the nations of the world seek for these things, and your Father knows that you need them.

"Instead, seek his kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides.

"Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.

"Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.

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

Luke 12: 7-9, 13-34

What a beautiful passage on the joy of trusting God for all we need. About minding where our treasure lies.

I will note that, if you quote the line "Sell your belongings and give alms" it is often assumed that is Jesus talking to the rich young man, whom he told to sell all he had, give it to the poor and come, follow him.

But here's a passage where a similar statement is made to us all. One difference here being that Jesus didn't instruct us all to sell all we had, but rather, "Sell your belongings...", which is a bit more vague a command.

Your thoughts?

Friday, August 24, 2007

I'll Fly Away...

String Band
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
ER is talking church music over at his place and that got me to thinking... it'd be cool to see what folk like to listen to in terms of church music.

At my church Jeff Street, we are in some ways pretty eclectic musically. It's one of my favorite parts about Jeff Street. While we certainly lean towards the acoustic folk sound, we pull from all over the map when it comes to hymns sung and, especially, special music.

A partial list of songs that we sing congregationally or have had as special music include:

Orphan Girl (flawlessly sung here by Emmylou Harris)

John McCutcheon's Hallelujah! The Great Storm is Over

Dylan's The Times, They are A-Changin'

Wayfarin' Stranger (sung here by the headbanger, Jack White, of the White Stripes which is apparently one of those rock and roll musical bands)

Oh, Happy Day

Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World

Cluck Old Hen (played here by Allison Krauss)

Bob Marley's
Redemption Song

John Prine's Spanish Pipe Dream, (AKA, Blow Up Your TV)

Eyes On the Prize (sung here by Sweet Honey in the Rock)

I could go on and on. I love the music we sing at our church. How 'bout you? You have favorite gospel or church-ish songs? Feel free to list some (with links would be all the better!). Jeff Streeters: Have I left out some quintessential Jeff Street songs?

Monday, August 20, 2007


Fungus Flower
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
I have decided to point you to a post by the usually reasonable Wordsmith over at Sparks From the Anvil. His original post asked the question: "Are conservative bloggers as rude/disrespectful as liberal bloggers?" which is, of course, starting off with a biased question. But then, I'm sure it was intended for an audience that largely agrees with him and was asked that way for the fun of ranting. I have no problem with that.

The comments had all been of the "Well, of course not! It's a given that liberals are more hateful and rude! Liberal=rude." That sort of answer. No support for their position, just a battering of the "enemy." Again, just harmless ranting amongst like-minded individuals.

On a lark, I thought I'd leave my two cents. I said two things (four cents, I suppose):

1. In my experience, I've run into more rude conservatives than I have rude liberals - by far. However, I further noted that I had no doubt that there are rude liberals out there, just in my experience, I've encountered far more rude conservatives.
2. I asked, "Does anyone have any source for what you consider a rude liberal?"

Just that. I cited my experience and I asked a question. I was polite. I acknowledged the reality of rudeness (and politeness) on all "sides," and I left the question.

Well, you know where this is going. I was slammed. I was demonized as "intellectually lazy," as "willfully ignorant," and smelling of "intellectual arrogance." And then things got worse ("socialist!" "ass!" "hater!" and on and on).

I was just going to leave well enough alone, but I had two thoughts that I wanted to share here:

First, I thought that this made for some pretty good comedy and tragedy. To watch the anger and arrogance of these hypocrites is rather amusing, and extremely sad.

[And I use "hypocrite" here not to engage in name-calling but because that is the role they were playing. The post was on the hatefulness and disrespectfulness of so-called liberals and they had exactly one liberal to make a comment and several so-called conservatives respond and nearly to a person, the conservatives were disrespectful and hateful, engaging in the worst sort of demagoguery.

(The site's host, Wordsmith, did not engage in the attacks, nor did maybe one or two others - but neither did they point to the hypocrisy of the ones who chose to engage in the disrespectful behavior.)]

Secondly, I think it instructive as we try to learn better how to communicate with each other to look to where we go wrong. There sometimes seems to be a severe disconnect between our beliefs and our actions.

The people at this site no doubt are appalled by indecent and disrespectful talk when they see it in their opponents. And somewhat rightfully so. When they finally got around to answering my question ("does anyone have an example of liberal rudeness?"), they could point to some rude, hateful commentary. But they failed to see it on their own part!

When they engaged in name-calling, word-twisting and death threats, it was all in the name of fun, or to demonstrate that they DON'T respect a particular person (me, in this case), or to "call a spade a spade." But when others (ie, liberals) engage in the same behavior, it is horrible and disgusting.

Why is that? Why are we blind to our own inconsistencies sometimes?

If you visit Wordsmith's blog, I'd caution against commenting. It'll only be met by attack, if my experience is any indicator.

Not that I mind being thus attacked. This isn't about them "hurting my feelings." I don't know these people and their rudeness and threats mean nothing to me. It's just an interesting sociological field trip into humanity's own inhumanity to humanity, if you're interested.