Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Baptist Peace Camp

Peace Camp
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
The 22nd annual summer conference (”peace camp”) for the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America was held last week at Berea College. You can go to the Jeff Street blog for more photos and quotes or to Michael's blog for more photos and info.

In addition to this beautiful photo, I'll leave you with some wonderful quotes:

The real and lasting victories are those of peace, and not of war.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Why are we violent, but not illiterate? Because we are taught to read.

~Colman McCarthey

I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully.

~Mahatma Gandhi

If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible.

~Henry David Thoreau

Be not dumb, obedient slaves in an army of destruction! Be heroes in an army of construction!

~Helen Keller

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.


Monday, July 30, 2007

The Bible and Economics

Palmetto Sunrise
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
I've been looking through the Bible ( here, here and here) to see what it has to say about issues of economics, wealth and poverty. Thus far, I've offered up a few of the multitude of quotes that hold wealth at a distance, seemingly disdaining it or at least warning of its traps.

These sorts of passages run rampant through the Bible, like clover in an untended field.

But what of the flip side of the coin? Does the Bible have anything positive to say about wealth?

Clearly, yes. A little bit.

For one thing, we have some biblical heroes who had great wealth, whose many accumulations were accredited as a blessing from God. In this category, we have Abraham, David and Solomon, for instance.

But we must remember that while they are heroes to us for many reasons, they were flawed humans. They had many traits that we don't think of as godly (polygamy, murder, cowardice, sometimes horrifyingly bad parenting skills etc). So, merely that they are recorded as having much is not in and of itself an endorsement of wealth.

Beyond those examples (mostly OT, although we could probably think of a few NT examples of positive wealthy individuals, Nicodemus, perhaps...), we have a scattered verse here and there that at least seem to speak of wealth positively. Most of these verses are found in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.

Here are some I could locate...

But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.

~Deuteronomy 8:18

With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity. My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver. I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice, bestowing wealth on those who love me and making their treasuries full.

~Proverbs 8:18-21

The wealth of the rich is their fortified city, but poverty is the ruin of the poor. The wages of the righteous bring them life, but the income of the wicked brings them punishment.

~Proverbs 10:15-16

The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it.

~Proverbs 10:22

Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.

~Proverbs 13:11

Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

~Proverbs 24:3-4

To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

~Ecclesiastes 2:26

God gives a man wealth, possessions and honor, so that he lacks nothing his heart desires, but God does not enable him to enjoy them, and a stranger enjoys them instead. This is meaningless, a grievous evil.

~Ecclesiastes 6:2

A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes life merry, but money is the answer for everything.

~Ecclesiastes 10:19

Less than ten.

It gets much more difficult to find wealth spoken of positively in the NT. Many would say that the parable of the talents would be an example...

Matthew 25:14-30

I'm not as convinced.

Am I missing other positive references to wealth?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Jean Ritchie

Jean Ritchie
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Last night was the second night of the annual Kentucky Music Weekend festival. The night's festivities were closed out, as they have been the last few years, with Kentucky's own Jean Ritchie.

Some lyrics from one of my favorite songs of hers, The Cool of the Day:

My Lord, he said unto me
Do you like my garden so fair
You may live in this garden if you'll keep the grasses green
And I'll return in the cool of the day

Now is the cool of the day
Now is the cool of the day
This earth is a garden, the garden of my Lord
And he walks in his garden
In the cool of the day

Then my Lord, he said unto me
Do you like my pastures so green
You may live in this garden if you will feed my sheep
And I'll return in the cool of the day

Then my Lord, he said unto me
Do you like my garden so free
You may live in this garden if you'll keep the people free
And I'll return in the cool of the day

Now is the cool of the day
Now is the cool of the day
O this earth is a garden, the garden of my Lord
And he walks in his garden
In the cool of the day

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Jeff Street Picnic at Deams Lake

Deams Lake
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
We had an unbelievably perfect day yesterday picnicking at the shores of Deams Lake. The weather was fantastic, the water relatively clean, the company enjoyable.

A few quotes to honor the day:

From a drop of water a logician could infer the possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagara without having seen or heard of one or the other. So all life is a great chain, the nature of which is known whenever we are shown a link of it.

~Sherlock Holmes

It's clear to me that I will return here, as well as to other wilderness frontiers within me -- whether next year or some time later -- because I know that what the river says is what I need to hear: to know myself, to feel wild again, to confront my own limits and move beyond them into the untamed country on the other side.

~Jeff Wallach

Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.

~AA Milne

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sarah Grace

Sarah Grace
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
All Grace is of God, God is Grace.
Grace does not require belief. Grace does not require submission. Grace does not require confession.
The origin of Grace is Love.
Grace does require acceptance.
The only sin Grace will not erase is the rejection of Grace, either for
one's self or for another.

by William of Occam

Found this recently and thought I'd post it here. Sweet, huh?

Or am I wrong about that...?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Eleutheros' Razor: AMENDED

Stained Glass 3
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
From the previous discussions (Eleutheros, I hope it's okay that I assigned your name to it - it was my synthesis of what I'm taking from our dicussions in the earlier post, especially influenced by your comment and "Eleutheros' Razor" sounds cooler than "Dan's Razor")...

1. God is above right and wrong
2. There are some actions that are clearly wrong
3. Having said that, if God tells you to do something, all bets are off
4. With the caveat that we are frail humans able to interpret things a-wrong
5. Given the above
a. We should do what is clearly right and avoid the clearly wrong
b. Unless God tells us to do something, in which we ought to do what God says (and give others the grace to allow them to do the same)
c. Unless the action impacts negatively upon other people (ie, God wants me to kill that dude, God wants me to horde stuff), in which case we should defer to the reality that sometimes we get it a-wrong.
We should take any actions we think that God tells us to do insofar as it involves our own lives and welfare. But we should not take actions towards others unless asked by them.

What say ye? Is this a guideline we can all unite behind?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Jesus Loves the Little Children...

Jeff St Kids
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
A thread was begun over at Eric's place that wandered around but got around to biblical interpretation, which led to a question of God endorsing genocide and killing children (which appears to happen sometimes in the Bible and which I reject as generally a poor idea). I was asked:

"Are you saying that if God were to speak to you and request offing someone, you'd refuse? You would actually question God's Will?"

And I considered those to be great questions, worthy of consideration, so here's my response:

1. I acknowledge that I am a frail human, entirely capable of being incorrect.

2. I believe in some moral certainties (with the acknowledgement that I am entirely capable of being wrong).

3. One of the black and whites I find to be true within the Bible is that we ought not kill children. Killing children is wrong. Don't do it. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

4. Therefore, if I were to "hear the voice of God" telling me to kill children, I would recognize my own frail human state and have to assume either

a. I was wrong that killing children is wrong, or
b. I am misinterpreting the voice of God.

I ask you, which of the two options do you think most likely? I come to you and say, "Dude, I'm hearing God telling me to kill children and I'm certain that it's God's voice. But I thought it wrong to kill children! I mean, I acknowledge that there are some examples in the Bible where God supposedly tells people to do that, but it seems to be against the greater biblical witness and Truths. What do I do?!"

What is your advice to me?

No, I do not judge God's actions on human terms. Not at all. God is God and above human reason.

Rather, I judge my morals on what the Bible, my faith community and my God-given reason teach me and weigh any moral action based on these things and have come to the conclusion that killing children is wrong.

Are you going to advise me to go with the voice that I'm certain is God's or with what I was certain I had learned morally from God's Word?

I offer this because it helps illustrate the difference between those who'd say that we must take the Bible literally (who'd seem to endorse a genocidal, child-killing God) and those who think we must take the Bible seriously, and that taking it seriously demands that we don't take it literally.


Thursday, July 12, 2007


Ohio Sunset
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Al Qaeda is the strongest it has been since the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a new U.S. government analysis concludes, according to a senior government official who has seen it.


Gee! Thank goodness we've had this whole War on Terror (TM) thing going on or al Qaeda'd be really strong...

Monday, July 9, 2007

Rock, Paper, Scissors?

The Dudes Abide
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
How long will the war continue? What would it take for its supporters (who are a minority in our nation and the world) to say, "Ya know, maybe this isn't the right answer?"

In the news:

WASHINGTON (AP) - A progress report on Iraq will conclude that the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad has not met any of its targets for political, economic and other reforms, speeding up the Bush administration's reckoning on what to do next, a U.S. official said Monday...

Also being drafted are several Republican-backed proposals that would force a new course in Iraq, including one by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., that would require U.S. troops to abandon combat missions. Collins and Nelson say their binding amendment would order the U.S. mission to focus on training the Iraqi security forces, targeting al-Qaida members and protecting Iraq's borders...

(CNN) At least one Republican, Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, is "seriously considering" supporting an amendment calling for U.S. forces to be withdrawn from Iraq by next spring, her spokesman said Monday... in the past two weeks, three senior Republican senators have publicly expressed doubts about the president's Iraq policy, including Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, a well-respected voice on foreign affairs.


O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.

~Habakkuk 1:2

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Bible and Economics...

Log With Flowers
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
A continuing effort on my part to list what the Bible has to say about economic issues (see here and here).

Here's a shotgun batch of passages from Isaiah (not necessarily a complete listing from Isaiah on economics). As noted often, once you start watching for places within the Bible where ideas of economic justice, wealth and poverty are discussed, you find them everywhere...

Your new moons and festivals [religious rites and practices – dan] I detest; they weigh me down, I tire of the load. When you spread out your hands, I close my eyes to you; Though you pray the more, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood! Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan's plea, defend the widow.

Isaiah 1:14-17

The Lord enters into judgment with his people's elders and princes: It is you who have devoured the vineyard; the loot wrested from the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing my people, and grinding down the poor when they look to you? says the Lord, the GOD of hosts.

Isaiah 3:14, 15

Woe to you who join house to house, who connect field with field, ‘Til no room remains, and you are left to dwell alone in the midst of the land!

Isaiah 5:8

Woe to those who enact evil statutes, and to those who continually record unjust decisions, so as to deprive the needy of justice, and rob the poor of My people of their rights... Now what will you do in the day of punishment, and in the devastation which will come from afar?

Isaiah 10:1-3

For You have been a defense for the helpless, a defense for the needy in his distress.

Isaiah 25:4

The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst. I, the LORD, will answer them Myself, as the God of Israel I will not forsake them.

Isaiah 41:17

And if you give yourself to the hungry, and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness, and your gloom will become like midday. And the LORD will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.

Isaiah 58:10

Is this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

Isaiah 58:66

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, To announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God, to comfort all who mourn… For I, the LORD, love what is right, I hate robbery and injustice; I will give them their recompense faithfully, a lasting covenant I will make with them.

Isaiah 61:1-2, 8

You may have noticed that last passage as the one that Jesus quoted to begin his ministry.

I especially like the feel of the first passage, the one from Isaiah 1. If you read the whole passage, God goes on and on and on about how utterly wearying and disgusting the religious rites are of Israel (and I've set in on some of those services, believe me!)

And what is the reason given for why God is so disgusted by their rites? Because they have failed to do right by the poor and oppressed.


Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Something's rotten...

Fungus Flower
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
With the news of the Scooter/Bush assault on decency, I wondered what the original reasoning was for giving the President the power to pardon. Surely it wasn’t for the despicable butt-covering and crony-rewarding for which the last few presidents have used it.

A little research led me to

Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution gives the president "Power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment." A reprieve reduces the severity of a punishment without removing the guilt of the person reprieved. A pardon removes both punishment and guilt.

As judicially interpreted, the president's power to grant reprieves and pardons is absolute. Individual reprieves and pardons cannot be blocked by Congress or the courts. The Framers of the Constitution envisioned the pardon power has having a narrow purpose in times of war and rebellion. The president might offer pardons to rebellious factions as an inducement for a laying down of arms and national reconciliation. Alexander Hamilton argued in the Federalist Papers (No. 74) that "in seasons of insurrection or rebellion, there are often critical moments, when a well-timed offer of pardon to the insurgents or rebels may restore the tranquillity of the common wealth; and which, if suffered to pass unimproved, it may never be possible afterwards to recall."

And, a little more

Congress enacted a steep tax on spirits in 1791 to help pay down the national debt, and hard-hit small producers protested by taking to the streets in western Pennsylvania. They quickly formed a multi-state armed rebellion and President George Washington called in 13,000 troops to quell the opposition. Intent on emphasizing federalist power, the government charged the whiskey rebel leaders with treason against the U.S., although many were released due to a lack of evidence.

Virginia Governor Henry Lee, on Washington's behalf, issued a general pardon for those who had participated "in the wicked and unhappy tumults and disturbances lately existing," even though some of the rebels had not even been indicted. Only a few men had trials and two were convicted of treason (which meant death by hanging). Eventually, Washington pardoned those who had treason convictions and indictments. It was the first pardon in American history that overturned a criminal conviction, and the first time under the young U.S. Constitution that the federal government wielded military force to quell its own citizens.

For this sort of reasoning (although it seems a bit dated in our relatively stable condition) and other non-corrupt reasons, I don’t think ending the pardon option is a good idea. But clearly, it should be used NOT to cover one’s own ass (as Reagan, Bush and Bush have used it), nor for rewarding faithful cronies nor to make a profit (as it looks like Clinton may have used it).

Change the laws. We must absolutely reject a two-tiered justice system: One set of penalties and consequences for the elite (and their friends) and another for the rest of us.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Scum and Scummier

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Pardoning of croneys should be a crime in and of itself.

But this was no surprise, considering Bush began his administration by hiring convicted liars (Abrams and Poindexter, et al, who lied about the Reagan administration's participation in war crimes in Nicaragua in the Iran/Contra scandal).


Sunday, July 1, 2007

William Seth Helton

Graveyard Statue
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
William was my father-in-law. He passed away last week.

He was a wonderful, beautiful man and he will be missed.

Kind thoughts and prayers sent our way are appreciated.