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.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Mary Shelley's Birthday...

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Mary Shelley's birthday is approaching in a few days (August 30th) and, as Frankenstein is one of my favorite novel's, I thought I'd bring out a few quotes in honor of Shelley.

As you likely know, Shelley wrote Frankenstein: Or, the Modern Prometheus. The story goes that in May of 1816, she and some writer friends were confined indoors one evening because of gloomy, rainy weather. The group was inspired by spooky stories from the book Fantasmagoriana, and decided to have a ghost-story writing contest. Frankenstein was Shelley's unbelievable result (she was only 19!).

The language Shelley uses is gothic and elegant. The story, tragic and a warning for the wise. Consider this line from the Preface, in which Dr. Frankenstein is found in the Arctic by Captain Walden, who is himself on a mission of exploration. Walden is here speaking rapturously about the thirst for knowledge and the extent to which he'd go to gain knowledge...

One man's life or death were but a small price to pay for the acquirement of the knowledge which I sought; for the dominion I should acquire and transmit over the elemental foes of our race.

As I spoke, a dark gloom spread over my listener's countenance. At first I perceived that he tried to suppress his emotion; he placed his hands before his eyes; and my voice quivered and failed me, as I beheld tears trickle fast from between his fingers--a groan burst from his heaving breast. I paused;--at length he spoke, in broken accents:-- "Unhappy man! Do you share my madness? Have you drank also of the intoxicating draught? Hear me--let me reveal my tale, and you will dash the cup from your lips!"

As much as I enjoy the novel for the morality play involved, even moreso, I love the language. Oh, that I could write thusly...

"It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow light of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs."

Do you have favorite lines or thoughts from Frankenstein?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Fear's the Way You Die

Jordan Kayaking
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
On the Jeff Street blog, I just posted a sermon from a couple of Sundays ago by our youth minister, Roger (we're progressive at our church- we think even men can preach...despite so much evidence to the contrary out there!).

Roger does an excellent job preaching on Psalm 37, making connections between it and the Sermon on the Mount. He also gives a beautiful bit of exposition of the work that's begun on the community farm.

Check it out.


Be sure to check out Michael WW's latest post: Jeremiah the War Resister

Friday, August 10, 2007

Living Without Egrets

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
While we’re talking military “defense...”

The US is currently spending over ½ trillion dollars (!!!) a year on its military. More still, if you factor in the part of the national debt that is due to military spending.

According to the globalissues website, world military spending was estimated at just over $1 trillion in 2005, when the US military budget was around $420 billion. We accounted for 43% of the total world military budget. We are nearly spending alone on our military what the whole rest of the world is spending.

For comparison, our next largest “competitor” is China, which spent $62 billion in 2005 (compared to our $420 billion).

Additionally, the US currently has over 10,000 nuclear bombs, which cost hundreds of billions of dollars. [More very interesting information at this source.]

Also, the US has 1.4 million active duty soldiers (plus the 1.2 million soldiers in the reserves) spread over dozens of countries and all the oceans of the world – not to mention a vast spy network. [source]

I’m curious what y’all think regarding our military expenditures. Are we:

a. Spending about the right amount
b. Spending wayyy too little
c. Spending wayyy too much?

Or, put another way: How much do you think we need to spend to feel or be “secure”?

Or, put yet another way: Does the size of our military reflect a truly defensive military or is it more what you would expect from a nation with imperial designs?

(I know I asked this question before, but I’m running it up the flagpole again to see who salutes.)


Over grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.
~George Washington

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience ... In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic process.
~President Dwight D. Eisenhower

God’s warning to the Israelites who wanted a king to “lead them into battle”:

"This will be the procedure of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and place them for himself in his chariots and among his horsemen and they will run before his chariots. He will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and of fifties, and some to do his plowing and to reap his harvest and to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots.

"He will also take your daughters for perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves and give them to his servants.

"He will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards and give to his officers and to his servants. He will also take your male servants and your female servants and your best young men and your donkeys and use them for his work.

He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his servants.

Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day."

~1 Samuel 8

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Peace Sunday

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
This Sunday is Peace Sunday. It is also the weekend we remember the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I thought I’d take this somber moment to remind folk that, despite some commonly held misperceptions, there was not unilateral agreement on the targeting of a huge civilian cities for destruction at the time of the bombing.

Some of the strongest voices in opposition to the bombing were, in fact, conservative voices.

Consider these quotes:

"The use of the atomic bomb, with its indiscriminate killing of women and children, revolts my soul."

President Herbert Hoover

"...I told him I was against it on two counts. First, the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing. Second, I hated to see our country be the first to use such a weapon."

President and General Dwight Eisenhower

"It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons.

"The lethal possibilities of atomic warfare in the future are frightening. My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children."

Admiral William Leahy

The very day after the atomic bomb hit Hiroshima, the personal pilot of General Douglas MacArthur, commander of Allied forces in the Pacific, recorded in his diary that MacArthur was "appalled and depressed by this Frankenstein monster."

[The source of the quotes]

Who was it that said that any nation that has targeted not one, but two cities full of civilians for intentional nuclear destruction has very little room to complain about terrorism? I’d tend to agree. At least until such point that we’ve thoroughly repented of that sort of deliberate killing of innocents, we are merely reaping what we’ve sown.

Understand [although it should go without saying, it doesn’t], that I love the country of my birth. I believe in the greater ideals of the US. And it is exactly for that reason that we must remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the horrors they were.

I agree with Admiral Leahy, wars can never be won by destroying women and children. It may seem to end the fighting as it seems to some with Japan (although many, including some of the above, disagree), when you sow the wind, you will reap the whirlwind.

"Do not be deceived, God will not be mocked. We will reap what we sow."

The Apostle Paul