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?