Thursday, April 30, 2009

GOP Saving Itself?

No Ducks Allowed
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
In the news:

(CNN) -- Bruised by charges from Democrats that they've become the "party of no," Republicans on Thursday are launching an outreach effort to reshape their party's image.

The initiative, called the National Council for a New America, will send party leaders across the country for a series of town halls on health care, the economy, energy and national security.

The goal is for the council's panel of experts to listen to the American people and report back to House and Senate Republican leaders with new strategies for rehabilitating the party and winning elections in 2010.


You know, I suppose, that this is what our community organizing group does on a regular basis? Hold widespread community meetings to take the pulse of the People and that gives us ideas for directions in which to go/concerns that need to be addressed?

Does this mean that someone at the GOP got desperate enough to look into community organizing as a possible solution to their crumbling empire? Reading a little King, Gandhi or even Alinsky, perhaps??

Maybe, maybe not. Nonetheless, listening to the People is always a good thing and I commend the Republicans for doing so. Now, is it too little, too late? I suppose we'll have to wait and see...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

What Are Your Rules?

John, over at Zeray Gazette has posted a snippet about a stone structure that was built in Elbert County, Georgia in 1979. It's sort of a modern day Stonehenge made of stones that are "more than twenty feet tall and arranged to serve as a calendar and a clock."

On the slabs are instructions written in eight languages for reconstructing society after the collapse of civilization. They are as follows:


Not a bad set of instructions, seems to me. John went on to ask folk to offer what instructions they'd leave behind and that seems like a good question. Short and simple: How do you tell people how to start anew in a post apocalyptic world?

I rather like the festival guidelines in the photo above (Leave all worries behind, Talk to strangers, Join in, Listen to trees, Sing along, Be free, Mind the children), but what are your ideas?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Some Earth Day Thoughts...

Cedar Waxwing 1
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Today, I thought I'd drop a few excerpts from a journal I'd kept for several years, these excerpts are from 2001 - just some nature observations...

March 2001

Monday, as I arrived at work, a smooth fog laid across the Ohio like a blanket over a just made bed...

The weather’s turned warmer but slightly damper. A fine mist gently moistened me this morning on my ride to work.

The moisture in the air had the effect of drooping the just-budding tree branches with crystal droplets. As the sun attempted to break through the clouds, these graceful crystals glistened like lights on a Christmas tree. It made for an especially beautiful March morn...

It has, in the last day and a half, turned from frigid to fantastic. I’m sitting outside now, as the kids play on the playground at Riverfront Park. My jacket sits beside me and there is a lightly gusty wind which serves to keep the full-blown sun overhead from feeling too warm as it lights upon the back of my neck.

The temperature must be in the 60s and the sky is perfectly blue except for generous streaks of barely-there clouds.

The river appears to have nearly reached the playground. The water has come to rest about 20 feet from the playground’s edge. A goodly collection of driftwood has been deposited along the shore and the river is racing by in front of me.

Beauty and majesty are all about.

On top of the river front’s natural beauty today, I am also blessed by the beauty of humanity that dances, plays, runs and shouts all about.

This park, perhaps more than any other local park, appears to be a great gathering place representing our city. There are children and adults of all ages, races and, I would suppose, economic brackets at play here every time I bring the kids here. It is resplendent with our diversity, all present in peace and joy...

July 2001

Finally, storms came last night, washing the ground albeit briefly, at least in our neighborhood. It’s been threatening rain for a month, now, but we’ve mostly seen only clouds with no rain.

Empty promises.

I took a break from work today for a walk over by the river. The temperature was pleasant in the shade.

The floods earlier this spring grounded a log not too far off shore and there’s always a line of ducks resting on the log. They seem to be a fairly content community.

I noticed one taking to flight today. It was a beautiful thing.

He suddenly sped away from the log, where he’d been resting, beating his wings gracefully, regularly, swooping just inches from the water’s surface as he headed downstream.

For 50 feet, 100 feet, 500 feet he loped easily along just above the water. I kept expecting him to swoosh to a landing but he just kept skating, skimming down the river toward the canal until I lost him in the glint of the setting sun reflecting off the river.

What a life...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What's Up With the Constant Criticism?

Praying Statue
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Yesterday, a Bush CIA flunky was criticizing Obama's handling of foreign affairs. Today, it's Cheney himself...

(CNN) “I guess I’ve been concerned the way that we’ve been presented overseas,” Cheney told Fox News host Sean Hannity Monday night. Cheney said he found it “disturbing” that the new president had gone overseas and seemingly apologized for past actions of the United States.

“I think you have to be very careful. The world outside there — both our friends and our foes –will be quick to advantage of a situation if they think they’re dealing with a weak president or one who’s not going to stand up and aggressively defend America’s interests.

“The United States provides much of the leadership in the world. We have for a long time. I don’t think we’ve got much to apologize for.”

First off, what's up with this constant sniping and whining of the once powerful Right? We're still in this administration's first 100 days and he has been criticized from day one. And it's over the relatively smallest of things. An apology, in this case!

Secondly, Mr. Cheney, Obama was hired to bring change. Yes, we fully understand that you believe America can do no wrong. Yes, we fully understand that apologies represent weakness to you.

We respectfully disagree.

The US HAS, in fact, made horrible errors in our past. And it is a VERY GOOD thing to apologize for errors. This is something I taught my children from a young age. You're not too late to learn from children, Mr. Cheney.

We disagree with the whole, "America, right or wrong," mindset and the notion that apologies make a nation weak. That's grade school thinking and we, as a nation, are ready to grow up and start acting like an actual leader and responsible member of the global community, not a playground bully.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

An Organized Protest

Insert Your Own Title
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Today is the day that "Tens of thousands" will turn out in "hundreds of cities" around the US to protest. Something.

It appears that many conservatives are mad and they're not taking it any more. So they're protesting. The Tax Day Tea Party is happening today around the US, apparently (we'll see). They have even set up a website, here.

I get that generally, they're unhappy about the size of gov't (although spending trillions of dollars on a bloated gov't military over the last couple of decades hasn't concerned them, so why start worrying now?) and the bailouts specifically appear to be the point around which they're rallying. Not something I can fault them for, to be honest, I have my concerns, too.

However, from a purely practical point of view, after reviewing their website, I remain unclear about what exactly they are protesting, what they hope to accomplish or what methods they are using. Will they be dumping actual tea into actual public waters? Whose tea? Their own? That will accomplish change, how?

I certainly understand protesting out of frustration, just to make one's voice heard. As best I can tell, that's what this is. There are no apparent specific goals they hope to accomplish, just a general group gripe session. And that's fine. More power to them.

Just as long as they understand that it's not an especially efficient way to bring about change.

They're predicting 1500-5000 here in Louisville, just around the corner from where I work. I'll stop by and do a little on the spot reporting.

I could be way off, but I'd be surprised if they have over 100 people to show up here. We'll see.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter at Jeff Street

Sophia Balloons
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Another beautiful Easter season has come and gone and Jeff Street had its annual weird, wonderful Easter service. I've posted a short video of some sights and sounds from yesterday's service below. But if you'd like to explore just the photos by themselves, you can check out here, my flickr account for April 13.

As soon as the generals and politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

~Wendell Berry

Happy Easter

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter Weekend

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
As we have prepared for Easter at my church, we celebrated Lent in color. Each week for the last six weeks, we've tried to find God in Yellow, then Orange, then Red, right down the rainbow to Green this last week. We've found God in the Green Creation of our God, in the Blue skies and stuffed puppies of our children, in the Red skateboard of our teens and the Yellow of flowers and peppers.

And as we've sought God in these colors, we've been encouraged to bring to church and lay some of these symbols of God upon the altar. You can see images of our Lenten season at the Jeff Street blog, if you are so inclined.

This Friday and Saturday, we breathe softly in anticipation of Easter morning, when we celebrate as a community Jesus' triumph over the powers of darkness and hatred. We could use more of that these days.

Happy Easter, to my Christian friends and others who can enjoy the celebration.

Goodness is stronger than evil,
love is stronger than hate,
light is stronger than darkness,
life is stronger than death,
victory is ours through him who loved us.

~Bishop Desmond Tutu

Christ is risen!

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Jordan Sketch
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
We've been having an interesting, rambling discussion about the nature of mercy and justice a few posts below. In the process, I ran across the Holman Bible Dictionary's definition/explanation of the terms and really liked it. I offer it here now, in part, for consideration. Enjoy...


The order God seeks to reestablish in His creation where all people receive the benefits of life with Him. As love is for the New Testament, so justice is the central ethical idea of the Old Testament. The frequency of justice is sometimes missed by the reader due to a failure to realize that the wide range of the Hebrew word mishpat, particularly in passages that deal with the material and social necessities of life.

Nature of justice Justice has two major aspects. First, it is the standard by which penalties are assigned for breaking the obligations of the society. Second, justice is the standard by which the advantages of social life are handed out, including material goods, rights of participation, opportunities, and liberties. It is the standard for both punishment and benefits and thus can be spoken of as a plumb line. “I shall use justice as a plumb-line, and righteousness as a plummet” (Isaiah 28:17, REB).

Often people think of justice in the Bible only in the first sense as God's wrath on evil. This aspect of justice indeed is present, such as the judgment mentioned in John 3:19. Often more vivid words like “wrath” are used to describe punitive justice (Romans 1:18).

Justice in the Bible very frequently also deals with benefits. Cultures differ widely in determining the basis by which the benefits are to be justly distributed. For some it is by birth and nobility. For others the basis is might or ability or merit. Or it might simply be whatever is the law or whatever has been established by contracts. The Bible takes another possibility. Benefits are distributed according to need.

Justice then is very close to love and grace. God “executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and… loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing” (Deuteronomy 10:18, NRSV; compare Hosea 10:12; Isaiah 30:18).

Various needy groups are the recipients of justice. These groups include widows, orphans, resident aliens (also called “sojourners” or “strangers”), wage earners, the poor, and prisoners, slaves, and the sick (Job 29:12-17; Psalms 146:7-9; Malachi 3:5). Each of these groups has specific needs which keep its members from being able to participate in aspects of the life of their community. Even life itself might be threatened.

Justice involves meeting those needs.

The forces which deprive people of what is basic for community life are condemned as oppression (Micah 2:2; Ecclesiastes 4:1). To oppress is to use power for one's own advantage in depriving others of their basic rights in the community (see Mark 12:40). To do justice is to correct that abuse and to meet those needs (Isaiah 1:17). Injustice is depriving others of their basic needs or failing to correct matters when those rights are not met (Jeremiah 5:28; Job 29:12-17). Injustice is either a sin of commission or of omission.

The content of justice, the benefits which are to be distributed as basic rights in the community, can be identified by observing what is at stake in the passages in which “justice,” “righteousness,” and “judgment” occur. The needs which are met include land (Ezekiel 45:6-9; compare Micah 2:2; Micah 4:4) and the means to produce from the land, such as draft animals and millstones (Deuteronomy 22:1-4; Deuteronomy 24:6).

These productive concerns are basic to securing other essential needs and thus avoiding dependency; thus the millstone is called the “life” of the person (Deuteronomy 24:6). Other needs are those essential for mere physical existence and well being: food (Deuteronomy 10:18; Psalms 146:7), clothing (Deuteronomy 24:13), and shelter (Psalms 68:6; Job 8:6). Job 22:5-9,Job 22:23; Job 24:1-12 decries the injustice of depriving people of each one of these needs, which are material and economic.

The equal protection of each person in civil and judicial procedures is represented in the demand for due process (Deuteronomy 16:18-20). Freedom from bondage is comparable to not being “in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and lack of everything” (Deuteronomy 28:48 NRSV).

Justice presupposes God's intention for people to be in community. When people had become poor and weak with respect to the rest of the community, they were to be strengthened so that they could continue to be effective members of the community—living with them and beside them (Leviticus 25:35-36). Thus biblical justice restores people to community. By justice those who lacked the power and resources to participate in significant aspects of the community were to be strengthened so that they could.

This concern in Leviticus 25:1 is illustrated by the provision of the year of Jubilee, in which at the end of the fifty year period land is restored to those who had lost it through sale or foreclosure of debts (Leviticus 25:28). Thus they regained economic power and were brought back into the economic community. Similarly, interest on loans was prohibited (Leviticus 25:36) as a process which pulled people down, endangering their position in the community.

These legal provisions express a further characteristic of justice. Justice delivers; it does not merely relieve the immediate needs of those in dire straits (Psalms 76:9; Isaiah 45:8; Isaiah 58:11; Isaiah 62:1-2). Helping the needy means setting them back on their feet, giving a home, leading to prosperity, restoration, ending the oppression (Psalms 68:5-10; Psalms 10:15-16; compare 107; Psalms 113:7-9).

Such thorough justice can be socially disruptive. In the Jubilee year as some receive back lands, others lose recently-acquired additional land. The advantage to some is a disadvantage to others. In some cases the two aspects of justice come together. In the act of restoration, those who were victims of justice receive benefits while their exploiters are punished (1 Samuel 2:7-10; compare Luke 1:51-53; Luke 6:20-26).

The source of justice As the sovereign Creator of the universe, God is just (Psalms 99:1-4; Genesis 18:25; Deuteronomy 32:4; Jeremiah 9:24), particularly as the defender of all the oppressed of the earth (Psalms 76:9; Psalms 103:6; Jeremiah 49:11). Justice thus is universal (Psalms 9:7-9) and applies to each covenant or dispensation. Jesus affirmed for His day the centrality of the Old Testament demand for justice (Matthew 23:23). Justice is the work of the New Testament people of God (James 1:27).

God's justice is not a distant external standard. It is the source of all human justice (Proverbs 29:26; 2 Chronicles 19:6,2 Chronicles 19:9).

Justice is grace received and grace shared (2 Corinthians 9:8-10).


Wow. Can I get an Amen?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Confrontation Monday

MTR Jeff St
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
My friend Robert, who is the director of our local Direct Action group, CLOUT, sent this out this morning. You're familiar with Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, well, today is Confrontation Monday in the Holy Week Calendar...

Happy Confrontation Monday!

This is the day in Holy Week on which Jesus confronted the powers-that-be in the religious-political system of the temple in Jerusalem for their economic oppression of the poor and marginalized. It was a premeditated, strategically thought-out direct action, which shut down the temple for the day.

It is my hope that someday Confrontation Monday will be added to the list of special days during Holy Week, alongside Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, etc.!

May our work together make confronting the powers-that-be for justice so much a part of our congregations’ annual ritual, along with our other many religious observations and celebrations, that someday our Annual Action Assembly will be on Monday of Holy Week!

Blessings on your Holy Week.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Trabues 1968

Trabues 1968
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
I am the fifth of six Trabue boys born of Bill and Mary. No sisters. My oldest brother, Dave (the good looking young fella in plaid in the photo) has been off awandering in California lo, these many years. He's done many interesting things, but perhaps most appealing to me is that he's been a first rate musician for nearly as long as I've been alive. He plays guitar, mandolin, dobro and other stringed instruments. He also sings and writes songs and does it all quite well.

His current band is called Beargrass Creek ( - named after a local stream here in our hometown of Louisville. You can listen to some of their music at their myspace page. I've had a link to his own website over on the left here for quite a while, but thought I might take this chance to point people to his recent band, which I think is groovier than an ancient LP recording.

Check it out.