Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Early Crocus

Crocus Bloom
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
It has been five days ago now that I spotted my first Crocus spears piercing the ground, looking for an early Spring.

Since it is only mid-February, I fear her brave efforts may prove foolhardy.

My little town is certain to have more winter on the way, despite early hints of the coming thaw.

And so I am torn between joy and despair at this early foray from her sleeping bed by this daring Lady Crocus.

I find great joy in the promise of Spring so soon, and yet, these early springers will almost certainly be frozen out in a few days.

For today, though, I choose to find the joy in the promise of what is yet to be and what will be, soon enough.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I Go Among the Trees

Dan On Frozen Path
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.

Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.

Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.

After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.

~by Wendell Berry, in A Timbered Choir

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Liberals Have a Tiny Bible??

God Photobomb? 2
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
One of our more fundamentalist brothers has made a recent attempt at humor, suggesting that liberals have "tiny Bibles..."

There used to be a video store near us that rented movies with objectionable parts removed so the whole family could watch them. I remember thinking, “What a time saver – you can watch Pulp Fiction in 5 minutes!”

In the same way, you can read the Theological Liberal Bible in about that time, and that is barely an exaggeration. Thomas Jefferson famously made his own religion with his “Jefferson Bible.” Theological Liberals just go many steps further. I’m pretty sure this post is longer than their Bible.

Funny Pulp Fiction and liberal joke aside (and I DO think it's humorous, as a stereotypical joke), I think if we were to look at it as a serious commentary, we might have to flip the insight over.

Progressive Christians tend to try NOT to tie God down. We recognize the Bible as the Word of God, profitable for teaching and correction, but we don't think it's some magical book that contains ALL the "Word of God" of an infinite and all-powerful God. Rather, we tend to look at the Bible as God's revelation to humanity from the folk who wrote these accounts thousands of years ago.

But God will not tied down to a few hundred pages.

I find God writ large in each and every mountain and hill, and each and every leaf, blade, flower and needle upon each plant and tree upon each of those mountains; in poems and prose so large that one million million hikes would not allow me to begin to read, much less comprehend.

I find God writ upon the billions of stars across millions of galaxies scattered across an infinite universe.

I find God writ in the little acts of love shown by children throughout the ages, as well as the great acts of selfless bravery and giving by humanity throughout time.

I find God's Word written throughout all of God's creation, in big and small words and they are always written with that tell-tale evidence of love and grace of its Author.

Do Progressive Christians have a tiny sense of the Word of God? No, I can't say that I have found this to be true. Nor do most good conservative Christians that I know and have known.

However, some fundamentalist types have managed to trap the word of a God in a few hundred pages, or at least they seem to think so.

I kind of have to doubt it.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I Love the Mountains Day

Love Mountains Poster
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Every year, the last few years, we have found ourselves in our state's capitol on Valentine's Day, expressing our love for the mountains and our opposition to their destruction. Kentucky author Wendell Berry - God bless him! - has, in fact, camped out at the governor's office this weekend in protest.

Unfortunately, our Democrat governor has placed himself on the side of (in the pocket of?) coal companies and is suing the EPA for daring to actually do its job and "P" the "E!"

The story about opposition to Mountaintop Removal can be found here.

And so, I ask any readers who are so inclined to think of our wonderful mountains and valleys this weekend. Think of the gall it takes to believe it is acceptable to blow off the top of hundreds of mountains for the sake of cheap energy. Artificially and unjustly cheap energy. Pray for the opposition, if you are a praying sort. Write letters, if you are a letter-writing sort. Change your lifestyles so that it is less dependent upon cheap fossil fuels, if you are a bold sort.

Thanks. I'll leave you with some quotes on creation from Marvelous Mr. Muir...

The wrongs done to trees, wrongs of every sort, are done in the darkness of ignorance and unbelief, for when the light comes, the heart of the people is always right.

Fresh beauty opens one's eyes wherever it is really seen, but the very abundance and completeness of the common beauty that besets our steps prevents its being absorbed and appreciated. It is a good thing, therefore, to make short excursions now and then to the bottom of the sea among dulse and coral, or up among the clouds on mountain-tops, or in balloons, or even to creep like worms into dark holes and caverns underground, not only to learn something of what is going on in those out-of-the-way places, but to see better what the sun sees on our return to common everyday beauty.

Another glorious day, the air as delicious to the lungs as nectar to the tongue...

Brought into right relationships with the wilderness, man would see that his appropriation of Earth's resources beyond his personal needs would only bring imbalance and begat ultimate loss and poverty by all.

Any fool can destroy trees [and, I would add, Mountains - dt]. They cannot run away; and if they could, they would still be destroyed - chased and hunted down as long as fun or a dollar could be got out of their bark hides. Branching horns, or magnificent bole backbones. Few that fell trees plant them; nor would planting avail much towards getting back anything like the noble primeval forests...

Who publishes the sheet-music of the winds or the music of water written in river-lines?

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life...

These temple-destroyers, devotees of ravaging commercialism, seem to have a perfect contempt for Nature, and instead of lifting their eyes to the God of the mountains, lift them to the Almighty Dollar. Dam Hetch Hetchy! As well dam for water-tanks the people's cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man.

How infinitely superior to our physical senses are those of the mind! The spiritual eye sees not only rivers of water but of air. It sees the crystals of the rock in rapid sympathetic motion, giving enthusiastic obedience to the sun's rays, then sinking back to rest in the night. The whole world is in motion to the center. So also sounds. We hear only woodpeckers and squirrels and the rush of turbulent streams. But imagination gives us the sweet music of tiniest insect wings, enables us to hear, all around the world, the vibration of every needle, the waving of every bole and branch, the sound of stars in circulation like particles in the blood...

Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green deep woods. Here grow the wallflower and the violet. The squirrel will come and sit upon your knee, the logcock will wake you in the morning. Sleep in forgetfulness of all ill. Of all the upness accessible to mortals, there is no upness comparable to the mountains.

No synonym for God is so perfect as Beauty. Whether as seen carving the lines of the mountains with glaciers, or gathering matter into stars, or planning the movements of water, or gardening - still all is Beauty!

God never made an ugly landscape. All that the sun shines on is beautiful, so long as it is wild...

Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.

You can read more wonderful Muir excerpts here.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Undeserved Fidelity

We were speaking of fidelity at church this last week, and had many wonderful testimonies from the congregation on the topic. I added the following bit of confession, apology, gratitude for all those who have graciously been faithful to me, perhaps when it wasn't even deserved.

I was thinking specifically of all my gay, lesbian and transgendered brothers and sisters towards whom I am sure I have been awful towards in days past. Thank God for grace when it does show up...

For my sake, he walked with me.

We walked together for miles and years,
He walked with me on sunny days and gray

We took breath-taking hikes together
enjoying one another's company
and the soft jubilation of creation

He walked beside me, holding my hand, being my friend.

And he walked with me still, even as I belittled him and mocked his life
When I said, in not so many words, that I despise him and everyone like him
When I said, indirectly and with a laugh, that he disgusted me
When I spat upon his humanity, he never once flinched
When I used love like a hammer and god like a hatchet,

Still, he walked with me

I guess faith really is the substance of things hoped for
The evidence of things not seen.

Because, even at my coldest, at my cruelest, at my worst, he walked with me

for my sake.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Originally uploaded by paynehollow
In the news:

Pastor Ralph White of the Bloomfield Full Baptist Church in Memphis won’t bless a baby in his church unless the parents are married.

“We will do it, but not in the church setting,” he said. “We’ll go to the home or if they want to have an event somewhere, we’ll go there and do it.”

White said he hopes to send a message to young fathers: step up and provide for your family.

“Biblically speaking, a man who doesn’t take care of his children or family is worst than an infidel,” he said.

This is his way of fighting teen pregnancy...


My favorite comment thus far on this story?

"...but, Jesus’ mommy wasn't married to Jesus’ daddy..."