Monday, January 30, 2012

Fair Play is for Sissies

Fair Play Fire Co by paynehollow
Fair Play Fire Co, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.

Okay, moving away from that fruity-loopy "poetry" garbage, let me post this:

How in the world did I miss this last week...?

During last night's Republican debate in South Carolina, Congressman Ron Paul was booed for advocating the "Golden Rule" in foreign policy.

"If another country does to us what we do others, we're not going to like it very much. So I would say that maybe we ought to consider a 'Golden Rule' in foreign policy. Don't do to other nations what we don't want to have them do to us," said Paul, who was greeted with boos.

International Business Times

In an audience composed of conservative (presumably largely Christian) GOP members, Ron Paul advocates the Golden Rule ("Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you") and gets booed??

Here it is on the Youtubes


What is the world supposed to make of that? Have any conservative Christians addressed this point? Have they taken the Fox Audience to task or defended the booing?

I will say this: I like Ron Paul. I'd much rather have a legitimate and honest Libertarian in office than a standard GOP flack. Ron Paul is consistent and I appreciate that.

Don't get me wrong: I wouldn't want to see Paul as president, I'm just saying he's easily my favorite of the GOP candidates for president. He's still got some loopy opinions, but at least they're consistent and rational from a Libertarian worldview...

Shame on you, South Carolina. It's a good thing Jesus H. Christ isn't running for President, Lord knows what they'd do to Him.

Sunset over the Ridge

Sunset over the Ridge by paynehollow
Sunset over the Ridge, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.

January 29, 2012

There lies a stillness
on the backside of the ridge
broken by nothing
but the cool lonesome wind

And to sit on the hillside
overlooking the valley
tangled only by briars
and disrupted only by birdsong

there is a peace, wanting to be claimed

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"...a Fool and a Herytick"

Trabue House Gate by paynehollow
Trabue House Gate, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.

I am descended from a family that includes a man named Daniel Trabue (1760-1840), whose family were early settlers in Virginia and then Kentucky (in the mid- to late-1700s). Daniel's grandfather was Antoine Trabue, born in Montalban, France and his mother was a Dupuy, also from Montalban. The Trabues in the US are, I've been told, all descended from this one line of Trabues - Atoine's descendents.

We Trabues are fortunate in that Daniel Trabue, at the end of his life, wrote a journal recalling (sometimes imperfectly) his life and times as an early Kentucky settler. He also recorded from memory a bit of what he'd heard about how his grandfather and grandmother escaped France (two separate incidents). I thought I'd share a bit of those two events today because it is fascinating reading.

A bit of historic background:

In 1685, Louis XIV signed the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. This resulted in much persecution and an inquisition of French Protestants (Huguenots) and from 200,000 to 400,000 Huguenots left France. At this time, the family of Trabue had their seat at Montauban on the Tarne, in old Guyenne, France.

Here is a translated copy of the certificate that Antoine Trabue brought with him from France (written by a preacher friend of his):

"Lausanne, France, 15 Sept. A.D., 1687. We, the undersigned, certify that Antoine Trabue is a native of Montauban, age about 19 years, of good size, fine carriage, dark complexion, having a scar under his left eye; has always professed the Reformed Religion in which his parents raised him. He has never committed any offense that has come to our knowledge, otherwise than that the violence of the late horrible persecutions justified, which persecutions God has had the kindness to stop and for which He has given us reparations. We commend him tothe care of a kind Providence and to a cordial reception from our brethren."

And now, here is how Daniel Trabue begins his journal (all the original misspellings and grammatical mistakes are left intact)...

The Narrative of Daniel Trabue
Memorandom made by me D[aniel] Trabue in the year of 1827 of a Jurnal of events from memory and Tradition

I was born March 31, 1760, as per Register, in chesterfield county, Virginia, 15 miles from the city of Richmond. My Progenitors was from France. My Grandfather Anthony Trabue Fled from France in the year of our lord 1687 at a time of a bloody persicution against the Desenters by the Roman Catholicks...

The law against the Desenters was very Rigid at that time. Who Ever was known to be one, or Evin suspected-if they would not swear to suite [visit] the priest-their lives and estates was forfited, and they put to the most shameful. and cruel Tortue and Death. And worse than all, they would not let any One move from the kingdom. Guards and troops was stationed all over the kingdom to stop and ketch any that might run away.

At Every place where they would expect those persons might pass, there were Guards fixed and companys of Inquisetors and patrolers going on every road, and every other place, Hunting for these Hereticks, as they called them.

And where their was one that made their escape, perhaps their was hundreds put to the most shamefull Tortue and Death and their estates confiscated. When the Decree was first passed, a number of the people thougt it would not be put in execution so very hastely; but the priests, Friers and Inquseters was very intent for their estates, and they rushed quick.

I understand that my grandfather, Anthony Trabue, had an estate, but concluded he would leave it if he could possibly make his escape. He was a very young man, and he and a nother young man took a cart and loaded it with wine and went on to sell it to the furthermost Guard. And when night came they left their horses and Cart and made their escape to an Inglish ship, which took them in. And they went over to ingland, leaving their estates, native country, their relations, and everything for the sake of Jesus who Died for them. [probably he went to Switzerland instead]

My Mother was a Daughter of John Jams Dupuy. His father [left France about the same time. The circumstance was he was an officer in the army and he went home. And before he got home he had heard that his wife was turned Herriteck and when he got home she] told him all a bout the matter. She said she believed that [th]e catholicks was rong and that she had experienced the true [re]ligion of Jesus christ and she could not renunce it. She said the priest had been to see her and threattened her very sverly and told her he would be their again the next Day and if she Did not renounce her sentement and swear thus and so they would put her to the cruelest Death that they could think off.

That night she thought she was in a Dreadfull condition. She was looking for her husband at home but was not certain he would come and if he Did come she Did not know how he would act with her as he was a Catholick himself. She fasted that day and prayed to god almighty to Direct her what to Do. She did not ceace to pray all night.

The next day she saw the priest and the inquisitors coming. She had time to fall on her knees a minute or two before they entered her house. She prayed to jesus christ the might God to be with her in this time of great need and strengthen her and Direct her what to Do. She said it came to her not to Deny her saviour.

She Jumpt up and meet them at the Door and told them to come in. They asked her if she would now Do what the wanted her to Do yesterday. She said she had not altered her oppinion. They told her she was a fool, she was Deluded by the Devil, and they would kill her as she was not fit to live any longer, and she would go to the Devil instantly. She said if they despised her and Cast her off and put her to Death her Dependence was in Jesus her saviour, who would receive her soul in heavin.

They told her again she was a fool and a herytick (and many other names they called her), and that the way they was a going to serve her was to pull off all her finger nails with pinchers. And they said, "Look out at the door," that their was a big fat wild horse. "We will tye your hair of your head to that horse's tail and let him go. And then what will become of you?"

She said, "I am a lone woman. You can Do so if you plese. I cannot help myself."

One of them said, "Let her alone to Day. It is thought her husband will come home to Day and he will tell her better." So they went away and left her.

The same Day her Husband came home. She told him all that had passed. He loved her much. She was a hansom young woman-newly marryed and no child. My great Grandfather Dupuy was a strict Catholick but thought this persecution was rong, and that he would take her over to ingland and leave her their untill times would alter, and he himself would come back and enjoy his estate as he was rich. It was said their petitions going Every Day to the king to alter the Decree. My Great Grandfather thought the Decree would be altered. He imediately got a suit [of] men's cloaths that would fit his wife, give her a sword; and she passed as his servant in a man's regimental cloathing a sword by her side.

So they went to ingland.

So, you see, I come by my heresy honestly...

Friday, January 20, 2012

President Obama sings Al Green: Let's stay together in 2012 ;-)

I've had some problems with some of Obama's actions (and lack of actions) since he's been in office, but you gotta love a president who can sing himself a little Reverend Al Green...

Friday, January 13, 2012


Praying Statue by paynehollow
Praying Statue, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.

Someone recently said to me (and I have heard this sentiment many times before, even said it myself)...

the idea is to see cultural issues through the lens of Biblical Truth. We do not look at scripture through the lens of contemporary culture.

And I guess my response to that would be: we need to prayerfully, carefully, rationally strive to see God's Way through the lens of Jesus' teachings and a correct understanding of the Bible and rational consideration of circumstances, but the caution would be that we don't allow our interpretation of the Bible to conflate with God's Way.

It seems to me that when we say, "we need to see culture through the lens of Biblical truth," it is IMPLICIT that what we MEAN is, "...through the lens of Biblical truth AS I UNDERSTAND IT..." and paying attention to that is key to good, rational, humble Bible study.

IF "Biblical Truth" (AS WE UNDERSTAND IT) becomes, to us, simply "What God says...," then we run the risk of conflating OUR UNDERSTANDING of Biblical Truth (which, again, is what we are actually saying when we reference Biblical Truth) with God's Word. We wouldn't put it this way, but it makes us out to be a little god and places us in the wrong position - the position of speaking for God what WE BELIEVE, as if God were speaking it.

So, for me, I'm not trying to discern cultural issues through MY INTERPRETATION of the Bible, rather, I'm striving to discern cultural issues through God's Will, which is my goal. The Goal, then, is not "what the Bible says," but rather, "God's Will."

The Bible (which I have to reason my way through), my reason, real world evidence, God's Spirit, God's Word writ upon my heart... these ALL can contribute to my better understanding God's will, but they ALL depend on my own good reasoning, and that includes MY UNDERSTANDING of the Bible.

And this is a concern precisely because I am a flawed and imperfect human being. I am entirely capable of being mistaken and misunderstanding points. This is true when I'm having a face-to-face conversation with a normal person in my own language and in my own culture, how much MOREso would it have to be true of an infinite God, the Great Mystery, so perfect, so wonderful as to beyond my own understanding - a God who does NOT speak to me (or any of us) audibly and directly?

"Now, we see as through a glass, darkly," Paul tells us. And this is a hugely important point. It makes the difference, IT SEEMS TO ME, between being able to hold opinions with grace, good humor and good judgment and holding opinions with arrogance and poor judgment.

My concern is that people read a passage, find a verse they like and say, "The Bible says it and I believe it, that settles it..." without taking into consideration that it is THEIR UNDERSTANDING of the Bible that they are referencing, not "the Bible" magically telling them what to believe.

After all, I read Genesis 1 and can easily easily say, "The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it!" and mean it entirely. The Bible DOES contain a creation story and I DO believe God is the Creator, but that does not mean that I should take what appears to be written in clearly mythic language as a literal history, any more than I should take passages written in clearly poetic language as literal commands.

Now, having said all of that, I would add that I don't find the Bible, for the most part, to be that hard to understand. I think its teachings are generally consistent, reasonable, understandable and pretty danged obvious (if challenging and hard to live up to, short of God's grace). I don't find the Bible to be a puzzle in the least.

But here's the thing: This is true, probably, for most people who disagree with me, too.

I'm just suggesting that it would be a bit arrogant to say that I - and those who agree with me - are the Ones with the ONE TRUE understanding of God's Will.

This would seem to me to be a clear, rational, obvious Biblical (and logical) Truth.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

CS Lewis on Service to God

Howie in the lion's den by paynehollow
Howie in the lion's den, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.

In CS Lewis' Narnia books, as most of you no doubt remember, Lewis presents several stories of Aslan, the great Lion a noble, good and wild Being that represents God in the stories which always involve the good Narnians and humans resolving some problems brought about by evil, in one way or the other.

In one of the books, The Last Battle, the "bad guys" are represented by a greedy and power-hungry ape named Shift who convinces a slow-witted but well-meaning donkey (named Puzzle) to put on a lion skin and pretend to be Aslan. By thus manipulating Puzzle, Shift sets out to deceive Narnians into submitting to Shift's rules, rather than Aslan's. In the process, Shift has the Narnians doing labor for their enemies, the Calormenes (who, it has been suggested, seem to be allegorical Muslems). The Calormenes have their own evil, cruel god named Tash.

A great battle is eventually mounted to end the deception and the enslavement of the Narnians. In the end, of course, Aslan and the Narnians win out over the greed and deception of Shift and the other "bad guys," including the Calormene army.

In the process, we meet one of the Calormene soldiers (Emeth), who seems to be a good-souled person who just happens to believe in Tash, because that is the way he was raised. Still, Emeth has a good heart. His desire is to love and see his god, and to do good and honorably serve in the name of that god.

In the end, when the truth comes out and Aslan wins the day, some of the people in the story go to meet the one true God (in a heaven-like state, apparently). Emeth decides to step through the door to meet the True God, knowing now that he has served the wrong god all his life. Here's a part of the dialog from that part of the story...

Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honor) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc [emperor] of the world and live and not to have seen him. But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, "Son, thou art welcome. "

But I said, "Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash."

He answered, "Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me."

Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, "Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? "

The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, "It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him."

"Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted.

"Dost thou understand, child?"

I said, "Lord, thou knowest how much I understand." But I said also (for the truth constrained me), "Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days."

"Beloved," said the Glorious One, "unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek."

I've always enjoyed the story and respected the logic behind it. There is not "good" done for an evil thing and "good" done for God, as two separate and distinct things. There is not "truth" known about an evil thing and "truth" known about God, as two separate things. There is only Truth, and Goodness, and Love, and Grace and these are ALL OF GOD. In truth, Lewis is stating, anything done of love, goodness, purity, grace, justice, honesty and beauty, all these things are OF God, because they are part of God's nature.

Seems reasonable to me.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Christmas Day Music at Jeff St

Happy New Year

Snowcone by paynehollow
Snowcone, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.

Although the leafless maple
blustering in a new wind this morning
is the same old tree in my backyard
as yesterday

And even though the sun behind
new clouds this morning
is the same old light in the sky
as always

In a very real sense
each and every day is a New Year

A New Chance to begin again

Dig in.