Monday, December 19, 2016

Nearly Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas
and all thru' the woods
all the creatures were dancing
like good creatures should

He Fox on drums and
She Fox on paws
were prancing and dancing
to Rabbit's applause

The Mice really boogied
while Squirrel only stood
and Thomas Tortoise cavorted
and was amazingly good!

This wild joyous romp
in the forest, Christmas eve
was chaperoned from above
by a crow named Ol' Steve

As for me? I saw it all
while out for a hike
which I recommend highly
if hiking, you like

For good Christmas hikes
are filled with wild choruses
when out for a ramble
through holiday forests-es

Monday, November 28, 2016

Stupid Lies

The difference between the two candidates for office is still visible, as is the problem with "President Trump" that remains and is deeply troubling.
What Trump says about the election results:
"In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally."
He made a specific and enumerated fact claim, that "millions" of people voted illegally.
1. There is zero evidence for this.
2. Trump has zero evidence for this.
3. Knowing that there is zero evidence for it, he made the claim anyway.
This is the exact sort of casual lying that should disqualify Trump from office. He has constantly and demonstrably made ridiculously false claim after absurd fact claim. Claims that are not supported by data. There are not just lies, they are stupid lies. They insult our intelligence, or should.
This is a problem and now it is our nation's problem. It's a problem because now, each and every time that "President Trump" makes a claim, we are obliged to treat it as a possible lie. If he claims that we "need" to bomb a city, how do we know we actually "need" to do so? Because so much of what he has said has been a stupidly false claim, we are obliged to treat everything he says as a false claim. We can't trust our own president (moreso than even normally!). The world can't trust the US.
This is why he should never have been elected in the first place.
THAT is what Trump says.
What the Green Party and Democrats/Clinton have said about the election, on the other hand:
From CNN:
"Wisconsin Green Party co-chairman George Martin said the party is seeking a "reconciliation of paper records" -- a request that could go further than a simple recount, possibly spurring an investigation into the integrity of Wisconsin's voting system. "This is a process, a first step to examine whether our electoral democracy is working," Martin said.
Both the Clinton campaign and the White House have said they see no evidence that any voting systems were hacked, although the Clinton campaign said Saturday it will take part in the recounts, joining with Stein, to ensure the recount is "fair to all sides.""
So, you can see, there are no irrational and sweeping false claims. There is a concern raised and, even though there appears to be no obvious hacking, because of concerns raised, they'd like to have a check to verify that the system is working.
That is how rational adults talk. That is how serious presidential contenders review data and make conclusions and act.
"Millions cheated!"
"Nu-uh! I'm not! YOU'RE a puppet!!"
"Crooked Hillary!" "Lyin' Ted!"
"I grab them by the p$%#y... I can't help myself."
This is how an ill-mannered, bullying, possibly mentally disturbed grade-school student talks.
He remains unfit for office.
One take-away from this, at least for now, is that all good citizens are obliged to treat each and every Trump claim as potentially false and in need of verification by responsible and moral adults.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Can't Take This Music From Me

A song written by the great guys in the Steel Wheels (check them out) and sung here at my church by some friends.
" Hymns from the loudest voice til quiet ones rejoice Your bitter silence tasted
And to all the beaten down in those forgotten towns Let no more time be wasted

There are no words to sing this little song I bring I come here empty handed
There is no day too bright no darken night  There are no wishes granted

Can't take this music from me
music from me
you can't take it from me..."

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

This Remains...

In our friends and family
we will find our strength.

And we may well need it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

escaping thoughts

   his thoughts had escaped
to dreams of woods and wild
                and an old Eden

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Change is Life

There is,
in the Autumn of the year, a sense that I have
that is both true and false.
It is the sense that
time is winding down
that things are ending
and time
and flowers
and leaves
are fading and going away...

...and it somehow
extends beyond the natural world
to friendships
and family
(as if they weren't part of the natural world!)
this sense that time is slipping away
and I'm
powerless to stop it.
It is, of course, true.
But that truth is conditional and temporal.
Things are winding down
some things are ending
and that day is coming soon.
But other things are just starting.
Seeds are being blown on the wind
and buried
and going into hibernation
to spring up again
one day and that day, too,
is coming soon.
New ideas are germinating
new friendships are resting
waiting to blossom
Old friendships will be reinvented
and reimagined
Our own Selves are being
and reminagined
and that change is all Good
or can be.
Change is life.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

What Makes Us Smart

"That makes me smart."

This was Trump's throw-away line about the fact, raised by Clinton, that he has paid no taxes in at least some years. He was proud of being a multi-millionaire who contributed Zero tax dollars. He thought it made him "smart."

Any society has expenses we have to pay. We need our roads, infrastructure, police, fire departments, trash pick up, schools, etc. We have to pay for these things. And I fully understand not forcing those who are struggling to help pay much (the poor already pay a disproportionate amount of their income in sales taxes...)

But for the rest of us, we have a social compact, an agreement to pay for these common needs. To try to abuse rules to avoid paying our common expenses, therefore, is not "smart," and certainly not good. And certainly not if you are extravagantly wealthy!

It is greedy. It is self-centered. It is manipulative. It is petty. It is wrong.

And for such a person to boast about being a leech to run for public office pretending to care about our country... Well, his actions belie the point. You care about our nation, Mr Trump? Then show it! And one way to start showing it is to pay your fair share! Release your taxes. Pay back a reasonable amount of tax dollars that the rest of us had to shoulder so you could buy yourself gold toilets.

Until you do that, you're not smart. You don't care about the common good. You're just a petty little cheating freeloader and this admission should disqualify you, showing you to be fundamentally unfit for office.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Trip to Spain and France...

Here's a video featuring photos and sounds from our family's recent trip to France and Spain.

We landed in Barcelona, Spain and spent several days there. This was probably my favorite part of the trip. There was just so much to see!

From there, we took a train across the south of France, stopping for a few days in Nice, on the Mediterranean Sea. Very nice. I found an amazing music store there (although too late in our trip to visit there very long, unfortunately) with a wide variety of vintage instruments... guitars, mandolins, hurdy gurdies (look it up...), violins, cellos, banjos... they had it all!

From there, we took the Eurail Train up to Paris for a few days there. Obviously, there is more there than one can see in a few days, but it was a nice sampling. We could see the Eiffel Tower from our room and spent a day visiting the area around it. We spent a few brief hours at the Louvre, took a trip to the catacombs and took a boat ride down the River Seine. Amazing.

From there, we Eurailed back down to Toulouse, France and visited nearby Montauban, where the Trabues are from! That was exciting for me. We are fortunate in having a detailed family record of our escape from France. It was after the Edict of Nantes had been revoked by King Louis XIV, which had allowed for some religious freedom. After it was revoked, Protestants were forced to recant of their heresy and adopt the Catholic faith. Failing that, they would be tortured, jailed and killed.

They came for Antoine Trabuc (how it was spelled then) and he wasn't home, so they threatened his wife with torture unless she recanted. She played the Woman Card and said, "I can't recant without my husband!" so they said they'd come for her and him the next day. They were going to tie her hair to a horse's tail and drag her through the city until she recanted or died!

Antoine got home and they skipped town - leaving all they had behind - leaving Montauban on the River Tarn. I sat at the edge of the Tarn and skipped stones across the surface. I also visited several Catholic churches, but no grudges seemed to be held.

From there, it was back to Barcelona for a couple of days before catching our flight home.

And we could do all of this because of our kids!

We've had a rough few years, taking care of my parents in their ailing years. The kids knew we hadn't had a real, extended and work-free vacation for a long time so they saved up their own money, made arrangements for everything and surprised us with the news back on Donna's birthday in February! They are only 20 and 25 years old, both working part time, with Sarah still being in college. They are some wonderful, hard-working kids (as are most kids I know these days, it seems) and we couldn't be more proud of them.

I pass that on not to brag (okay, maybe a little to brag), but mainly to just celebrate the kindness and goodness capable of people in the world today. As troubled as the world seems these days, acts of love and kindness still do happen and it's great to celebrate it when it does.

Thanks, Kids!

(The video is ten minutes long and may be more than anyone is interested in, but there it is, if you're interested...)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Trabue European Vacation

My beloved children recently arranged for a long vacation in France and Spain, and thus, I have been out of communication for a while. More to come, but here are just a few photos from the trip.

I have the best kids!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Night Reader

She loved reading
especially at night
and did all her best reading
by lightning bug light.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Born Again

       the world burns up
sinking into the fiery sun each night
          and is reborn the next day

                  or so some say

   but I don't think so...

    I say that the world moves on
              day after day,
  same as always.

and if it needs to begin anew
           it will be up to us to birth it

Saturday, July 23, 2016


Someone recently raised concern about how the US was "spiraling out of control" and in a dangerous place. I mentioned that the data does not support that fear. We are all certainly concerned about the very public violence that has been in the news recently, these acts are truly tragedies. But that doesn't change the fact that violent crime is trending downwards. This person responded saying, "Hey, if you feel safe, go ahead and vote for Clinton..."

I'm pointing out: It's not that I "feel" safe - although there certainly is some validity to that idea - but that, in reality, according to the data, we ARE safer. Violent crime (murder, assault, rape) is down and trending downwards. According to FBI violent crime statistics...

"Today, the national crime rate is about half of what it was at its height in 1991. Violent crime has fallen by 51 percent since 1991, and property crime by 43 percent. In 2013 the violent crime rate was the lowest since 1970. And this holds true for unreported crimes as well. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, since 1993 the rate of violent crime has declined from 79.8 to 23.2 victimizations per 1,000 people."

Read that again:

since 1993 the rate of violent crime has declined from 79.8 to 23.2 victimizations per 1,000 people.


"In 1970, during Nixon’s presidency, the violent crime rate (number of crimes per 100,000 people) was 363.5. It had been rising since 1961, and ROSE every year of NIXON’s “law and order” presidency.

It kept rising through the Carter, Reagan and Bush presidencies, peaking in 1991 at 758.2. During the Bill Clinton presidency, the violent crime began to decline, down 33 percent on his watch. It dropped another 9.5 percent under Bush II. As of 2014, the most recent year of national data from the FBI, during the Obama presidency violent crime is down 20.3 percent, for a rate of 365.5."

Also important to note in that data: Crime began dropping during the CLINTON years (DOWN 33%) still trended down during the Bush years, but at a slower rate (9.5%), then the rate of decline picked back up during the OBAMA years (20%). We are just factually a safer people, at least as far as violent crime goes.

This is actually quite an important point. Some in the GOP/Trump's campaign are portraying us as fundamentally unsafe ("Make America SAFE Again"), to a degree that is almost silly (as Trump read through his list of disasters that are barking at our feet, I could hear Bill Murray in Ghostbusters adding, "Cats and Dogs... Living together! MASS HYSTERIA!!").

These people are betting that people will ignore the data and listen to their fear-mongering because, what else do they have? We ARE safer, now. The economy IS improving. The unemployment rate IS down. We ARE better off now than under the Bush administration. Human rights are being extended more in keeping with our better values.

Don't buy the fear-mongering and let's work to educate people. Things ARE better in so many ways, and certainly moreso than under the Bush administration.

Also (and this is important, too), ask people, "When you say Make America Safe Again... to what time period are you alluding?" If they're speaking of the Nixon/Reagan/Bush years, they are just mistaken. If they are referring to the "Golden Age" of the 1930s-1950s, well, violent crime may have been down, but moral crimes - Jim Crow laws, discrimination, the denying of rights and abuse of minorities... those "good ol' days" were pretty monstrous. Black folk, gay folk, other minorities were NOT safe during those days in very real ways.

Even if you think this, you should recognize that a large percentage of your neighbors hear you longing for the good ol days when "the blacks" and "the gays" knew their place and stayed in it and women recognized their place in the home... ie, you should recognize you will sound like a bigot when you say "Make America Safe, or Great, Again."

Look, I come from a conservative and traditional people. These are very good people, don't mistake what I'm saying here. Moral, concerned about justice and taking care of those who need to be taken care of... NOT bigots. Good, decent people. I'm not complaining about "the conservatives" and how awful they are as a group. I'm warning against those few in any group who'd use fear to divide and tear down. I'm warning against those few in any group who would say, "I am the one with the answers. I am the one who will save us from this apocalypse that will surely come without me!"

What I'm saying is that we're all in this together, that things are not as bad as some make them out to be, and that we need to unite, not divide, to solve the problems we do have and we WILL continue to do so together. Not because one man who says that things are going to hell and he's the only one to save us. That is something to be wary of.

I would hope we'd all be able to agree.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Partially Perfect Knowledge Theory

As I have said, I'm really to the point where I'd really like to spend most of my time on this blog reflecting on nature and this beautiful creation - human and otherwise - and living simply and lovingly within it. But I am still fascinated with rational problem solving and considering reasonable questions about apparently hard to settle issues. So, in that spirit, not in the sense of wanting to disagree with anyone and certainly not argue with anyone, but just to consider some reasonable questions...

In a recent conversation with Bubba, he was speaking of the ability to know some things perfectly and he was offering his idea of what he thought my position was. Specifically, we're speaking of ideas of morality and scriptural interpretations that we can't prove demonstrably and objectively.

Bubba and I were having this conversation about the idea of having what I termed "partially perfect knowledge." Bubba preferred calling it Absolute Confidence, Limited Scope, which he defined as follows...

- Absolute Confidence, Comprehensive Scope (ACCS). "A person can be absolutely confident about ALL proposition."

- Absolute Confidence, Limited Scope (ACLS). "A person can be absolutely confident about SOME propositions."

I reject the first but affirm the second. It seems you reject both -- and it seems you're ABSOLUTELY confident that ACLS is false, and **THAT** is what is incoherent, that a person can be absolutely confident that absolute confidence is impossible for ALL propositions.

I am fine with Bubba's definition and framing, with the reminder that we're speaking about unprovable ideas, morals, theologies... and specifically about biblical interpretations.

And Bubba is correct that I reject both theories. The thing is, I reject both for the same set of reasons, which can be explained by considering the following questions:


1. On  what bases would we presume we have ACCS? We don't, it's a rather delusional suggestion, we probably all agree.

2. Has God told us this? No. God simply hasn't.

3. Has the Bible told us this? No, it hasn't... and even if it did literally say that, on what basis would someone who is not a biblical literalist take the claim from the Bible at a literal face value?

4. Do some people INTERPRET the Bible in such a way that they, personally, are convinced that this is what God wants us to think? Perhaps, but so what? On what bases would we listen to these people? 

I can think of no reason, presumably, Bubba would agree.

5. Does reason insist upon it? No, clearly it doesn't. Reason would say that if it can't be objectively and demonstrably proven as a fact, then we can't have complete confidence in all given propositions.

I believe Bubba would recognize this when we expand it out to ALL propositions, but how are the  answers different for having complete confidence in SOME propositions?


Okay, so let's just look at ACLS and the rational problems we have, considering some more questions that the view begs.

5. IF there are SOME ideas, morals and theologies that we can be known with perfect or absolute confidence, which ones are they?

6. That is, can we know with complete confidence that slavery, rape, forced marriages, polygamy, drunk driving, deliberately killing children in wartime, smoking pot, buying baseball cards... are always wrong in all circumstances? And which items are and are not on this List of Perfectly Knowable Ideas?

[NOTE: I would suggest that for those of us who say that, at the least, Harm to Innocents is a fairly perfect, if not totally perfect, guideline for those who accept that measure... Saying it is always wrong to cause harm to innocents because it is a denying of basic human rights would preclude at least most of these actions... For the biblical literalist, it seems to me that there is at least the caveat that these actions are not always wrong, because God might command you to do them sometimes (since God literally did in the Bible at times, if you're taking it as literal history), and God wouldn't command you to do something that is inherently wrong... That's how it seems to me, feel free to correct me, anyone. But that is sort of an aside.]

7. The reason why the notion of knowing The List of Perfectly Knowable Ideas is important, because, if you don't have an authoritative list and Joe believes IDEA 1 is one of these things, on what bases do we conclude that Joe's IDEA 1 is an entirely reliable belief? Says who? On what authority? How does Joe know that the idea that he's got an opinion on is one of the ideas that we can know perfectly? Because he knows it perfectly? Says who? It's circular reasoning, is it not?

Or, if Joe thinks IDEA 1 is on The List, but Janet is sure that it's not, but IDEA 2 IS on the list, who decides? Where is the authority to make that decision?

8. If there is no List, then on what bases can we individually make the call on IDEA 1, 2, 3... 120,245? Is it every person for themselves? How is that authoritative and reliable?

Do you see the problem I'm having? I don't see how you can appeal to any given unprovable idea as "THIS is ACLS! THIS we can know with perfect assurance, 100%! with our partially perfect knowledge!"...unless you have an authoritative Source that can tell us definitively, Yes, it's on the List, or Yes, that opinion/interpretation/idea can't possibly be wrong. It is as a fact.

Is "Genesis is written more figuratively..." one of the ideas?
Is "Genesis is written as literal history one..." one of the ideas?

Says who? On whose/what authority can we say objectively and with Absolute Confidence one idea or the other or neither is absolutely right?

I mean, I think that there is observable data and science that insists that Genesis, at the least, can't be taken as totally literal history, that the earth was not created in six days, 6,000 years ago, that the world didn't flood, that language diversification didn't happen on one day... that based on evidence, we can discount that... but I think Bubba might disagree with even what seems like to be incontrovertible data... so Bubba would/might say that this is NOT one of the issues that is ACLS... or that it IS one and Bubba's opinion on it is the conclusion we can know with absolute confidence.

On what bases? Says who? What are you appealing to as an authority?

That (perhaps as you know) is the on-going problem I'm having with what Bubba is suggesting... I just don't see how it can be explained and defended objectively.

Unfortunately, I don't feel I'm covering this as comprehensively as I'd like, but I'll leave that there for now and see if anyone would like to offer their respectful opinions.

Thank you so much.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Sunday, June 26, 2016

All 'Round Me

And in my moments of grief and groans
the world marches on without me
but not to leave me all alone
it's there, I know, all 'round me.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Pride Festival, 2016

With so much bad news
in the news,

with all the bad news
it was a pleasant evening
to gather together with
a few thousand friends
and strangers
and take a stand for

Truly, a beautiful day.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

A Muslim Strategy for Peace-making

From an op-ed by Haroon Moghul, a fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. His next book, "How to be a Muslim," will be out in 2017.

...The hundreds of millions of Muslims who reject extremism must start building out real, institutional alternatives to extremism, with serious funding, talent and commitment behind them. We've spent tens of millions of dollars in the United States, for example, and on what? We have some nice mosques. Most of them are empty most of the week, except for a few hours every Friday afternoon. We built some Islamic schools. I guess that's cool. But on the major metric, we've failed. It feels as if we are more unpopular than ever.
Many Americans want us banned from the country. In the battle for hearts and minds, we're losing. Badly. When Muhammad Ali died, a lot of Muslims I know were despondent precisely because they wondered if we would ever see such a champion again.
We need to turn this around. We need to fight back against extremism. We need to take ownership of the problems, because it's the only way we're going to take ownership of the solution. If you can't criticize yourself, you can't better yourself. If you can't lay out a vision of the future, you're going to live someone else's future.
I'm calling for the chaotic Muslim middle -- too long unrepresented or underrepresented -- not to stand up and speak out, but to stand up and build out. We must design, fund, sustain and expand programs that target the very people extremists are going after. Young men and young women of all backgrounds. These programs would realize a positive vision of Islam. They'd make young people feel like they're doing something. They'd make them feel valuable. Empowered. Capable. Agents.
As a friend of mine likes to put it, these programs should help create protagonists, writers of their own narrative. That becomes the kind of program that young people all over the world want to be part of. They should be so well-funded that we can afford to take people regardless of their personal circumstance. So egalitarian they aim to assist and uplift people regardless of where they come from, what color their skin is, what religion they believe in, or what language they speak. That begin to crowd out the extremist narrative, and extremist ideology.
Imagine if we could send significant numbers of young Muslims to meet their co-religionists and offer them aid and assistance, or to meet people they've never been exposed to, to be taught and to teach. Imagine if we leveraged our resources and our numbers to fight hate, intolerance and extremism. Imagine if young people saw they could help their co-religionists by working with mainstream institutions.
I am tired of simply saying terrorism is wrong. We should know that already. We should be known for that. I'd rather build up an alternative, a Muslim world that doesn't just reject extremism in word, but defeats it in deed, that does more than acknowledge homophobia, and intolerance (and the many other ills we see rampant in some Muslim communities, like anti-Semitism and racism), but actively fights them.
We certainly have the resources among us. We have more reasons to act now than we should...

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

An Insane and Hellish Legalism...

Cracked Pot
From Stan, at the fundamentalist blog, Winging It, on the "Regulative Principle of Worship...."

"I'd guess that most of you have never heard of this concept. Don't worry. I wouldn't expect it. Popular at one point, there are now very few churches that subscribe to it and, as you would expect, the rest have mostly put it out of their minds. So ... what is it? You've heard, I assume, of the principle of Christian Liberty. Based on passages like Romans 14 and1 Corinthians 10:23-33, this principle holds that Christians are permitted to do anything that God's Word does not forbid within the confines of conscience. Now, that's an oversimplification, perhaps, and there are lots of considerations, but that's the idea. Well, the regulative principle of worship is like that, except in reverse. This principle says that in worship believers are only permitted to do that which God commands.

The idea, believe it or not, comes from Scripture. The most compelling clue comes from the story of Nadab and Abihu. These priests, sons of Aaron, offered "strange fire" and were instantly burned to death (Lev 10:1-2). For "strange fire"? Oh, sure, the ESV says "unauthorized fire", like that helps. The point is that they didn't violate a command from God; they simply did something in worship that He had not commanded. When Aaron started to complain, Moses told him, "This is what the LORD has said: 'Among those who are near Me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.'" And the text says that with that, "Aaron held his peace." (Lev 10:3) 

It looks then like God is concerned with specifics in the worship He receives. Thus, Moses was not allowed to make whatever he thought appropriate for the tabernacle. He had to make everything "after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain." (Exo 25:40) The first two commands of the Decalogue are about the proper worship of God (Exo 20:1-6). Paul warns about "self-made religion" which "have indeed an appearance of wisdom" but "are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh." (Col 2:23) Jesus rejected "the traditions of the elders" (Matt 15:1-13) and required a return to "the commandment of God". So it looks like the regulative principle of worship may have a biblical case.

After that, of course, the case breaks down..."

I will point out that my response is not, of course, an attack on Stan, but on this human (and nutty-sounding) theory... The "Regulative Principle of Worship..." Also, I will note that Stan does not fully endorse the claim. He merely says he thinks "the case for the regulative principle of worship has merit."

Here we have a "principle" that Jesus never advocated being proposed as a serious Christian tenet. The case is built almost entirely on one obscure passage from the OT, and even there, it does not promote this as a principle, but humans have taken the passage and fabricated out of thin air a principle they extrapolated from this obscure passage something that even Stan notes is the reverse of a more reasonable and consistently biblical theory, the idea of Christian Liberty.

[I will note here that I find Stan's description of Christian Liberty interesting, as taken literally, it would destroy his arguments against gay folk marrying, since God's Word never "forbids" it... it is a human extrapolation. So, presumably if one is going to be consistent on the notion of Christian Liberty, one would embrace grace on the topic of gay folk marrying or transgender folk going to the bathroom in the reasonably appropriate place, rather than the legalism of modern fundamentalist/conservatives.]

Using this approach, all manner of evil and craziness could be promoted as "coming from Scripture."

"There's this line in the Bible where God clearly okays the selling of one's daughters into forced marriages. This comes from Scripture and, thus God..."


"I just read about how God told the Israelites to slaughter all the people of a nation when they invade, so that is how God wants us to deal with our enemies, it comes from Scripture..."


This is the problem with the legalistic approach to using/misusing/abusing the Bible... Merely finding a passage and then, extrapolating OUT FROM that passage a human theory about what God wants (even when God never said so) is a potentially horrible idea. However, as long as you are fine with admitting it is your theory and NOT "God's Word," then okay, so perhaps it lets you extrapolate out bad or irrational theories, but it is clearly your theory and you gladly and humbly admit as much. We might could live with that. But the problem is when one conflates the extrapolated human theory with God's Word.

"It comes from Scripture..."

If it doesn't mesh with the teachings of Jesus, don't offer up an extrapolated theory as being a reasonable Christian tenet. If it sounds crazy and legalistic on the face of it, don't offer it up as a reasonable teaching of Jesus. If JESUS didn't say it, don't say it's a teaching of Jesus.

The idea, believe it or not, comes from a HUMAN head, not from God. It is something that humans are extrapolating out and imposing upon God when God has not said it. That is a bad idea. It is irrational and presumptuous and, quite possibly, even evil. Don't do that.

The one line Stan (and presumably others who might agree) got right is, "the case breaks down."

Indeed, the case breaks down when you move from an amusing "what if this were taken THAT way...?" party game about human theories and the Bible and move to "I've decided this is biblical and thus, what God wants. HEED MY WORD."

Bad, bad idea.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Research on Corporal Punishment...

...or why spanking doesn't work.

A new report on spanking confirms and rather puts a nail in the coffin of the idea of spanking as a good idea. From the University of Texas at Austin...

The more children are spanked, the more likely they are
to defy their parents and
to experience increased anti-social behavior,
mental health problems and
cognitive difficulties,

according to a new meta-analysis of 50 years of research on spanking.

The study, published in this month's Journal of Family Psychology, looks at five decades of research involving over 160,000 children. The researchers say it is the most complete analysis to date of the outcomes associated with spanking, and more specific to the effects of spanking alone than previous papers, which included other types of physical punishment in their analyses.

"Our analysis focuses on what most Americans would recognize as spanking and not on potentially abusive behaviors," says Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. "We found that spanking was associated with unintended detrimental outcomes and was not associated with more immediate or long-term compliance, which are parents' intended outcomes when they discipline their children..."

Both spanking and physical abuse were associated with the same detrimental child outcomes in the same direction and nearly the same strength.

"We as a society think of spanking and physical abuse as distinct behaviors," she says. "Yet our research shows that spanking is linked with the same negative child outcomes as abuse, just to a slightly lesser degree."

Gershoff also noted that the study results are consistent with a report released recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that called for "public engagement and education campaigns and legislative approaches to reduce corporal punishment," including spanking, as a means of reducing physical child abuse. "We hope that our study can help educate parents about the potential harms of spanking and prompt them to try positive and non-punitive forms of discipline."

Read more in Science Daily...

Monday, May 16, 2016

One Voice

Pentecost at Jeff St Baptist. 2016

In the Christian tradition, Pentecost is that time shortly after Easter, after Jesus had ascended into heaven and his disciples were sitting around figuring out, "What next?" The remaining followers of Jesus (about 120) were gathered together in a house in Jerusalem on a Sabbath when the Holy Spirit came upon them. This is where Jesus had just been crucified a few days before... these were no doubt very scary, dangerous times for his followers. When the Holy Spirit of God came to the disciples, it was like "tongues of fire" falling down upon them. After this happened, they went out into the city and began to preach about Jesus and, in spite of the dangerous political climate, these sermons served to bring people together.

At my church yesterday, some friends joined together to sing the song "One Voice," which you can see above. Here is what the book of Acts has to say about this special day (sometimes called the Birthday of the Church...)

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.”

Peter’s Sermon

But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:

And it shall be in the last days,’ God says,
That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all HUMANITY;
And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
And your young men shall see visions,
And your old men shall dream dreams;
Even on My bondslaves, both men and women,
I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit
And they shall prophesy.
And I will grant wonders in the sky above
And signs on the earth below,
Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke.
The sun will be turned into darkness
And the moon into blood,
Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.
And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved...’
~Acts 2

Thursday, May 12, 2016


There will come a day
when the very grains of sand
buried within the concrete sidewalks
will shake loose their bonds
and break down the structures that
imprison them
and be free.

I want to be there on that day
with a hammer in hand.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


Just a few thoughts on this Trump thing...

1. I don't think Trump is a Republican, not in the normal sense of the word. I don't think he strictly speaking holds to Republican or conservative values.

2. That is not to say that I think he's a Democrat or liberal... God forbid!

3. I think Trump is most likely a charlatan, a PT Barnum, loudly and proudly proclaiming "There is a sucker born every minute! And I'm here as living proof of that!"

4. That is, I think Trump is in this not for political ideals, just for himself. He'll say just about anything because he knows there's a certain apparently large percentage of the population that will believe just about anything, if you frame it just right and say it with enough bluster and demonize any who disagree with you.

5. This makes Trump potentially dangerous, because you just don't know what he'll do next and he's beholden to no groups, no community, no others but himself and that's all he needs, he thinks. It could well be this whole thing was a joke, to show how gullible a certain percentage of the population is, and how they'll go for anything if the right "leader" shows them the way. As Trump said himself, he could kill someone and his supporters would not stop supporting him. That's dangerous.

6. So, all that to say that the main problem in this Trump candidacy is not Trump himself, he's just an megalomaniacal con man. No, the problem is that so many people could fall under his spell. That's what is scary in all this.

7. Having said that, I'm not worried that Trump will win. I'm certain he's unelectable. Just because there is a large portion of the mostly "conservative" camp that will support him does not mean that there's anything like a majority who'd vote for him across the board.

8. Early on in this election cycle, when Trump was just beginning to establish himself, some GOP spokesperson said that he hoped Trump would be the nominee, just so that he'd get trampled in the general election and hopefully purge the GOP of this wing of their party. Not a bad idea, except that there's a chance that it might just kill off the GOP instead of rebuilding it. Sometimes, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but sometimes, it kills you.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Happy Earth Day

     Softly, she whispers
and - leaning into the wind -
              softly, I listen

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

When I Walk...

When I walk
I do so not for the purpose of traveling
but for the purpose of
introducing my feet
to the world

Saying, with each step,
Hello path
where will you lead today?

I'd like to make my feet
and hope that some of that wisdom
may pass on to me.

And so, I'll walk
until my education is complete
and then
when I've learned as much as
my feet can stand
I'll return home
and rest

and begin my studies again tomorrow

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Easter 2016

Easter at my church, above. Celebrating and embracing life and grace, below...

"The mockingbird took a single step into the air and dropped.

His wings were still folded against his sides as though he were singing from a limb and not falling, accelerating thirty-two feet per second per second, through empty air.

Just a breath before he would have been dashed to the ground, he unfurled his wings with exact, deliberate care, revealing the broad bars of white, spread his elegant, white-banded tail, and so floated onto the grass.

I had just rounded a corner when his incouciant step caught my eye; there was no one else in sight. The fact of his free fall was like the old philosophical conundrum about the tree that falls in the forest.

The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there."

~Annie Dillard

Friday, March 25, 2016

Beware the Bias

I recently heard and read in a few places people (conservative people) saying, "HEY y'all who support 'transgender' people and kids, you should look at what the EXPERTS are saying..." and they then proceeded to cite the American College of Pediatricians (ACP) who have come out with a study entitled, "Gender Ideology Harms Children..." and they begin citing some of the findings of this study.

Hmm, I thought. That's odd, I had not heard anything about professional doctors making this suggestion, not from the AMA or the APA... it struck me as odd that the professional organization for pediatricians was coming out with a study like this. But, having an open mind, I looked into what the experts were saying.

It was then that I realized that these were "experts," not experts. The ACP is NOT the big association of pediatricians that I assumed it was by the name. The well-recognized and long-lived pediatrician's association is the American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP has been around since 1930 and has over 64,000 pediatrician members. They publish peer-reviewed research and have a staff of 390 people. The AAP has NOT come out in support of these "findings," that's the ACP.

And who is the ACP? They are a splinter group that formed out of the AAP to promote traditional and religious views of family. They were founded in 2002 and have between 60 and 200 members (not all of whom are pediatricians, I read). They have no peer-reviewed research. They welcome members who agree with their religious/moral views up front. Which is to say that their research is "validated" by people with an agenda to promote a specific bias.

This, of course, is not science. Scientific organizations have no faith creed you have to agree to at the outset. That is anti-science.

A TINY group (less than 1% the size of the AAP, mind you) with an agenda publishing "studies" that validate their pre-held biases is akin to tobacco-funded doctors coming out in favor of smoking, with "studies" that back up that bias. If you are dedicated to a religious/moral view going in to your research and your peers will only validate research that supports that pre-held bias, that is not science.

Beware groups that use science as a tool to further an agenda - especially so blatantly - and that does not have peer-reviews for their studies. That is not science, that is religion.

Also, beware any political groups/people who have traditionally decried "the so-called experts" who suddenly begin trumpeting "Hey! Science is right and validating what I believe!" They aren't dedicated to facts, science or truth. They are dedicated to an agenda. Which is fine if that's what they're dedicated to, but they should be clear on that point up front.

*Side note: I am not saying that scientists are free from bias. Of course, they aren't, they're human with human biases. But there's a difference between having a bias but still being dedicated to going where the data leads while being open to peer-review as a check against any possible biases... there's a difference between that and using science to try to validate your views. Again, that's religion (and in a negative sense), not science.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Answering a Question...

I'm striving to get away from arguing with people who do not understand my points so my point here is not to argue. I'm just answering a question because it's a reasonable question with a reasonable answer. Stan at the blog, Winging It, recently asked a question about those who'd say that conservative types sometimes appear to be speaking for God, presuming that their opinions are one in the same as God's Word.

He says he doesn't understand those who object to this. Here is my answer to his question. First, a bit of context. Stan wrote...

Oddly enough, it appears that those who are complaining that a straightforward reading of Scripture -- reading it like it is written and taking it as it appears to mean -- is not a reasonable means of knowing what God thinks are pretty sure that they know what He thinks ... at least enough to know you're wrong.

I'm trying to figure out what's being said here. When they complain that we read and feed back what the Bible says as true and call it "speaking for God", what are they saying?

What we are saying is clear and I call as my first and only witness, Stan Smith:


This is a simple, demonstrable fact. When I or folk like me read the Bible, strive to take it seriously, seeking to follow God and conclude that...

Genesis is clearly written in a mythic style;
That the Bible does not "define" marriage anywhere;
That the Bible clearly does not teach sola scriptura, that this is a human theory contrary to biblical teaching (or at least beyond biblical teaching);
That clearly Jesus teaches us that Christians killing people in wartime is contrary to his teachings;
That clearly we are to live simple lives;
That clearly Jesus would support gay folk loving and marrying;

etc... that when we conclude these as overtly clear and obvious biblical teachings, YOU DO NOT THINK we are reading the Bible correctly. We are telling you what we think the Bible "obviously" or "clearly" is teaching and you disagree with our hunches. So, the obvious fact of the matter then is that you, Stan Smith (and people like you) do not believe that all those who read the Bible understand it correctly.

The obvious follow up question then is, "Well, Stan, if you do not think we all read the Bible correctly, on what reasonable and consistent basis do you conclude that you and those who agree with you are the ones that are correct?"

The answer to THIS necessary question is that you have nothing. You have nothing other than your opinion. The one and only answer you have is, "Well, because I think it is clear that they are mistaken..." Which is to say, you have your opinion.

As a point of fact, your opinion is not provable (if you could prove it, you would do so. You can't.) It IS your opinion. And there's nothing wrong with that, so long as you don't conflate your hunches and opinions with God's Word or fact.

As a further reasonable conclusion then, we can safely determine that you (nor I) have a definitive way of knowing that your opinion is the correct one.

What are we left with then?

That Stan Smith definitively does not rationally believe that we can "know" what the Bible is teaching and say with authority that he (or we) have the authoritative answer.

The defense rests. Thank you Stan for your testimony. (And if I have misstated something or made a mistake about your opinion, by all means, correct me. I don't believe I have.)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Sharing an Excellent Post

I almost never do this, but I am sharing an excellent post from another blogger who has made some extremely salient points about the Trump candidacy. While I often disagree with Stan, over at Winging It, he is right on the money on this post.

Trump Card

Trump himself is, in my mind, not the problem. There are always crackpots out there and PT Barnum types (which is closer to what I think Trump is) and other loose cannons. That's life. So, it's not a problem to me that there is a Trump in the world. The problem is that he is receiving something like 20-40% of the GOP/conservative/evangelical vote in a race for the presidency.

So, while I appreciate GOP leaders stepping up and denouncing Trump, what it seems like needs to happen is for GOP leaders to step up and denounce the ~30% of their followers who support someone like him. Stan is in the right on this one. This is not a man to vote for.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

With Each Trail I Hike

with each trail I hike
 I gather stones in my pockets,
 twigs and moss in my hands
 and one day
 I will build a small home
 made up of all those trails.
It behooves me, then,
 to gather my stones carefully
 and my twigs and moss with wisdom
and grace

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Beauty in Grief, Comfort in Community

A few moments of grace, love and beauty from my wonderful father's funeral. Crowds of people from all corners (Baptists and pagans, Catholics and airplane model builders, old and young, conservative and not) came out to celebrate the joy and love and strength of his amazing life.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Peace, Bill

My beloved father, Bill Trabue, passed away, gently and peacefully in his sleep yesterday. He is loved and celebrated and greatly missed already.

My dad was an incredibly hard-working, generous, peaceful, practical, creative man. A boy scout leader, Sunday School teacher, a father to six boys, a grandfather to eleven grandchildren by blood and to thousands of grandchildren by his own giving nature. He and my dear Mom, Mary, have been married for 66 incredible years and they had a simple and beautiful life together, never leaving each others' side right up to the end.

If you ever have ten hours, ask me about my Dad. I could tell you how great he was for days. Anyone who knew Dad could do the same. I mean that.

I love you, Dad.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Open Forums?

Recent posts/comments over at Stan's "Winging It" blog have talked about me (gossiping again, misrepresenting my views again, slandering again... all without the possibility to defend myself) and whether or not to allow me to defend myself/my ideas against false attacks/misrepresentations at his blog (and, as always, the caveat: I'm not picking on Stan and his commenters, I'm raising the words and ideas they spoke of to speak about ideas, not people)...


By allowing Dan to broadcast his heresy and other false teachings on everyone else's blogs, we give him an open forum. He is a time waster, his name links to his blogs which lead people to them for learning more of his false teachings and heresy and no one else should be led to a site like that. He refuses to remain civil in discussions and virtually always resorts to name-calling. He is not a Christian and yet pretends to be one while worshiping a God and Christ of his own making.

Publishing his comments gives him his desire to spread his false teaching while pretending to just be asking questions. I recommend NO ONE give him a voice on their blogs.


I've tried "leaning to the grace/mercy" side with Dan. He's used it to continue the running battle that got him evicted. I suppose, if someone else wanted to waste their time dueling with him, I could let him comment on, but I've come to the Prov 26:4 condition. Besides, I do harbor some concern that his approach will encourage others in his direction.

Christians of an earlier age burned people like him at a stake to avoid allowing his heresies to infect others. [!! wft? -dt]

Isn't his own blog sufficient?

...Dan T thinks that my concern for misguided people like him is a concern from weakness. Dan T thinks that historical, orthodox, biblical Christianity is a position of weakness. Dan T thinks that minds are won by making the most winning arguments. Dan T is confused. But no amount of discussion, requests, imploring, reasoning, argumentation, evidence, or dialog will stay him from the swift leap into insanity.

Not much I really wanted to say here, just pointing it out with a few thoughts.

It seems that their fear (concern, worry, whatever) is that my arguments will win over "misguided people..." and "encourage others in his direction..." thus, the conclusion that we ought not allow people like that to comment. Ban people like that. Don't give people like that a voice.

I, of course, disagree. One thing that Stan got right is that I do believe that the best arguments at least tend to make the best cases and win the most support, over time. It's why racism and slavery and sexism are not much supported in church anymore (whereas they used to be supported and promoted in many churches). It's why support for gay folk having rights and liberties is gaining support and opposition to the same is fading away rapidly (thanks be to God!)

As for me, I do believe that we should make our cases, support our arguments and not deny others that option to do the same (especially if we're going to talk about them/slander them/misrepresent their actual positions). I'm not afraid of those who disagree with me on some points... I'm not afraid of them making their case and possibly winning over people. I think the arguments offered at places like Stan's tend to be pretty weak and shallow, and too often irrational and immoral. I have nothing to fear from people making those arguments.

Ultimately, I believe bringing to the light of day "arguments" like these above only serve to use their own words to chase people away from their positions. Their arguments are their own worst enemy. By all means, make them. And should I have misunderstood some point of yours, please correct me. I have no problems with being corrected in a mistake, I have no fears there, either.

As an aside... What in the name of all that is holy is the comparison to burning people like me at the stake... is he longing for those days? Because that's what it sounds like. "if only it were that easy to get rid of heretics..." ! That's a very concerning line. Of course, I'm sure Stan doesn't think that. But then, what was the point of putting that line in there? I would love if Stan would clarify.

(Stan, you are welcome here to come out and affirm that it is a great moral wrong to burn people - even those you think are "heretics" - at the stake... or otherwise clarify your meaning.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Our Diversity Makes us Great!

I recently saw one of those ugly half-truth slander attacks on a relatively new government employee. The attack went along the lines of "Look! Obama has appointed a MUSLIM to work in the immigration department! Part of Obama's attempt to make the US a Muslim nation!" That sort of vicious, vacuous idiocy. I believe in confronting slander and mean-spirited gossip with truth and respect, so, here's Fatima Noor's inspiring story...

She was born in troubled Somalia and raised partially in a refugee camp in Kenya, amongst the poorest of the poor. Thanks to just and merciful immigration rules, she eventually made it to Tennessee and eventually, working with the US Immigration Department.

Here's her inspiring story in her words...

"...soon, due to a combination of wildfires and overpopulation, our [refugee] camp was ordered to shut down. My family, like many others, faced tough decisions. One was whether to return to Somalia in the height of civil war. Another was whether to send their small child — me — to live with a relative in a far-off land in hopes of better opportunities...

In 2005, my whole family reunited in our new home: Memphis, Tennessee. We soon adapted to Southern living (and yummy Memphis barbecue). We bought a house down by the Mississippi River. My brother even attended the same middle school as Elvis Presley. I graduated from the University of Memphis...

Now, I felt like a true American. And today, as we celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month, I reflect upon the mosaic nature of my own immigrant roots: the melting pot that is my American identity contains equal parts Somali, Danish, and Memphian.

A year later, I would take a different kind of oath. On July 28, 2014, I was sworn in as special assistant to the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS naturalizes more than 700,000 new U.S. citizens each year, along with processing millions of other immigration-related requests. USCIS is the very agency that made it possible for my family to immigrate, and for all of us to become citizens...

Today, I am honored to serve on a White House team advancing the President’s efforts to fix our broken immigration system. I want to show my appreciation to this country, and I can’t think of a better way to do it than by being there for others who want to earn the privilege to celebrate their Day One."

Good news beats bad slander, every time. Congratulations to Ms Noor!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Marrakesh Declaration

This last week, a beloved church sister took part in an important conference in Marrakesh, where this vital declaration was signed by Muslim leaders re-affirming a traditional Islamic belief in religious liberty. Important, history-making stuff, this.

The Marrakesh Declaration

WHEREAS, conditions in various parts of the Muslim World have deteriorated dangerously due to the use of violence and armed struggle as a tool for settling conflicts and imposing one's point of view;
WHEREAS, this situation has also weakened the authority of legitimate governments and enabled criminal groups to issue edicts attributed to Islam, but which, in fact, alarmingly distort its fundamental principles and goals in ways that have seriously harmed the population as a whole;
WHEREAS, this year marks the 1,400th anniversary of the Charter of Medina, a constitutional contract between the Prophet Muhammad, God's peace and blessings be upon him, and the people of Medina, which guaranteed the religious liberty of all, regardless of faith;
WHEREAS, hundreds of Muslim scholars and intellectuals from over 120 countries, along with representatives of Islamic and international organizations, as well as leaders from diverse religious groups and nationalities, gathered in Marrakesh on this date to reaffirm the principles of the Charter of Medina at a major conference;
WHEREAS, this conference was held under the auspices of His Majesty, King Mohammed VI of Morocco, and organized jointly by the Ministry of Endowment and Islamic Affairs in the Kingdom of Morocco and the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies based in the United Arab Emirates;
AND NOTING the gravity of this situation afflicting Muslims as well as peoples of other faiths throughout the world, and after thorough deliberation and discussion, the convened Muslim scholars and intellectuals:

DECLARE HEREBY our firm commitment to the principles articulated in the Charter of Medina, whose provisions contained a number of the principles of constitutional contractual citizenship, such as freedom of movement, property ownership, mutual solidarity and defense, as well as principles of justice and equality before the law; and that,
The objectives of the Charter of Medina provide a suitable framework for national constitutions in countries with Muslim majorities, and the United Nations Charter and related documents, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are in harmony with the Charter of Medina, including consideration for public order.
NOTING FURTHER that deep reflection upon the various crises afflicting humanity underscores the inevitable and urgent need for cooperation among all religious groups, we
AFFIRM HEREBY that such cooperation must be based on a "Common Word," requiring that such cooperation must go beyond mutual tolerance and respect, to providing full protection for the rights and liberties to all religious groups in a civilized manner that eschews coercion, bias, and arrogance.

Call upon Muslim scholars and intellectuals around the world to develop a jurisprudence of the concept of "citizenship" which is inclusive of diverse groups. Such jurisprudence shall be rooted in Islamic tradition and principles and mindful of global changes.
Urge Muslim educational institutions and authorities to conduct a courageous review of educational curricula that addesses honestly and effectively any material that instigates aggression and extremism, leads to war and chaos, and results in the destruction of our shared societies;
Call upon politicians and decision makers to take the political and legal steps necessary to establish a constitutional contractual relationship among its citizens, and to support all formulations and initiatives that aim to fortify relations and understanding among the various religious groups in the Muslim World;
Call upon the educated, artistic, and creative members of our societies, as well as organizations of civil society, to establish a broad movement for the just treatment of religious minorites in Muslim countries and to raise awareness as to their rights, and to work together to ensure the success of these efforts.
Call upon the various religious groups bound by the same national fabric to address their mutual state of selective amnesia that blocks memories of centuries of joint and shared living on the same land; we call upon them to rebuild the past by reviving this tradition of conviviality, and restoring our shared trust that has been eroded by extremists using acts of terror and aggression;
Call upon representatives of the various religions, sects and denominations to confront all forms of religious bigotry, villification, and denegration of what people hold sacred, as well as all speech that promote hatred and bigotry;
AFFIRM that it is unconscionable to employ religion for the purpose of aggressing upon the rights of religious minorities in Muslim countries.

January 2016, 27th