Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year

Even in the darkness
a million lights still shine
there is and will be 
light just ahead

just walk on.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Case for Winter Walks

A late December hike
on a cool and damp winter day
is a rare chance
for finding reckless sophistication
in a stripped-down Winter Woods.

The lichen on the Oak trees
and ghost leaves upon the Beech
can best be seen
on days such as this.

Without walking through these woods
on a gray day like today,
How would I know what I missed?

 Wildlands are all the more Wild
on a day that promise sleet
and discomfort.

The woodpecker's thick laughter, 
all the more mad.

 The bright crimson flash
of cardinals darting through the trees
is deftly balanced by 
the deep leather embrace
of the damp leaves at my feet.

And if I slip on wet leaves
and fall on my pride

and I will
and I have

it is worth it.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Don't be a Pettydick

One more politically-themed thought, and THEN, I'll get into a more jolly holiday spirit...

Imagine a PTA at a school with one member being an especially wealthy person who quite often gave a good deal of money to the school. Let's call him, Donald Pettydick. An issue comes up and the PTA votes for idea A. Mr. Pettydick is outraged because he wanted idea B.

Pettydick then says, in a bit of a huff, "You're going to regret this! I'll just have to remember this when it comes time to give money to the school again! I'm taking names!!!"

Now it is, of course, within his rights to give money or not to give money. But it is an extremely jerk-y move to threaten to withhold money to the poorer people in the school to try to bully them into getting your way and force people to go along with you.

The current administration is being that jerk in its reaction to the UN this week. It's a very petty and un-classy thing to do. Not to mention, a blow to the ideals of democracy and liberty.

"You say we're all equal sisters and brothers
Then why are the rich more equal than others...?" (Larry Norman, give or take...)

I guess what I'm saying is, in this season of Grace and Community, don't be a Pettydick.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


My soul doth magnify the Lord.
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For God hath regarded the lowliness of this handmaiden
For behold, from henceforth all generations
shall call me blessed.

God hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
God hath put down the mighty from their seat
and hath exalted the humble and meek.

God hath filled the hungry with good things
and the rich he hath sent empty away.

God, remembering mercy hath helpen God's oppressed servant, Israel...
Glory be to God.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be
world without end. Amen.

~Mary, the mother of Jesus

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Eight Words to Embrace

We must learn that passively to accept an unjust system is to cooperate with that system, and thereby to become a participant in its evil.

~Martin Luther King, Jr

Whenever you see a board up with "Trespassers will be prosecuted," trespass at once.

~Virginia Woolf

To the wrongs that need resistance,
To the right that needs assistance,
To the future in the distance,
Give yourselves.

~Carrie Chapman Catt

Resistance is the secret of joy.

~Alice Walker

Be a drop in the bucket
and a bucket in the pond
and the pond fills the river
and the river rushes on
And the river swells the river
till the power can't be stopped
and what becomes a mighty ocean
started as a drop.

~Mitch Barrett

Monday, December 11, 2017

My Son, in the Peace Corps in Albania

Here's something different. I'm going to post my son's blog post from today, where he talks about a big concert he and his students put on in a relatively small town in Albania.

I'm so proud. My son, Jordan Trabue's, blog post from today...

Today was it. The big concert (koncerti in Shqip). My Youth Council had been preparing for this for over a month. When we voted on projects all the way back in October, one of the big ones was to continue the annual Youth Council Anti-Bullying Concert that the previous Youth Council had held for the two years preceding.

It's easy to say 'yeah, we're going to to a big concert' and more difficult to actually implement it. Over the past month this has taken over my life. I needed to find singers, dancers, someone to give a speech, anything else we might want. I found an anti-bullying skit on the internet and my students translated it then ran it through so many drafts the end plot might as well have been a new skit. I talked to the director of Education in Lushnje, to the director of the local auditorium, the principal and vice principal of EVERY elementary school in the city. We scheduled practices. Hunted down anyone with a talent. When those people would drop out we'd find new ones. It's been a flurry of activity. Tensions would rise one day as half the group didn't show up or someone forgot to make some important phone call, then we'd all be laughing after a particularly good practice or meeting. Finally, yesterday, we had our final rehearsal with all the performers in the auditorium yesterday. It was a grueling three hours of doing everything again and again and again.

Last night I barely slept. I didn't know if anyone would come. I didn't know what would be worse, if no one came or if a ton of people came and something went horribly wrong. I texted with some of my students about things that could go haywire. What if one of the singers accidentally ate a microphone? What if someone in the audience had a heart attack? What if we all simultaneously crapped our pants onstage?! We don't have back-up pants!!

My alarm was set for 6 but I woke up at 5:30 and just stared at my phone for a half hour waiting for the alarm. I got up and left for the auditorium. I brought a guitar with me that I'd borrowed from one of the local churches. I didn't intend to perform but on the chance that one of our singers didn't make it I would be the backup plan.

The Youth Council members and performers trickled in over the next two hours. We got everything ready and waited for the schools.

The first year of the annual Bullying concert there was a whopping 34 students in attendance. The second year There were more, but the auditorium (which can seat 400) wasn't even halfway full I was told. Moreover the students who came were horrible. They jeered, didn't listen, and shined laser pointers on the stage. Part of the reason is that they didn't know what they were coming to. They hadn't been told anything about the concert beforehand, they were just randomly pulled out of the classroom.

This year I went not only to the director of education, but visited each school individually and spoke with the principals. My students and I explained in detail what the concert was, and left a letter with instructions for each class to make an anti-bullying poster that they would then bring to the concert. I doubted we'd have much follow through on the part of the schools but I could say I tried.

When I went out to open the front gate, I was greeted by hundreds of kids with dozens of posters. We let them in one class at a time, taking pictures with their posters. The auditorium wasn't quite full, but was at least at 80% capacity.  Well, we had our audience. To add to the pressure, one of my bosses had visited from Tirana and the local news media had been called in and was setting up cameras.

As the show started we invited the kids with the best posters up on stage to be cheered. Then we had our opening speech and jumped into the performances. First an anti-bullying video we'd found on youtube and added Shqip subtitles to. Then two dancers took the stage. Then a singer.

The whole time I was running around backstage. You go over here. You don't forget to take these props onstage. Girls be quiet! As the next act began, a dancer who danced over a beautiful orchestrated piece while someone read a monologue on bullying, I stopped to watch from backstage. For all my worrying, for all my complaining and whining, things were going pretty well.

Then the music stopped and everything went black.

The audience, mistakingly thinking this was an unexpected, epic end to the piece, erupted with applause. Even I found myself thinking 'when did we change the piece to end with a sudden cut to black?' But no. This wasn't planned. The power had gone out.

I would be later told by the sound guy that, although power outages in Albania aren't uncommon, the building has generators and never in his years working had they lost power during even a practice, let alone a performance. Just my luck I suppose.

For a few moments we were in complete darkness, then the phones came out and there was just enough light to see. the performers had retreated backstage. I walked alone across the stage to the other side to speak with the workers through a translator. Everyone was speaking. It was total confusion. People were running this way and that, to what end I can't guess. The kids were losing it in the seats. Talking and yelling. Everyone was looking at me. "Jordan, what are we going to do?" I was asked again and again by person after person. I was reeling. "I don't know" I would reply. It took about a minute to get my bearings and be decisive. I grabbed four or five of my students and started barking out instructions.

"Go out into the audience. Find the teachers. Tell them we're going to wait for a couple minutes and to try to keep their kids quiet. If the power doesn't come back on then we'll cancel the performance."

My students set to work. I went onstage and began waving my hands. There was enough light that I know the kids in the audience could see me, but there was no way to subdue them. They were talking and talking. It was chaos.

In that moment I felt almost as though I was out of my own body, watching this happen. Everything was happening in slow motion. The kids were talking. I looked at my own students, who had worked so hard on this. Their faces were nervous and confused. I suddenly remembered all those years in America I'd been a musician. All the places I'd played. Traveling on the road. Picking at strings alone in my room. In this moment I felt as though everything in my life had been preordained, that everything that had ever happened to me had been operating according to some kind of logic. That everything I needed in life was already laid out before me.

I turned and walked offstage to where I'd set the guitar I'd borrowed from the church. I slung the strap over my shoulder and walked back on the darkened stage. I told my students "Follow me and shine all your phone lights on me." They did as they were instructed and a halo of bluish light surrounded me as I walked off the front of the stage and into the middle of the audience, strumming my guitar as loudly as I could.

At this point I was the most visible thing in the whole room and people were noticing 'oh, hey, there's a guy with a guitar.' The hundreds of students quieted down out of curiosity. I began to sing one of my songs from my days as a musician by heart. The students couldn't hear my voice for more than five feet or so, but the rhythm of the guitar carried far and even kids in the back were waving their phones back and forth to the beat of the song.

Halfway through the song, the lights came back on and everyone erupted in applause.

We finished our concert. It was a smash hit. Our skit that we'd practiced to death got whoops and applause. At the end a representative from the local government passed out certificates to everyone who had performed. However at the end all anyone was talking about was when the power went off and the American stood in the middle of everyone playing guitar. Even the people who had worked on the concerts from previous years agreed that this one was the most exciting.

I can't help but feel happy. I'd been so worried something would go wrong and in the end something did, and the show was all the better for it.

Monday, December 4, 2017

An Open Letter to Alabama

An Open Letter to Alabama... 
Conservatives and, Really, All of Us

Dear Alabama, et al,

I am writing to you today to say that it's time for some basic agreements that we all need to come together and find common ground around. We all are aware of the bitter divisions that separate this country, but just as surely, when push comes to shove, we are also aware of the love that we have as family, as neighbors, as community and fellow citizens that unite us. We are aware, and need to be reminded to stay aware of this reality:

That those things which unite us are greater than those things that divide us.

I was raised as an extremely conservative, traditional Southern Baptist boy and I am who I am today because of (and not, in spite of) my wonderful, conservative Christian parents, Sunday School teachers (love you, Miss Marie, wherever you are! You, too, Dalton! And etc, etc...), youth group leaders, pastors and friends and family who surrounded me and helped raise me. I love my God just as strongly now as I did then, thanks to you. I strive to love my neighbor now as you taught me to back then. And although my understanding and approach to it are different now, I still love and read the Bible now, just as you taught me.

In the church I attend now, we welcome, work with and alongside all sorts of people, including the homeless and mentally ill we have in our urban neighborhood. Occasionally - rarely - that means that a service might be a little disrupted. One Wednesday evening, while having our community supper, we had a gentleman who was getting too loud and abusive and we politely but firmly asked him to leave. One of our strong women leaders walked him to the door as he put on his coat and stepped out into the cold, yelling and protesting all the way. After closing the door, the man continued to yell from outside. He just stood there, looking in through the window in the door and yelling at the woman who escorted him out. She stood her ground and just kept insisting, "No, I'm sorry, you have to go. Just go on and come back sometime when you've calmed down. Go on, now..." like that. Eventually, she stopped and leaned in to listen to what the man was yelling...

"My coat. Is stuck. In the door!"

Sometimes friends, we have to pause and listen.

And so, with that as preface, this former raging-conservative-now-flaming-progressive writes to you, Alabama, along with the rest of us, to make a plea to listen to this call for a few basic decencies where I am confident we all can find common ground...

If faced between what I consider two evils/two wrong/two immoral choices, I cannot and will not choose a "lesser evil."

I totally get that, as conservatives and Republicans, that you probably can't vote for most Democrats with a clean conscience. There are policies that Democrats hold that you just can't agree with and find yourself needing to oppose. I get that. I have that with many conservative Republican policies (although I bet if we dig down, we can find some common ground starting places on many of those policies... but setting that aside for now). I understand not being able to vote for the other party in good conscience. No problem.

At the same time, we have to have lines that we draw. There have to be some basic standards that we hold to. And, IF my candidate... my party's candidate has crossed some of these basic lines, then we must need agree to say, "No. I will not vote for him/her." Period. That isn't to say, "therefore, I'll vote for the other party..." not if that candidate holds positions you can't in good faith vote for. It's just saying that I can not and will not vote for a candidate that crosses certain basic lines.

In my life, in trying to be a good citizen, there have been times where I have "thrown my vote away" and voted for a third party or written in a candidate that I knew couldn't win, just because I could not in good conscience vote for either mainstream candidate. Sometimes, we just have to do this in order to live with ourselves.

And this is my main point...

I'm writing to you today to say that we messed up on that basic drawing of a line last year with Trump. Alabama is considering messing up with Roy Moore. I'm asking for us to not do that. I'm asking for us to draw a line and say, "I will not cross that line."

There were/are many, many problems with candidate Trump and candidate Moore. But perhaps the greatest problem, the most serious line that we should not cross, is the ease with which they make false claims, spread false messages and - whether or not it's their motive/intent - told lies. They make up stuff and do it regularly and with careless abandon. We see this especially with Trump but Moore does it, too. When he says things like, “It is more likely that Doug Jones and Democrat operatives are pulling a political stunt on Twitter and alerting their friends in the media.” ...he is making a serious and, by all evidence, clearly false claim.

He is saying that they many women who now have made these claims are liars. Period.

Let that soak in.

Here we have many women who have independently and, so far as anyone knows, without any influence from the Democrats or "the media," made these allegations. He is saying that they are lying.

But based on what? Why would they make up these stories? What do they have to gain by exposing themselves in this manner?

Look, I fully know that, in some extremely rare circumstances (and if you're not familiar, look at the research - it's a tiny minority), women have made false allegations about harassment/abuse. But these are the extreme minority. And okay, IF you have one allegation made against you by a woman, maybe she's one of this tiny minority that have made false claims. But when you have five... eight (what is Trump up to, now, 20??) women make these charges, and in some instances, where they had told others about it in the past and it's all something that can be verified by several sources... then to say that they are ALL lying begins to strain credulity.

And then, when you add to that charge that these women are liars (a very serious charge!), the claim that the Democrats and/or the media are behind it all, it just becomes clear that these are false claims. Maybe he SUSPECTS that these women were sympathetic enough to the Democrat cause to make false allegations, but you can't just make those sorts of claims without support. Data.

But that reasoning appears to be not apparent to Alabama voters. According to a new poll in Alabama...

...a new CBS News poll found that 71 percent of Alabama Republicans say the sexual misconduct allegations against Republican Roy Moore are false. Many blame Democrats and the media for the allegations.

? Based on what? We can't just make up claims or beliefs without some evidence. That is not intellectually honest and I believe that the good people of Alabama, if they just stop and think about it, can agree to this.

So, again, my point: People who make false claims, especially when they do it regularly and with no support, they are crossing a line that should not be crossed.

Trump did this regularly leading up to the election and that should be a show stopper. Period.

Look, Trump isn't really a conservative or a Republican, he's an opportunist who has supported Democrats in the past. He could just as easily have run as a Democrat. And if he had and if he was making regular, casual false claims as he has been doing, then that would have been a deal breaker for me. It was a line that I could not cross. I would not vote for a casual liar and Trump and Moore are casual liars. They make ridiculous false claims. We can't abide this, friends. This is a line that we should not be crossing.

People of Alabama, I'm asking you to not cross that line now. If you're opposed to Democrat policies, I'm not asking you to vote for a Democrat that you can't support. I'm just asking you to do as I would do, as my parents, no doubt, would have done: Not vote for someone who crosses a line that shouldn't be crossed. Write in a vote. But don't cross that line.

But, if it were just the one line - the making ridiculously false claims repeatedly - that would be bad enough, and it should be! But with Trump and Moore, we have men who, by all the data we have available, are men who've abused, mistreated, oppressed or sexually assaulted or harassed women. In both cases, they did so even with teen aged girls/young women.

This is a basic decency line that cannot be crossed. It is/should be an instant deal breaker.

I don't need to know anything else about the candidate or his opponent if I know he has abused/mistreated women/girls. Period.

I'm not saying that there is enough evidence to convict either man of any crimes, I'm not a legal scholar, but I'm guessing there isn't enough evidence for that. But, just because the data is not sufficient to rise to a level of legal conviction, the evidence is sufficient that they are bad men who have mistreated women. Regularly.

This is a line that should not be crossed. Please, for the sake of our common humanity, do not cross that line.

When the stories about Bill Clinton came out, there were two... then three women. And their stories were not proof positive. There was, I think, reasonable doubt in at least their more serious allegations (murder, rape). Nonetheless, I thought the evidence that Bill Clinton had a problem was sufficient for me to not vote for him. It was a line that I could not cross. In both of his elections, I held my nose and voted for a third party candidate and against Bill Clinton. Conservatives at the time agreed with me... he was a problematic candidate and they loudly said so.

I would not cross that line to vote for Clinton. People of Alabama, the evidence against Trump and, now Moore, is greater than that against Clinton. I'm just asking you to do what you said we should do with Clinton back then and refuse to cross that line. Do not vote for this man. Vote third party or write in a candidate, but do not vote for him.

There are lines that we should not cross.

Be the strong moral and rational sort of conservatives that I remember from my youth. Let there be some candidates on your side that have crossed a line that you will not cross.

Monday, November 27, 2017

I Was Born to Walk Well-Leafed Hills

I went to the forest

to read the leaves
and learn just what they might tell me

I was born to walk
well-leafed hills

I felt quite certain
a design could be made out
if only I looked the right way

and then, finding fresh signs

and hidden gilt messages,
old pathways were opened

I traveled to this small world
complete and content,
perfect in its tiny

I cannot contain
the golden glory of fall
my soul overflows

Friday, November 24, 2017

...But for Everything Else

Out there, 'midst the trees
plays a fox in the woods
all alone, but for everything else...

Friday, November 17, 2017

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Specious Arguments and Young Sheldon...

I don't know that I've ever posted a link to a TV show, but this is good.

I, of course, am a believer in God and disagree with the boy's opinion. However, I am also NOT a believer in specious arguments, especially those made by religionists. Young Sheldon rightly destroys these specious arguments offered by this pastor.

Well done.

Here's another well-done snippet...

Friday, November 10, 2017

#Vote For Women

Given the ridiculous number of men of all stripes in positions of power who've been outed as abusive towards women, how 'bout a time out? Following in the steps of the Abuser-in-Chief, why don't we have a temporary ban on anymore men assuming positions of power?

The data is there: Power corrupts men. Absolute power corrupts men absolutely. Especially sexual corruption, the sense that they are entitled to sexual oppression, abuse and misuse.

Let's just elect women a while, just long enough to ensure some extreme vetting of men before they get in positions to be abusive on a larger scale?

If that is reasonable for the tiny percentage of foreigners who might potentially possibly maybe be possible terrorists or criminals, perhaps, then it's at least as reasonable if not more reasonable for men, given our track record.

Look, fellas, we've had a nice run in this country. For nearly 250 years, we've dominated the politics in our nation. But we just keep messing up. Let's surrender, at least for a while.

This is not to say that all men are dicks, like Trump, like Weinstein, like Judge Roy Moore, like Weiner, like Billy Bush, like... well, you get the idea. I'm quite sure that there are decent men out there in politics (Hey, that Obama fella seemed to be especially gentlemanly and above reproach! Hell, setting aside his politics and his perversity about LGBTQ matters, Pence seems like a straight arrow, sexually speaking!). But just for a while, just until we get some extreme vetting in place to keep out the perverts like our current "president," let's stand down.

Vote for Women, y'all. Let's start a movement.

#VoteForWomen2018, #VoteForWomen2019, #VoteForWomen2020

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Dwell Among the Beauty...

“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”

“In nature nothing exists alone.”  

“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full or wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later year…the alienation from the sources of our strength.”
“But [humanity] is a part of nature, and [our] war against nature is inevitably a war against [ourselves].”

“The winds, the sea, and the moving tides are what they are. If there is wonder and beauty and majesty in them, science will discover these qualities... If there is poetry in my book about the sea, it is not because I deliberately put it there, but because no one could write truthfully about the sea and leave out the poetry.”

“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.”

“We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost's familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road — the one less traveled by — offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.”  
One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself,
“What if I had never seen this before?
What if I knew I would never see it again?”  
~Rachel Carson

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Beauties of Nature

“Even broken in spirit as he is, no one can feel more deeply than he does the beauties of nature.

The starry sky, the sea, and every sight afforded by these wonderful regions,
seems still to have the power of elevating his soul from earth.

Such a man has a double existence:
he may suffer misery,
and be overwhelmed by disappointments;
yet, when he has retired into himself,
he will be like a celestial spirit that has a halo around him,
within whose circle no grief or folly ventures.”

~from Mary Shelley's, Frankenstein

Monday, October 16, 2017

In Each Crevice

The sun was written
in each crevice on each leaf
the universe, implied
between the lines

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Forest, Here, is Alive

 The forest, here, is alive

I find myself in the midst
of a massive murmuration *
surrounded by sacred songs
engulfed by black-winged 
gods and goddesses
awaiting flight

fluttering flailing leaves and feathers
falling down around me

* Murmuration: A flock of starlings

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump

"Ask the experts.

In a new book published this week, "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump," a group of 27 psychiatrists and mental health experts warn that “anyone as mentally unstable as this man should not be entrusted with the life-and-death-powers of the presidency.” Seemingly in defiance of the American Psychiatric Association’s "Goldwater rule," which states “it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion [on a public figure] unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement,” the various and very eminent contributors paint a picture of a president who has “proven himself unfit for duty.”

Stanford University psychologist Philip Zimbardo — of the famous Stanford prison study — suggests the “unbalanced” Trump is a “specific personality type:
an unbridled, or extreme, present hedonist” and

Psychiatrist Lance Dodes, a former Harvard Medical School professor, says Trump’s
sociopathic characteristics are undeniable
and his speech and behavior show signs of
significant mental derangement.”

Clinical psychologist John Gartner, a 28-year veteran of John Hopkins University Medical School, argues that Trump is a
malignant narcissist” and
evinces the most destructive and dangerous collection of psychiatric symptoms possible for a leader.”

For Gartner, the “catastrophe” of a Trump presidency “might have been avoided if we in the mental health community had told the public the truth, instead of allowing ourselves to be gagged by the Goldwater rule.”"

Friday, October 6, 2017

Sister Sodom

Then, God came to God's Religious Ones and said,

"On the day you were born
your navel cord wasn't cut
you were left covered in slime
you were not tended nor cared for

No eye took even the slightest pity on you
to have compassion for you
for you were
on the day you were born

When I was walking by, I saw you
squirming in your own blood
and I said to you


And I made you grow like weeds
and you grew tall and strong

yet still
you were naked and bare

And so, I covered you
clothing you Myself
in My Love for you

And everyone talked about my
Great Love for you and you were
made famous
because of Me.

but you trusted in your reputation
and played the whore, because of your fame

You made yourself wealthy
as maggots
and powerful
in your Many Things,
using this wealth
to buy more Power
and more and more useless Trinkets
and you were not embarrassed
in the least

No, you just wanted more

As I live,
your Sister Sodom
was not as Sick as you are
in your wealth and power

This is the sin of your Sister Sodom
She and her family
were arrogant, wealthy, lazy-as-shit
but she did not help
the Poor
the Foreigner
the Oppressed

You are Proud, like hell,
and sick, in your Wealth
gorging until you vomit
and then
gorge some more.

Be ashamed,
for your abominations
for your embrace of ignorance
and indifference.

For My sake,
Be ashamed.

Ezekiel 16, in part... my loose paraphrase

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Irrational Shriek

There is nothing whatsoever in the murky dark of the ancient forest at night that is not there in the daylight hours. Reason assures us that this is true.

I know better.

Having explored the local woods all my life, I am well aware that there are noises at night that can not always be identified. An angry snort from somewhere nearby, the rustle in the leaves of something too large to be a squirrel, the wingbeat of a creature that sounds much too leathery and brittle to be a feathered bird. These are sounds that disturb the conscious mind.
Still, in the day, we know the snort is a startled deer. The rustle, just a raccoon. The beating wings from a fleeing owl. In the daytime, we know this.

But at night... Well...

It was dusk and I had settled myself on a convenient tree stump next to a pond in a forgotten woods. The roar of the interstate and lights of the city were blotted out by the trees stretched out overhead and the rolling hills separating the known world from the unknown.

I came to this spot regularly in the autumn, to enjoy the sounds of the leaves falling, the crickets calling, the night coming to life. I came to listen.

This night, as I sat, quietly listening – intent upon separating out this creak from that groan from the other nearby rustle – I first heard the hideous Shriek. Inhuman. Grotesque. Impossible. What in our local woods would make such a disconcerting scream?

The Shriek came from Not Nearby. If I were to guess, I'd say 100 yards or more away. Curiosity – cursed curiosity! – won out over my fear, and I rose from my seat and quietly made my way in the direction of the Shriek. I didn't want to scare away whatever was making the noise.

Twenty steps closer and I heard it again, that soulless Shriek! Could it actually be a human, wounded and in trouble? The Shriek sounded so pitiable this time, and clearly closer. I moved, still quietly, but more quickly, in the direction of the Scream.

Twenty steps more and I paused to listen.


Then, SHRIEK!!

I nearly fell backwards in my fear. It was significantly closer. The Shriek – although human-sounding – was clearly NOT human, I knew this now. It was the sound of a – of a madwoman, nails turned to claws, abandoned in the woods and seeking food. It was the sound of Anger and Hatred.

In the dark of the night, I knew that it was the sound of Evil.


And close.

And maybe on the other side of me.

Between me and my path out.

I waited. I listened. I barely breathed.

No Shriek returned. No sound at all.

The leaves were not falling, the crickets were not calling, no frogs croaked from the nearby pond. I was alone and surrounded by a maddening silence, frozen in fear, unsure of which way to go.

An hour later – or so it seemed – I breathed again. I took a step. I walked back down the path and exited those Awful Woods, to my car and began heading home, but only after checking the back seat of my car.

It was empty.

The next day, the Google told me that foxes shriek when they are at play with one another. Harmless foxes cavorting in the woods. I listened to field recordings of foxes and there it was, the Shriek. But harmless now. In the light of the day.


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Is the GOP Embarrassed, Yet?

Ashamed? Disturbed?

What will it take for the GOP to draw back from the ugly, racist, bigoted, hateful, oppressive, ignorant paths they are sending themselves down?

Roy Moore doesn't know who Dreamers are or what DACA is, in this day and season.

He has advocated criminalizing homosexual behavior. He has called it akin to bestiality.

He has spewed overtly racist commentary.

He has opposed Muslims being elected.

(Enough with the links, anyone can look them up.)

He holds to anti-American, ugly theocratic ideals.

He is so bigoted, hateful, ignorant and distasteful that even Donald Trump wouldn't endorse him!

Think about that!

Man, what the GOP is tailspinning itself into is an embarrassment to the world and our nation, and frankly, all of humanity.

When will God save those people?

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Why Draw the Attention...?

Over at Stan's blog recently, he took on the conservative boob who said the two most important things to him are "the Constitution and Boobs." [Clay Travis, who said to a reporter, who happened to be a woman (not that it really matters), "I believe in only two things completely. The First Amendment, and boobs."] Stan criticized the guy for being in the wrong. Stan said, "She (and I) thought it was rude for him to say it."

Okay, as far as it goes. But, Stan didn't leave it there. He added a BUT. "But," he said, "I do wonder why women who rightly are offended when men are that rude continue to wear outfits clearly intended to accentuate the features men are not supposed to comment on..."

Stan (and his commenters, with him) rightly found Travis in the wrong (although, I'm not sure that merely calling his comment "rude" is the right way to identify his error...), they also shared some blame towards women who dress "wrong..." meaning, of course, wrong, by their measure...

Oh, they assured and reassured us that it was entirely the man who was wrong or, in the case of a rapist "aroused" by women dressing "wrong," the rapist who was wrong... BUT... why would the women dress "that way..."?

Craig put it this way...

"Why would anyone assume that they won't run into one of them [rapists], and be dressed in a way that draws attention?"

Stan clarified it this way (speaking in the voice of those who defend women dressing, you know, how they want)...

"Women should be allowed to ... nay, celebrated for dressing as slutty as they wish..."

So, allow me to try to clarify what seems like it would be obvious...

Craig, consider these questions:

1. Why would anyone assume that they won't run into one of them [rapists], and be dressed in a way that draws attention?

2. Why would anyone assume that they won't run into one of them [robbers], and be dressed in a way that draws attention (i.e., dressing as if you had money)?

3. Why would anyone assume that they won't run into one of them [killer atheists], and be dressed in a way that draws attention (i.e., wearing a cross necklace and carrying a bible, for instance)?

With those extra questions, do you see the problem with your approach?

Let me spell it out for you:

3. Christians wear what they want because it is their choice to do so and they should not be intimidated to wear something else because it might draw the attention of killer atheists.

2. Wealthy people wear what they want because it is their choice to do so and they should not be intimidated to wear something else because it might draw the attention of robbers.

1. Women wear what they want because it is their choice to do so and they should not be intimidated to wear something else because it might draw the attention of rapists.

It's our human liberty to wear what we wish and we are not wrong for wearing that, nor should the reality of bad people who might be "aroused" by what we wear cause people to opt for other clothes. Are you suggesting that Christians should NOT wear things that identify them as Christians to avoid any conflict? Or would you bristle at that suggestion?

You of course don't need to comment here, Craig, but if you choose to reply to this post, please begin with an answer to that question. Thanks.

Stan, I am sure you were truly thinking you were defending women and only attacking this guy, but you sure (and if not you, some of your commenters) didn't sound like you were defending women. You sounded sexist and a bit perverse.

You see, you all are saying, "Yes, it is the MAN who is wrong for saying 'boobs' matter most to him... BUT, why do women..." and "Yes, it is the MAN who is wrong for raping women... BUT, why would women..."

And when pushed on it, you said you "got" it, what the complaint was... you'd encourage women to dress to a degree that you would call "modest," and if they weren't dressed "modestly enough," then they might be sort of asking for it... of course, it's the MAN's fault... BUT...

It's the "BUT" that is getting you off track. The correct answer is, "It's the man's fault for making sexist comments." PERIOD. "It is the MAN's fault for assaulting a woman." PERIOD.

And end it there. Don't pause and then go on to sorta blame the woman just a little bit, too. Because she was "dressed wrong." Or, as you put it, she could be dressed as slutty as she wished. The commenters at this blog kept suggesting that there was a line that is crossed and by crossing that line, women could expect to be abused, maligned and raped. "Not that it's right," you clarify, but still...

I asked you if you agree with the Muslim extremist measure of wearing a burka. You all balked at the comparison. "Well, well, bu... well, NO! No, of course we don't believe in making women wear burkas..." BUT. But they should be dressed modestly, for their own sake, because you're gentlemen, in your minds and you don't want these poor women to be subjected to a possible rapist (which is a crime of power, not sexuality, you should know) or perverse treatment by perverse men.

No, you don't advocate a burka. Not full blown. BUT...

That But is the problem.

It's not that you disagree with Muslim extremists, it's just that you draw the line at some point differently than they do. But you still draw a line, because you know what's best for these women, presumably.

And that's sexist.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Born Anew

From a sermon from my pastor this weekend...

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.’
Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.
‘How can someone be born when they are old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!’
Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, “You must be born again.” The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’
‘How can this be?’ Nicodemus asked.
~John 3:1-9

I started to do a search on the internet, but after seeing that the first page of googling didn’t reveal my answer, I gave up. I’m not a very patient googler. It doesn’t really matter, anyway. What I was searching for was, “must be born again craze.” I was wondering when that began. Well, it really began with Jesus, of course, because he’s the one who said it. But when was it that it became such a huge thing in American religious culture? I think it had to do with Jimmy Carter, and that was when I was a teenager. I don’t remember exactly when, but what I do remember is that it was very confusing to me. You must be born again, preachers would say, meaning, you must become someone else. You must become someone else. That’s how I remember them preaching it, anyway. And that was hard for me to integrate, as it probably was for some of you. “Are you a Christian?” Yes… “Have you been born again?” Well, not really. I’m still just me.

And I think that’s why my heart sang when I heard John Philip Newell talk about this passage at Lake Junaluska this summer.

Because he said that Jesus wasn’t saying that we need to become someone else. He said that Jesus, in saying that we must be born again, or anew, was saying that we need to be born into our true selves. We need to be born into our true selves.

He pointed out something that we already knew, which is that Jesus was a Jewish rabbi. He wasn’t a Christian, and so he didn’t adhere to the Christian doctrine of original sin.

The idea of original sin, for those of us who might not be familiar with the term, is one that, whether we’re familiar with it our not, pervades our lives. When Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, after having sinned, all of humanity was put in a state of separation from God, and it’s only through Jesus that we are reconnected. That’s the idea that many of us grew up with. You might remember the little picture that we sometimes used when we were trying to “save” someone. There are two cliffs with a great gulf in-between. God is on one side. Humankind on the other. And then you draw a cross in-between to connect the two? Does anyone remember that? Used to be an evangelical tool that we would use to share the “good news” of Jesus Christ. But Jesus Christ didn’t preach that kind of good news. Jesus didn’t preach about how we are disconnected from God. Jesus preached about how God is within us…

The concept of original sin didn’t come from Jesus. 

Newell said that he was on an interfaith panel with some other religious leaders awhile back, and someone asked them to comment on original sin, and the Jewish rabbi on the panel said that when someone Jewish hears the term “original sin,” they are prone to think, now that was really an original sin! In other words, original sin wasn’t, and isn’t a Jewish concept, but rather came around years after Jesus’ death. It was first alluded to in the second century by Iraneus, Bishop of Lyon, and was later developed by St. Augustine. It retained its popularity through church reformers such as John Calvin and Martin Luther, and is very popular to this day. One of the founders of Celtic Christianity, Pelagius, was kicked out of Rome, first, and later, Italy, largely because he refused to accept the concept of original sin, by the way.

We spend a lot of time as Christians, not in this church, maybe not enough in this church, confessing our sin. We are bad, bad, bad. We were born in sin. But as Newell points out, what would it look like if we acted that way in one of our most important relationships? What if we were constantly apologizing and feeling guilty and less than? It would be totally unhealthy. And yet, that’s so often the way that people view their relationship with God. You must be born again. You must become someone else. Because who you are is never good enough...

You must be born again, Jesus says, calling us back to our true selves. You must be born from above. You must be born anew. Born anew into that of you which is the essence of God, the essence of your true self...

Now, I’m not an artist, and I can’t draw it. But I can tell you that I saw a very clear picture of this on Wednesday when our Diane - our homeless/hospitality minister - told me about what had happened at the Hospitality Program the day before. It was a busy day, she said, and in the middle of all of the busi-ness, a man brought in a woman in a bathrobe. He had found her a few blocks away. She was wandering around, lost and confused. She didn’t know her name, and, said the man, she was (made a motion with his finger to indicate craziness). Diane had the woman sit down with Kari, who talked with her and kept her calm while Diane made some phone calls. It took about an hour for the police to get there, and when they did, they confirmed that the woman was on the missing persons list. Her son had been looking for her. She had parked her car and left her keys and her purse and her i.d. somewhere, and they tried to find it, and they contacted her son, and they eventually took her to the hospital, where we are hoping that she received the care she needed.

It’s a sad story, but a precious one. I hate to think what might have happened had that man not have found her. 

And here’s the thing that touched me most deeply about the story: The man who brought her in, said Diane, was drunker than anyone she’d ever seen. And note: this is our homeless minister talking. He was drunker than anyone she’d ever seen! 

And yet, this man, as drunk as he was, was able to connect with the very essence of God within, with the love-longings of God, to share with this woman that there is a place where you can go where they will help you, and not just to share that with her, but to accompany her, stumbling alongside her until he had delivered into Diane’s care.

And in that experience, I believe that that man was born anew, not in the way we used to talk about, becoming someone else, but in that, even in the midst of his brokenness, he reconnected with the very essence of God. You must be born anew, says Jesus.

I am reminded of the voice that we hear in “The Help,” the voice of Abileen, a family maid, who babysits little Mae Mobley. Mae’s mother usually ignores her, and whenever she pays her any attention, she criticizes her. So Abilene sits her down everyday and says, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

The heart of God is beating within each of us. May we listen for it, may we hear it, may we be renewed in its rhythm. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Rest of the World Statement

We affirm that people are complex and God is not known, completely.

We deny that some humans are the spokesmouths for God, even though they may act as if they are.

We affirm that love is good and that hate is bad.

We deny that those who'd take away rights and choice and liberty from others are acting in the common good.

We affirm that women, gay folk, transgender folk and, well, folk in general are wonderful, strong, kick ass and live well, if imperfectly.

We deny that seeking to disempower and marginalize people for being who they are is a good thing.

We affirm that those racists and oppressors who, once upon a time and even in the name of God, sought to say "This person should not marry THAT person. God forbids it!..." that such attitudes have been cast upon the dustbin of history and recognized far and wide as wrong-headed and arrogant. Any who would, today, seek to go back to these devalued and antiquated values (i.e., bad values) would be ignored and rightly so.

Similarly, we affirm that most of us have likewise moved past the days of trying to demonize and marginalize women, gay and transgender folk or deny them their basic human liberties. Those who seek to do this will soon, like the "anti-miscegenists" of old, be summarily dismissed as crackpots and holding on to backwards, immoral and irrational ideas.

We deny that those who would promote anti-women, anti-LGBTQ attitudes speak for God, for the good, or for reason.


The "Nashville" types have lost this argument. They just have. It's all over but the fighting.

There will be much kicking and ranting on their part as they increasingly realize that they are the ones viewed as immoral and irrational, but this is just the way it is. They have lost and their numbers will increasingly diminish and their "arguments" (which amount to not much more than, "But I'm telling you, GOD doesn't want it! GOD agrees with me!") increasingly be ignored.

Within a generation or two, churches will continue meeting, lives will continue to be lived and LGBTQ folk and women will live empowered lives. The matter won't be broached any more in 99% of churches - at least in the US, any more than the "anti-miscegenationists" have any serious traction any more. Those who oppose gay marriage will simply be ignored until, by the end of the century, they will be, for all practical purposes, gone.

The few who remain will rant and gnash their teeth, insisting that God's Way is narrow and THEY are the few who remain faithful. They will deny even other Christians but no one will care, any more than we care about what the "anti-miscegenationists" say. The reason? No one cares what irrational, immoral cranks say.

I am at least almost a little sorry that these anti-gay folk, anti-women folk will feel so oppressed and ignored, but not really. They've brought it upon themselves and their arrogance does nothing to help build any bridges worth crossing.

They have been eclipsed by a more rational, more moral and, I think, more Godly way, and ultimately, that is a very good thing.

Friday, August 25, 2017

When I was a God

When I was a God
I could do no wrong and my
humility was supreme

but now

I have been cast down
and I walk with all creatures
alongside the stream

in peace

Friday, August 18, 2017

On Antifa...

There's just so much happening, I didn't want to miss the chance to post this so I'm doing it now while I'm thinking about it.

Anyone who knows me, knows I find Trump and his ardent supporters (in contrast, at least a little, to those who reluctantly tolerate him) to be morally and rationally and societally repulsive. I vomit a bit in my mouth anytime I think about him.

And his defense of "some" nazis and racists ("some were nice guys," or whatever) is atrocious, as is his false moral equivalency of Nazis and racists to the counter protestors. The man is a pig.
That being said, I have problems with the antifa movement. And I'm not the only one (amongst progressive and rational types). I'll post an article that goes into it some more, but in brief, here is my problem:

* They are anarchists, not liberals.

* They place themselves above the law, appointing themselves judge, jury and judgment against those THEY think deserve it. If they THINK you are a Nazi or sympathize too much with Nazis (again, in their head, not necessarily in reality), then they have been known to act against you.

* I hear that they even attacked some in the press this last weekend in their anarchic and self-appointed vigilantism against "the enemy."

I certainly sympathize with the notion of being against fascists and racists, but we do that within some boundaries. It's not every man (and mostly, I believe we are talking about men) for himself, everyone deciding who needs to be punched and who doesn't.

For one thing, it is counterproductive. It gives the idiots and racists like Trump some room for doing just what he has done. It undermines our efforts to stop fascism and racism, rather than supporting it.
But also, it is illiberal. It is not progressive to live outside the laws and make yourself the One True Decider for everyone else.

This is not to say that they are in anyway comparable to the actual fascists, but just to note that they are troubling and need to rein themselves in (and we need to help them rein in).

Read the article. Important stuff...

One excerpt:

"for all of antifa’s supposed anti-authoritarianism, there’s something fundamentally authoritarian about its claim that its activists—who no one elected—can decide whose views are too odious to be publicly expressed. That kind of undemocratic, illegitimate power corrupts. "

"We do not feel safe..."

Just because these stories need to be heard... from a Latino family/friend's Facebook page:

"Last night I had to comfort my youngest who has heard enough about recent events to be terrified that someone may target his father for being Latino.....he no longer wants his father to [go to work] for fear that he will be attacked or arrested. He kept asking me what we will do if his papa doesn't come home one night........and I don't know what to say. I don't know what we will do. I don't want to think about it, and yet, we have to.

Many members of our own family voted for, and still openly defend and support, Trump. My son does not feel safe. He stays awake worrying, crying, begging for all of this to stop.

I am at a loss for how to protect my children when even those who love us cannot see how much hatred is being stoked by the president they voted for, and continue to defend him.

I am not calling out people by names, and my anxiety runs high even as I write this. But if you love us, if you love my children and husband, then now is the time to help us feel loved, safe, and supported. Because even if you do not mean for your politics to be personal or include us, it IS very personal when it means that my kids do not know who they can trust, and that they might be hurt for being Latino, or. even for not fitting the traditional "male" stereotype with their long hair and preferences for artsy or sparkly things.

I am not interested in fighting.....I just want folks to know where we stand, how we feel, and how my heart breaks with this reality. If you need to unfollow me or unfriend me, feel free."

And for those who worry about shit like this, this is a "documented" family. This is how team Trump is making regular citizens of these United States feel, how they're terrorizing children and families. Shit like that's got to make you feel like a Big Man, right?

Sunday, August 13, 2017


Let's pretend:

I'm going to start a group: The Neo-Ted Bundians! It will be based upon the wit and wisdom of famous serial killer, child murderer, rapist and corpse molester, Ted Bundy.

But please, understand, I am only talking about the positive parts of what Ted Bundy stood for, not any of the negative stuff...

...What do you think of that notion? Do we offer sympathy and understanding for this person starting this "fan club," or do we recognize the horror involved in the suggestion?

I think the latter. Of course. (Why does it even need to be said?)

Look, these "neo-nazis" and "KKK" people don't need understanding. We understand just fine.

I understand that they are just regular guys (white guys, to be sure). That they have their concerns and reasons.

However, they have made a fatal flaw if they wanted to be treated as just regular guys: They deliberately chose to self-identify with some of the worst killers, rapists, racists and general awful people in history.

If they just wanted to celebrate "southern culture," they could have started a club about Sweet Tea and Cornbread. They could have started a "Friends of Alabama" support group. But no, they deliberately chose to identify with historical monsters. Of course, Nazis and KKK members were just regular guys, too, with some concerns that they no doubt thought were legitimate. I have no problems with legitimate concerns. BUT, there is a line that must be drawn.

That line is harm, oppression, killing, abuse, terrorism, spreading fear. Those embracing these tactics must be opposed.

Why? (Seems to be a stupid question, but okay, I'll play).

Because just as they might have some concerns, the rest of the world has concerns about justice and safety for all, about human rights. Because we value human rights, good people everywhere must stand opposed to those opposed to human rights. We can be inclusive as hell (or heaven, if you prefer), but IF you have a concern for human rights, then yes, that means we will exclude those who are opposed to human rights.

It's like all these conservatives who try to mock those who value tolerance for being intolerant towards some. But who are we being intolerant towards? The intolerant. IF you are supportive of tolerance, then by definition, you will oppose those advocating intolerance. It's nothing to be mocked, it's just rational.

These people are not imbeciles. They are not unaware of history. They know what the Nazis stood for. They know what the KKK stands for. They understand. And so do we.

That's the problem.

They are seeking to trade in on the horror and fear and oppression of these established groups. These are impotent white boys who are seeking some status and some borrowed power, so they're turning to monsters to try to access it. The thing is, IF you're going to choose to start a white boy's social club and you choose to identify with monsters, you can't ask us for "understanding." At that point, it's your time to understand and understand well:

Good and moral people must always stand opposed to oppressors. Those who choose the tools and symbols of oppressors will be lumped in with them and opposed.

You want to be understood in a moral flattering light? Begin by losing the oppressor, killer, rapist, destroyer identification. Abandon the monster, then we can talk.