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From Job 37 . . . .

14 ‘Hear this, O Job;    stop and consider the wondrous works of God.  15 Do you know how God lays his command upon them,    and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine?  16 Do you know the balancings of the clouds,    the wondrous works of the one whose knowledge is perfect,  17 you whose garments are hot    when the earth is still because of the south wind?  18 Can you, like him, spread out the skies,    unyielding as a cast mirror?  19 Teach us what we shall say to him;    we cannot draw up our case because of darkness.  20 Should he be told that I want to speak?    Did anyone ever wish to be swallowed up?  21 Now, no one can look on the light    when it is bright in the skies,    when the wind has passed and cleared them.  22 Out of the north comes golden splendour;    around God is awesome majesty.

14 ‘Hear this, O Job;
stop and consider the wondrous works of God.
15 Do you know how God lays his command upon them,
and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine?
16 Do you know the balancings of the clouds,
the wondrous works of the one whose knowledge is perfect,
17 you whose garments are hot
when the earth is still because of the south wind?
18 Can you, like him, spread out the skies,
unyielding as a cast mirror?
19 Teach us what we shall say to him;
we cannot draw up our case because of darkness.
20 Should he be told that I want to speak?
Did anyone ever wish to be swallowed up?
21 Now, no one can look on the light
when it is bright in the skies,
when the wind has passed and cleared them.
22 Out of the north comes golden splendour;
around God is awesome majesty.

** (photo above by Melissa VanderPloeg Fischer up in Michigan)
——————

From Rabbi Heschel . . .

 "I am afraid of people who  are never embarrassed at the profanation of life. A world full of grandeur has been converted into a carnival. There are slums, disease, and starvation all over the world, and we are building more luxurious hotels in Las Vegas. Social dynamics is no substitute for moral responsibility. "I shudder at the thought of a society ruled by people who are absolutely certain of their wisdom, by people to whom everything in the world is crystal-clear, whose minds know no mystery, no uncertainty. "What the world needs is a sense of embarrassment."


“I am afraid of people who are never embarrassed at the profanation of life. A world full of grandeur has been converted into a carnival. There are slums, disease, and starvation all over the world, and we are building more luxurious hotels in Las Vegas. Social dynamics is no substitute for moral responsibility.
“I shudder at the thought of a society ruled by people who are absolutely certain of their wisdom, by people to whom everything in the world is crystal-clear, whose minds know no mystery, no uncertainty.
“What the world needs is a sense of embarrassment.” — Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Who Is Man?, 1962

FROM BARNES & NOBLES BLURB: Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) was one of the great religious teachers and moral prophets of our time. Born in Warsaw to a long line of Hasidic rabbis, he chose instead to study philosophy in Germany. Expelled back to Warsaw, he escaped just weeks before the Nazi invasion and settled in the United States. Through a series of books, he contributed greatly to the spiritual renewal of Judaism. But he exerted an equal influence on Christians-so much that he was called another "apostle to the gentiles." A passionate champion of interfaith dialogue, he served as an official observer at Vatican II and was influential in challenging the Catholic Church to overcome the legacy of anti-Semitism. He raised a prophetic challenge to the social issues of his day, marching with Martin Luther King, Jr. and protesting the Vietnam War. His writings here on prayer, God, prophecy, the human condition, and the spiritual life vividly communicate his instinct for the "holy dimension of all existence.

FROM BARNES & NOBLES BLURB:
Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) was one of the great religious teachers and moral prophets of our time. Born in Warsaw to a long line of Hasidic rabbis, he chose instead to study philosophy in Germany. Expelled back to Warsaw, he escaped just weeks before the Nazi invasion and settled in the United States. Through a series of books, he contributed greatly to the spiritual renewal of Judaism. But he exerted an equal influence on Christians-so much that he was called another “apostle to the gentiles.” A passionate champion of interfaith dialogue, he served as an official observer at Vatican II and was influential in challenging the Catholic Church to overcome the legacy of anti-Semitism. He raised a prophetic challenge to the social issues of his day, marching with Martin Luther King, Jr. and protesting the Vietnam War. His writings here on prayer, God, prophecy, the human condition, and the spiritual life vividly communicate his instinct for the “holy dimension of all existence.

Rev. Paul McKay:

Let the church and congregants who are without sins like divorce and adultery and cheating on taxes and God-only-knows what kind of conduct and behavior behind closed doors at home throw stones and exclude this young and faithful couple providing a loving home to beautiful children.

    Lord in your mercy, forgive your church–the biblical “body of Christ,” for hurting and excluding people based on sexual orientation. Forgive us all who profess to be Christians for falling so short of the glory of the one person who ever lived without sin. Amen.

Originally posted on Candice Czubernat:

photo

by Candice Czubernat

I hold the church personally responsible for any LGBTQ person who walks away from God and Christianity. Every week, I get emails from individuals all across the country who are full of desire to be a part of a church. They want to go on the church-wide mission trip, join the choir, serve in the youth group and attend a small group. These are people who long to serve God, connect with other Christians and be a part of a wider community.

Sounds pretty good, right?

Here’s the heartbreaking part: they write me because the church won’t let them do those things and they don’t know what to do.

Their church has found out they are LGBTQ and because of this are no longer welcome to join in these church activities they long to be a part of. The worst are the emails I get are from young…

View original 2,784 more words

Some interesting presidential history follows (and also here) as well as here too about “America’s first Muslim President”):

Imagine if you-know-who were this chummy with Muslims

Imagine if you-know-who were this chummy with Muslims


“Bush praises Islam for its ‘morality'”
Washington Times ^ | 12/06/02 | Bill Sammon
Posted on December 6, 2002

President Bush yesterday removed his shoes, entered a mosque and praised Islam for inspiring “countless individuals to lead lives of honesty, integrity, and morality.”

For the second time since the September 11 terrorist attacks, the president yesterday visited Washington’s oldest mosque, the Islamic Center, where Muslims from 75 nations gather to worship. Mr. Bush marked the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan by praising Islam as a hopeful religion of mercy and tolerance.

“Islam affirms God’s justice and insists on man’s moral responsibility,” said the president, flanked by a half-dozen imams. “Islam gave birth to a rich civilization of learning that has benefited mankind.”

The overture to Muslims came four days after religious broadcaster Pat Robertson said Mr. Bush “ignores history” by not acknowledging that Islam is “violent at its core.”

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“Bush Praises Islam as Religion of Tolerance”
Reuters | October 22, 2003
BALI, Indonesia (Reuters) – President Bush praised the world’s most populous Muslim nation on Wednesday for its support in the war on terror and said Islamic terrorists defiled one of the great faiths.

Bush, speaking against the backdrop of a palm-fringed beach and turquoise sea, expressed his gratitude after meeting President Megawati Sukarnoputri and Indonesian Muslim leaders critical of U.S. policies on the Middle East.

“We know that Islam is fully compatible with liberty and tolerance and progress because we see the proof in your country and in our own,” Bush told a news conference on an island where Muslim militants killed scores in nightclub bomb attacks last year.

“Terrorists who claim Islam as their inspiration defile one of the world’s greatest faiths. Murder has no place in any religious tradition. It must find no home in Indonesia.”

U.S. officials said Bush wanted to correct what he felt was a misconception that the war on terror was a war against Islam.

Under blanket security, Bush is paying a symbolic and lightning visit to the island where Muslim radicals linked to al Qaeda killed 202 people when they blew up two nightclubs.

He soon flies to the Australian capital Canberra for talks with key ally Prime Minister John Howard.

Bush paid tribute to the victims of the Bali bombings, the worst act of terror since the September 11, 2001, hijack attacks on the United States.

Indonesia took no chances with security, deploying seven warships along with 5,000 heavily armed police and troops backed up by sniffer dogs and bomb squad units.

Bush, on a six-nation Asian tour, said he would propose to Congress a six-year program worth $157 million to support basic education in Indonesia to aid efforts to build a system that discourages extremism.

“GREAT IMPORTANCE”

While Indonesia’s secular government has been allied to the United States in its efforts to fight terror, critics have accused it of failing to explain the dangers of radical Islam to its people and to tackle militancy at its roots, especially in a small number of conservative Muslim boarding schools.

Bush hoped his visit would help dampen anti-Americanism in Indonesia. Megawati told the news conference she attached “great importance” to Jakarta’s relationship with the United States.

But the Muslim clerics had been expected to tell Bush that U.S. policies in the Middle East, seen as favoring Israel, were one of the root causes of terror attacks in Asia.

They were not immediately available for comment.

In Jakarta, Muslim intellectuals and politicians joined 500 people in a peaceful protest against Bush’s visit. There were also small protests in the cities of Bandung and Makassar.

Roads near the airport and the Patra Bali hotel where Bush held meetings were closed during the U.S. president’s visit, snarling traffic. The airport was shut for the duration of the visit, forcing the rescheduling of 45 flights to Bali.

“It’s like having a war here,” said bellboy Anak Agung, who works at a resort near the meeting venue.

Bush’s praise for Indonesia’s role in the war on terror is in marked contrast to the accusations of foot-dragging prior to the Bali blasts. Washington had warned Megawati for months that her country could face deadly attacks.

After the bombings, which killed many locals and tourists from 22 nations, Indonesia cracked down on Islamic militancy, particularly rebels from Southeast Asia’s Jemaah Islamiah group, and parliament passed a new anti-terrorism law.

It has arrested 100 militants since the Bali bombings over that attack and others.
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    THE WHITE HOUSE
    Office of the Press
    Secretary
    I send greetings to the many Muslims observing Ramadan in America and around the world.

    Ramadan is the holiest time of the Muslim year and an important holiday when Muslims take time for prayer, fasting, and personal sacrifice. According to Islamic teachings, this month represents when God delivered His word to the prophet Muhammad in the form of the Qur’an. Ramadan is also an opportunity to gather with friends and family and show thanks for God’s blessings through works of charity.

    Ramadan and the upcoming holiday seasons are a good time to remember the common values that bind us together. Our society is enriched by our Muslim citizens whose commitment to faith reminds us of the gift of religious freedom in our country.

    Laura and I send our best wishes for a blessed Ramadan. Ramadan Mubarak.

    GEORGE W. BUSH

Your Jitterbug Theology thought for the day:

Take your stresses and strains to the woods, the wilderness, the riverside, even the park with its still ponds nearest you, and cast your burdens to the Lord.

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    The moonshiner’s art is a slow and demanding one. The corn has to soak in a wet burlap sack for ten days. The mash has to be fermented with water, yeast, and malt for another ten days or more. Then, in being gently heated over a low fire, the alcohol has to evaporate, passing through a copper coil inside a barrel of cold branch water, dripping leisurely into a stoneware jug. The process can’t be hurried. Nothing should be rushed in Moonshine Hollow.”

    — Presbyterian theologian Beldon C. Lane

The branches at "Moonshine Holly," a uniquely holy place.

The branches at “Moonshine Hollow,” a uniquely holy place.

Belden C. Lane is a Presbyterian professor of Theological Studies at St. Louis University, a Jesuit school, who writes some genuinely original stuff about contemplative spirituality based on his time spent in the wilderness.

His books have included the one I’ve read and like a lot, titled Landscapes of the Sacred: Geography and Narrative in American Spirituality. He has a new book due in December that I look forward to reading someday called Backpacking with the Saints: Wilderness Hiking as a Spiritual Practice.

The Zen Buddhist Journal “tricycle” has an excerpt from the book, in which Lane meditates on the power of certain places we love and return to in order to “get away from it all” and slow down–places that hold a bit of spiritual power over us because they are wild and earthy.

It’s a heck of a good writer, and Belden is that, who can wax wise about moonshining as a spiritually contemplative practice in a place where lawless whisky runners cooked their grog.

Here’s more from his book in which he reflects on his special getaway in the wilds called “Moonshine Hollow”–a place he goes to attain spiritual “mindlessness”:

    Several times I’ve hiked into this glen on a Friday afternoon halfway through the semester, needing to escape the city and the university—seeking what Gerry May calls “the power of slowing.” I come to practice mindfulness, a habit that isn’t easy to sustain amid the distractions of academic life. Simone Weil argued that school studies can be an aid in the exercise of prayer. If you think of praying as primarily a matter of paying attention, then memorizing geometric theorems and mulling over Anselm’s argument for God’s existence might help. She was right, up to a point.

    Prayer does involve a discipline of practiced attentiveness, but it’s more than a concentration of thought, a knitting of one’s brows. Contemplative prayer is what gets you out of your head entirely. That’s what I come to wilderness for—a deeper practice of mindfulness, a virtue that Buddhists and Desert Christians have both held in high esteem. The mindfulness that wild terrain evokes is actually a sort of “mindlessness,” an end-run around rational analysis that seeks an immediacy of presence.

Your Jitterbug Theology thought for the day:

Take your stresses and strains to the woods, the wilderness, the riverside, even the park with its still ponds nearest you, and cast your burdens to the Lord.

*Excerpts from Backpacking with the Saints: Wilderness Hiking as a Spiritual Practice by Belden C. Lane and reprinted in “tricycle” with permission from Oxford University Press, Inc. Copyright © 2014 by Oxford University Press. The book will be released on December 1, 2014.

“Our Day Will Come” was one of those huge, radio-friendly hits of the early sixties, pre-dating the Beatles and “the British Invasion.”

It’s a finely crafted and terribly romantic song (what do you expect from a group called “The Romantics,” after all), with a haunting, sad beauty about it.

It holds up pretty good after all these years.

So here’s two versions for your Monday musical relief, the first performed by Ruby herself at an oldies show and the second performed in an updated cover by the great but tragic young Amy Winehouse (go here!)–I like Amy’s reggae-tinted version a lot.

“A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.”
—Mark 1: 40-42

Hands_of_God_and_Adam
I grew up in a time when gasoline was a little north of 20 cents a gallon and doctors made these things called “house calls”—which tells all you need to know about how old I am.

Our family physician was Dr. Hansen, a pleasant but serious-minded and gentle giant of a man with big but delicate hands. He seemed to lumber forward when he walked into our house to see my aged grandmother, with his ever-present stethoscope around his neck and his well-worn doctor’s bag in hand.

Then again, maybe the hometown doc wasn’t as big a man as I remember from boyhood, when dutifully he came to our house any time that my elderly grandmother “Nannie” fell ill. Maybe he looms large in my mind now because everyone saw him as such a towering figure in our town. Even now I look back on him as a giant presence of peace and calm, compassion and grace. I still think of him sometimes in my ministry when I’m at someone’s sickbed or deathbed.

This was a role model who modeled God’s sheer grace.

* * * *

I remember how Dr. Hansen would pull up a chair beside my “Nannie’s” bed, then take a hand of hers and swallow it up with one of his own big hands while gently placing the other palm on her head. In the manner of Jesus, he literally laid hands on her.

“Are you feeling poorly today, Ms. Chasteen?” he would ask softly.

“I am, Dr. Hansen. I’m so glad you’re here,” she would tell him.

“Well tell me why you feel so bad; are you hurting somewhere?”

I remember being impressed even at such a young age by that proverbial “bedside manner,” where the physician used no tools other than the calming influence of his presence—and his taking my grandmother’s hand—while making his initial diagnosis. Only after some of this fully engaged contact with my grandmother would he take his stethoscope to her chest, or gingerly place a thermometer under her tongue.

Dr. Hansen’s presence and touch did not in itself “cure” my grandmother of what ailed her, but it did bring her the curative relief of spiritual healing that could only enhance the physical healing.

One only has to scan the relatively short gospel of Mark, with an eye to all the touching going on, to grasp the power of healing touch. The presence and the hands of Jesus were spiritual weapons that his enemies were powerless to deal with—there was just no way to “disarm” this prince.

So the fear-filled persecutors punched nails through those tender palms of the carpenter-turned-healer, on the assumption that they were putting such dangerous hands out of commission forever. Turns out it wasn’t the end of Christ that they thought this crucifixion would be. Crucifixions, after all, had always been a reliable means for ending a life.

Yet the power of the hand of God, which could not be eliminated even in death, was passed on to the apostles in a matter of days after the resurrection, when Jesus breathed the powers of the Spirit of grace and healing upon them (John 20: 22).

Jesus still touches lives with his healing presence, and through the hands of doctors and all kinds of caregivers through their hands and hugs and mere, compassionate presence.

The power touch, appropriately applied+ holds the endless power of God’s healing grace.

    *If touching and hugging is “too long and too strong,” it’s not appropriate with someone you don’t know or don’t know very well. Be mindful that not all people like to be touched or hugged. It’s a good idea in giving care to someone laid low by illness, injury or grief of any kind to ask, “Would you be comfortable if I gave you a hug right now?” Or, “I feel like holding your hand if you’re comfortable with that. Is that OK?” If the person is not comfortable do not touch–not physically. The important thing is to touch the other’s heart, mind and spirit with your compassionate presence.

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A reminder that not all NFL football stars are a menace to society.

The fiercest player on the field–and now the highest paid in the NFL–is a class act and genuinely good role model.

J.J.

J.J.

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