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Cheers!

I’ve been back home for a few days now in my beloved Texas Our Texas.

I can’t tell you how warm and good it feels to be home and embrace old friends and family (with, for the record, totally appropriate hugging and kissing).

As a multi-generation native Texan, I’m not just a proud American; I’m a proud Texan-American.

Mind you, I love the unconventional life I’ve carved out for myself in that odd little country that is Belize.

But there is no place like the home country, especially on a chilly but gorgeous day in the Brazos River Valley of Texas where I grew up and left deep footprints.

The great American writer, humorist and cartoonist James Thurber* had a thing about old clocks–he loved them and wrote a lot about them. So it’s not surprising that Thurber, the famous New Yorker who grew up in Columbus, Ohio, never outgrew his love for his hometown. Thurber once said “all the clocks in my heart tick for Columbus, Ohio.”

I’m back where my internal clocks tick and grateful to be here.

Hope you have a great day, too.

Thanksgiving Square in downtown Dallas.

*More on his greatness James Thurber here.

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“Grab em by the pussy!”

For a man who’s getting way up in the years, the pucker-face Mitch McConnell can still dodge hard questions with amazing agility.

Go to this link to see what I mean.

He and other Republicans desperate to keep Alabama’s notorious knuckle-dragger Roy Moore out of the Senate are saying–with completely straight faces–“I believe the women.”

Moore is like some really twisted little character out of some dark version of Loony Toons.

But then, Trump’s gag-o-ramas with women are a thousand percent better documented than anything we’ve seen from the Alabama Space Cowboy’s gag-o-rama.

Me, I’ve always believed all those women who came forward after the infamous “grab em by the pussy” tape and accused Donald Trump of brazen sexual assault, harassment, and sundry and sordid other acts.

Apparently McConnell, and his wife who is Trump’s loyal Secretary of Transportation, and most of the conservatives in Congress believe Donald Trump, not the women he clearly sexually abused (and many he tried to destroy).

You’ll recall, of course, that candidate Trump was going to sue at least seven of his female accusers for defamation as soon as he took office.

Which of course he never did for a good reason: he doesn’t want to go to court because he’s a guilty dog.

No offense to good dogs.

The Republican belief system is consistently inconsistent.

That I can tell you.
——–
UPDATE:
Several more women have come forward to accuse Roy Moore of aggressive sexual behavior while Trump remains to boxed in with his history of nasty sexual aggression to say a word.

Daughter Ivanka, however, has pronounced that there is “a special place in hell” for people like Moore who prey on children.

She said she believes the victims because they are credible and his stories are not.

Ivanka Trump–daughter of famous sexual predator Donald Trump–had the audacity to say that.

Let that sink it.


In God and Guns We Trust?

Our Christian political and church leaders in Texas, like so many around the country, have this awful habit of separating Jesus from the overarching message of nonviolence that Jesus the Prince of Peace embodied and taught.

I’m thinking of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who said in the wake of the sickening mass murder of people slaughtered while they were in church praying, “Arm your congregations.”

I don’t think Jesus approved that message.

As for me, I’m plenty willing to be killed in a church with an unarmed congregation than attend one where worshipers are armed to the teeth.

“How long, O Lord?”

Don’t. Lie.

Longtime followers of the blog here are plenty aware that I’ve been distressed out of my bucket at times by the low moral standards so many Americans, especially Christians, have come to accept from the leader of the free world.

I’m especially distressed when it comes to lying and deception being perfectly acceptable because that wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing Donald J. Trump is so awesome that candidate Trump promised to “protect God for you.”

As if God needs protection from anybody, much less a man with the morals of a rabid wolf.

The retired United Methodist Bishop Will Willimon and his spiritual soul mate, the moral theologian Stanley Hauerwas, have been universally respected forever because of their uncompromising commitment to speaking the truth till the truth hurts.

Like Jesus, their commitment speaking the truth at all costs has won them  enemies and fierce pushback from critics. They’ve always been up to the challenge of answering their critics with bluntness that the famously blunt Martin Luther would envy.

These two old-timers will carry the torch for the truth, and for The Truth, until their dying days.

So I’m reblogging Brother Will’s latest blog post about Hauerwas’s speech if only to remind myself that as an ordained minister called by God to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted, I have to call out the lies and deceptions of the big man who was supposed to be so much better and more honest that woman “Lyin’ Hillary.”

So with no further ado, this is from Brother Willimon…

A Peculiar Prophet

When he received an honorary degree at the University of Aberdeen this past summer, my friend Stanley Hauerwas gave what may be the shortest commencement address on record.  He said, in about five minutes, “Do not lie.”

Jesus said that he was not only the way and the life but also the truth.  Christians don’t lie.  We don’t lie because lying is the death of human community, or it’s impossible to be with one another in relationship when there is a pattern of lying. We don’t lie because it’s our job to show that Jesus Christ makes possible lives of truth in a world of lies. 

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Remember the “Mighty Men” who were King David’s warriors?

If you don’t, click here for a learning opportunity.

The Mighty Men served with bone spurs and served so courageously that they never felt any pain.

(Loosen up, folks. Levity lifts us.)

BE HOUSTON STRONG.

If we sit and think about the state of the world, we may well become very depressed; then let us get to action in our small corner of the world.

We may sometimes despair of the Church; then let us get to action in our small part of the Church.

— William Barclay*

Professor Barclay, the biblical interpreter for the common folk and the scholarly.

It is all to easy these days for even the most steadfast people of faith to become depressed to the point of hopelessness and despair.

I have days myself when I feel like giving it all up and going the way of “eat, drink, and be merry, and eat and drink more, and banging on me drums all day.”

The world seems to be coming thoroughly undone sometimes, although, I have to say it has seemed like that to every generation since the Garden.

Still, this is our time. The world is so much with me so many days now that I oftentimes say to the Lord like the father who said to Jesus:

I still have many of The New Daily Study Bible volumes written by the great Scottish Professor William Barclay (1907-1978), with hundreds of dog-eared pages and sections I’ve practically painted with highlights from markers.

Barclay’s mission in life was to interpret every book of the Bible with such vivid clarity as to reach the so-called common people — the “unscholarly” Christians. His genius was that he managed to do that while winning over the high-browed scholars.

I’ve been steeping myself in the Gospel of Mark lately for a writing project and could not resist the urge to go back and read Barclay’s The Gospel of Mark study guide.

With that introduction, I’ll share with you what Barclay had to say about the dad who sought healing for his son.

    [Jesus] had decided to stake his life on the redemption of the world. And now he had come back down [from the mountaintop] to find his … own chosen disciples, beaten and baffled and helpless and ineffective. …

    Looking at the Twelve, he must have had a sudden realization of what anyone else would have called the hopelessness of his task. He must have … almost despaired. …

    How did he meet the moment of despair? “Bring the boy to me,” he said. When we cannot deal with the ultimate situation, the thing to do is to deal with the situation which at that moment confronts us.

    It was as if Jesus said, “I do not know how I am ever to change these disciples of mine, but I can at this moment help this boy. Let me get on with the present task, and not despair of the future.”

    That is the way to avoid despair. If we sit and think about the state of the world, we may well become very depressed; then let us get to action in our small corner of the world.

    We may sometimes despair of the Church; then let us get to action in our small part of the Church.

    Jesus did not sit appalled and paralyzed at the slowness of people’s minds; he dealt with it with immediate action.

As I said in the conclusion of my book The View From Down in Poordom, it’s all to easy to get overwhelmed by the despair that is poverty in the world. It’s also easy to get overwhelmed by what God expects of us in alleviating that poverty. God expects a lot and then some from those of us to whom much has been given.

But as I wrote:

Rather than just handing out cans of food at the food pantry with a smile and a “God bless you” — which is good as far as it goes — take a little extra time to make one or two or ten new friends there or wherever the needy may be found near you.

So as the wise Professor Barclay said, “Let us get to action in our small corner of the world. That is the way to avoid despair!”

——–
*Barclay, a self-described “liberal evangelical,” will always be controversial because he believed strongly in universal salvation, because of his pacifism (“war is mass murder”), and for his skepticism about the Trinity.

Even though many conservative evangelicals and fundies denounce him as a heretic hate on him and his personal legacy, many of those same conservatives give him his due grace, like the conservative author at this link. It’s an interesting take from the conservative tribe.

Christopher Columbus arrived at Puerto Rico in 1493. He originally called the island San Juan Bautista, but thanks to the gold in the river, it was soon known as Puerto Rico, or “rich port.”

— From Smithsonian.com here

Puerto Rico, c. 2007

For your edification, here a few facts about Puerto Rico they didn’t teach us in history.* (And you might want to check this out first to see how relevant the facts are.)

The United States took over Puerto Rico in 1898.

Recommendations to President McKinley for the takeover of a once self-sustaining nation by Henry K. Carroll, special commissioner for the United States for Porto Rico.

In 1898, “Puertoricans” were completely self-sustaining with an economy based on agriculture.

Forty percent of the of the land in the U.S. colony was devoted to coffee, 32% to growing food for local consumption, 15% to sugar and 1% for tobacco.

Over 90% of the farms and agricultural resources were owned by local Puertoricans.

You read that right: more than 90 percent of the agri resources were owned by local bloods at the time the U.S. came in and began its corrosive exploitation.

Fast forward to 1940. By then, 80% of all farmland in P.R. was owned by large corporations or landlords with 500 acres or more.

In the wake the Great Depression, Puertoricans were a welfare nation, thoroughly poor and entirely dependent on the U.S.for survival.

To add insult to injury, Spanish on the island was banned and English became mandatory.

Puertoricans were treated by their lords like mongrels, which is what they were called by those who lorded over them.

And then… well… you get the picture.

As the great American William Faulkner, who wrote about Poordom down in his native Mississippi in such a universal way, once said in an interview:

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

Vilage in Utuado, Circa 1940

* These facts were culled from an article in Counterpunch by José M. Tirado, a Puertorican poet, Buddhist priest and political writer.

You can learn much more about the history of P.R., and about resistance movements, too– by clicking this link.