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One of the children of slaves is marrying a royal whose forerunners sanctioned slavery; the lion is lying down with the lamb. I just want to be here to observe the changing of the guard and the changing of the British Empire. Today is a day that history will never forget.”

— Denise Crawford, a court stenographer from Brooklyn, quoted in The New York Times.

Forget the cost in dollars of the royal wedding: the celebration of these two lovebirds Princess Harry and Meghan Markle was worth every gold coin spent in spreading the gospel way of love. (Credit: Pool photo by Ben Birchall)

It was an ostentatious (i.e., over-the-top, obscene) display of wealth and power.

And by God, it was wonderful!

I know the cynics will say that the $45 million price tag — the kazillions spent on flowers and on clothes and jewelry worn for a few hours — was an obscene display of wealth and power in a world where billions are starving.

I say that no amount of money could buy the celebration of love and beauty that brought so much joy to 2 billion people around this bloody world Saturday with the royal wedding.

A picture of modern love, complete with racial harmony.

I look at it this way: nobody got killed.

Unlike in Santa Fe in my beloved Texas, where an act of hate the day before the wedding has caused so many of us heartache and so much suffering of those directly affected.

For a few much-needed hours Saturday, the royal wedding was one of those “God moments” that the world desperately needed.

Concerning the concern for the billions of poor and powerless of the world, this younger generation of royals — including Prince Harry and the Meghan Markle — were working overtime in their lives to make this world a better place long before they met.

One of the multiple reasons that Harry and Meghan connected and promptly fell in love was that they both were humanitarians with a shared vision of a more loving, peaceful and grace-filled world.

They were two people who, like a groundbreaking young princess bride named Diana, put love, compassion and money into action.

Like the famous South African Bishop Desmond Tutu, American Episcopal Church Bishop Michael Curry is a World Anglican Communion priest. (As was, by the way, Methodist co-founder John Wesley.)

There’s a reason the royal couple picked a Christlike social justice fighter, the American Episcopal Church leader Michael Curry, to give the sermon.

And Holy God, the African-American bishop, a member of the world Anglican Communion, delivered with a universally acclaimed 13-minute sermon that instantly made his name as universally known as an Anglican bishop from Africa named Tutu.

Bishop Curry was already on his way to becoming the best-known social justice and civil right warrior (along with the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber of North Carolina) in America.

As an advocate for the poor and powerless of the world, I have to say that all the beauty, all the soulful American music as well as classical music, all the messages spoken, and all racial harmony and inclusiveness and good will fostered at such a peaceful event, was worth every gold coin invested in it.

Everything about it, no matter how modern or how ancient and traditional, was done in perfectly good taste.

And good taste, like love and peace and harmony, has been declining for quite a long time in America and the world.

Now THAT was a crowd the likes of which no one in American politics or TV evangelism could ever draw.

Here’s something Bishop Curry had to say in his perfectly crafted and powerfully delivered sermon about “the way of love”:

    “Love is not selfish and self-centered. Love can be sacrificial. And in so doing, becomes redemptive, and that way of unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive love, changes lives.

    “And it can change this world. If you don’t believe me, just stop and think or imagine. Think and imagine, well, think and imagine a world where love is the way.

    “Imagine our homes and families when love is the way. Imagine neighborhoods and communities where love is the way. Imagine governments and nations where love is the way.

    Princess Charles and Meghan Markle’s mum Doria: Two people from two vastly different worlds and cultures.

    “Imagine business and commerce when love is the way. Imagine this tired old world when love is the way, unselfish, sacrificial redemptive.

    “When love is the way, then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again. When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an everflowing brook. When love is the way, poverty will become history.

    “When love is the way, the earth will be a sanctuary. When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields down, down by the riverside to study war no more.

    “When love is the way, there’s plenty good room, plenty good room, for all of God’s children.

    “Because when love is the way, we actually treat each other, well, like we are actually family.

    “When love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all and we are brothers and sisters, children of God.

    “My brothers and sisters, that’s a new heaven, a new earth, a new world, a new human family. And let me tell you something, old Solomon was right in the Old Testament, that’s fire.”

    Please do yourself a favor and read or watch the whole sermon here.

Glory be!

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“If you come here (to New York City) and you work hard and you happen to be in an undocumented status, you’re one of the people who we want in this city. You’re somebody that we want to protect, and we want you to get out from under what is often a life of being a fugitive.”

— Then Mayor Rudy Giuliana, 1994

[SOURCE: 2007 GOP debate at UNH, sponsored by Fox News, Sept. 5, 2007]
——-

“If you come here (to New York City) and you work hard and you happen to be in an undocumented status, you’re one of the people who we want in this city.” Then Mayor Rudy Giuliani, 1994 (PHOTO: Drew Angerer/Getty Images


“Some of the hardest-working and most productive people in this city (New York City) are undocumented aliens. If you come here and you work hard and you happen to be in an undocumented status, you’re one of the people who we want in this city. You’re somebody that we want to protect, and we want you to get out from under what is often a life of being like a fugitive.”

— Then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani, 1994, in interview with The New York Times

[SOURCE: New York Times Archives]
——

“In April 2006, Giuliani went on the record as favoring the Senate’s comprehensive immigration plan which includes a path to citizenship and a guest worker plan.”

New York Times, 2006

——-

“What I would do with the people that are here, when you had a good system in place — and I believe my plan is the best plan for doing that, and these are the kinds of things I achieved in the other jobs that I’ve had in my life, as mayor and associate attorney general — I think what you would do then is, you would say to the 12 million people that are here, Come forward, get a tamper-proof I.D. card, get fingerprinted, get photographed.

“If they don’t come forward, then you throw them out of the country. The ones who do come forward would have to pay taxes. They’d have to pay fines. If you pay fines, it is not amnesty. They would not get ahead of anybody else. They’d be at the back of the line.

“But then they could eventually become citizens, so long as they could read English, write English and speak English.

[SOURCE: NH Republican primary debate, Jan 5, 2006 (Fox News)]

——

“People that come in illegally we gotta stop. You stop illegal immigration by building a fence, a physical fence and then a technological fence. You then hire enough Border Patrol so they can respond in a timely way.

“And then, if anybody becomes a citizen, we should make certain that they can read English, write English and speak English, because this is an English speaking country.”

— GOP Presidential Candidate Rudy Giuliani in 2007 in radio & TV campaign ads

[SOURCE: FactCheck’s AdWatch of 2007 campaign ad, “Fences,” Aug. 20, 2007]


My parents Deanie & Goldie, two great ones.

I hate to sound like a Hallmark Party pooper, but it seems to me we’ve gone overboard with Mother’s Day.

For no less than 20 years I’ve observed this creeping commercialism that has tainted the integrity of it.

Back in the day, Mother’s Day was pretty much a one-day special event. We honored our wonderful Mum by serving her breakfast in bed. We showered her with flowers. We took her out to dinner on Saturday night and to lunch on Sunday.

The Christian churches and other of God’s houses recognized mothers on the Sabbath day by having them stand up for special recognition.

For one day or maybe a two-day weekend at most, we treated Mom like she was Queen For a Day. (Those of a certain advanced age will remember the great TV show of that name; my mother never missed it.)

Now, Mother’s Day commercials start running continually for no less than two full weeks ahead of the weekend event. Restaurants start offering special meals for mothers long in advance of the Big Day. The Floral Shops cash in big for days on end.

Personally, I was richly blessed to have two of the greatest parents who, in my estimation, ever lived. My folks worked and scraped not only to have a comfortable life for themselves as a couple, but to make sure that their three sons would have every opportunity for the best lives possible.

Of two parents, mothers are special because of that nurturing womb thing that fathers can’t relate to. We all have this nine months of special connecting with our mothers that men just don’t have.

So I’m all for Mother’s Day Weekend. And my gnawing problem with it isn’t that these long, extended Hosannahs aren’t fully deserved and heartwarming. A good mother can’t be honored and recognized enough.

The problem is that this weekend extended over weeks is painful for so many millions of people grieving over an absent mom, or the mom who will be absent in the not-too-distant future because of the ravages of disease or old age or both.

It’s painful for the millions of childless women who dreamed of their children to be, and for those who never found the right man to marry and have a child with.

Then there’s the flip side. Mother’s Day is painful, sometimes to the point of excruciating, for the millions of people who had The Mother From Hell — the abusive or neglectful mother, or the one who abandoned soon after birth.

When I was in active ministry as a hospital chaplain, I worked the Sunday swing shift from 2:30 to midnight. For obvious reasons, Mother’s Day was one of those extra-grueling days for one whose job was to give spiritual care to those laid low by illness, injury, impending death and the aftermath of death.

I also served two full, grueling years as a hospice chaplain. I think pastors, and certainly hospital and hospice chaplains, know better than most how complicated and dysfunctional relationships with mothers and fathers and families can be.

Of course, I’ve often noted here that complicated or dysfunctional family relationships aren’t new. This we know because the book of Genesis and so many other parts of the Bible tell us so.

Hell hath no fury like a family member’s or members’ grudge.

By all means, let’s honor and thank God for our good Mothers today.

And allow me to send a great big hug to all of you amazing Moms — and first and foremost to all those great mothers in my own family!

You are amazing indeed, Moms!

But how about we take a minute to pray for and remember those who aren’t having a Hallmark Card day. For many, it’s a long day — or a long two weeks now.


The Fox & Friends trio gleefully trashed the New York Times in their Friday morning show. In the process, they made utter fools of themselves.

The popularity of “Fox & Friends,” a TV program that consistently has the highest ratings in daytime broadcast journalism, underscores the fact that high ratings are not a measure of high quality.

On the Friday morning edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Pete Hegseth took the lead in trashing the New York Times for allegedly failing to cover the capture of five ISIS leaders.

Flipping through a print edition of the Times, Hegseth gleefully noted, “I’ve looked for the five ISIS leaders captured in the failing New York Times, and in the print edition today, I have not seen it yet!”

That’s because the allegedly failing New York Times had reported the story of the capture of five ISIS leaders two days earlier, on Wednesday.

The day before, on Thursday, Hegseth’s own Fox News reported the story of the capture, catching up to the New York Times scoop.

Maybe the guys at Fox & Friends should watch their own Fox network for news. I would highly recommend they watch Shep Smith’s program at lunchtime. It’s the one network news program I try to watch every day for its excellent news coverage and smart, hard-hitting commentary.

In addition, Hegseth and his two co-hosts at Fox & Friends could read the always great New York Times every day rather than scanning it on Fridays. And read it along with the great Washington Post.

Not that the Times and Post are perfect.

But the two papers are two great American institutions. And great American institutions — in journalism as in religion as in business as in sports as in the military and as any other big institution — make mistakes.

In fact, big, great institutions sometimes make whopping big huge mistakes.

Have you seen the latest news about that great American business institution AT&T?

That great business institution had to admit to making a whopping big mistake in hiring Donald Trump’s personal “fixer” Michael Cohen in a whopping big case of influence peddling.

It’s doubtful that Hegseth won’t be manning up and admitting his mistake in trashing the New York Times with a blatantly false accusation about its excellent coverage of the capture of ISIS leaders — a story that informed people around the world read on Wednesday in the world’s best paper.

Feel free to rate this blog post.


Sylvia Bloom was an ordinary woman, a working slug secretary in one of her hometown law firms. She recently died at age 96 — leaving behind something extraordinary.

The Left Behind books that brainwashed millions of readers with its phony “Rapture” theology enriched the two authors of the book series.

They made tens of millions of dollars off the books and related “Left Behind” commercial products. (Don’t get me started on my distaste for those two. See here.)

Somebody should write a book about the great people who leave behind millions of dollars to enrich the lives of people for generations to come.

People like Sylvia Bloom, who retired secretary who died at the other day at age 96.

Many people knew that Ms. Bloom worked for Brooklyn law firm for 67 years. Nobody knew that she was amassing a fortune in all those years until the world learned that she willed $8 million for college scholarships.

This is from the always great New York Times:

    Even by the dizzying standards of New York City philanthropy, a recent $6.24 million donation to the Henry Street Settlement on the Lower East Side was a whopper — the largest single gift from an individual to the social service group in its 125-year history.

    It was not donated by some billionaire benefactor, but by a frugal legal secretary from Brooklyn who toiled for the same law firm for 67 years until she retired at age 96 and died not long afterward in 2016.

    Her name was Sylvia Bloom and even her closest friends and relatives had no idea she had amassed a fortune over the decades. She did this by shrewdly observing the investments made by the lawyers she served.

    “She was a secretary in an era when they ran their boss’s lives, including their personal investments,” recalled her niece Jane Lockshin. “So when the boss would buy a stock, she would make the purchase for him, and then buy the same stock for herself, but in a smaller amount because she was on a secretary’s salary.”

    Since Ms. Bloom never talked about this, even to those closest to her, the fact that she had carefully cultivated more than $9 million among three brokerage houses and 11 banks, emerged only at the end of her life — “an oh my God moment,” said Ms. Lockshin, the executor of Ms. Bloom’s estate.

This kind of story pops up from time to time and is definitely the kind of story that makes you go “Wow!” — in a good way.

These are the kind of quiet, humble people who quietly do extraordinary things with and in their lives.

They are the kind of people who genuinely advance shalom, or the kingdom of God, out of pure, unadulterated lovingkindness, compassion, generosity, and of course, love.

Long may their stories be told.

Please go hear to read the whole story.

For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers…

“Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They preach the ancient law of life.

“Trees are sanctuaries… A tree says: I am life from eternal life.”

— German writer Herman Hesse, author of Steppenwolf*

My adopted daughter Paulita McKay will be five in July. She’s growing like the trees, and with the trees.

It surely breaks God’s heart every time some obscenely rich coal-mining baron in Kentucky or West Virginia gets richer by literally blowing up a mountaintop to produce the toxin that is coal.

“I think that I shall never see … a poem as lovely as a tree… (From the poem by Joyce Kilmer”

God didn’t create the mountains with all their trees and vegetation, all the wildlife and life-sustaining waters, to be blown to pieces for the purpose of endlessly and needlessly destroying God’s good creation.

This just in to News Central: This is 2018. We don’t need coal and coal mines any more than we need covered wagons and kerosene for long-distance transportation.

There’s a reason that mountaintops and trees and waterways are mentioned in verse after verse and page after page of the Good Book: they are sacred.

One of the final lines in your Bible has a foreboding reference to a tree. (See Revelation 22:19-23 here.)

We all love the trees in our yards. They give us beauty and fruit and shade; that they enhance our property value is like manna from heaven.

How do you grow back a mountain after a “mountaintop removal” for coal mining? In this process, huge machines called “draglines” push rock and dirt into nearby streams and valleys — and bury waterways forever.

Yet we accept the relatively new practice of bombing our American mountaintops — complete with their wildlife, forests and water supplies — for the passing value of a toxic fuel supply in a horrific process called “mountaintop removal.”

There is such a thing as a social sin — putting profits over the health and well being of people, for example. And a sin, whether individual or social, calls for repentance and a whole way of life.

Every day is Earth Day, so let us pray this day and every day for the God-given Creation that sustains us:

Mother God in your mercy,
Forgive us our complacent acceptance of the destruction of your living, breathing Earth for the financial gain of a greedy few people.

Keep us mindful of the ways in which all of us so blessed to live lives of comfort, convenience and pleasure, are complicit in our complacency about the poisoning and deaths of fellow Americans victimized by environmental destruction.

Open our hearts and minds to people living everywhere on this blue globe of a green planet who are choking and dying from the massive destruction of landscapes and poisoning of water supplies by multinational corporations that put profits above lives.

Forgive us for electing and accepting leaders who put their power, prestige and profiteering above the health and well being of their own constituents.

Keep us mindful of your own warning to us that “without a vision, the people perish.” Help us to envision all the ways that we can love and preserve your Creation — so that your Creation will continue to love and preserve us.

Empower us with the will and fortitude to fulfill the vision of a newer and greener America and a new Earth.

In the name of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ we pray,

Amen.

“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” Joni Mitchell

*Here is Herman Hesse’s beautiful ode to the tree in its entirety:

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

“A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

“A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

“When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

“A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

“So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”

“We have found our dream president.”

— Jerry Falwell Jr. speaking about President Donald J. Trump, the only man ever to appear on the cover of Playboy magazine

Donald J. Trump was on the campaign trail in Pella, Iowa, in January 2016 when he autographed a vintage copy of Playboy magazine with his picture on the cover for an adoring supporter. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer via Atlantic magazine)

America’s “dream president” spoke about the power of prayer this morning at the National Day of Prayer event outside the White House.

With his hair shining like a golden halo, he spoke about the great Christian leaders the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize) and the Rev. Billy Graham, quoting those to Christian giants on prayer.

“Great great people,” he said.

That sonic-like boom you heard this morning was the sound of Martin Luther King and Billy Graham rolling over in their graves.