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Archive for May, 2009

The Van Morrison blog

Oops, got caught flatfooted today without those but they’re coming.
Meanwhile, thanks Frank FB’ing me this to substitute for now–you and the band are awesome musics spirits and that’s a full post to come someday soon.
“We were born before the wind.
Also younger than the sun.
Ere the bonnie boat was wan as we sailed into the mystic.”

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Man oh man–I’ve hardly even had time to read any real details about it, or to hear any news about it, but I’m very much aware that some pictures of President Obama mugging and posing for a photographer in his rebellious youth period is already, very predictably, reinforcing the anti-Obamites who love a little more artillery to persist in trying to blow his high approval ratings all to hell and regain power lost, or at least lost at this political moment in national time.
Man alive, there’s a very real possibility that somewhere in somebody’s attic, some real great old long lost friend of mine from the sixties–or, God help me, some enemy I made in the sixties or early seventies without even knowing I’d made an enemy for life somehow, has some faded old picture of me with a joint in my mouth (if not that there was sure a cigarette), with a beer in my hand, or maybe even a bottle of “Black Jack” in my hand–totally stoned out of my bucket, in a uh, “Purple Haze,” circa 1968 or 69 or 70 or the seventies period.
I don’t look at pictures of President Obama in those youthful rebel poses and think to myself—“Oh no! Another librul Democrat who’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing!!!”
Because for one thing, I’m a librul Democrat myself (unapologetic division) and so don’t care what any politicians did in his or her misspent youth or rebel youth life chapter, most especially if he or shee was a librul Demo. Because multitudes of NOW conservative Republicans have the same potentially explosive pictures of themselves in somebody’s attic or old college scrapbook.
Not ALL people go throught that kind of generation rebellion, whatever their generation’s rebel story is, but like rebel rocker and now wise man of the sixties Don Henley sings, “Rebels been rebels since I don’t know when!”
All that matters to me is how this President came out of that and grew and matured and learned from it, and even if you don’t believe a word President Obama has said about how he grew and matured and deepened in character as a result of that youthful life experience and every other life experience, he’s never denied it.
So these pictures that are already inflaming the anti-Obama flames with recycled pictures that are even less relevant now than they were when they were used for political warfare against him in his political campaining testing just seems to be to be so utterly boring and distracting to the real issues we face that I can’t even abide it.
Because, again, it’s not only distracting Obama and all of us and all our leaders from some really, really daunting challenges to all of us our our nation and our children’s and possibly their children’s futures, it’s just so boring that I have to tune it out till it passes.
Except to say what I just said to you, jitterbugger.

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And now for something completely different

And so, imagine you’re the son of a dad who makes his living as a member of the “Geek Squad!” at some place like, say, Best Buy.
An adult male says to you, “So what does your Dad do?”
And you say with a smile and conviction in you voice, “My dad’s a total Geek.”
The adult male might say to you, “Wow!”
Because the adult male is so taken aback that he doesn’t know what to say, and is thinking to himself, “Lord have mercy! Kids today!”
Or, “What a brat!”
Or, “If I ever found out that Dylan talks like that about ME . . . !” (And fill in your own violent response to complete that sentence, fellow fathers, wink, wink.)
Or, he might be thinking to himself, “Boy! If I’d ever talked that way about my dad back in the day–and dad found out about it—I wouldn’t be able to walk from the back of the barn back to the house without mom coming out to the back of the barn to rescue me!”
HOWEVER, dear reader, let’s circle back now to the introduction of this scenario of the man asking a kid what his father does for a living.
This kid who’s the son of a Geek Squad professional is really boasting that he’s the proud son of a total Geek but you just didn’t make that connection when the Geek’s son said that to you!!!!
And if you ever learned that you had reacted in your own head without it ever occurring to you that he could really be the PROUD son of a “total Geek” (professional Geek Squad Div.), you might think to yourself, “Boy, what a stoopid moron, me.”
Yes, this are very confused times, but God’s love and grace never end.

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Jitterbugger is back after an extended absence and Jitterbuggers’ creative Muses (who sing to the tune of the Holy Spirit, BTW) have so much to say in the days ahead at this blog site that even Rush Limbaugh will be humbled! With faith in God’s grace, even the seemingly impossible is possible!

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Quotable quote (Spiritual Wisdom of MLK Jr. Div.)

“Everyone can be great because everyone can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t even have to make your subject and your verb agree… You only need a heart full of grace…a soul generated by love.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

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I’m in the process of moving, and, in packing up some of my most treasured stuff, I packed away all the mementoes from two, two-week mission trips I made to Moscow, St. Petersburg and Tomsk, Siberia during my seminary years in 2003-04.
I’ve always been fascinated by all the beautiful culture that Russia has offered in the 1,000 years of Moscow’s existence, as well as all the bizarre, often evil, often savage, always crazy, mixed up history of a country that is so huge that it has, believe it or not, 11 times zones!!!
Yes, 11 time zones.
Think about how much of Mother Earth Russia covers.
My two missions were primarily to minister to orphans in Tomsk, Siberia, which is one of the most incredibly beautiful parts of the world.
People think of Siberia as a vast wasteland and frozen tundras and all that, and that’s all Siberia.
Grim, inhospitable country.
But that image is tantamount to that which so many people who’ve never been to Texas have.
Many people still think Texas is all dry, dusty West Texas with tumbleweeds. Or they think that everything outside of the Dallas, Houston, San Antone and Austin urbane areas must be cheerless hinterlands where cowboys still ride horses to the post office.
None of the stereotype images begin to match the Texas that offers an East Texas that puts some in mind, at certain times of the year, of New England.
Or the Big Bend Country and the Davis mountains.
Fellow native Texans know how beautifully diverse our state is geographically, culturally, politically and every other way.
So believe me when I tell you, I’ve picnicked in an enchanted Siberian forest that just left me in awe of the virgin beauty of it.
I’ve taken a very slow, 10-hour boat ride down the Ob River, where you can ride for miles and come around a bend and have a crumbling, hundreds-year-old Russian Orthodox Church with the gleaming onions overlooking a bluff suddenly give you an overwhelming sense of the surreal.
(And I remember going around one bend where we came up on a happy young couple and their happy young four or five kids, frolicking totally, nude-nekkid, and waving at us joyfully, as if they’d not seen other human life in years. I still wonder if they hadn’t seen others in years.)
Above all I remember the unconditional love of Siberian orphans–scores and scores at them at a Methodist-supported orphanage–who cling to American Methodist mission teams with so much love and affection that it takes a rookie missioner a couple of days just to adjust to how starved for love and affection these kids are.
I remember a beautiful little girl who took a shine to me for those two weeks on the first trip, and again the next year on my return trip, and almost literally would not let me alone long enough to go to the outhouse.
(By the way, outhouses only in Siberia and most places outside the cities, and the bathroom facilities in Russia’s most sophisticated cities will make you appreciate the creature comforts of the U.S.A. Those of you who’ve been on Methodist mission trips to Russia and Siberia–I see you nodding in enthusiastic agreement with me.)
This little girl’s daddy came home drunk out of his bucket on the ol’ Vodka one night, and mom was not prepared to take a beating this night.
She chopped him to pieces with an axe.
This little orphan, who never stopped smiled, witnessed mom chopping up dad.
(Stop and say a prayer for Russia’s millions of orphans if that was a shock to you, will you?)
Russian history is chock full of axe-inflicted savagery and it is still part of the more savage culture in the far-flung villages.
On a happier note—–
on one of those nights we spent on our tugboat on the Ob River journey, we hooked up with a large group of privileged Siberian kids from well-to-do families from a city where scientists live and raise families in community together were having a party on a Friday night.
If you ignored the language barrier, you felt as if your were at a summer camp where a large group of kids (boys and girls at the same camp in different bunkhouses, of course) from, say, Plano or Frisco were having an endless Beach Boys summer party night. They were rocking to Billy Joel, Elton John, Paul Simon and all the other great Amerikonski rockers.
And believe me, there’s not a person alive in Russia, under the age of about 40, who does not love and admire “Amerikonskis.”
To step off a bus anywhere in Russia and speak with an American accent is a guarantee to be treated like a rock star stepping off the tour bus.
Surreal Russia and Siberia.
Anyway, at this camp on the Ob River, under a bright Siberian moon, these Russian teens took us down to the river and handed us little tiny, handcrafted wooden ships with candles in them.
We all circled around and passed a big candle to light the little ship candles, and the dozens upon dozens of young Russian campers, their Russian supervisors and chaperones and 15 of us United American Methodists and our five or six Russian Methodist guides who traveled with us everywhere we went—-we each, one by one, made a wish as we lit our candle and placed it in the river and watched it float downstream in the beautiful Siberian night.
I’m thinking lately I’ve got to get back to Russia and Siberia for a two-week mission vacation in the next year or two, to what may be the most misunderstood and fascinating place in the world and a land that I love.
Russia is no Vladimir Putin, no Stalin, no Lenin, just wonderful, hospitable people who are open to Christian Protestantism, as long as you show them what Christ is about.
Show and show and show, then tell about Christ and God’s grace when the trust is there.
That’s always the best evangelism in the big, wide world.

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Regarding “An Elvis on the TV”

A friend from my church in Allen, who is a seminary student at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology and in the grueling candidacy process for ordination some day, sent me a very gratifying response on my Facebook to my posting about “Miss Caleefornya.”
I loved the zinger she threw in at the bottom of all the flattery. She wrote:
Paul,
I was just reading your post about Miss CA, which I really enjoyed. There were times I just had to chuckle or shout Amen. I wish I would have read it last night while I was studying for my last exam. It would have invigorated me and allowed me to stay up later and perhaps nail down a few more Hebrew verbs, which I wish I would have had this morning. All that said, I have to ask what doing an Elvis on the TV is…
I also wanted to say how much I am looking forward to seeing your ordination in just a few weeks.
See you soon,
Julie

Well, Julie, I sometimes forget that I’m well into official geezerhood and that a lot of jitterbuggers, like yourself, are closer to my oldest daughter’s age than my own, and that you relative youngsters may not always understand historical or cultural references that other geezers would get.
So here’s the deal on why all this exposure on TV of Miss California, and all her twisted, in my opinion, horn blowing about her Christian convictions, could drive me to the sort of madness that could make me snap, if you will, and “do an Elvis on the TV.”
Way back when–when Elvis Presley was into his slow, but steady decline into certifiable madness and drug abuse–the story has been well documented that Elvis, who watched a LOT of TV, was increasingly disgusted by all the anti-authority dissent and anti-war demonstrations and all that counter-cultural protest craziness that was ripping the country apart in the late sixties and early seventies.
Remember, Elvis was such a conservative and patriot–and was so aroused to anger about all the very public, rebellious, countercultural drug use among the sixties generation kids–that he very famously was deputized by none other than Richard Nixon as an “official” drug enforcement agent.
Yes, it’s very bizarre and ironic, since he was already slowly destroying himself with drug abuse when he posed with Nixon for pictures of his “deputization” at the White House.
The story is that he was watching the TV news one time, which was showing the “long hairs” and hippies and yippies and dippies in a nasty standoff with riot police or whomever or whatever. I forget the details, but you get the picture–very conservative, anti-drug, Nixon-supporting superstar Elvis was getting himself worked up into a rabid lather about those disgusting hippies and their anti-authority stuff.
He got so worked up that he reached for the pistol that often kept him warm at night and blew away the TV he was watching!
And so, years later when the story came out from the many, many loyal Elvis insiders who had witnessed first-hand the descent into drug abuse and madness, doing “an Elvis on the TV” became a favorite line of a lot of comedians.
And then, the line sort of spread into the everyday culture for a while. It wasn’t unusual for somebody to say to somebody else who got disturbed about something they’d seen on the news or on a TV show to say, “I got so disgusted watching that stuff (or fill in a stronger word), I could have done an Elvis on the TV!”
It was a long time ago. You had to be there. And like I say, I forget that I’m at the age where I’m older than whole generations who may not get the lines I throw out and assume that everybody would get.
That’s the difference in blogging and being, say, a newspaper writer or reporter (and I was both in my pre-ministry life), where a sharp editor would have said, “Hey, Paul–lots of readers out there weren’t around during all the Elvis weirdness and won’t have a clue what this sentence means.”
Very interesting that I read a lot of bloggers of all kinds myself, and, in thinking like the former reporter and editor I used to be, I think to myself, “I wonder how many readers know what this oldtimer is talking about there?”
Hope that clarifies what I was saying, that I was beginning to get so disgusted with all the TV coverage swirling around Miss CA that I was about ready to do an Elvis on the TV.
And may yet if she doesn’t go away.
Oh well–thanks for jitterbugging and believe me when I tell you, I feel your anguish in “nailing down a few Hebrew verbs.” I’m not long out of seminary myself, as you well know.
And, look forward to you being a witness to my ordination and look forward to being a witness to yours some day.
Grace & peace,
Geezer

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