Archive for December, 2010

Sound policy seems to have prevailed over hawkish demagoguery.”

— conservative Daniel Larison on
today’s nuclear disarmament pact
that got bipartisan support in Congress.

Ronald Reagan, who was all about nuclear disarmament in spite of his “trust but verify” clause–would be pleased about the great news out of D.C. today.

Sometimes even the blind hogs in Washington find the acorn.

Here’s the take on today’s nuclear disarmament legislation–which was demagogued to no end by the political fearmongers who work overtime to take us back to the inglorious and paranoid 1950s–from the very conservative Daniel Larison at the very conservative The American Conservative.
And for the record, grownups who were for this nuclear disarmament treaty included: the nation’s uniformed military leaders and of a host of Republican national security veterans, including former President George H. W. Bush and five former secretaries of state, Henry A. Kissinger, George P. Shultz, James A. Baker III, Colin L. Powell and Condoleezza Rice.

Those who pandered to the paranoia fringe in opposition included: Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and John Thune, and the two top Republican leaders in the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Arizona Senator Kyl, the lead Republican negotiator.

Read Full Post »

Is this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
— Isaiah 58:66

“Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves purses which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near, nor moth destroys.”

— Luke 12:33

However proud we might be of ourselves in terms of giving our money and time and prayers for the poor and the marginalized in this season of uncommon generosity, we might want to ask ourselves if we’ve really done enough, if we’ve really done or given much at all.

The standard for giving and caring for the poor and the outcasts was already high when God broke into this broken world in the form of a vulnerable child born to humble parents.

But then this child grew up and raised the bar for giving way higher. Are we measuring up?

Read Full Post »

Speaking of total lunar eclipses. . . .

Stevie Nicks is the original moonlight widow and a mystic who rings like a bell through the night and Don Henley’s “witchy woman” and all that and aren’t you glad you’re here at this blog today where there is no sappy Christmas music.

(For Ames, of course, Stevie’s No. 1 fanatic)

Read Full Post »

Love is not a victory march

It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.”

— from Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah

Leonard Cohen’s beautiful, biblical classic “Hallelujah” gets some in-depth treatment in a wonderful article in the wonderful Catholic mag “America.” The song, like Cohen himself, has had sort of an ever-widening cult following for lo these many decades.

Cohen has been widely recognized as a musical and literary phenom since the sixties, and yet he’s been content to remain largely obscure while the Dylans and Lennons got all the ink. He’s been so content that Cohen, an ordained Buddhist monk (Canadian Jew Div.), withdrew to a monastery for five years before emerging and taking to the road to rave reviews.

Leonard Cohen is a fascinating, original music maker–an artist who makes full-grown adult music for full-grown adults–and “Hallelujah” is a hauntingly beautiful and original song. It’s been covered by more than 200 musicians, everyone from Justin Timberlake (we once posted that video of Justin’s excellent version done for the Haiti Relief telethon) and K.D. Lang to Lord knows who.

And yet Cohen can wax romantic too. Songs like “Dance Me to the End of Love” are fit for couples who like to warm up at the fireplace with a glass of wine.

Click here for the article.

Read Full Post »

Are you “Christmas-ing” more and enjoying it less?

Read on . . .


Everybody I know, it seems, is so stressed out right now, shopping, planning, wrapping, rushing with the urgency of travelers.

Me, I’m intentionally doing a lot less doing and a lot more just being the rest of this Advent and Christmas season.

“Be still,” the psalmist said, “and know that I am God.”

It takes some doing just to be–to put yourself in some quiet “time-out time” once in a while, no matter where you are or what you’re doing–but it can be done.

*(In the photo: the road to Thomas Merton’s world of silence and solitude at his Kentucky hermitage; photo by Harry L. Hinke.)

Read Full Post »

Reflections from The God Who Comes and other works by Carlo Carretto:

Don’t try to reach God with your understanding; that is impossible.

Reach him in love; that is possible.”


His coming is bound to his promise, not to our works or virtue. We have not earned the meeting with God because we have served him faithfully in our brethren, or because we have heaped up such a pile of virtue as to shine before Heaven.

“God is thrust onward by his love, not attracted by our beauty. He comes even in moments when we have done everything wrong, when we have done nothing, when we have sinned.”


God comes to us like the sun in the morning . . . when it is time. We must assume an attitude of waiting, accepting the fact that we are creatures and not the creator. We must do this because it is not our right to do anything else. The initiative is God’s, not ours. We are able to initiate nothing; we are only able to accept.”


The Incarnation brings the world his presence. It is a presence so complete that it overshadows every presence before it.
God is made human in Christ. God makes himself present to us with such a special presence, such an obvious presence, as to overthrow all the complicated calculations made about him in the past.

“The invisible, intangible God has made himself visible and tangible in Christ.”

Read Full Post »


Last night I posted some pictures about South Dallas and Oak Cliff and the creepy Texas Theater where Lee Harvey Oswald murdered a police officer.

I wish I had pointed out that there’s a whole lot more to Oak Cliff than Lee Harvey and the Vaughn Brothers and Bonnie and Clyde and palm readers. Way back in the day, Oak Cliff was the very heart of Dallas, Texas–long before the population started shifting to the north side of the Trinity River divide.

Oak Cliff and the south end of the city actually have been undergoing a revitalization over the years and I wish I’d pointed that out to you of the Jitterbug cult. It’s actually a very diverse, funky, eclectic and interesting neighborhood with a lot of colorful history. I came to appreciate it in the two years I did chaplaincy training at the humongous Methodist Medical Center–a teaching and trauma hospital with it’s highly visible towers and cross shining bright at night–where a huge number of Dallasites in the 20th century were given birth.

So click here for more on that. Or check out this book if you’re really interested in Texas history as so many here in the great nation of Texas are:
New book of photographs focuses on Oak Cliff’s past
Mon, May 11, 2009
Roy Appleton/Reporter
Dallas Morning News
May 11, 2009
Take a trip to yesterday. See the Pig n’ Whistle Cafe, the Polar Bear Ice Cream Stand, the Dallas Wonders baseball team, the fire station at 10th and Tyler, swimmers at Kidd Springs Park, the first 7-Eleven at Edgefield and 12th. These and 200 or so other images with helpful captions are packed into Images of America: Oak Cliff, a new photographic history of the Cliff by three former OC residents: Alan C. Elliott, Patricia K. Summey and Gayla Brooks Kokel.

Demand for the 128-page, softcover book ($21.99) has been intense since its release two weeks ago. “The response has been astounding,” said Kokel, an Oak Cliff native and Kimball High School grad. “I’m getting emails from all over the country wanting books.” Copies may still be available at local bookstores and online, but Arcadia Publishing plans a second printing soon.

Read Full Post »

A few pix from Oak Cliff, south Dallas, the old stomping grounds of Bonnie and Clyde, Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughn, Lee Harvey Oswald.

Starting with the creepiest movie house in Texas. (Think Lee Harvey.)

Meanwhile, back downtown . . . .

There is a certain beauty to the whole, infamous “Grassy Knoll” area.

A sort of haunting beauty at night, for sure.

A Dallas cop once told me that the visitors and gawkers around Dealy Plaza (the Kennedy Assassination, “Grassy Knoll” area) are always as intriguied by the “Old Red Courthouse,” a block down from where the shot was fired, as anything there is downtown. It is an impressive and stately old building that looks more like a castle or a fort than anything–now a museum.

Moving on down the streets . . . .

I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till I drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.”

Jack Kerouac, Night Owl

Read Full Post »

Take a Deep Breath in God, Re-Gain Your Balance

A meditation on Yuletide weariness, from one of the best of our nation’s best poets and writers, and by far one of our best Christian writers:

It begins with an emperor’s folly, for in setting out to register “all the world”
Augustus put something into motion that transcends all earthly power.
We know the story and how it turns out, but let’s try to put ourselves
in the shepherd’s place, afraid to open ourselves to God and in need of reassurance,
being told not to fear. Let’s be willing, like Mary, to take the words in,
to treasure and ponder them, because so much is possible when we do.
As these words wash over us they penetrate despite our distractions and defenses.
Their spirit can change us whether we will it or not. If we feel utterly exhausted,
drained of all feeling and weary with worldly chores and concerns,
so much the better. . . . Our emptiness means there is room for God after all.

From Zealous Hopes: A Christmas Meditation

Read Full Post »


When I semi-retire from ministry* I’ll have Mr. Mathis’s version of my favorite Christmas song to get me through Christmas seasons at my shack on the beach in Costa Rica.

For that matter, I’ll have lots of other Mathis music on the top shelf of my music collection, right up there with my Stones and Beatles and Steely Dan and a little Guns and Roses. (Lord God help me and have mercy on me–I never get tired of “Welcome to the Jungle.”)

It’s going to be a very musical and eclectic semi-retirement.

Click here for Mr. Mathis’s interpretation of “O Holy Night.”

(*Any clergy will tell you that ministers never really retire, for how can you “retire” from the highest calling there is. At the end of the day, ministry is not a job, not a profession, not an occupation, but a vocation. It’s a life.)

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »