Archive for January, 2011


Yes, we’ve got the Supreme of all Bowls right here in our back yard this week, and you can’t turn around without bumping into a famous athlete or entertainer. Gene Simmons has already been given the key to the city of Dallas and–good for him–is raising money to help wounded warriors this week. Prince will be in town Friday night and if anybody has one of those $1,500 tickets for his charity gig I’m game.

You can keep the Lady GaGa tickets.

The oddest Supreme Bowl party in North Texas this week features Duran Duran and Kid Rock.

Dallas-Fort Worth is the place to be this week if you like excessive excess and not just on Super Bowl Sunday. It’s very fun and exciting if you have Super Coinage in the bank.

He knew who I was, at that time, because I had a reputation as a writer. I knew he was part of the Bush dynasty. But he was nothing, he offered nothing, and he promised nothing. He had no humor. He was insignificant in every way and consequently I didn’t pay much attention to him. But when he passed out in my bathtub, then I noticed him. I’d been in another room, talking to the bright people. I had to have him taken away.”

— The late and the great Hunter S. “Gonzo” Thompson, on on his infamous meeting of George W Bush at Thompson’s Super Bowl party in Houston in 1974

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The shallow “I” of individualism can be possessed, developed, cultivated, pandered to, satisfied: it is the center of all our strivings for gain and satisfaction, whether material or spiritual.

“But the deep “I” of the spirit, of solitude and of love, cannot be had, possessed, developed, perfected. It can only be, and act, according to the inner laws that are not of man’s contriving, but which come from God. . . .

“It is beyond limitation. It is beyond selfish affirmation.”

— Thomas Merton

Merton and You-Know-Who, Shortly Before Merton was Electrocuted in 1968

My main man the mystic monk Mr. Merton was born on this day in 1915. He died in December 1968 all too young, but left behind a body of spiritual writings of depth and breadth.

Down below is a clip from the PBS documentary “Soul Searching: The Journey of Thomas Merton,” by filmmaker Morgan Atkinson.

And click here for a video of a TV interview with Atkinson and Merton scholar Jonathan Montaldo.

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Last night we gave you quotable quotes from the famous and the infamous, but it’s the quiet people of integrity who slug away without much credit who make the world go round.

I like people. When I lived in New York, before I married, I would often sit on the corner and watch people go by.

“People are like you and I the world over, we have the same aspirations and the same thoughts. People are pretty much the same the world over.”

Kenneth Kruger, who in his 90s makes mission trips
to some rugged international sites with his
United Methodist Church in Arkansas

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In the sixties there was a sexual revolution. Now there’s this nonstop sexual carnival.

— Tom Wolfe, ultimate reporter and great novelist too



[Church] creeds and traditions are not meant to straight-jacket people. They are meant to help cultivate and deepen our grasp of the Christian pilgrimage by drawing on the wisdom, reflection, and experience of generations. It gives spirituality traction in our lives, a vocabulary that helps us discuss our experience of God with one another, and communicate it to another generation.

“A free range Christian may be free, but he or she is also alone with a creed and community of one.”

Frederick Schmidt, one of my favorite bloggers, theology/spirituality div.


In 1982, who passed the largest peacetime tax increase in U.S. history? That would be Ronald Reagan.

“Who called for comprehensive health reform legislation during in a State of the Union address in 1974, a program that was well to the left of what either Bill Clinton or Barack Obama ultimately proposed? That would be Richard Nixon. Eisenhower and Reagan and Nixon–they were not the liberals of their day. They were the conservatives of their own time. But the whole of American politics has shifted so far to the right in the last 50 years that what used to be thought of as conservative, what used to be thought of as a conservative position, is now considered to be off-the-charts lefty.”

Rachel Maddow, the smartest and most formidable librul around


I think that we’re at a real crossroads, as it relates to the grassroots of our sport, because if I had a 10-year-old boy, I don’t know that I’d be real inclined to encourage him to go play football, in light of what we are learning from head injury. And so what is the sport gonna look like 20 years from now.

“The only way you’re gonna eliminate helmet to helmet contact is to take the helmets off. Go back to leather helmets. I mean, I think– a defensive player would be much less inclined to lead with his head, if he had no protection. As the equipment has gotten better, and it’s gotten better in an attempt to try to protect the player more, then the equipment becomes used more as a weapon.”

Dallas Cowboys great Troy Aikman, who is the King of Dallas, TX,
(except during baseball season, when Nolan Ryan ascends)
in interview with Bryant Gumbel on HBO Sports Talk


So this is where civility comes from — from a sense of personal modesty and from the ensuing gratitude for the political process. Civility is the natural state for people who know how limited their own individual powers are and know, too, that they need the conversation. They are useless without the conversation.

“The problem is that over the past 40 years or so we have gone from a culture that reminds people of their own limitations to a culture that encourages people to think highly of themselves. The nation’s founders had a modest but realistic opinion of themselves and of the voters. They erected all sorts of institutional and social restraints to protect Americans from themselves. They admired George Washington because of the way he kept himself in check.

“But over the past few decades, people have lost a sense of their own sinfulness. Children are raised amid a chorus of applause. Politics has become less about institutional restraint and more about giving voters whatever they want at that second. Joe DiMaggio didn’t ostentatiously admire his own home runs, but now athletes routinely celebrate themselves as part of the self-branding process.

“So, of course, you get narcissists who believe they or members of their party possess direct access to the truth. Of course you get people who prefer monologue to dialogue. Of course you get people who detest politics because it frustrates their ability to get 100 percent of what they want. Of course you get people who gravitate toward the like-minded and loathe their political opponents. They feel no need for balance and correction.

“Beneath all the other things that have contributed to polarization and the loss of civility, the most important is this: The roots of modesty have been carved away.”

— David Brooks, conservative columnist for the NY Times, on President Obama’s SOTU speech

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Lead me from dreaming to waking.
Lead me from opacity to clarity.
Lead me from the complicated to the simple.
Lead me from the obscure to the obvious.
Lead me from intention to attention.
Lead me from what I’m told I am to what I see I am.
Lead me from confrontation to wide openness.
Lead me to the place I never left,
Where there is peace, and peace

~ The Upanishads

James Wallace Pondelicek, “The Crane,” circa 1928


André Kertész | Washington Square Park, New York City, circa 1954


(Picture from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.)
Farm Security Administration: “School in Alabama” (Circa 1935)


Rodeo– New York City, 1954. By photographer Robert Frank.

Easter Sunday near Khe Sanh, Vietnam, 1972
By Pulitzer-winner David Hume Kennerly

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Shaolin monks are these funky Kung Fu fighter guys who do stuff like throw needles through glass, something they’ve been doing for a long, long and very long time for reasons of which I are not acquainted and don’t understand, but I don’t understand why people go to hockey games either, so who am I to judge.

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This is really quite a story coming as it does from the conservative Dallas Morning News, but times are fast changing–for the better in my book–where the acceptance and full inclusion of gays is concerned. Of course, this wouldn’t even be a news story at all in a lot cities.

Now, if only my beloved United Methodist Church would get it, and would finally accept and fully include gay couples who love each other and are as committed as many “straight” couples who’ve stay together for decades.

I know so many wonderful, God-loving, Christlike (and baptized) Christians who are gay and who have been to seminary and who can’t be ordained in my beloved UMC and other denominations because they openly love someone of the same sex. The military is ahead of the churches on gay rights and discrimination, but everyone is always ahead of churches on rights and discrimination. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The church is always the tail light, never the headlight” when it comes to full inclusion of whole masses of people.

As a UMC minister, I can bless your snake and do it in a UMC church, no less. But I can’t bless–much less preside at the wedding–of a gay couple.

Christians and churches still trot out and bend the same old scriptures to maintain the conservative status quo.

It is heartening that so many conservatives–including a lot of very conservative Christians–are starting to see that the biblical case can be made for the inclusion of gays. The biblical case for slavery and anti-racism was finally accepted after centuries of slavery, which no one in their right mind would make today in spite of the many slavery- and racist-friendly scriptures found all over the Bible.

Even Rush Limbaugh, for gosh sake, had Sir Elton John perform at his wedding last year. That’s Sir Elton John the superstar singer who’s been out of the closet for decades–he who has been on magazine covers all over the place with pictures of his spouse and their new baby.

The times are changing none too soon.

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