Archive for April, 2011


Featuring Jimi, who lived fast and died young, and Buddy Guy, who at 74 continues to astound with his youthful attack of the guitar . . .

If you missed him attacking the guitar on Jay Leno the other night, here’s a blast from Buddy’s past. He’s still this good.

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Regarding Donald Trump’s national side show–which is stealing Charlie Sheen’s fire . . . .

Good Lord, even the cowpokes on Rawhide would be embarrassed for him.

Even that old Westerner Ronald Reagan, who was called “the Great Communicator” for good reason and was ever the gentleman whatever you thought of his politics, must be rolling over in his conservative Republican grave.

Not to mention Lincoln, the ever-underrated Eisenhower and all the other articulate Republican gentlemen/leaders who could inspire with the power of language.

It’s really sad that such an insecure man who grew up in a bubble of wealth and privilege and has lived in that bubble all his life–a man who used to be considered just another ultra-rich eccentric with a certain charm–is out there sucking all the oxygen out of the political arena and further eroding political discourse.

Further eroding political discourse and fanning the flames of fear and anger. That’s what is sad for the country.

And never mind that his grasp of global politics is so lame that a freshman political science major could obliterate his vulgar, huffy-puffy assertions in a serious debate, not to mention an Obama or a Hillary or any West Point-educated General.

This stuff might go over with Republican women in Vegas, but I don’t think it’ll go over with Republican women in Plano, Texas.

From NBC’s Catherine Chomiak

Potential Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump did not hold back in a speech to GOP women’s groups in Las Vegas last night. In fact, he used strong expletives five times in his speech to the group.

On his lack of a political background he said, “You know, I’ve seen the best politicians. I’ve known them all. Someone said, ‘But Donald, you’re running for president, but you don’t have any experience in politics.’ I mean, I’ve been dealing with these f***ing politicians all my life.”

Switching from domestic to foreign affairs, The Donald came out swinging on relations with China, OPEC and the U.S’s role in Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq.

He told the audience if he were president he would impose a tax on imported goods from China. “I’d drop a 25% tax on China and you know, I said to someone it’s really the messenger. The messenger is important. I could have one man say, ‘We’re gonna tax you 25%,'” he said in a meek voice and then continued, “And I could say (to) another, ‘Listen you motherf******, we’re gonna tax you 25%,” he roared across the room.

Addressing the recent rise in gas prices, Trump blamed the current leadership for not standing up to OPEC. “A couple of days ago, Saudi Arabia said, ‘Aww, let’s raise the price, let’s cut back production.’ Can you believe it? You’re gonna be paying $5 and $6 for gasoline pretty soon. And they want to go in and raise the price of oil, because we have nobody in Washington that sits back and says ‘You’re not gonna raise that f***ing price, you understand me?'”

Speaking about U.S involvement in Libya, Trump said “I’m interested in Libya if we keep the oil, and everyone said, ‘Oh,’ and some of the press said, ‘Oh my god that’s a sovereign nation.’ Give me a f***ing break.”

On the wars in the Middle East: “We go to Afghanistan, we go to Iraq, we build a school, we build a road, they blow up the road, they blow them up, we build them again, in the meantime, we can’t get a f***ing school built in Brooklyn.”

Trump reiterated, what he has said before, that he will announce his intentions before June, but not until this season of NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice” is over. The finale is set to air May 22. He told one supporter in the audience who was urging him to run that he would make her “very happy” when the time came.

Trump’s visit to Nevada, an early caucus state, comes right after a swing by New Hampshire, the first-in-the-nation primary state.


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(In the United Methodist News Service photo by Mike Cash: Vaughn United Methodist Church in Griffin, Ga., stands open to the elements after a tornado stripped away the wall.)

Donations to the United Methodist Committee on Relief for disaster relief, such as relief for the damage from twisters and storms in the South, go for just that–disaster relief.

One-hundred percent. Administrative and other cost are paid through other channels.

Click here for more on UMCOR.

Click here to give an online donation for relief in the Southern states or click around the UMCOR site to give for some other relief in the U.S. or anywhere in the world.

And click here for a United Methodist News Service story about the incredible damage and church response.

And pray. . . . .

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How long, and at what ever spiraling cost, can we support with blank checks the “military industrial-complex” that the so under-rated and very conservative (conservative in the best sense) President Eisenhower warned us about?

We have enough nuclear weapons alone to destroy the planet many, many times over, and yet we continue to spend billions upon more billions simply keeping our “weapons of mass destruction” maintained.

And instead of having real debate and real reduction in military spending–which along with entitlements is breaking the bank–we have loud clowns huffing and puffing about our President and Commander in Chief’s place of birth. (Or, as President Obama called them, “carnival barkers.” Wow, that’s a mouthful coming from a President who seems to have no stomach for punching back at loud clowns.)

We have this obsession over the birth certificate still.

And we got the royal wedding covered.

This just in from News Central: one of the latest WikiLeaks exposures reveals that the United States government officially regards Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, as a “terrorist organization.”

Pakistan’s terrorist intelligence agency is supported by your income taxes. Lots of your income taxes.

You won’t hear Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly, who casually asserts now and again that the Wikileaks man responsible for shedding light on our government should be executed, railing about what the Wikileaks actually exposes about government lies and abuses of power and financial corruption every day. It’s as if the Fox News types are averse to keeping American citizens informed–really informed about what governments and the corporations who own our government don’t want citizens to know–which is what news agents and agencies are supposed to do. It seems O’Reilly wants the Wikileaks man executed for doing what the news media, O’Reilly and Fox included, are supposed to be duty-bound to do as journalists. If you can call them journalists, and I would argue that they aren’t. There’s journalism and then there’s propaganda.

It’s so much easier and sexier for Fox viewers to obsess over Donald Trump’s latest goofiness or a royal wedding that is getting more American news coverage than British news coverage.

Donald Trump—thank you so much for your courageous stand on President Obama’s birth certificate. A grateful nation marvels at your mindless but boundless ego.

“Welcome to the no spin zone.”

Welcome to the non-news zone.

Don’t get me started.

Just read on to see the Webzine posting that inspired the rant today from jitterbuggingforjesus.com, the blawg that is saving the world with its wit, wisdom, provocations and stimulations while possibly (probably) alienating whole towns, cities, nations and states, especially the Fox Nation.

From the Webzine “Journey With Jesus.”

Click here for the whole enchilada. . . .

The United States maintains over a half million soldiers and dependents on 1,000 bases in 175 countries, and another thousand bases at home. In 2009 it accounted for 43% of the world’s military expenditures (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute). Many analysts have thus commented on the permanent war economy required to sustain what amounts to perpetual war (cf. Andrew Bacevich, Chalmers Johnson, William Pfaff). Some people might argue whether American militarism is politically imprudent, economically profligate, and inherently hypocritical — for preaching democracy while practicing imperialism and supporting dictators, but for Christians it ought to be morally abhorrent.

“John’s gospel for this week describes how the followers of Jesus huddled in fear behind locked doors. Jesus then appeared among them and said: “Peace be with you.” He repeats this benediction of peace three times (John 20:19, 21, 26), and blesses them with the Holy Spirit of comfort and encouragement. He then commissions his followers: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” The followers of Jesus thus proclaim God’s peace to all the world, insisting that the creator of the cosmos wishes human health and wholeness for every person.

“Christian prayers for peace are both a pastoral and a political act. We pray for soldiers and civilians alike, for governments and diplomats, for peace makers and treaty negotiators, for Iraqis and Congolese, Palestinians and Chechnyans, as much as for Americans. We take our prayer from the psalmist for this week, “Lord, keep us safe” (16:1). Somehow. Some way. Save us from our warring impulses. Please, Lord, keep us safe.”

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(in the photos: the Israeli Separation Wall: Click here for more)

Jitterbuggingforjesus.com’s Research Assistant and sometimes contributor L.K.–that flaming sixties librul (Joan Baez Div.–you know the type) and deeply contemplative and devout Christian–sent the Buddhist peace prayer below with this note:

“I know for sure that I am not the whole bridge, I am just perhaps a bolt or a strut. I am not a lamp, but I can be a small shiny surface and reflect the light of God. I do pray to be a trustworthy and faithful small part of the whole.”

May I become at all times, both now and forever

A protector for those without protection

A guide for those who have lost their way

A ship for those with oceans to cross

A bridge for those with rivers to cross

A sanctuary for those in danger

A lamp for those without light

A place of refuge for those who lack shelter

And a servant to all in need.

— Buddhist – prayer of peace



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Hide the women and children, not to mention the small animals!!!

We’ve got Joe Cocker from his really, really freaky days, when he could scare the snakes out of the trees.

It’s him with the great Leon Russell, he who is having another career revival thanks to his No. 1 fan Elton John.

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A little Saturday Night Live Special for a Blue Monday pick-me-up:

(And click here for more on that great line Paul wrote. And click here for the song.)

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“‘If we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him’ (Romans 6:8).

“The man who believes that is already beginning here and now to live the complete life.”

Karl Barth, Dogmatics in Outline

It’s become almost a cultural cliche, the line from the movie “Jerry McGuire,” in which Tom Cruise’s character says to his lover, “You complete me.”

But what, other than God, can really “complete” us? Can even the love of one’s life really “complete” someone to the n’th degree?

A lover and partner for life can certainly come close to making one whole, and maybe a couple really can “complete” one another in some sense.

But I’m of the belief that we, each of us, has a hole in us that only God can fill, making us entirely whole. Even a lover/partner who “completes” us is mortal after all. Their departure from this world can leave us feeling empty, with that big hole.

We’re always left only with the Holy to make us whole, and the right lover/companion can be a Holy gift and a grace. And yet we’re all looking for something else to “complete” us–the perfect lover and life partner (who can’t be perfect in this life), a better job or a fast-track career, more education and learning, more stuff to fill our bigger and better houses, the pleasures of drugs and alcohol and sex, money and more money.

But I’m of the belief in belief. Christ was “the resurrection,” the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the complete life.

Therein lies our complete comfort.

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A couple of years ago I–who serves as a pastor in a hospital, walking people through sometimes wrenching grief–was whammied by a totally unexpected life event that left me reeling and stuck in a tomb of my own terrible grief.

Since I’m blessed to be employed by one of the biggest and best health care systems in the country, I was able to promptly get into counseling on my employer’s dime for multiple counseling sessions. The therapy helped. I also went to my doctor, who is a good friend, who prescribed an anti-depressant to help me through my intense depression and grief.

Lo, the anti-depressant (Paxil)–which was supposed to relieve my depression and anxiety–left me wired, unable to sleep for days. Turns out I had a rare and very rare kind of reaction that causes the polar opposite reaction in some men. Which wouldn’t have been so bad except that it took weeks for my mind and body to get back in sync. Meanwhile, it also caused my blood pressure to spike. In fact, it spiked so high on two different occasions that I ended up spending considerable time in the Emergency Rooms of the very hospital that employs me. And even with the wonderful health insurance I have with one of the best hospital systems in the country, those visits ended up costing me thousands of dollars out of my pocket. Which didn’t help the blood pressure.

Don’t get me started on health insurance companies.

But, again, I was blessed to have access to a great therapist, and access to my own great hospital care and medical people I know and work with and love, and the benefit of working with very competent and compassionate fellow chaplains who walked with me every step of the way in my grief. Through the long weeks of my depression I was able to function at work, thanks largely to those fellow chaplains who sat down with me every day to help me process my hurt feelings and emotions enough that I could got out to the hospital floors and help patients and their families through their dark valleys.

But I had a spiritual insight early on in this trek through my own dark valley when I thought about Jesus in the tomb. A burial tomb is a dark and loathsome place, and I remember feeling like I was stuck in a dark tomb, feeling half dead. But then I started envisioning myself every morning stepping out of the tomb into the light of day.

Imagine being stuck in such a dreary and dark environment stepping out into the light. It’s very difficult to see in the bright light, and I had a hard time, when I stepped out of my tomb, in seeing hope for the day when my life would be normal and good and healthy again. I’d come out of the tomb blinking, trying to get my eyes adjusted to the light enough to stay outside and feel the warmth of the light and see my way toward a better future.

Little by little–because of so much help from so many people and my own faith–I was restored and healed enough to move past all my pain and anguish.

Life can deal us a blow in an instant, leaving us reeling and stuck in depression and grief and a very real sense of lifelessness–a real sense of death, if you will.

But so goes the Easter story. Faith can get us through the times when, like Jesus himself, we’re stuck in an airless tomb of darkness and seeming hopelessness.

I know what it feels like to feel like you’re stuck in dark tomb where you feel so stuck you can’t hardly imagine every basking in the joy of the light of day again.

But our entire Christian faith tradition is based on hope, on the assurance that Christ overcame all the same stuff that we get buried in sometimes–the stuff of depression and grief and hopelessness.

He overcame even death on a cross–“death, where is thy sting!.” Even burial in a terrible tomb.

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washing feet

At the Last Supper, Jesus got on his knees and washed the feet of his disciplies.

Jesus was always turning conventional ways and thought upside down: the first shall be last, the least shall be the greatest, the meek, not the powerful, shall be blessed, and on and on.

He was the much anticipated Messiah, and the Messiah was supposed to come galloping into town on a big steed wielding a big sword and doing a Chuck Norris on his people’s oppressors before assuming a bejeweled Throne fit for a Mighty Man.

And yet this Savior rode into town on a holy donkey, unarmed.

He dramatized his radical thought and his radical ways by his getting on his knees, and washing the feet of his disciples rather than making his disciples get down on theirs.

He was a radical Lord–a servant leader–indeed.

*Maundy Thursday, also called Holy Thursday, is a church service to commemorate Lord’s Supper. The word “Maundy” comes from the Latin mandatum, which means “commandment.”

At the Last Supper, Jesus gave the disciples a new commandment to love one another as he had loved them (John 13:34). Prior to breaking the bread with the disciples, Jesus washed their feet. (Maundy Thursday worship services include Holy Communion and sometimes foot washing as well.)

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