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Archive for July, 2011

HIM

With Bobby (“Don’t Worry/Be Happy” guy) McFerrin, a true original him:

Or, if you prefer a straight version of Ave Maria, music that can quickly get you re-centered,
anytime the crazy world is too much with you–give this a listen (with Mirusia Louwerse and Andre Rieu):

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HIM

“I have decided to default on my lunch check today.”

Steve Martin”

He’s not the wild and crazy absurdist of yore, of course–especially the days of the 60’s when he did his one-man standup routines on college campuses night after night and killed every college crowd he ever played with his uncontrollable “happy feet” and his casually picking the banjo with an arrow through his head, in his then-trademark white suits to go with the prematurely gray hair.

Nor is he the wild and crazy guy of so many classic Saturday Night Live skits when SNL was must-see TV in his early years.

But he still has his funny moments, albeit with comedy that runs more to the cutesy brand of a man who’s matured into a serious literary writer, artist and art collector, and a much-respected banjo player who can hang with the big boys of bluegrass–a true Renaissance man.

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Jim Wallis's Sojourners Magazine (also available online)

Forty-eight hours after President Obama mentioned corporate jet tax deductions, and suggested they might not be as important as scholarships for low-income kids going to college for the first time, a headline appeared in the New York Times reading, ”Industry Set for Fight to Keep Corporate Jet Tax Breaks.” Wow. That was pretty fast. The ones who will win the current battle over the budget and deficit are the ones who are watching. As the book of Proverbs teaches, the poor are shunned, but the rich have many friends.

Rev. Jim Wallis in Sojourners”

And here’s the rest of the story from which the quotable quote was culled:

The markets are watching, the Republicans are watching, the Democrats are watching, the media are watching, the pollsters and pundits are watching. The public is watching and is disgusted with Washington, D.C.

When it comes to the bitter and ultra-partisan battles over the budget, the deficit, and the fast-approaching deadline for America to avoid defaulting on its financial commitments, the whole nation and even the world is watching.

But God is watching too.

Others are watching to see how their self-interests will benefit in the final deal. Or they are watching to see who’s up and who’s down, who will get the political win, and whose election chances will be better afterward.

Forty-eight hours after President Obama mentioned corporate jet tax deductions, and suggested they might not be as important as scholarships for low-income kids going to college for the first time, a headline appeared in the New York Times reading, “Industry Set for Fight to Keep Corporate Jet Tax Breaks.” Wow. That was pretty fast. The ones who will win the current battle over the budget and deficit are the ones who are watching. As the book of Proverbs teaches, the poor are shunned, but the rich have many friends.

Agribusiness is ready to respond if anyone challenges the subsidies that go to millionaire “farmers” living in Manhattan. The oil and gas industry reacts to questions about whether $2.5 billion in offshore drilling subsidies might be less needed than $2.5 billion slated to be cut in home heating oil assistance for low-income families. The Pentagon is watching and ready to invoke national security interests, or question the patriotism of anyone daring to cut its budget. A bipartisan commission came up with $1 trillion in military cuts over the next 10 years that wouldn’t hurt our national security, but it is unlikely that more than a fraction of their recommendations will ever be taken.

Republicans are watching and are ready to push the nation even closer to the brink of default if anyone suggests that revenue from the wealthy be a part of the solution. Democrats are watching, but, with a few notable exceptions, they don’t say the word “poor” out loud anymore. Anyone who could end up paying more in taxes is watching, even though taxes as a percentage of GDP dropped from 20 percent in 2000 to just over 14 percent in 2010. The average effective tax rate for the wealthiest is now only 17 percent of their income, and many corporations do not pay any taxes at all.

At the same time, nutrition programs for low-income mothers and children are at risk of being cut, as well as children’s health programs, education for low-income students, early childhood development, and the most effective initiatives in the world, which are dramatically reducing both disease and hunger. These programs are at the risk of being cut because nobody has been watching out for them.

But the religious community is changing this: It formed “A Circle of Protection” to defend the most effective anti-poverty efforts both at home and around the world. Today, Sojourners has a full-page ad in Politico with the message “God Is Watching” as a part of our series of print ads on the budget. This week our radio ads, recorded by local pastors, are playing in Nevada, Kentucky, and Ohio to remind politicians of the moral issues at stake. Faith leaders say God is biased in such matters, and prefers to protect the poor instead of the rich, and instructs the faithful to do the same. This is class warfare now, and when it breaks out, the Bible suggests that God is on the side of defending the poor from assault.

In the past, our country has successfully reduced deficits and poverty at the same time. There were bipartisan agreements to defend the means-tested programs for low-income people against cuts. And for the past 25 years, every automatic budget cut mechanism has exempted core low-income assistance programs. But not this time. Neither the Republican House, the Democratic Senate, nor the Obama White House has clearly and publicly committed to protect the poor and vulnerable, even though religious leaders have persistently pressed them all to do so. It’s a moral imperative that we do so again today. So now, faith leaders are watching the political leaders. And we believe God is watching us all.

Jim Wallis is the author of Rediscovering Values: A Guide for Economic and Moral Recovery, and CEO of Sojourners. He blogs at http://www.godspolitics.com. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.

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ONE OF (UNITED METHODIST WRITER) MISSY BUCHANAN'S MIGHTY FINE BOOKS

Missy Buchanan, a good United Methodist and author of many fine and mighty fine Christian books about aging (click here for her blawg), posted this on her Facebook page:

“Yesterday my 98 yr-old friend said, ‘I’m tired of people complaining about the hot weather. People are just softies these days.'”

Discuss.

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Dr. JOHN: BORN TO BOOGIE, NOT TO MENTION WOOGIE

That would be Dr. John with some Boogie Woogie” that’ll put the bug in you Jitterbug feet.

(For Amy Winehouse, little girl lost, R.I.P.)

And him in an oldie vid with the great Jools Holland; it’s as if Boogie got together with Woogie and together they burned the house down.*

*Julian Miles “Jools” Holland is an astoundingly talented pianist, bandleader, singer, composer, and TV personality who has his own show in his native England. He was a founder of the band Squeeze, and is known for his work with Sting, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, The Who, David Gilmour and Bono. In 2004 he collaborated with Tom Jones on an album of traditional R&B music.

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But how small is our faith compared with that of the early Church! To the early Church it must have seemed, from all human accounting of things, as though there were little chance of the Church surviving, let alone winning.

If you had seen Pilate on the marble steps of his palace and you had seen Jesus, pale and wan and weak, and you had been asked, ‘Which name will last?’–would you have said ‘Jesus’? Would you really? Wouldn’t you have said: ‘Don’t be silly. Pilate is the representative of the all-powerful might of Rome. This man is the leader of an insignificant sect. He is a carpenter himself. His followers have no power. They were customs’ clerks and fishermen, and they have all run away. Don’t be silly, if one name lasts it will be that of Pilate. He represents imperial Rome.’

But history has judged. You would never have heard of Pilate had it not been for Jesus. The true royalty was the Prisoner.

Leslie Weatherhead
in The Autobiography of Jesus, a book of the great but controversial London preacher’s 1954 lectures at First Methodist Church in Wichita Falls, Texas. He was among the most librul of librul Protestants, but always admired for being such a skilled, Christocentric writer, compassionate pastor and courageous leader of the Congregationalist City Temple in London that was bombed in World War II.

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THE FEARLESS KING ARTHUR: CLOP CLOPPING ALONG ON HIS INVISIBLE WHITE STEED

“It’s just a flesh wound.”

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