Archive for July, 2011

A sense of place: Photo of a lonely stretch of West Texas road by Larry Landolfi

Longtimers of the Jitterbug cult may have noticed that yours truly is drawn to poets, novelists, artists and photographers who have a strong sense of place and nature and solitude, if not a sense of raw beauty and all things earthy. And oh yeah–poets who make us think about life its own self in new and inspiring and challenging ways.

Among the poets and nature writers that appeal thusly to me, that would include the likes of Wendell Berry–the gentlemen farmer of Kentucky; Annie Dillard–whose sublime book “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” transformed even the ugliest of insects and beasts into creatures of raw beauty that we could see so vividly with her word pictures; and Robert Frost–who made his New England landscape a landscape that we could all love and appreciate through his poetry.

Even my main man the mystic Mr. Merton–as I call my main man Thomas Merton who takes up a big part of my library–made us see the whole of God’s raw and beautiful creation, not to mention God’s love for us and His will for justice and peace and purity of hearts–from the vantage point of his monastery and his lonely hermitage outside Louisville.

I like the all-too-neglected poetry of the another New Englander, Robert Francis, a minister’s son who lived in a cabin he built himself. He had the misfortune of being overshadowed by the aforementioned giant of American Poets Robert Frost.

But Francis was a good and mighty good poet (click here for bio)
who wrote some good stuff of the sort I like so much with the qualities of nature, solitude, earthiness, bittersweet beauty and a sense of place–like that which follows:

“Remind Me of Apples”
When the cicada celebrates the heat,
Intoning that tomorrow and today
Are only yesterday with the same dust
To dust on plantain and on roadside yarrow—
Remind me, someone, of the apples coming,
Cold in the dew of deep October grass,
A prophecy of snow in their white flesh.

In the long haze of dog days, or by night
When thunder growls and prowls but will not go
Or come, I lose the memory of apples.
Name me the names, the goldens, russets, sweets,
Pippin and blue pearmain and seek-no-further
And the lost apples on forgotten farms
And the wild pasture apples of no name.
I follow Plato only with my mind.
Pure beauty strikes me as a little thin,
A little cold, however beautiful.

I am in love with what is mixed, impure,
doubtful and dark and hard to disencumber.
I want a beauty I must dig for, search for.

Pure beauty is beginning and not end.
Begin with sun and drop from sun to cloud,
From cloud to tree, from tree to earth itself,

And deeper yet down to the earth-dark root.
I am in love with what resists my loving,
With what I have to labor to make live.


Dark Sonnets

A formless shadow from a far-off light.
Then in the sand the sound of moving feet—
And we have passed each other in the night
On any sandy, dark, deserted street.
Whether you turned your head trying to peer
At me, also a shadow and a sound,
I cannot tell. Or whether out of fear
You passed, then after passing looked around
How can I say, I who could only see
Against the night something a deeper black?
This, this is the one dark certainty:
There was no touch, no word, no turning back.
One certainty: the sound of moving feet
And shadows passing in a sandy street.


We are the lonely ones, the narrow-bedded.
Our last “good nights” are interchanged below.
Then up cold stairs alone—the odd, the unwedded.
What do we know of night? What do we know?
What do we know except that night is blindness,
That on a bed one sleeps, or lies awake,
That after too long waking sleep is kindness,
That for the unsleeping, day will sometime break?
Oh, we know more. We can tell you how wind sounded
On windy nights, and how the writhing rain
Hissed on the roof, mice gnawed, and something pounded
Over our head—or under the counterpane.
We are the lonely ones. When we are dead
We’ll be well suited to a narrow bed.

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Dallas Cowboys great Michael Irvin is on a gay crusade.

He not only came “out” in Out magazine last week about his gay brother (see AP version of that story below), but told TMZ that Almighty God is ok with our choice in who we love.

The man’s as fearless off the field as he was on it–especially fearless for being so openly introspective and honest to God about his own formely reckless behavior being compensation for his fear of being like his beloved gay brother.

For several decades he’s been one of the most loved and sometimes loathed but always plainspoken of Dallas Cowboy legends.

But now he–along with the always equally outspoken Charles Barkley–are standing up against the rampant homophobia in sports.

And none too soon–but good for them and God bless them their integrity.

DALLAS (AP)—Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin says his womanizing may have stemmed from seeing an older brother whom he idolized dressed as a woman and learning the brother was gay.

In the latest issue of Out magazine, Irvin said he was 12 when he discovered his older brother Vaughn’s secret life. He said his father told him: “Yes, that’s your brother. And you love your brother.”

The former Dallas Cowboys star now appears on the NFL Network and on his own radio show in Miami. He has supported same-sex marriage on his radio show and has said he’s waiting for an active player in the NFL, MLB, NBA or NHL to declare publicly that he is gay.

“Until we do that, we’re going to be stuck in the Dark Ages about a lot of things,” Irvin told the magazine. “When a guy steps up and says, ‘This is who I am,’ I guarantee you I’ll give him 100 percent support.”

Irvin said carrying the burden of Vaughn’s secret gives him a hint of how tough it must be for a homosexual athlete to hide his orientation in a locker room.

“If I’m not gay and I am afraid to mention it, I can only imagine what an athlete must be going through if he is gay,” Irvin said. “I would like to see players come forward and be happy with who they are. Hopefully, as we move forward, we’ll get to a place where there’s no way it’s even considered; it just is what it is and everybody can do what they do. That’s the ultimate goal.”

Irvin said he believes the fast life he’s led was to accentuate his heterosexuality. He said he wanted everyone in the locker room to see him have the most women and the nicest car “so that everybody says, ‘Michael’s the man.”’

“Maybe some of the issues I’ve had with so many women—just bringing women around so everybody can see—maybe that’s residual of the fear I had that, if my brother is wearing ladies’ clothes, am I going to be doing that? Is it genetic?” Irvin said. “I’m certainly not making excuses for my bad decisions. But I had to dive inside of me to find out why I was making these decisions, and that came up.”

Irvin said Vaughn’s cross-dressing was never discussed among the family, which included 17 children. Throughout his career, he said, he feared that Vaughn’s sexual orientation would become publicized and shame the family. It wasn’t disclosed until the Out article.

Irvin said he remained close to his brother, a bank manager, until his death in 2006. He was 49 when he died of stomach cancer.

“He was the smartest, most charismatic man I’d ever seen in my life,” Irvin said.

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Jesus was right. Paul was right. John was right. The Buddha was right. Even the Beatles were right. It all comes down to love. You know God by loving God. You know God by loving others.

— Brian McLaren, Naked Spirituality


In an environment of grace, avoidance of sin stops being the focus, and other things — generosity, creativity, fun, learning, whatever — can occupy our attention, so we sin less by thinking less about sinning. We can now yield to the good temptation of better things.

Started reading the latest book by the provocative but even-handed Brian McLaren Friday and chewed it up–it’s tasty and spiritually nutritious and a good source of Christian Vitamin C, B-12 and potassium.

One of the high profile voices in the “Emerging Church” movement who is feared by some who feel threatened by his ideas as being (eek!) a heretic, McLaren always has something to say that ought to be said and discussed, and he does get discussed, not to mention cussed.

For a serious interview with him click here.”

Or check out his

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The Hockey Mama for Obama strikes again. . .

She who had so much fun with Sarah . . .

has now turned her sharp satire on Michelle, she who graduated from that bizarre “Christian” law school. Obama Mama’s vid below isn’t as funny and stinging as the Palin vids, but it does have its moments–especially the ending . . .

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(PHOTO BY LARRY LANDOLFI, who of course is one of our favorite photographers here at the blawg that appreciates and holds up great photography sometimes.)

Another day, another 106 degrees in the concrete oven that is Dallas, Texas.

But we here at jitterbuggingforjesus.com–the blawg that is saving the world with its wit, wisdom, provocations and stimulations while possibly (probably!) alienating whole towns, nations, cities and states and Rick Perry fundamentalists–we have some cool, cool water music to help you beat the heat and get in the mood for your Friday night. (PERSONAL NOTE TO MEGAN MCKAY: Don’t forget dinner at Chuy’s at 6:30 sharp tonight, kid. Have you seen Amy’s new wheels? Nice. I bet she drove it around all night.)

With no further of that old ado, here’s the Beachers with some healing water music, followed by them with His Greatness Ray Charles.

Ray Charles and Brian Wilson together on stage: Genius loves company.

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I’m glad my governor is a man of obviously strong Christian faith.

But God help us all–not so glad that he’s testing the waters to be Pastor in Chief of the United States where people of all faiths and no faiths are allowed to flourish.

What follows is an article from the Houston paper where yours truly was a longtime scribe who met Rick Perry on a few occasions as both a Houston reporter and before that as a scribe in Bryan-College Station–when Perry was a moderate Democrat and didn’t wear his Christian faith on his sleeve.

Transcript shows Perry likening office to pulpit
Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau
Employing deeply religious language that national experts say affords both power and peril for his political career, Gov. Rick Perry in late May told a group of East Texas business leaders that he was “called to the ministry” at age 27, suggested that the governor’s office was his pulpit and that God put him “in this place at this time to do his will.”

According to a transcript of the private meeting, organized to raise funds for Perry’s Aug. 6 “day of prayer and fasting” at Reliant Stadium, the governor stated that property rights, government regulation and a “legal system that’s run amok” were threatening the American way of life and “it’s time to just hand it over to God and say ‘God, you’re gonna have to fix this.’ ”

Perry spokesman Mark Miner could not verify an Internet transcript of the remarks, but said it contained nothing inconsistent with the governor’s belief that “every Christian is called into ministry” whether serving as a church leader or in the workplace, and that “God provides opportunity throughout peoples’ lives to do his will.” Eric Bearse, a spokesman for “the Response,” confirmed the meeting was a fundraiser for the Houston prayer event.

Historians and political scientists say that Perry, who is actively testing the waters for a presidential campaign, may be ratcheting up religious rhetoric to seize the mantel of evangelical candidate in the Republican primary, but could frighten away a more mainstream general election electorate.

“This speech is a good example of both the power and the peril of politicians talking about their faith,” said Dr. John C. Green, a political scientist at the University of Akron and senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. “To the extent they can mobilize people’s deepest sentiment, it can be very effective for them. On the other hand, it can also frighten people because it sounds like too much of an intrusion of religion into the public sphere.”

For the immediate goal of seizing a lead in the GOP primary, Perry’s strong appeal to the religious right “will play incredibly well,” pollster Anna Greenberg suggested.

“I don’t think there is anything off-putting about his language or his imagery in the Republican primary,” said the senior vice president at the national polling firm of Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner.

Pitfalls of declaring faith

According to a transcript of the Longview meeting, Perry said his faith grew after his service in the Air Force, when he returned to live in his parents’ home in Paint Creek. “God was dealing with me,” he said. “At 27 years old, I knew that I had been called to the ministry. I’ve just always been really stunned by how big a pulpit I was gonna have. I still am. I truly believe with all my heart that God has put me in this place at this time to do his will.”

To advocates of religious tolerance, that borders on “a theocratic declaration,” said C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Interfaith Alliance.

“The problem is not faith. The problem is the public assumption that he understands God and the will of God so perfectly that he can implement for everybody God’s policies for this nation,” Gaddy said. “I think there are a lot of people uncomfortable with that — and I am one of them.”

The American public is accustomed to politicians who talk openly about their faith.

“Voters very much want their leaders to believe in God, to have an internal moral compass,” said Greenberg.

Remarks ‘innocuous’
Baylor historian Thomas Kidd saw Perry’s remarks – in the context of a fundraiser attended by evangelicals – as fairly “innocuous.”

Kidd sees a challenge for Perry as he moves to other parts of the country less familiar with what Green called “a strong evangelical accent.”

“You can do this in Texas. It is more challenging on a national level,” he said

Outside the evangelical community, voters will be suspicious of a politician who links political and religious roles, Greenberg said, adding that “separation of church and state is still a majority position in this country.”

At one point in his remarks, Perry reminded the gathering that he had recently signed imminent domain legislation because “ownership of personal property is crucial to our way of life.”

Tort reform not doctrinal
After saying that property ownership was in jeopardy because of taxes, regulation and the legal system, Perry said, “And I think that it’s time for us to just hand it over to God and say, ‘God, you’re going to have to fix this.’ ”

Greenberg noted there are “a lot of people, even in the evangelical community, who don’t like the mixing of politics and religion” for issues on which religious doctrine is silent. “Tort reform is pretty far afield,” she suggested.

Buchanan warned that if Perry initiates a presidential campaign, opponents will be studying every recorded sentence he has uttered.

“To imply he’s got God’s direct guidance – if I were advising him and had his best interests at heart, I would downplay that kind of thing,” Buchanan said. “But he’s road-testing it.”

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“One great reason why the rich, in general, have so little sympathy for the poor, is, because they so seldom visit them. Hence it is, that, according to the common observation, one part of the world does not know what the other suffers. Many of them do not know, because they do not care to know: they keep out of the way of knowing it; and then plead their voluntary ignorances an excuse for their hardness of heart.”

— From John Wesley’s Sermon No. 98, “On Visiting the Sick,”
In which he sang the praises of the compassion of women in . . .

Go to johnwesleyproject.com for a pretty good primer site on Rev. Wesley, who traveled 250,000 miles on horseback and did enough writing in his journals and for his sermons to fill whole encyclopedias. He was out begging for alms for the poor in the snow not long before he died at 87.

He keeps me inspired and reconnects me with Christ many days when my spiritual energy needs a boost.

More from his Sermon “On Visiting the Sick” and his praise of the French women:

“How contrary to this is both the spirit and behaviour of even people of the highest rank in a neighbouring nation! In Paris, ladies of the first quality, yea, Princesses of the blood, of the Royal Family, constantly visit the sick, particularly the patients in the Grand Hospital. And they not only take care to relieve their wants, (if they need anything more than is provided for them) but attend on their sick beds, dress their sores, and perform the meanest offices for them.

“Here is a pattern for the English, poor or rich, mean or honourable! For many years we have abundantly copied after the follies of the French; let us for once copy after their wisdom and virtue, worthy the imitation of the whole Christian world. Let not the gentlewomen, or even the countesses in England, be ashamed to imitate those Princesses of the blood! Here is a fashion that does honour to human nature. It began in France; but God forbid it should end there!”

“And if your delicacy will not permit you to imitate those truly honourable ladies, by abasing yourselves in the manner which they do, by performing the lowest offices for the sick, you may, however, without humbling yourselves so far, supply them with whatever they want. And you may administer help of a more excellent kind, by supplying their spiritual wants; instructing them (if they need such instruction) in the first principles of religion; endeavouring to show them the dangerous state they are in, under the wrath and curse of God, through sin; and pointing them to the “Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world.”

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