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Archive for August, 2011

"THE WORLD IS MY PARISH": jOHN WESLEY

Somebody will watch the video below, from the United Methodist News Service, and say, “Why is this woman helping people on the far side of the earth when there are so many people that need help in this country?”

Which raises three thoughts in the mind of your favorite blawger:

1. For sure, there are many and very many people needing help in this country, if by “this country” you mean our beloved United States.
But in God’s eyes there’s no such thing as “this country” or “that country,” which is why Jesus, who was very much a Jew till the day he suffered, died and rose again, commanded his disciples to go outside of the very Jewish but heavily occupied nation of Israel and into the world (Matt. 28: 16-20). It’s why Paul and the gang risked life and limb crossing borders and boundaries.

2. Any time someone questions the validity of mission work outside the U.S. because “there’s so many needs here,” they might want to consider doing more to extend help to “people here” with mission and outreach and being the “cheerful giver” of which the Bible speaks. They might want to look within themselves and ask how much they’ve really done to help people here in the home country. There’s always plenty more to do for “people here” in this country, and for more on that, see today’s news about the aftermath of Irene. If you want always to question people doing mission work outside the U.S., you might for once consider taking a mission trip or giving an extra check to help the “people here.”

3. John Wesley said, “The world is my parish.” This 71-year-old Christian is a Wesleyan (i.e., Methodist). Therefore the world, including the U.S. and all nations, is her parish.

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LINDA RONSTADT: ONCE WINKED (I ain't lying!) AT YER JITTERBUGGER

Welcome to another exciting edition of Jitterbuggingforjesus.com, the blawg that, in addition to saving the world with its wit, wisdom, provocations and stimulations while possibly (probably!) alienating whole towns, nations, cities, states and Rick Perry’s crazy base of fundamentalist fanatics (not to mention Michele Bachmann’s), is bringing you soothing music every Tuesday afternoon as a reminder that God is in control and therefore everything is going to be all right.

Today we feature the great sultans of “blue-eyed soul” and especially his greatness the late and the great Bobby Hatfield, he who I once interviewed by phone a hunnerd years ago when I was a scribe for the Bryan-College Station Eagle and he and his singing buddy were coming to Houston for one of those “Lovin’ Feelin'” concerts held in Houston every year in the eighties and into the nineties featuring the Righteous Bros. and other big-named acts from my era.

One of the perks* of being an occasional music writer and reviewer at the aforementioned Texas newspaper was getting to interview so many people like His Greatness Mr. Hatfield, who was so gracious as to give me another 10 minutes for the phone interview even after his ride to the golf course stopped by his house for their afternoon tee time out there in California.

I was a huge fan of the Righteous ones as a young teen and told Mr. Hatfield so and he said, “Thanks a lot, I appreciate that.”

A man of simple graciousness he was. Not to mention such a soulful singer.

*Getting free tickets to concerts in exchange for publicity interviews with every singer and band that came anywhere near Houston or College Station was the even better perk. Interviewing Linda Rondstadt when she was the young queen of rock and who winked at me at the finish of an interview before a show in College Station may still be the highlight of my life. It was even better than meeting and shaking hands with Merle Haggard backstage at in Houston.

Those were the days.

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One of my favorite blawgers (Theology Div.) can get right to the essence of things with few words and not a word wasted. She’s a terrific writer who always has something to say, as in this reflection adapted from one of her prior reflections on Haiti:

The creation that God has set into motion (and sustains every second) means that there will be inexplicable suffering. Fast-moving cars will crash. Tectonic plates will shift. Sea storms will make landfall.

“Our task is not to moralize. (Looking at you, Pat Robertson). Our task is to be present with those who suffer–to pray with our hands and feet, our sweat and tears, our time and money.”

— Debra Dean Murphy
(Click here for the whole theological enchilada)

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Reverend Rick, Preaching the Tea Party Commandment

The video down below is but one reason–and only one of many reasons–that our Governator of Texas doesn’t have a prayer of being elected the leader of the free world. This in spite of the fact that he’s so intimate with God that he knows the mind of God and God is telling him he is The Messiah (That would be the American/Texan Messiah. Just so we’re clear on this–Jesus was the Jewish Messiah).

In the YouTube interview with the editor of Texas Monthly, you’ll see that the Guv gets a softball question that breaks the Guv out in the jim-jams.

Seriously, good for Perry for being, by his own admission, so high minded and old fashioned that he wants abstinence taught in Texas schools. Myself, I’d much prefer that parents be urged at every turn to remember to teach it to their children at home at every turn. I’d also prefer that it be taught in churches and houses of worship in a way that doesn’t make kids roll their eyes, which will never happen –not in most churches. People of faith break out in the jim-jams if anybody at church speaks seriously and frankly and theologically (emphasis on the “logically” in theologically) about anything whatsoever sex related. That said, I have to say that I know Jewish rabbis and Jewish people of serious faith who seemingly know how to teach kids about sex and the potential dangers of teen sex much better than most preachers or Christians.

But that’s another posting for another day and let’s get back to back to our Governator, he who was the original Terminator, who once terminated the life of an unsuspecting coyote while he, the Guv, was jogging. You’ll see that his painful attempt to answer the question in the video–which he tries to answer with his opinion on abstinence when he finds any words– keeps missing the point of the question. He simply can’t answer to this question about the waste of money on abstinence, nor will he be able to answer to the nation to the unique ways he has found to waste Texas money and abuse his powers of appointment, among other abuses of power.

Remember that you read it here first: Americans are going to see through Perry’s many political flaws soon enough–his duplicity, his cronyism that puts his old Aggie buddies into powerful positions and rewards them financially and excessively with our tax dollars, his countless “flip flops” that his fellow Republicans and Tea Party types already are blasting away at, and his John Wayne complex. I mean, it’s a wonder the man hasn’t pushed legislation requiring every Texan to own a gun.

I’m sure he wanted to shoot the editor of Texas Monthly for not letting this viewer’s question go.

You’re in the Big League now, Rick. Hold on to your hat.

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(For all the Steely Dan Fan Land cultists and night owls from your Steely Dan Fan Club chaplain. You people are total whacks. Hilarious whacks but total whacks nonetheless. Go to bed.)

The Freedom of the Moon
by Robert Frost
I’ve tried the new moon tilted in the air
Above a hazy tree-and-farmhouse cluster
As you might try a jewel in your hair.
I’ve tried it fine with little breadth of luster,
Alone, or in one ornament combining
With one first-water start almost shining.

I put it shining anywhere I please.
By walking slowly on some evening later,
I’ve pulled it from a crate of crooked trees,
And brought it over glossy water, greater,
And dropped it in, and seen the image wallow,
The color run, all sorts of wonder follow.

HIS GREATNESS ROBERT FROST AT WORK

And His Greatness the Cat Man, circa 1971 . . .

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"VAPOR IS EVER RISING'

This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.

—-John Muir, naturalist,
explorer, and writer (1838-1914)

Our research assistant and sometimes contributor here at the blawg that is saving the world–the mystic and mysterious L.K., she who is a deeply contemplative Christian and sixties flaming librul (Joan Baez Div.; you know the type)–sent the following reflection on John Muir:

I came upon this quote today, and thought that its poetry would be enhanced if it were written like this:

This grand show is eternal.

It is always sunrise somewhere;

the dew is never all dried at once;

a shower is forever falling;

vapor is ever rising.

Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset,

eternal dawn and gloaming,

on sea and continents and islands,

each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.

——————
Or, perhaps like this . . .

This grand show

is eternal.

It is always

sunrise somewhere;

the dew is never

all dried at once;

a shower is

forever falling;

vapor is

ever rising.

Eternal sunrise,

eternal sunset,

eternal dawn

and gloaming,

on sea

and continents

and islands,

each in its turn,

as the round earth rolls.

-John Muir, naturalist, explorer, and writer (1838-1914)

—————

The quote gave me a thrill up my spine.

It made me feel a deep and holy connection and communion with all places and all people in this world.

What makes my friend and sometimes contributor L.K. a genuine Christian mystic is that she’s so much in love with life and the world. And that’s another way of saying that L.K.–in the great and ancient tradition of Christian mysticism–is very much in love with God. Himself/Herself.

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HER GREATNESS BESSIE SMITH

Love this greatest of blues standards that Jimmy Cox wrote and Bessie Smith popularized a hunnerd years ago.

It’s been covered by everybody from Janis Joplin–who idolized Bessie Smith–to the Allman Brothers and so many more. But here’s two of my favorite covers from two of my all-time favorite music makers . . . and Her Greatness Miss Smith too.

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The famed “Prayer of St. Francis” (see below) may or may not have been writ by the great Saint of Assisi himself. But it certainly captures his spirit and his theology, and he certainly would be cool with it. I keep it magnetized on my refrigerator door. I keep it in my wallet. I keep book markers with the prayer on it. I try to internalize it and to keep it on my mind and my heart at all times.

I’ve posted it before here at the blawg that is saving the world–and probably posted it a few times. But it’s the perfect prayer, and one that I memorized a long time ago, and one that I try to live by.

And try and try to live by. A Christian committed to Christian discipleship tries to please God and all too often fails, but picks himself up and tries again, bolstered by God’s amazing grace.

Being a God loving, Christ loving Christian–really being a Christian disciple–is the toughest challenge in life there is. It’s demanding and difficult. It’s a hard way to slug through life sometimes, especially if you don’t stay spiritually fit like those physically fit folk that you see pounding the bike and running trails in order to stay physically fit. You need only to spend quiet, serious time with God to build spiritual endurance, but it does take real time and commitment. The payoff is joy and contentment in the life of Christ when times are good, and strength, in the best sense of the word “strength,” when times are scary and hard.

Being in top spiritual condition requires the kind of time and commitment that physical fitness requires. Attending church, or rushing through a scripture and a devotional while swallowing down donuts and coffee for five minutes each morning, does not a spiritually fit Christian make.

It’s so much easier to be a lazy Christian–a Sunday morning Christian who doesn’t want to make the commitment to being the 24/7 Christian disciple that Christ commanded and demanded that his followers to be. It’s so much easier to be a part-time Christian, or to go through life as a non-believer, or even a heathen, or even the world’s biggest jerk–one who cares wholly and completely about himself and those closest to him first.

Christians are just as broken up and broken down as everybody else. We’re all broken, violence-prone people stuck in a broken and noisy and violent world, all in need of God’s love and grace and tender mercies. The Good News is that God is all about love, grace and tender mercies, as students of the Bible–and that includes students of the often harsh sounding Old Testament–very well know.

Christianity needs more full-time Christians and has no need at all, really, of part-time Christians who talk the talk but walk like everybody else in the dawg-eat-dawg world.

There’s never a shortage of people to call on in the part-time Christian labor pool.

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

“O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
Amen

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Thanking God today for having traveling mercies on me and my teenaged “Little Brother” after a breathtaking week of sightseeing, rock climbing, hiking and generally being awed by God’s Rocky Mountains in Estes Park and Grand Lake, and by all the rugged and surreal landscapes between those two Colorado towns.

This was my third summer trip to the Estes Park region–the first being when I was only a couple of years older than my “Little,” and the other being 25 years or so ago. And was more amazing than the amazing memories I’ve carried of it all these years.

The trip went without a hitch and for that all praise and glory to God, who really is an awesome God.

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When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him”:

— from Psalm 8 (See the whole enchilada
at the bottom of this posting)

"Mummy Mountain," Rocky Mountain National Park

Yes, yer favorite blawger escapes tomorrow to the Rockies of Colorado to get Rocky Mountain high for a few days.

Not high in the way that John Denver and friends around the campfire got high, mind you, but more like high on some of God’s best and most creative work–and the Rockies are some of God’s best work for sure.

My only traveling companion will be my 16 y.o. “Little Brother” of whom I’m a mentor in Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

(Click here for more on how to be a Big Brother or Big Sister and your age matters not one twit.)

Being the urban teen boy that my “Little” is (he who is taller than I am which makes “Little Brother” a misnomer), he’s about to get his mind blown and his breath taken away at Long’s Peak (14,000 feet), among other places. (I won’t even tell you what the current temperature up there is because you would hate me for escaping to a paradise so cool and leaving behind Dallas, where the temperature as of this writing is about 210 degrees F., give or take a hunnerd degrees.)

Travel plans call for the following:

No television.
No telephone.
No blawging.
No Facebooking.
No emailing or texting.
No fearmongering 24/7 news. (If I so much as see a TV with political news from the political war zone in D.C. being broadcast on it I’m taking my hatchet to it. But then, not much danger of TV exposure where I’m going anyway.)

Prayers for traveling mercies are now being accepted.

Grace & peace,

paul

Psalm 8
King James Version (KJV)
LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;

The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

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