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Archive for June, 2012

CHILL OUT FROM THE HEAT WITH SOME HOT MUSIC, PEOPLE–IT”S SATURDAY NIGHT

This will come as no revelation to longtime cultists here at the Cult of the Jitterbugger, but the musical taste of the Leader of the Cult of Jitterbuggingforjesus.com is nothing if not eclectic, but mostly runs to sixties rock with some fifties, seventies and eighties and nineties and well . . . anything pretty much from the Louie Armstrong era forward, and mostly includes fifties and sixties rock, blues (and especially dying blues that keeps it real, older country music that ain’t rock music with a precious little real country in it, trippy music and enough already . . .

Just keep on rockin in the free world . . . .

Starting with the unspectacular but masterful road legends The Daddy Mack Blues Band: Daddy Mack Orr on lead and vocals, with the Bonner boys: James on guitar, Harold on bass, William on drums.

This is close to the kind of real blues I grew up with in a river-bottom cotton town . . .

Just give ’em some shade to set up under or a tiny stage in a smoky and dangerous bar and leave a dollar in the kitty and everthing go be awright.

You might not know Daddy Mack but you know this Musical Genius . . .

This one needs no intro . . .

The late great Levon Helm . . . We’re all still grieving, Levon . . . Rest your rockin’ hillbilly soul.

He’s still out there doing gigs; standing and delivering . . .

Some oldies and acts from the fifties are just too exhilarating to ever sound anything but fresh.

And speaking of keeping’ it real, whatever you think of him, his morals, his lifestyle . . . .

He’s not an international star from Texas . . . .

He IS Texas.

So don’t mess with us who love him down here, which is most anybody born and reared here.

And I’m sorry you’re not from Texas. . . . .

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I think it was Shakespeare as well–or was it Al Gore?--who said, “It’s so hot out there you could fry an egg on a Climate Change Denier’s dashboard.”

Or something like that.

AND IF YOU CAN MATCH EVERY QUOTE CORRECTLY WITH EVERY “PIECE OF WORK” OF SHAKESPEARE’S–WITHOUT LOOKING IT UP– I WILL SEND YOU A CASHIER’S CHECK FOR ONE MILLION–YES, I’M TALKING A COOL, ONE MILLION DOLLARS AND WOULD THIS HOLY MAN LIE TO YOU?

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HE MIGHT BEG TO DIFFER WITH THE THEOLOGY OF THE SMUG AND PIOUS CHURCH LADY

No matter what the self-assured and hilarious Church Lady might say or think . . .

We all have the evil and the good within us, and that’s a biblical truth that should humble us and give us pause in the kind of justice we feel that people as revolting as, say, the Jerry Sanduskys of the world deserve. (Let the rapists in prison have at him while guards turn their heads–some people, and purported Christians included, have no prob with that kind of rough justice or “poetic” justice, which is anti-Christian justice of the sort to which the entire New Testament is opposed.)

Read on . . . and tell me what you think if the spirit moves you.

“Is there anyone among you who, your child asks for bread, will give him a snake? Or if the child asks for a fish will give him a snake?

“If you, then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give to those who ask?

—- Jesus, Sermon on the Mount
Matthew 7: 9-10

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“It was granted me to carry away from my prison years on my bent back, which nearly broke beneath its load, this essential experience: how a human being becomes evil and how good. In the intoxication of my youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer, and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. And it was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first strivings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart—and then all human hearts… And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains . . . an unuprooted small corner of evil.”

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the late and great Russian dissident writer and moralist, who suffered the most horrendous torture and conditions imaginable in exile in Siberia for writing that the Evil Empire that was the Soviet Union didn’t like,
in his great book The Gulag Archipelago

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CHESTERTON: A GIANT MAN WITH A LARGE AND EXPANSIVE FAITH, SPIRIT AND INTELLECT

Capitalism: that commercial system in which supply immediately answers to demand, and in which everybody seems to be thoroughly dissatisfied and unable to get anything he wants.”

G.K. Chesterton, he who was the great Catholic writer and thinker and, as it turns out, true and enduring prophet, who gave us that famous and incisive quote, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”

He had a whole lot more to say about faith, religions, Capitalism and Socialism (he was no fan of either, advocating for the “third way” of Christian distributism), atheism, science, nature, culture and arts, good writing vs. the other kind, cigars, strong drink, virtue and vice, hypocrites, politics and government, princes and paupers, saints and sinners, and . . . he had something to say about pretty much everything.

He did have some huge flaws, like a really bad barber, but nobody’s perfect.

Read on . . .

=======================
“Love means loving the unlovable – or it is no virtue at all.”
———————–
“These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own.”
———————–
“It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong.”
———————–
“Big Business and State Socialism are very much alike, especially Big Business.”
_______________________

“All men thirst to confess their crimes more than tired beasts thirst for water; but they naturally object to confessing them while other people, who have also committed the same crimes, sit by and laugh at them.”
———————–

“I say that a man must be certain of his morality for the simple reason that he has to suffer for it.”
———————–
“The voice of the special rebels and prophets, recommending discontent, should, as I have said, sound now and then suddenly, like a trumpet. But the voices of the saints and sages, recommending contentment, should sound unceasingly, like the sea.”
———————–
“Modern broad-mindedness benefits the rich; and benefits nobody else.”
———————–
“There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions.”
———————–

“The world will very soon be divided, unless I am mistaken, into those who still go on explaining our success, and those somewhat more intelligent who are trying to explain our failure.”
———————–

“Business, especially big business, is now organized like an army. It is, as some would say, a sort of mild militarism without bloodshed; as I say, a militarism without the military virtues.”
———————-
“Properly speaking, of course, there is no such thing as a return to nature, because there is no such thing as a departure from it. The phrase reminds one of the slightly intoxicated gentleman who gets up in his own dining room and declares firmly that he must be getting home.”
———————–
“The position we have now reached is this: starting from the State, we try to remedy the failures of all the families, all the nurseries, all the schools, all the workshops, all the secondary institutions that once had some authority of their own. Everything is ultimately brought into the Law Courts. We are trying to stop the leak at the other end.”
————————
“We lose our bearings entirely by speaking of the ‘lower classes’ when we mean humanity minus ourselves.”
————————-

“Women are the only realists; their whole object in life is to pit their realism against the extravagant, excessive, and occasionally drunken idealism of men.”

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“There are two ways of being bloodless – by the avoidance of blood without,
and by the absence of blood within.”
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“Though the academic authorities are actually proud of conducting everything by means of Examinations, they seldom indulge in what religious people used to descibe as Self-Examination. The consequence is that the modern State has educated its citizens in a series of ephemeral fads.”
————————–
“You can’t have the family farm without the family.”
————————–
“In the struggle for existence, it is only on those who hang on for ten minutes after all is hopeless, that hope begins to dawn.”
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“The real argument against aristocracy is that it always means the rule of the ignorant. For the most dangerous of all forms of ignorance is ignorance of work.”
————————–
“Great truths can only be forgotten and can never be falsified.”
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One of the most pernicious misunderstandings in the West about Iranians is that they are dour religious fanatics.

“About half of Iranians are under the age of 25, and Iran has done a solid job of raising their education levels. I was struck on my 1,700-mile road trip across Iran by how many of them share American values, seeking fun rather than fanaticism. They seem less interested in the mosques than in amusement parks (which are ubiquitous in Iran)”.

— from a column in the New York Times
by His Greatness Nic Kristof

Click here for the whole Kristof enchilada, the second of his dispatches from his 1,700 mile trek across Iran.

The whole hospitality thing he refers to fits with what travel writer Rick Steves reported a few years ago.

We can only pray that the same neo-con warmongers who misled us into the $1 trillion catastrophe in Iraq, who are pounding the same drums of war that they sounded then, don’t get there way over the way of diplomacy and patience.

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NOW THAT’S WHAT BEING A FULLY ENGAGED LISTENER LOOKS LIKE

What if you listened to others
so deeply that they felt loved,
accepted, and safe
in your presence,
no matter what
they had to say?

~ Steve Shapiro

(hat tip: Peggy at ECUMENICUS.org, Facebook edition)

“What if” indeed.

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Sir Paul McCartney is 70 today and more classy, more stylish, more graceful, more fashionable, more the gentleman becoming of royalty–which he is, literally in Britain and figuratively in Rock and Roll.

He also gives those of us in our, uh, advancing years, the hope that we’ll look even a fraction as good and be a smidgen as vibrant and full of life as he is at 70.

But then, that’s the power of music–history shows that music keeps people vibrant and living long, enriched lives.

Thanks for the music and the memories and the love and graciousness that you embody and inspire so many with, Sir Paul.

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I’m incredibly blessed, and I literally thank God in my prayers every day, for the blood of my blood–a son and two daughters (and two grands!)–who I love and support wholeheartedly and who love and support the Old Man, warts and all.

And have to say as well that there’s not a day in my life when I don’t think about and miss Charles Dean “Deanie” McKay Sr., who along with Goldie McKay put the needs of their children and grandchildren above their own needs and desires every hard-working day of their lives.

In my ministry I encounter people every day who didn’t or do not have caring or loving or supportive parents, and those who can’t let go of the hurt that a parent or parents inflicted on them.

My own mother carried those wounds her whole life. She was abandoned by her father when she and my aunt and uncle were kids and a small Central Texas town, and my grandmother, who was born in the 19th century and married as a teen largely to escape life on a hard-scrabble farm, had limited education and no work skills. My mother, who grew up struggling through the already hard times of the Depression years without a father around, could never quite let go of the hatred she had for her own dad.

Which makes me feel all the more blessed.

Hoping for a Happy Father’s Day for the many great dads out there and for grace and peace for those who struggle through Father and Mother’s Day.

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THE REV. OWEN ROSS (WITH THE CLERGY COLLAR) AND THE REV. ERIC FOLKERTH (RIGHT) AT A PRAYER VIGIL LAST YEAR

Somehow it seems appropriate, in the wake of fallout over President Obama’s bold executive order of legislation affecting young immigrants, to re-publish a blog posting yours truly had here almost a year ago.

I’m glad Obama dropped the hammer on this as it was simply the right and moral and Christian thing, in the humble opinion of yours truly, to do.

And by the way–American Catholic Bishops who are without sin and who are always on the right side of, well, everything American to hear Fox News tell it in recent weeks–are among those behind President Obama on this. (You have to wonder where Fox outrage was back years ago when the Boston Globe, our own Dallas Morning News and a few other newspapers were courageously calling attention the seemingly never-ending problem the Church of Rome has with its pedophile predator priests. Outrage from Fox and the Rushes of the world is always selective, and they inevitably select to ally with anyone who hates Obama at any given time or all the time. And you do have to credit the Bishops for applauding Obama on this immigration issue. But that’s another story for another day.)

Many very conservative, Protestant, Christian evangelicals view it as the right thing also. There has been a broad coalition of Christians of all stripes–from the ultra-conservatives to the liberal and typically politically neutral churches and leaders, calling on the nation to honor the dignity of the so-called “illegal aliens” among us and come up with sensible immigration reform.

(And for the record, the more appropriate term is “undocumented workers,” since an alien, a child of God like you and me, can’t really be “illegal.”)

Anyway, below you’ll find legislation that a lot of us in the faith community of Christ worked hard to defeat last year–and it was ultimately defeated despite Gov. Rick Perry’s attempt to ramrod it to build up his political chops for his run for President. It went down to defeat largely because, indeed, churches and church leaders of all stripes and types and political and theological persuasions see how wrong and often draconian our immigration laws and proposed laws are. I mentioned in the posting below last year that agriculture in states like Georgia had suffered immense losses because of their own overly punitive laws against undocumented workers, but that was nothing compared to the mess that Alabama has since gotten itself into because of ludicrously punitive laws aimed at immigrants.

I’ve said it before and will say it again–there are ways, sensible and reasonable and more economic ways, to deal with the very real problem of immigrants pouring across our borders. But somehow and some way at some point, ultra-conservative political interests decided that the only solution was to impose utterly harsh measures on people crossing our borders out of desperation and outright starvation in Mexico and other Latin countries.

At any rate, whatever one thinks of immigrants and immigration laws, undocumented workers among us, for the most part, are honest, hard working, crime-free people deserving of dignity. The Bible is full of verses of God admonishing his chosen people to treat aliens with dignity and hospitality and to remember that they were aliens in Egypt themselves.
Click here, in fact, for some of those scriptures compiled by my clergy colleague here in North Texas, the Rev. Owen Ross, who was out front fighting the proposed Texas legislation last year.

Owen’s congregation, btw, has since seen the completion of its new church building and it’s a great and thriving Casa of God.


*The following was originally posted June 14, 2011, here at the blog that is saving the world with its wit, wisdom, provocations and stimulations while possible (probably!) alienating whole towns, nations, cities and states–our blog motto.)
One of my brothers in United Methodist ministry here in greater Dallas, the Rev. Owen Ross, leads a thriving and dynamic congregation of immigrants at Christ Foundry Mission. See the video for more about that.

On his Facebook page recently, Owen wrote:

“We had to cancel children’s choir because immigration was making raids in our neighborhood, and persons were afraid to leave their houses. One mother told me they knocked on her door, but out of fear for her children, she did not answer. What country are we living in that a government inflicts such fear on children?”

Owen, who is no flame-throwing radical but a forceful and Christ-like advocate for undocumented immigrants, also wrote: “Jesus was an immigrant, and Pontius Pilate was the governor.”

It seems that Governors like our own Rick Perry (who like Owen is a Texas Aggie out of the so conservative and fine and mighty fine Texas A&M University) are working overtime–or in Perry’s case in a special session of our state lawmakers–to look tough on undocumented immigrants.

We’re talking immigrants (there’s no such thing as an “illegal alien” since no child of God can be an illegal human being) who would much prefer to be living in their own countries, most of them. But they came here, at great cost and great risk to their lives, out of desperation to work and feed their families back home. And now that they are here they provide us cheap food with their work in scorching hot crop fields. They put the roofs roofs on our houses, swelter on our highways and building sites doing construction work, and clean the toilets in our homes, corporate offices and . . . well, name a work place in Texas and it will very likely have immigrants laboring away on the cheap.

They also do housework or raise the children of the wealthy as nannies in some of the most exclusive neighborhoods inhabited by, by and large, politically conservative people. And yet our own ultra-conservative Texas Legislature is pushing through a bill, aimed at making Texans more secure from violent criminals, that will be counter-productive. It’s a bill that could hurt immigrant families and, economically, hurt us all.

Click here for more on the bill in the (yes, very librul) Texas Observer, which gives a good overview of it librul or not. (The Observer has a long and mighty long tradition of good and serious journalism, especially in coverage of Texas government.) The vote on the aforementioned bill in the Legislature, which had been scheduled for tomorrow (Friday), has been delayed until Monday. We can only hope our Texas leaders will find the sort of wisdom that a lot of Texas Christians like myself have been praying for God to infuse them with.

My friend Owen, who makes it his business to know immigration issues inside and out, also posted this the other day on his FB:

“Although Sheriffs and Police departments from throughout the state asked Rick Perry not to entertain SB9 in the special session to make all undocumented afraid of them and add additional work that does not make our communities safer, the governor went ahead and did it anyway.”

Owen and other clergy–the theologically conservative and librul alike–have been to Austin to try to stem this draconian measure. Today I joined Owen and about three dozen other clergy, church members, teachers and concerned citizens for a prayer vigil at the office one of the main proponents of the bill, Burt Solomon of the Dallas suburb Carrollton. We prayed that Solomon and other Texas leaders will open their eyes and hearts to the damage this kind of legislation will do to immigrants–and to Texas residents pulled over for DWH (Driving While Hispanic) as well.

I hear horror stories all the time from Owen and other clergy leading Hispanic churches about full-fledged Texas citizens–some of them pastors–who have been shaken down by federal or local enforcement officials because of the color of their skin. Hard to imagine how much unconstitutional you can get, but if this SB9 bill passes, we ain’t seen nothing in Texas yet.

States laws like this in Arizona and Georgia and other states have actually had the unintended consequences of heavily damaging those state’s economies. Crops worth hundreds of millions of dollars have rotted in the fields that used to be worked by Hispanic immigrants in those states. But that pales in comparison to the further human damage that will be done to good and hard working immigrants and their families who, BTW, worship faithfully in churches all over this great Texas state. If I may make a sweeping generalization here–Caucasion Christians should be so faithful and deep in their faith as so many Hispanic Christians are.)

Remember the story at the top of this posting about about the choir kids in Owen’s church locked up in their houses in fear of the immigration sweep? What country are we living in that a government inflicts such fear on children, Owen asked in his Facebook posting. And what kind of country are we living in indeed–that is a question that bears thinking about and discussing, especially among all people of faith.

We need real and serious and level-headed immigration reforms and laws and polices in this country, but the kind we need will take some serious political will. As it stands, all we have is political one-upsmanship among a lot of Southern and Western governors who don’t seem to get that people like God’s chosen people were once, if you will, “illegal aliens.”

And anyway, in the good Lord’s eyes, we’re all aliens.

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THE HATERS ARE ALWAYS WITH US, ALWAYS READY TO PERSECUTE SOMEONE NOT OF THEIR LIKING OR UNDERSTANDING. IN JESUS’ DAY THEY WERE CALLED PHARISEES, AND THEY JUMPED IN BED, SO TO SPEAK, WITH MR. PILATE AND HIS HAPPY BAND ROMAN SOLDIERS

“For 300 years, we had laws that would prosecute that [homosexual] lifestyle. . . .

“We’ve gone down the wrong path. We’ve become so dumb that we have accepted a lie for the truth, and we’ve…discarded the truth on the shoals of shipwreck!”

— Dr. Ron Baity, a Baptist preacher in South Carolina (wouldn’t you know it) who would like to see homosexuals persecuted, uh, prosecuted, for the awful “crime” of being gay.

And that’s not even the worst of this, uh, man of God, who has been honored (wouldn’t you know it) by homophobic Tony Perkins and his band of happy Christian haters.

Lord, deliver us from the hating wolves in sheep’s clothing–they always claim they “love” the homosexual in comparing them to creepy stuff like maggots, as Ron Baity has done.

Click here for more on Baity, Perkins and their conservative political brethren from the fine and mighty fine reporter Kristen Powers, who impresses with her independent brand of journalism, btw.

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