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Archive for September, 2012

the fruite of the spirit is . . .

Robert Klein’s been trying to stop his boogie leg for 40 years now–he’s built a hilarious career on his “leg disorder.”

But when the music starts there just ain’t no stopping a natural jitterbug leg.

I have the same problema.

Click here for more about this comic who is, along with Steve Martin, a huge favorite of baby boomers.

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HOWL

Met some of the nice folks at the Belize Wildlife & Referral Clinic the other day.

They do great work at the clinic restoring suffering birds and other exotic wildlife.

They saved the hand of this baby Howler Monkey . . . .

Around 6 on most any evening I can walk behind my house to the river, sit on a limestone rock with my feet in the water and watch the howler monkeys swing through jungle trees on the other side of the stream. Actually I don’t always see them but it’s a trip to watch the trees shaking around when they come swinging.

I’m told that when the rainy season is over and Belize turns dry I shouldn’t be surprised if I see one drinking and splashing around in the stream a bit. They’ve been known to thrown things–rocks, coconuts and stuff–at people they don’t like for whatever reason.

WE never had nothin’ like THAT back on the farm.

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BETH McHOUL: ANOTHER “WOMAN OF VALOR” WHO HAS DEDICATED HER ENTIRE LIFE TO HELPING MAKE THIS A BETTER WORLD BY HELPING ONE PERSON AT A TIME. SHE’S LIKE THE WIFE DESCRIBED IN THIS VERSE FROM PROVERBS 31 WHERE THERE IS AN ENTIRE PASSAGE CELEBRATING WOMEN OF VALOR: “SHE OPENS HER HANDS TO THE POOR, AND REACHES OUT HER HANDS TO THE NEEDY.”


“I am a woman of valor. I was terrorized as a child – beaten by my father’s belt and bludgeoned by scriptures that were twisted into weapons against my tiny spirit. I survived the abuse by repeating the words: words that said that I was deceitful and desperately wicked, words that condemned my childish mistakes as rebellion, which was as evil as witchcraft, words that justified the stripes on my back.

” But even while obediently parroting these damning phrases yanked out of context, I searched the holy book until I found evidence of another side to God.

I dug and dug and found a Messiah who wept for my pain.

“I fought the lies with truth. I fought, and I won.”

— From the “Women of Valor” Web Page

Down below I’m posting one of the many great essays about “women of valor” that you will find at the Women of Valor website. Click here to view it from Rachel Held Evans’ Web Site. (And if you don’t follow Rachel Held Evans, BTW, you should; she’s as fine a Christian writer, lecturer and blogger as there is, often provocative, always coming from some very sound and deep theology).

The essay I’m posting about Beth McHoul was written by Beth’s friend who is a woman of valor in her own right, Tara Livesay.

Tara describes herself as “a mom of seven unique and peculiar people, and wife to one of the world’s very kindest men. She works and lives in Port au Prince, Haiti. She loves potato chips, coffee, Haiti, midwifery, her family, running, chocolate, and writing – but not necessarily in that order.”

Great women of the faith of the Bible, like Sarah and Ruth and Deborah, are identified as women of valor.

I’ve already met a lot of “women of valor” here in Belize, where so many Belizean women and children suffer in what it is, for all its beauty and its image as a paradise and a destination for your “dream vacation,’ still a developing or “Third World” country. The needs of the poor here are enormous, and heartbreaking.

But I have a witnessed a lot of compassionate people at work in the trenches with the needy here, heroic people from churches and faith-based organizations and NGOs, quietly doing heroic work. And of course not all of those people of valor are women, but it seems that most of them are at that.

One of them, a woman originally from England, has a clinic a mile away from my village home, where in conjunction with the Catholic Church in the nearby Village of Benque, where she never misses evening mass, she provides all sorts of basic health care services, including nutritional, hygienic and health-care education, to enormous numbers of Belizean women. Her story will be featured here at the blog that is saving the world soon.

Meanwhile, here’s that essay about one of the many heroes slugging away to lift people up in Hait, that other, incredibly battered and long-suffering Caribbean nation–the poorest place on earth, not far from Belize.

“Beth McHoul – A Woman of Valor”
Women of Valor Essay by Tara Livesay

Mother. Runner. Wife. Midwife. Sister. Hostess. Grandma. Missionary. Chef. Aunt. Trendsetter. Leader. Christ-Follower. Teacher. Friend. Encourager.

Those are a few of the titles that my friend and co-laborer Beth holds.

Beth is a 22 year resident and servant of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. You don’t live that many years in a place as volatile as Haiti unless you have valor.

“We’re almost there, we’re going to do this!” she exclaims. I look at her cross-eyed, wondering who taught her math. We’ve run seven miles in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and we have thirteen left to go. It’s 94 degrees and the humidity is stifling. “We’re almost there,” she repeats. On some level I know it is not true, but her certain encouragement convinces me otherwise.

We met through a common love of distance running and Haiti in 2005, and my life has been richer, fuller, and much more exciting because of it. No other person has served to encourage me to take risks, be brave, and try new things more than Beth. She frequently paves the way and easily convinces those watching that they can do it, too.

The roles she plays and has played in Haiti are numerous. It might sound cliché to say “too numerous to count,” but when it’s true, it must not be cliché.

As one of the co-directors of Heartline Ministries in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, for a decade and a half she ran a Children’s Home helping poor and orphaned children feel loved and secure as they waited for their adoptive families to come for them. Countless young adults lovingly remember “Mama Beth” for her delicious French-butter-based meals, her giant 200-pound dogs, and her patient concern and affection. During those years responding to the call to place the fatherless in families, Beth loved and helped more than 250 children.

Years of caring for orphans gave her a heart and deep desire to get to the core of the matter; she pioneered attempts to reduce the number of children being placed in orphanages due to poverty. She recognized that if women were giving up their children due to a lack of education, jobs, invested fathers/husbands, she needed to address their reasons for placing their children by offering something different: education, a way to make an income, steady love, support, and encouragement.

For the last six years Beth has been responding to a new call. As a quinquagenarian, she had the moxie to make a major career change. She left her beloved island home of Haiti to officially begin her midwifery training in the Philippines at the age of 52.

Since then she has spent countless hours memorizing medical terminology, the physiology of birth, and signs of preeclampsia.

Beth is responding to the needs of pregnant women in Haiti. Her goal has been helping Haitian women have healthier pregnancies, supported labors, and safer deliveries. The Prenatal program has grown from a dream Beth had into a reality. Each month “Mama Beth” helps usher in precious new life and lovingly places babies into their mother’s arms. She supports new mothers through the intimidating early months, always encouraging, “you can do it!”

All of that is amazing, but her endurance and perseverance and ever-present soft heart are what touch me most. While many that come to serve Haiti get tired, cynical and sick of the battle, Beth seems to get more energetic, more empathetic and more willing to give of herself with each passing year and approaching challenge.

To quantify the numerous ways she has served would be difficult at best. From hundreds of orphans that found families, to lonely new missionaries that found a warm reception and a familiar meal, to pregnant women that are weekly being told, “You can do this, you can give birth safely and you can raise your child,” Beth has touched untold numbers.

Dressed in her trademark short-skirt, she’s often seen by the traditional missions circles and community as a rebel. She looks to God to direct her steps, ignores the chatter, and pushes forward. She has paved the way for countless young missionaries and leads by example. Beth McHoul is a trailblazer for so many. I have personally been inspired by her in many ways, including but not limited to: having the courage to train for a marathon in Port-au-Prince because she had done it first, having the courage to raise my children here through many trials because she had done it first, having the guts to begin to study midwifery at the age of forty – because she had done it at the age of fifty.

Always loving, hospitable, warm, encouraging, and welcoming – no one that comes into contact with her forgets Beth McHoul. She is a woman of valor.

***

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A partial list of American military involvement since 1982 includes Lebanon, Grenada, Chad, Libya, Honduras, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Philippines, Panama, Iraq, Kuwait, Somalia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Haiti, Serbia, Afghanistan (currently, America’s longest war), Sudan, Iraq (again, after years of crippling sanctions that killed half a million children), and Libya (again). This is not an exhaustive list, it doesn’t include covert attacks, special operations, or America’s special relationship with Israel, which has rained down horror on Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza. Israeli drones continue to kill people in Gaza on a nearly weekly basis. American drones are currently killing people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Syria and Iran loom on the horizon, with American threats of intervention and war ramping up.

“Death is a top American export.”

— peace activist Johnny Barber, who lives in Afghanistan where he is waging peace.

(Waging peace–interesting concept.)

Today is International Peace Day, and it couldn’t come at a better time.

I still believe that what the last popular Catholic Pope, John Paul II, said is true when he said:

“War is obsolete.”

This was said in the context of his reminding the world that weaponry has advanced to such destructive levels that no one can “win” a war anymore.

Bless his heart–he went so far as to send a priest who was an old friend of the Bush family to sit down with W. and try to persuade the then-President not to wage war in Iraq. The Pope, among others, had the foresight to know that it would be a catastrophe not only for Iraq but for the U.S. and the precious few allies who were willing to go along with us. (God, how we hated France, which also saw a catastrophe in the making and refused to join the invasion.)

I don’t bring this up to bash W or to reopen old political wounds, but because now the same warmongers are hot to bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran–if only because the warmongering Prime Minister of Israel, who seems to think he dictates American defense policy, is hot to bomb Iran.

War is just not the answer to every world problem, but it seems we kick right into the following default mode every time there’s an outbreak of Anti-American fervor or there’s another threat from a country, real or perceived:

“Let’s bomb em back to the Stone Age and let God sort em out.”

How many times since the Vietnam War have I heard somebody say that? How many times did in my chaplaincy in ultra-conservative Dallas did I, a chaplain, have people actually say that to me–that we ought to just bomb some enemy and be done with them–or something similar?

Sadly, I heard it more than once in a Sunday School class or Bible study, where some war-happy Christian had Old Testament tunnel vision when it came to matters of war. And never mind that the Old Testament, which is full of war and violence and rough justice for sure, is also full of calls for peace, grace, love, mercy, understanding, patience, tolerance and other attributes of God that warmongers don’t care to look up. The extent of their Old Testament study is “An eye for an eye.”

Jesus himself directly addressed that piece of scripture in the gospel.

Look it up.

Lord God help us navigate these violent times with attitudes of more prayer and seeking real peace and nonviolence, per your will. And let your will for peace on earth, good will for all prevail–as it will, if we don’t blow ourselves into another universe first.

* * * * * *
Here’s a blurb from Johnny Barber from the web site of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, of which I’m a card-carrying member and proud of it:

* * * * * *
By Johnny Barber

On this International Day of Peace I am sitting in Kabul, Afghanistan with a handful of youth that want nothing but peaceful coexistence in their lives. This, in some respects, is like a dream because their entire lives have been surrounded by war, death, corruption, and struggle. Peace has been in short supply. For three years the Afghan Peace Volunteers have worked to develop friendships across ethnic lines in Kabul and various provinces throughout Afghanistan. The work has been difficult, trust is hard to come by in this war-torn land, but they are adamant that nonviolence is the only way forward. I have sat with similar groups in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, America, and Israel. Rarely are their voices heard over the drums of war.

Established in 1981, by the United Nations General Assembly, the International Day of Peace was to coincide with its opening session. The first Peace Day was observed on September 21, 1982. In 1982, the Soviet Union was increasing its troop presence in Afghanistan and facing fierce fighting throughout the provinces.

Thirty years later, Afghanistan is still at war. The opponents have changed, and the weaponry has changed. The War on Terror, armored Humvees, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), suicide bombers, night raids, smart bombs, and drones have all entered the American lexicon.

The war has pushed the Taliban out of power, but the current government is full of the very same warlords that were carving up Afghanistan prior to the Taliban’s rise. These “representatives” have very little backing among the people, mainly because they have continued to line their pockets while their constituents suffer. The call for peace may fill their speeches, but to work for peace distracts from their income.

The International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) as well as the Afghan Army and Afghan Police force, often employing strong-arm tactics, struggle to bring a semblance of security to the countryside. Security in Kabul is tentative as well, with suicide bombings and armed attacks on the rise. On September 18th, a woman rammed a car full of explosives into a van containing nine foreign workers, killing herself, all nine foreigners, their Afghan translator, as well as passersby. While temporary security may be imposed with an iron fist, peace cannot be forced.

On September 19th, an Afghan holiday in the remembrance of the death of Burhanuddin Rabbani, a warlord turned “peace envoy” who was killed by a suicide bomber in his home, President Hamid Karzai called on Afghans to pursue peace. A generation that has known nothing but war has little faith in government calls for peace while the very same government loots the country. The government-led peace initiative seems to have died with Rabbani a year ago.

The past week has been disastrous for Afghans, and points towards more mayhem in the future. While profits are still being generated for arms suppliers, reconstruction experts, and contractors, peace has not been generated for anyone. In America, peace is never spoken of outside the context of war or security. In Obama’s acceptance speech in Charlotte, he mentioned America’s “pursuit of peace” exactly once, shortly after getting cheers for claiming, “Osama bin Laden is dead.”

A partial list of American military involvement since 1982 includes Lebanon, Grenada, Chad, Libya, Honduras, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Philippines, Panama, Iraq, Kuwait, Somalia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Haiti, Serbia, Afghanistan (currently, America’s longest war), Sudan, Iraq (again, after years of crippling sanctions that killed half a million children), and Libya (again). This is not an exhaustive list, it doesn’t include covert attacks, special operations, or America’s special relationship with Israel, which has rained down horror on Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza. Israeli drones continue to kill people in Gaza on a nearly weekly basis. American drones are currently killing people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Syria and Iran loom on the horizon, with American threats of intervention and war ramping up. Death is a top American export.

On the anniversary of September 11th, a hate-filled anti-Islam movie trailer was a catalyst sparking widespread protests and attacks across the world, leading to 30 deaths. On September 19th, a French satirical newspaper, under the guise of “free speech” released vulgar cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad (Peace be Upon Him) adding fuel to an already volatile fire. Peace Day is likely to be fraught with violence, like most any other day.

Yet, on this International Day of Peace groups will come together around the world (and yes, even in Afghanistan) to promote peace, cooperation, friendship, and love. These efforts are necessary, if for no other reason then to remind people peace is an option, a possibility, and a personal responsibility. It is necessary to counter the flames of hatred. It is necessary to be inspired by those who walked this path before us. It is necessary for our sanity as human beings. As the darkness of our violence prone world threatens to overwhelm us, it is necessary to dance, to sing, to laugh, and to open our minds to creative opportunities to live in harmony with our world. It is necessary to stand together for even just one day and say, “No, just because you have superior firepower, or can rain down hell fire missiles, or fly planes into buildings, I will not be swayed, I will not live in fear. Your sickness will not persuade me, infect me, or deter me.”

In this electoral season, choosing between Obama and Romney is a huge distraction, there is real work to be done. Our perverse system of endless war needs to be dismantled, our culture realigned. We need to begin again. War is over. Peace is the path.

Johnny Barber is in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he is living with the Afghan Peace Volunteers and representing Voices for Creative Nonviolence. His writing and photos are posted at http://www.oneBrightpearl-jb.blogspot.com and http://www.oneBrightpearl.com.

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Romney, who criticizes President Obama for dividing the nation, divided the nation into two groups: the makers and the moochers. Forty-seven percent of the country, he said, are people “who are dependent upon government, who believe they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to take care of them, who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”

“This comment suggests a few things. First, it suggests that he really doesn’t know much about the country he inhabits. Who are these freeloaders? Is it the Iraq war veteran who goes to the V.A.? Is it the student getting a loan to go to college? Is it the retiree on Social Security or Medicare?”

— The Voice of Conservative Reason, David Brooks

New York Times (conservative) columnist David Brooks: Got just one thing wrong here: He gives Mitt Romney too much credit for kindness and decency.

As one who is so saddened watching his country rip in half over “scorched-earth, no-prisoners politics” of the sort in which some semblance of fact and truth generally don’t have a chance, I’ve been astounded beyond words by the now infamous and incredibly divisive “47 percent” comment.

Then again, more like angry to the high heavens about it. Or, by turns, saddened, frustrated, angry again.

Somebody slap me–I might just throw a mud pie in all of Mitt Romney’s many political faces before I rub some of it in his mouth to gag him before he slings mud on some other good Americans.

I mean, really, Romney.

I think you just revived the Occupy Movement while dragging down the once Grand Old Party even further for an even longer time.

********

Every time I start to wonder if every conservative in America hasn’t lost his or her moral bearings by buying into all the Fox News fantasy facts and other far-right propaganda, some healthy conservative voice comes along and restores my faith in American conservatism to come to its moral senses someday.

More often than not, the voice of reason and morality that restores that faith is David Brooks.

The always incisive and reasonable and articulate conservative David Brooks–and he is a genuine conservative as opposed to some “neo” conservative warmonger or a loud clown from the Tea Party or a propagandist like Rush and Sean and O’Reilly–should win a Pulitzer for his New York Times column below.

Of course, it’s thoughtful and reasonable think pieces like this that give the rabid conservatives and the hopelessly out-of-touch Romney’s cause to hate Brooks and the horse he rides into the New York Times on.

My only criticism of this commentary is that Brooks is way to charitable to Romney in describing him as “a kind and decent man.”

I’m sure there is some kindness and decency inside the man Romney somewhere, but when a Presidential candidate, who will have to be a moral leader for the world as well as a national government leader, is willing to dismiss almost half the people of American in such thoughtless and reckless way–and not just this once but repeatedly–“kindness” and “decency” are not words that spring to mind.

Shame on you, Mr. Romney, for your utter contempt of so good Americans that you have never in your pampered and sheltered life had the pleasure of getting to know.

*******
In 1980, about 30 percent of Americans received some form of government benefits. Today, as Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute has pointed out, about 49 percent do.

In 1960, government transfers to individuals totaled $24 billion. By 2010, that total was 100 times as large. Even after adjusting for inflation, entitlement transfers to individuals have grown by more than 700 percent over the last 50 years. This spending surge, Eberstadt notes, has increased faster under Republican administrations than Democratic ones.

There are sensible conclusions to be drawn from these facts. You could say that the entitlement state is growing at an unsustainable rate and will bankrupt the country. You could also say that America is spending way too much on health care for the elderly and way too little on young families and investments in the future.

But these are not the sensible arguments that Mitt Romney made at a fund-raiser earlier this year. Romney, who criticizes President Obama for dividing the nation, divided the nation into two groups: the makers and the moochers. Forty-seven percent of the country, he said, are people “who are dependent upon government, who believe they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to take care of them, who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”

This comment suggests a few things. First, it suggests that he really doesn’t know much about the country he inhabits. Who are these freeloaders? Is it the Iraq war veteran who goes to the V.A.? Is it the student getting a loan to go to college? Is it the retiree on Social Security or Medicare?

It suggests that Romney doesn’t know much about the culture of America. Yes, the entitlement state has expanded, but America remains one of the hardest-working nations on earth. Americans work longer hours than just about anyone else. Americans believe in work more than almost any other people. Ninety-two percent say that hard work is the key to success, according to a 2009 Pew Research Survey.
——

“Sure, there are some government programs that cultivate patterns of dependency in some people. I’d put federal disability payments and unemployment insurance in this category. But, as a description of America today, Romney’s comment is a country-club fantasy. It’s what self-satisfied millionaires say to each other. It reinforces every negative view people have about Romney. . .

“Personally, I think he’s a kind, decent man who says stupid things because he is pretending to be something he is not — some sort of cartoonish government-hater.”
————

It says that Romney doesn’t know much about the political culture. Americans haven’t become childlike worshipers of big government. On the contrary, trust in government has declined. The number of people who think government spending promotes social mobility has fallen.

The people who receive the disproportionate share of government spending are not big-government lovers. They are Republicans. They are senior citizens. They are white men with high school degrees. As Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution has noted, the people who have benefited from the entitlements explosion are middle-class workers, more so than the dependent poor.

Romney’s comments also reveal that he has lost any sense of the social compact. In 1987, during Ronald Reagan’s second term, 62 percent of Republicans believed that the government has a responsibility to help those who can’t help themselves. Now, according to the Pew Research Center, only 40 percent of Republicans believe that.

The Republican Party, and apparently Mitt Romney, too, has shifted over toward a much more hyperindividualistic and atomistic social view — from the Reaganesque language of common citizenship to the libertarian language of makers and takers. There’s no way the country will trust the Republican Party to reform the welfare state if that party doesn’t have a basic commitment to provide a safety net for those who suffer for no fault of their own.

The final thing the comment suggests is that Romney knows nothing about ambition and motivation. The formula he sketches is this: People who are forced to make it on their own have drive. People who receive benefits have dependency.

But, of course, no middle-class parent acts as if this is true. Middle-class parents don’t deprive their children of benefits so they can learn to struggle on their own. They shower benefits on their children to give them more opportunities — so they can play travel sports, go on foreign trips and develop more skills.

——

The people who receive the disproportionate share of government spending are not big-government lovers. They are Republicans. They are senior citizens. They are white men with high school degrees. As Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution has noted, the people who have benefited from the entitlements explosion are middle-class workers, more so than the dependent poor.”

————-

People are motivated when they feel competent. They are motivated when they have more opportunities. Ambition is fired by possibility, not by deprivation, as a tour through the world’s poorest regions makes clear.

Sure, there are some government programs that cultivate patterns of dependency in some people. I’d put federal disability payments and unemployment insurance in this category. But, as a description of America today, Romney’s comment is a country-club fantasy. It’s what self-satisfied millionaires say to each other. It reinforces every negative view people have about Romney.

Personally, I think he’s a kind, decent man who says stupid things because he is pretending to be something he is not — some sort of cartoonish government-hater. But it scarcely matters. He’s running a depressingly inept presidential campaign. Mr. Romney, your entitlement reform ideas are essential, but when will the incompetence stop?

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SO I WALKED OVER TO GUATEMALA THE OTHER DAY AND LOOKED AROUND THE NICE AND VERY NICE LITTLE CITY OF MELCHOR AND THERE SHE WAS, THIS YOUNG LADY. SHE WAS JUSTA WALKIN’ DOWN THE STREET. SHE WAS SINGING TO NO ONE IN PARTICULAR, “DOO WAH DITTY DITTY DUM DITTY DO.”
SEEMS LIKE EVERYTHING IN GUATEMALA IS REALLY, REALLY PRETTY IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN AND I THINK YOU DO.

I think I’ll rent myself a blue canoe and drift down the beautiful Macal River a while today.

Of course, I’ll need some tunes when I’m done and go cool down at the cantina with a Beliken, the outstanding National Beer of Belize.

FATHER AND SON GOT THEMSELVES A BLUE CANOE IN THE MACAL RIVER IN THE TWIN TOWNS OF SAN IGNACIO, SANTA ELENA IN WESTER BELIZE. [/caption]

TGIF, HUH?


SEEMS LIKE THE WORK OF ALL THOSE TORTILLA MAKERS IN LATIN COUNTRIES IS NEVER DONE. THIS ONE WORKING BY CANDLELIGHT, LATE AT NIGHT, IN MELCHOR, GUATEMALA.



Before there was His Greatness the insane and insanely original Dave Matthews and his Fabulous Band–one of those acts that has to be experienced in a live show to appreciate the showmanship as well as the great musicianship–there was His Kooky Greatness Jethro Tull.


WHAT. HAVE YOU NEVER SEEN A GRINGO??? YOU WANT TROUBLE???? YOU WANNA BE MY SUPPER TONIGHT???

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THE FATHER OF THE NATION OF BELIZE, GEORGE PRICE. AS A NATIONAL ACTIVIST AND LEADER HE MOVED CONSTANTLY AMONG THE PEOPLE OF THE NATION HE LOVED IN THE MOST REMOTE OF VILLAGES AND HOMES. HE WORKED TIRELESSLY–AND WITH A COMMITMENT TO NON-VIOLENCE–TO FREE BRITISH HONDURAS OF BRITISH RULE AND MAKE IT THE INDEPENDENT NATION OF BELIZE IT IS TODAY, FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE. BELIZE REMAINS “3RD WORLD,” ALWAYS DEVELOPING, SUCH AS IT DEVELOPS AT ALL, AT A SNAIL’S PACE. STILL, BELIZEANS WOULDN’T TRADE THEIR INDEPENDENCE AND FREEDOM FOR ANYTHING.

“Scrutiny of the life of any remarkable leader is bound to reveal contradictions. [George] Price’s personal lifestyle perhaps threw up fewer contradictions. Like Jamaica’s Michael Manley who used the more tropics-friendly Kariba suit, Price forsook the western style suit in favour of the guayabera.

“For the duration of his long career, he owned one suit that he used for international meetings and never abandoned the guayabera. . . .

“Price lived his entire adult life in utter defiance of materialism, owning just a few items of clothing, the barest wooden furniture, and no appliances or stereo equipment; all he owned was a radio.

“Price is described as “father of the nation”, “father of independence”, “national hero”, and “man of the people”. He moved easily and confidently among the people without any bodyguards and could be seen walking to church every morning at 5:30 a.m. and picking up paper and bits of trash as he moved along the streets.”

— From a biography of George Price, the first Prime Minister of Belize and a national hero known as “The Father of Belize.”


As I noted in a prior posting, Belize celebrates its independence from the Brits every year with all kinds of social and cultural events, complete with parades and fireworks and parties into the wee hours.

This year’s Independence Day, Sept. 21, will mark the 31rst birthday of Belize as we know it today. The country was known as British Honduras as a longtime colony of the British Empire.

George Price–a wannabee priest who left behind his seminary training and eventually became Belize’s Gandhi, of a sort–worked tirelessly, and like Gandhi and his other hero MLK Jr. worked non-violently— to make his vision of a free and independent Belize a reality.

Price remained single and celibate his entire life, like the priest that he always wanted to be. His love for his country and its people, though, superseded even his love of the church–which he attended every day no matter where in the world he was traveling..

They might as well call September 21 George Price Day. The short little rocky street in front of my rent house is George Price Street. Just as there is a Martin Luther King Jr. street in most American cities and towns and even some villages, every town and village and “city” in Belize has its George Price Street. {Belize City, the largest “city” in the nation, is a city of only 70,000 people.)

Price was quite a humble, tireless activist and leader, and fascinating man, and remains a real hero to the 300,000 people of tiny Belize.

Click here for more about this remarkable leader’s life and times.

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From James the brother of Jesus and leader of the early church, Chapter 3 of his epistle:

” 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell.

” 7 For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, 8 but no one can tame the tongue–a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh. 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.

” 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.”

———————

MAY THY WILL FOR PEACE, UNDERSTANDING, WISDOM, SPIRITUALLY MATURE DISCERNMENT PREVAIL IN THIS HYPER-INTENSE POLITICAL SEASON, AMEN

“Jesus’ whole life was a witness to his Father’s love, and Jesus calls his followers to carry on that witness in his Name.

“We, as followers of Jesus, are sent into this world to be visible signs of God’s unconditional love. Thus we are not first of all judged by what we say but by what we live.

“When people say of us: ‘See how they love one another,’ they catch a glimpse of the Kingdom of God that Jesus announced and are drawn to it as by a magnet.

“In a world so torn apart by rivalry, anger, and hatred, we have the privileged vocation to be living signs of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds.”

— Henri Nouwen

———————

Lord God,
Help us remember in this hyper-intensive election season in the United States of America, a nation so richly blessed and with peoples so vastly compassionate and big-hearted, that you call us to be compassionate, peaceful people at all times in all situations.

Keep us mindful that a house divided cannot stand, so that we might coexist in peace and harmony and find common ground enough to work out our disagreements without be disagreeable to the point of hatred, vitriol and killing one another with our words.

Keep us mindful of the very question that we teach our children to ask when we instruct them to ask:

What would Jesus do?

Keep us mindful of the way and the words of Jesus who said a house divided cannot stand.

Help us to find ways every day to be more responsive to one another and understanding of our diverse opinions, and less reactionary in our cultural and political differences.

Bless not only the U.S.A., but bless all the nations and all the peoples of the world, where all the living billions of people who you see as your children rather than people of nations are broken and standing in need of your endless love, your endless grace and tender mercies.

May your will for peace with justice, your will for mercy and understanding, your will for the love that overcame hatred and evil and even death on the cross prevail.

Amen

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LORD IN YOUR MERCY: HEAR OUR PRAYERS

When the World Spins Crazy
By Walter Brueggemann

When the world spins crazy,
spins wild and out of control
spins toward rage and hate and violence,
spins beyond our wisdom and nearly beyond our faith,
When the world spins in chaos as it does now among us…
We are glad for sobering roots that provide ballast in the storm.
So we thank you for our rootage in communities of faith,
for our many fathers and mothers who have believed and trusted as firm witnesses to us,
for their many stories of wonder, awe, and healing.
We are glad this night in this company
for the rootage of the text,
for the daring testimony,
for its deep commands,
for its exuberant tales.
Because we know that as we probe deep into this text…
clear to its bottom,
we will find you hiding there,
we will find you showing yourself there,
speaking as you do,
governing,
healing,
judging.

And when we meet you hiddenly,
we find the spin not so unnerving,
because from you the world again has a chance
for life and sense and wholeness.
We pray midst the spinning, not yet unnerved,
but waiting and watching and listening,
for you are the truth that contains all our spin. Amen.

From Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: Prayers of Walter Brueggemann. Prayed at the Lay School of the Pentateuch on September 17, 2001.

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YOUNG AND OLD CELEBRATE INDEPENDENCE FROM THE BRITS AND A HISTORIC BATTLE STARTING TODAY IN BELIZE–AND THE CELEBRATIONS GO THE REST OF SEPTEMBER! NONE OF THIS ONE-DAY “INDEPENDENCE DAY” BARBECUE AND FIREWORKS AND PARADES FOR THEM–THEY HAVE THAT STUFF ALL MONTH IN BELIZE!

Click here for more about St. George’s Caye Day, a huge holiday in Belize marking a historic battle.

SAN IGNACIO, BELIZE: IT’LL BE ROCKING THIS WEEKEND.

Having lived in Belize for a couple of months I can say one thing for sure about these warm and wonderful Belizean people–they are fiercely proud, patriotic people.

They have one of the most naturally beautiful countries on earth, and they know it, and they appreciate the beauty. I’ve met Belizeans who are quite poor in terms of money and material things, living in some quite substandard shelters, to say the least, sometimes with 4 generations of a family sharing a small shelter.

But when I tell such people I’m from the States, they quite typically will say something like, “Do you like our beautiful country?”

The ocean and the islands, the mountains and the jungles and rain forests–the beauty and wonder of it can sometimes be so beautiful as to be surreal. It’s one of the poorest places on earth in terms of materialism and consumerism, but Belize and most of its warm and peace-loving people are some of the richest on earth in other ways.

So this weekend marks St. George’s Caye Day or National Day–the first of two huge holidays in Belize. The other later this month is the 31rst “Birthday” of Belize–that day on which, what used to be “British Honduras,” split off from British rule and became the independent nation of Belize that it is today.

Belizeans celebrate their Independence Day for whole weeks, pretty much starting today which is actually St. George’s Caye Day (A Caye here is like a Key island in the States, as in the Florida Keys.) Longtime Expats living here tell me that September is to Belizeans what December is to Americans, a long and happy holiday season. Of course, Christmas season in this very Christian country will be much celebrated here in throughout December as well.

Meantime, I can tell you that when Belizeans celebrate and party, it’s a Wingding of a large time had by young and old.

MORE POSTCARD PIX FROM BELIZE BELOW AND GOD BLESS BELIZE.

AND GRACE & PEACE & GOD BLESS YOU TOO, AMERICA—YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW GOOD, ALL IN ALL, YOU HAVE IT.

THESE SILLY LITTLE GIRLS HERE IN THE VILLAGE COME UP TO MY PORCH GIGGLING A COUPLE OF TIMES A WEEK WHEN I’M ON THE PORCH WRITING AND SELL ME THE COCONUT SEED SWEET TREATS THAT THEIR MAMAS MAKE AND SELL, 4 FOR 50 U.S. CENTS. THESE LITTLE TREATS CONTAIN ENOUGH SUGAR FOR EXPORT TO WHOLE COUNTRIES, BUT BOY, ARE THEY TASTY.

HA! GOTCHA, GIRLS! THEY ALWAYS HIDE WHEN I TRY TO TAKE THEIR PICTURE BUT WEREN’T QUICK ENOUGH FOR MR. PAUL THIS TIME!

AND YOU GOT-TA GOT-TA HAVE SOUL RIGHT NOW, LIKE THE FABULOUS BUCKINGHAMS FROM MY ERA

FUN SONG, HUH? LET’S DO IT AGAIN! THIS TIME WITH THE FABULOUS ROY HEAD AND THE TRAITS OF HOUSTON, TEXAS, A BAND I DANCED TO MANY A SATURDAY NIGHT IN THE DANCE HALLS OF MY MISPENT YOUTH!

THIS LITTLE DITTY TAKES ME BACK TO THE SATURDAY NIGHTS AT THE DANCE HALL AT PRAIRIE HILL, TEXAS, IN THE SIXITES, WITH ROY HEAD AND THE TRAITS DISTURBING THE PRAIRIE HILL VILLAGE’S PEACE. IT WAS THE MOST DANGEROUS DANCE HALL IN TEXAS AND ROY HEAD AND THE TRAITS WERE THE MOST DANGEROUS BAND THIS SIDE OF THE ROLLING STONES.

BUT THEN, THERE WAS ALSO ARTESIAN PARK AND ITS WILD DANCE HALL IN NEARBY BRENHAM, TEXAS, WHERE GREAT TEXAS ROCK BANDS ALSO PROVIDED THE DANCE AND STOMP MUSIC NEAR MY HOMETOWN.

LARGE TIMES WERE HAD BY ALL THERE.

HAPPY TRAILS TO YOU FROM ANOTHER LONELY BELIZEAN ROAD IN FAR WESTERN BELIZE AND BTW—JUST OVER THIS ROAD HERE IN CLARISSA FALLS –THAT’S THE SUN SETTING OVER BEAUTIFUL GUATEMALA WHERE I TRAMPED AROUND SOME YESTERDAY IN THE CHARMING AND QUITE NICE BORDER TOWN OF MELCHOR, GUATEMALA. POSTCARDS PIX OF MELCHOR COMING SOON HERE AT JITTERBUGGINGFORJESUS.COM, WHICH IS LIKE A BOX OF MIGHTY FINE GUATEMALAN CHOCOLATES–YOU JUST NEVER KNOW WHAT YOUR GONNA GET.

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