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Archive for March, 2013

The Rev. Angus Jaime serving communion to his flock at First Methodist Church, Belmopan, Belize. He also serves the First Methodist Church in Hattiesburg, a 45-minute or so drive down the road.

The Rev. Angus Jaime serving communion to his flock at First Methodist Church, Belmopan, Belize. He also serves the First Methodist Church in Hattiesburg, a 45-minute or so drive down the road.

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early… and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved… and they went toward the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first… but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb… Then the other disciple also went in, and he saw and believed. (John 20:1-8)

On that Easter Day all those years ago–and for many days thereafter, the witnesses to the Big Event were shaken to their spiritual bones, and happily so after absorbing the shock of it.

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Then, the rapidly expanding masses of witnesses kept changing the world with their total willingness to die for something way greater than themselves.

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Hope you had a happy and blessed and holy Easter.

Here’s a few more Easter morning postcards for you. . . .

With Pastor Angus greeting the worshipers.

With Pastor Angus greeting the worshipers.

No such thing as separation of church and state in Belize--the government pays the salaries of teachers  but church denominations build and oversee the schools. First Methodist is building a high school behind the church. A lot of volunteers work teams, including a number from the Houston area, have been involved in the building campaign.

No such thing as separation of church and state in Belize–the government pays the salaries of teachers but church denominations build and oversee the schools. First Methodist is building a high school behind the church. A lot of volunteers work teams, including a number from the Houston area, have been involved in the building campaign.

And here’s a few more roadside pix taken along the way back home. . . .

Road the bike--ok, I mostly pushed it about halfway across when it started really, really swinging--across this river swing bridge to see what was on the other side; and there wasn't much except pretty horses who had the good sense to cool it in the shade of the riverside trees.

Road the bike–ok, I mostly pushed it about halfway across when it started really, really swinging–across this river swing bridge to see what was on the other side; and there wasn’t much except pretty horses who had the good sense to cool it in the shade of the riverside trees.

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The Freedom House Prison Fellowship for parolees. It's run by a retired United Methodist pastor from New Mexico, my friend the Rev. Raymond Keene. Folks at the Freedom House told me Pastor Ray was in Belize City with his family today. He and his wife came to Belize for mission work for three years, years ago, and adopted two Belizean children who grew up and now live in Belize, where Raymond and his wife retired to two years ago to be near the kids and grandkids. He and Pastor Angus are good friends, and two very gentle and compassionate souls.

The Freedom House Prison Fellowship for parolees. It’s run by a retired United Methodist pastor from New Mexico, my friend the Rev. Raymond Keene. Folks at the Freedom House told me Pastor Ray was in Belize City with his family today. He and his wife came to Belize for mission work for three years, years ago, and adopted two Belizean children who grew up and now live in Belize, where Raymond and his wife retired to two years ago to be near the kids and grandkids. He and Pastor Angus are good friends, and two very gentle and compassionate souls.

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OK, Mama will bear that load too.

OK, Mama will bear that load too.

Too much for Mom so she dumps them to come back later for them. Helper is determined to help and goes back to fetch for Mama.

Too much for Mom so she dumps them to come back later for them. Helper is determined to help and goes back to fetch for Mama.

I know I can I know I can . . .

I know I can I know I can . . .

I can . . . .

I can . . . .

Maybe I can??? A Good Samaritan on a motorcycle finally came to their rescue.

Maybe I can??? A Good Samaritan on a motorcycle finally came to their rescue.

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Rambling thoughts on Summa This and Summa That from here in bright, cool, sunny San Ignacio, Belize where I think I’ll pass on riding that giant Ferris Wheel the Belizean carnies have erected for the Easter Weekend Fair

It’s a really, really rusty-looking ride in the light of day and as adventurous as I am I ain’t that adventurous.

Goldie and Deanie McKay didn’t raise no fool.

Mentioned yesterday that I was reading Graham Greene's theological masterpiece of a novel The Power and the Glory. I believe God reveals himself to me, and to us, in books that are as unconventional and unorthodox as Greene's  great book, always described as a "Catholic" novel but I see it  simply as powerful novel about the unlikely ways that God works in our lives--even in the life of the main character, a "whiskey" priest who fathered a child in a brief but total fall he couldn't escape anymore than he could escape Mexican authorities who wanted to kill him and the church in Mexico. The book got him in trouble with the church--until the interesting Pope at the time gave it and Greene his blessing. Interesting popes occasionally happen, proving once again that there is a God of miracles large and small.

Mentioned yesterday that I was reading Graham Greene’s theological masterpiece of a novel The Power and the Glory. I believe God reveals himself to me, and to us, in books that are as unconventional and unorthodox as Greene’s great book, always described as a “Catholic” novel but I see it simply as powerful novel about the unlikely ways that God works in our lives–even in the life of the main character, a “whiskey” priest who fathered a child in a brief but total fall he couldn’t escape anymore than he could escape Mexican authorities who wanted to kill him and the church in Mexico. The book got him in trouble with the church–until the interesting Pope at the time gave it and Greene his blessing. Interesting popes occasionally happen, proving once again that there is a God of miracles large and small.

I love to read the Bible and read it every day, sometimes a lot, but I don’t worship the Bible.

I worship the God that the Bible points to.

* * * *

And speaking of the Holy Book . . . .

God is revealed in the Bible so yes, the Bible is the major revelation from God.

But I have never believed that God reveals God’s self to us only in the Bible.

I believe that God reveals and has revealed God’s self in all kinds of ways to me–in music, in movies, in photography, in books and in all kinds of creative arts, not to mention revelation through nature and relationships with people and some who may not even believe in God at all. (Many of my friends don’t and for a long lot of years I didn’t believe in God myself, or maybe I just thought I didn’t believe.)

I have felt close to God in hearing Mozart, in hearing the sad beauty of taps played at a military funeral, in stroking dogs I’ve loved, in Rolling Stones music. (Jagger was on to something theologically profound about the latent evil in us all when, in “Sympathy For the Devil,” he wrote and sang, “when after all–it was you and me” who killed the Kennedys, among other lyrics in that classic rock song.)

* * * *

I always feel close to God when I hear John Lennon’s dreamy song about a real dream he had. “Dream No. 9” feels as holy as a classic hymn or spiritual to me and that is God revealing God’s self to me in what some might think is too unorthodox or unconventional.

But anybody who thinks God is a “conventional” or stiff-minded, orthodox, mind-controlling authoritarian being is probably fine with trying to control and wield authority over your mind, your religion, your politics, your very personhood.

All in all they see God as creating so many more bricks in the wall and they want to be the bricklayers.

One who sees God as totally orthodox or somehow “conventional” or some kind of “mainstream” God is missing one of the greatest attributes of God, which is unlimited creativity.

Or doesn’t understand that God can reveal Himself/Herself totally and wholly in the arresting smile or sweetness of a baby’s breath, or for that matter, a pet dog, a good horse, a cat’s meow.

In my book, what a gorgeous and holy song this is from one of God’s genuinely creative Originals:

This Holy Weekend is a good time for stopping and getting still and taking stock of one’s life and, where necessary, making amendments to one’s moral, emotional, mental and even the physical constitution with more exercise.

All of which is connected to one’s spiritual constitution.

All of which can be changed, transformed, amended for a better, healthier life, which always begins with a healthy spiritual life which always involves greater self awareness–getting clarity on what’s good for you in your life and what’s not, realizing what still works for you and what you might need to finally release for your own good.

Amending your “constitution,” so to speak, doesn’t require a two-thirds or 50 percent majority vote from others.

In fact, the last people you want amending you and your very personhood are other people, most of whom find safety and security in conformity and therefore go with what’s trendy (especially on Facebook), who go with what’s fashionable or cool or really “in” and “hot” this week, what’s politically or religiously correct this week.

These are the very people worried about keeping up with the proverbial Joneses.

The big probably with that is . . . .

God didn’t create us to be a bunch of Joneses.

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[NOTE: Your favorite blawger in his posting on Maundy Thursday yesterday cited scriptures that he meant to attribute to John 13: 1, or 1-2, and other portions of John 13, and stoopidly and inaccurately cited them as being from John 1–an indication that he was suffering from an enormous brain toot or just plain sloppy self-editing. Yesterday’s posting has been edited with some corrections, better late than never.]

Christ died on the cross on "Holy Friday," or what came to be known in Christian theology and tradition as "Good Friday."

Christ died on the cross on “Holy Friday,” or what came to be known in Christian theology and tradition as “Good Friday.”


Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry magazine, was diagnosed with a rare and incurable form of blood cancer years ago.

Here’s Wiman, who has been intimate with suffering, on “Why I am a Christian”:

“I’m a Christian not because of the resurrection . . . and not because I think Christianity contains more truth than other religions . . . and not simply because it was the religion in which I was raised (this has been a high barrier).

“I am a Christian because of that moment on the cross when Jesus, drinking the very dregs of human bitterness, cries out, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”

“The point is that he felt human destitution to its absolute degree; the point is that God is with us, not beyond us, in suffering.”

——

Me, I would say I’m a Christian for the same reasons as Wiman and his take that Christ felt our “human destitution” to the Nth degree; his belief that God is in solidarity with us in our human pain and suffering here and now–that God is with us and not just “beyond us.”

However, I would say that I am a Christian both because of the resurrection and because of Christ walking with us through or darkest valleys of pain and suffering, sharing the weight of the crosses we bear.

And here’s a few more random thoughts as to reasons, I suppose, that I define and identify myself as a Christian:

I’m a Christian because I see the “atonement” as “at-one-ment”–as God in Christ being “at one” with us in the inevitable pain and suffering of life. But also because I believe in new life and all the theology and symbolism of the resurrection.

To me the resurrection isn’t just about life after death and anyway, even Paul himself referred to resurrection from death after the heart stops as “a mystery.”

The resurrection is about the transformation of, say, a bitter and hateful hurt into a new and loving and kind and compassionate heart–in this life. A Klansman who once inflicted pain and suffering on people of color can find himself resurrected with new life on this side of the Kingdom of Heaven, growing into the sort of Christian who fights against the evil of racism. Such transformations from evil to good–such resurrections–such seeming miracles--can, and do, occur.

This too is why I’m a Christian–miracles of all kinds are all around us. We’re too blind to see or, sometimes, to recognize them for what they are.

* * * *

God presents us with all kinds of “new” lives and rebirths–and second chances if not more chances it may take to be truly “born again” into something good and kind and gentle, compassionate and understanding, tolerant, and liberated from of the burdens of slavery to wrongdoing and immoralities and untruths and phoniness of all kinds.

I’m a Christian because I believe in the Christian concept of redemption.

I’m a Christian because I see God as being on the side of grace, on the side of forgiveness, mercy and all those second and third chances.

* * * *

Here’s another reason:

I’m a Christian because I believe Christ gives us hope and refreshes us, running counter to all kinds of cynicism. (I like to think of myself as a “tamed cynic.” For sure, it’s a battle sometimes to keep the cynic in me from going wild though.)

Hope, I’ve come to see after all these years, is always fresh, while cynicism becomes stale and dry in a hurry.

It’s probably why I hate the cynicism in others so much.

I can do cynical with the big boys of cynicism.

I was a reporter, for God’s sake.

* * * *

I’m a Christian because I see God’s grace as being averse to every form of destruction–averse to war, poverty, racism, intolerance, greed and exploitation of humans in all its terrible forms.

I’m a Christian because I see God as being on the side of all that is constructive and good.

God is love. God is grace.

Nothing about love and grace can possibly be destructive.

Love and grace can only be uplifting and life-giving; love and grace can’t possibly be about tearing down and destroying.

That said, humans and even way too many Christian humans–granted–have torn down and destroyed in the name of God. No Christian can deny the dark side of the church and Christians throughout history.

But then, all human beings can be just as attracted to darkness as to light, whether believers or not believers, Christians or non-Christians.

We all have the light and the darkness, the evil and the good within us, and battles between the two are usually being waged within our hearts and, if nowhere else, in our subconscious minds.

As I always say and always will–we’re all saints and sinners, all broken people in need of God’s endless love, grace and tender mercies.

Graham Greene’s masterpiece of a “Catholic” novel, The Power and the Glory, which I’m reading, has a cruel police lieutenant determined to wipe out every priest and every trace of Christianity in southern Mexico. (It’s based on history from the last century, BTW, and many of the characters based on real priests and real Mexican authorities who tried to wipe out Christianity and Catholicism.) This evil policeman makes it his mission in life to find and destroy the last priest in southern Mexico and kills one person from every village he rides into trying to flush out the “whiskey priest” he’s chasing down.

And yet this evil policeman gives a little money at one point to that very priest–whom he doesn’t recognize from a previous encounter in a village–as an act of charity to a man he believes to be harmless and down on his luck.

Greene’s great novel–on everybody’s list of one of the best novels of the last century (including the late and great American literary giant and Christian John Updike–makes the point in powerful ways that there really is good and evil, and somewhere a sinner and somewhere a saint, within us all.

* * * *

The Christian cross is not a reminder that God inflicts suffering or pain or misery on us, because God doesn’t inflict suffering or death on anybody (my italics for emphasis).

I for one would want nothing to do with that kind of monster God.

The point is that God walks with us through all our darkest valleys of grief and pain and suffering. God is in solidarity with us in our struggles in life.

For sure, pain and suffering and evil are all parts of life. But people (even Christians!) tend to rush to judgment of God when a child falls from a tree and dies, asking what kind of God could even allow such a horror.

But no one questions the law of gravity in the living, breathing, natural world that God created–complete with natural laws of the universe.

Theology 101 has it that the law of gravity won’t be suddenly and divinely reversed to save a child’s life.

And then there’s the judgment against the horrible God who allows a child, let us say hypothetically, to be run over by a drunk driver. But it’s not God who makes a choice to drive drunk and puts the lives of children and everyone else at risk. A driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol, who kills a child, has made a tragic choice in his or her free will–free will being the gift or the curse to make our own decisions and choices, and then to live with our decisions and choices.

God created us as humans who can make choices; He/She didn’t create us as puppets dangling from a divine string–or as so many robots being remotely controlled from on High.

So bad things will happen even to good people and the Christian cross symbolizes the fact that whatever bad and awful things we suffer, God feels and has felt through the bloody, tortured body of Christ in the flesh.

With that I’m in 100 percent agreement with Christian Wiman, the editor of Poetry magazine who has known pain and suffering all too well, up close and personal.

But I would have to say I’m a Christian also because of the resurrection. And I would agree with Wiman that I’m not a Christian because I believe Christianity holds all the truths about life and God and that, therefore, other religions are just wrong and contain none of God’s real truth(s).

All the major faiths bring something illuminating and enriching to the table.

* * * *

None of of what I’ve said here is anything like a definitive reason as to why I’m a Christian, but rather all that I’ve said here says something about the reason(s) I am a Christian.

I suppose if pressed to put it succinctly I would say I’m a Christian because I see God as love, and love is all you need.

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[Note: In what can only be attributed a brain toot or lack of an editor to clean up my blog copy or plain old slopping writing, the original posting of this contained errors in citing scriptures from John 13, referring wrongly to John 1. This version below has been corrected as well as some misprints and typos cleaned up. Dang me, dang me. — Your Jitterbug blawger.]

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that

    the hour had come

for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world,

    he loved them to the end.

— John 13:1

A Belizean worshiper resting her feet at the Catholic Church in San Ignacio. Today is “Maundy Thursday,” when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.

Here are some thoughts on this “Maundy Thursday” (also called “Holy Thursday” in Holy Week) about living on B.T. (Belizean Time), and thoughts on Jesus’s Earth Time and his Eternal Time, too.

Click here for more on what the churches that observe the Christian church calendar call “Maundy Thursday.”

Or, you might click here for a United Church of Christ preacher’s take from The Huffington Post.

Or, you might check out the example set by Pope Francis, who keeps leading Christians and others on the radical Christ love thing by impressive examples in the manner of Christ–he who washed the feet of disciples and said, according to John 13, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (And this just in: the pope later washed the feet of a woman prisoner who is a Muslim.)

Every day, when I walk the one-mile plus to the “centro” area of San Ignacio for my morning papaya fix, I drift over to the town’s nice and very nice “Welcome Center” to sit on a bench at the amphitheater there and take time to savor the sweet, nourishing taste of the fruit.

(Taking real time to taste real food as opposed to grabbing and eating junky or unhealthy food can be a spiritual practice and one that I commend to you, gentle reader.)

Sometimes after my meditation time savoring the succulent tropical fruit, I drift over to the benches where the bus riders are waiting for their transportation and do some people watching, or chat with the friendly natives, or greet and meet some of the tourists who are often found anxiously shaking their legs as they sit, or moving about with the stressed-out urgency of travelers. The Belizeans are usually sitting around talking with one another or just sitting and being fully in the present moment, as Belizeans tend to do.

The present moment, BTW, is where Christ lived so fully and called us to live. Life is not about living for tomorrow or living in so many yesterdays, but rather living in the eternal now–in this Holy moment in time, free of anxiety and stress. (Matt. 6: 25-34)

Belizeans are pretty good at living in the present moment, which isn’t to say they don’t sometimes live life with the intensity and urgency with which we all have to live much of the time.

What’s more, I have to note that when the bus pulls up, it’s every man and woman for himself getting on board and grabbing a seat so that you don’t end up standing, as can happen on a bus with a seating capacity of 60 and 80 travelers are packed together like matches in a box.

And then, there’s the cell phones. Like everybody else in the world now, Belizeans have their cells complete and many are eaten up with obsessive texting and “social networking.” If you can call “texting” or Facebooking being “social”–as in being engaged in real conversation and being in community with live human beings. (If you like today’s posting, BTW, gimme a “like” at my FB page, you my “friend” who I may never “know.”)

Still–Belizeans are pretty good at sitting and being still and going with the flow even of an overflowing bus. And as for phoning and texting–it costs them money to buy calling and texting time and money is a hard thing for Belizeans to come by.

The feet will get weary in Belize: Here a 14 y.o. boy pushes his vendor cart uphill  to level ground where he can pedal it.

The feet will get weary in Belize: Here a 14 y.o. boy pushes his vendor cart uphill to level ground where he can pedal it.

Across the street from the bus stop, workers have been constructing a massive, two-story, cinder-block building that I’m guessing will be completed in another month or so. I don’t know how many times since the building started going up that I have asked Belizeans around the area near the market–where you would think somebody would know–what the building is going to be.

This morning I raised the question to a group of around ten people clustered at the bus stop, asking if anybody knows what the building will be and, of course, nobody could say because they don’t know.

But there was this one Belizean lady who sort of shrugged and said, “We’ll know in time.”

That is so Belizean. It’s as if she said, “We’ll know what the building is going to be when the hour has come and it’s obvious to us.”

In the meantime, this lady and the other Belizeans have what may or may not be a crowded bus to catch and it’ll probably be here in 20 minutes or so and in the meantime sit on a bench and relax till you get on the bus and then just relax and enjoy the ride, whether you’re sitting or standing. You’ll get where you’re going eventually.

You, after all, are living on B.T. — Belizean Time.

One sees a lot of washing the entire body in public  in the more shallow holy waters of Belize.

One sees a lot of washing the entire body in public in the more shallow holy waters of Belize.

Those of a certain age will remember the poppy, radio-friendly hit song of the sixties in which Chicago sang, “Does anybody reality know what time it is? Does anybody really care.”

The lyrics of the song–a tune that I could hardly abide but one that was so catchy and poppy and remains so popular an “oldie” that Jesus himself probably can’t get it out of his head as much as he might like to–goes on to say, “We’ve all got time enough to die.”

So OK. The song does make a point that yes, time–in the big scheme of things–ain’t worth all the rushing around and stressing ourselves about in trying to beat the clock every waking minute of the day. Life is too short, too precious, to be, as Jesus said, “anxious for tomorrow, as to what you shall eat, what you shall put on, nor as to what you shall wear.”

In his E.T. (Earth Time), Jesus certainly made his plans at times, the big plan calling for his getting himself to the right places for Passover time appointments.

But Jesus mostly lived wholly and fully in the wild and wonderful freedom of the present moment, always willing to stop and listen to somebody, to heal somebody, to fully feel compassion for others as when he looked out at the 5,000 weary people in front of him and fed them with loaves and fish.

Christ our Lord loved his disciples and everybody else as if every soul on earth were one of the Trinitarian God’s own children.

He loved them all “to the end.”

A Western couple on B.T., down by the riverside.

A Western couple on B.T., down by the riverside.

This living Christ in his Earth Time so loved his disciples that he–a King and a Master like no other earthly King or Master who ever lived–took off his outer clothing, wrapped a towel around his waist, poured clean, clear water into a basin and–Holy Moly!–washed the feet of his witless disciples as one more act and sign of his endless, radical and timeless love. It was, after all, about time for his bus, if you will, to take him Home–“to leave this world and go to the Father” even though he loved those in this world in his time here “to the end,” as John 13: 1 reminds us.

On that Holy Thursday night in the Upper Room, when he finished washing even the feet of his known betrayer Judas, he told the disciples, “Now that I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”

He gave us the example for serving and loving each and every soul as if it were the soul of one of our own children or grandchildren and we can’t help but fall short in our brokenness.

Washing the feet of our children and loved ones is one thing. Washing the feet of juvenile prisoners as Pope Francis did today is, for most of us, not something we’re inclined to do no matter how much we purport to love Jesus. Our pride blocks our inclination to be that loving and that humble.

And yet over time, with spiritual growth that comes from spiritual disciplines like Bible reading with time to meditate and reflect on the Word and internalize it–with spiritual growth that comes from prayer time, worshiping and other Christian disciplines–we do find ourselves plenty capable of transforming our restless, pride-filled hearts and letting our pride-filled guards down and engaging the other.

Over earth-bound time–even in this minute in time–the gift of God that is supreme grace can transform even a bitter and hate-filled heart into the love-filled heart that this world needs and needs now and every holy-made day.

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The cure of the soul begins with a sense of embarrassment, embarrassment at our pettiness, prejudices, envy and conceit; embarrassment at the profanation of life. A word that is full of grandeur has been converted into a carnival.”

I’ve noted before here, more than once, that in my seminary years, one of the biggest influences in figuring out my own personal theology and in writing my seminary-required “Credo”–what I believe about all things God and the all-important why I believe it–was the body of work written by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.

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Rabbi Heschel’s scholarly but quite readable book–and all his books are deep and scholarly but quite readable– The Prophets helped me to discover and appreciate the Old Testament prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah and Amos and all the rest, and to understand how Rabbi Jesus stood and spoke and acted in that prophetic tradition. One finds Jesus quoting or referring to the prophets of old throughout our Christian gospels.

In observance not only of Holy Week but also of Passover–and you can learn more about Jewish Passover, which begins Tuesday night, by clicking here to Judaism 1010–below you’ll find a few excerpts culled from another of the great Rabbi Heschel’s more popular books, Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity. The excerpts below are from his essay on “Existence and Celebration.”

And you can learn more about Rabbi Heschel–who was quite a tough-minded prophet and social critic himself and one who famously marched arm-in-arm with the prophetic Dr. MLK Jr. at Selma–by clicking here.

Shalom, my many Jewish friends out there.

“Man is too great to be fed upon uninspiring pedestrian ideals. We have adjusted our ideals to our stature, instead of attempting to the level of ideals. The ceiling of aspiration is too low: a car, color television, and life insurance. Modern man has royal power and plebeian ideals.”

* * * *

“Judaism is spiritual effrontery. The tragedy is that there is disease and starvation all over the world, and we are building more luxurious hotels in Las Vegas. Social dynamics are no substitute for moral responsibility.

* * * *

“The most urgent task is to destroy the myth that accumulation of wealth and the achievement of comfort are the chief vocations of man. How can adjustment to society be an inspiration to our youth if that society persists in squandering the material resources of the world on luxuries in a world where more than a billion people go to bed every night? How can we speak of reverence for man and of the belief that all men are created equal without repenting the way we promote the vulgarization of existence?’

* * * *

“What the world needs is a sense of ultimate embarrassment. Modern man has the power and the wealth to overcome property and disease, but he has no wisdom to overcome suspicion. We are guilty of misunderstanding the mean of our existence. . . Our thinking is behind the times.”

* * * *

“The tyranny of conformity tends to deprive man of his inner identify, of his ability to stand still in the midst of flux, to remain a person in the midst of a crowd. Thus the threat to modern man is loss of personhood, vanishing of identity, sinking into anonymity, not knowing who he is, whence and where he goes.”

* * * *

“Who is a Jew? A person who knows how to recall and to keep alive what is holy in our people’s past and to cherish the promise and the vision of redemption in the days to come.”
———-

And here is wishing you Christian readers a holy and blessed Holy Week.

candles

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Passion is a kind of waiting–waiting for what other people are going to do.

Jesus went to Jerusalem to announce the good news to the people of that city. And Jesus knew that he was going to put a choice before them: Will you be my disciple, or will you be my executioner?

There is no middle ground here.

Jesus went to Jerusalem to put people in a situation where they had to say “Yes” or “No.” That is the great drama of Jesus’ passion: he had to wait upon how people were going to respond. How would they come? To betray him or to follow him? In a way, his agony is not simply the agony of approaching death. It is also the agony of having to wait.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, Action to Passion

PalmClent.preview

A couple of Palm Sunday thoughts in what has been our journey here since Ash Wednesday toward Jerusalem:

1. As the priest and spiritual writer Henri Nouwen put it in the quote above, Jesus could only wait in agony for the responses in Jerusalem.

He’s waits this day and every day for us to make our choices, to mark our ballot in the “Yes” or “No” box.

Christ Jesus is nothing if not endlessly but agonizingly patient, waiting for us to do right by him and follow.

2. In our sinfulness–in our constant distancing of ourselves from God, in our constant attempts to be the gods over our own lives, in our constant creation and worship of golden calves and false idols of all kinds–we choose to betray Jesus rather than follow him all the way to the end of the journey in Jerusalem. More often than not, we choose, with every bad choice we make, to nail those precious hands a little deeper into the wood. In a sense, we choose to be participants in the execution even if we don’t want to be or don’t mean to be.

“I do the very things I wish not to do,” said the devout follower Paul the Apostle.

3. The good news is that Christ Jesus does wait that endless wait for us to come around and follow him without our counting the cost in our sacrificial living. Let’s be mindful in this Holy Week–which does have some dark days and nights in it–that being on the road with Christ is an adventure that’s worth the hard twists and turns and sometimes dark and rocky pathways.

For sure, we can’t always see where we’re going and can only follow our worthy shepherd on faith alone.

But here’s more good news: The trekking leads ultimately to a better, joy-filled and glorious life, regardless of the slippery slopes and hard knocks and moonless nights when we simply trust that the shepherd will show The Way.

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Reunited with the McKay bloods of my blood back in Texas: Old hippie dad with his son Adam McKay (an Iraq War veteran/Marine) and  youngest daughter Megan McKay, she who is getting married in October. Americans will want to lock their doors the week of that McKay wedding wingding. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Reunited with the McKay bloods of my blood back in Texas: Old hippie dad with his son Adam McKay (an Iraq War veteran/Marine) and youngest daughter Megan McKay, she who is getting married in October. Americans will want to lock their doors the week of that McKay wedding wingding. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Another McKay blood free spirit: 1 year old Rhys Rodriguez, your favorite blawger's youngest blood (grandsons div.)  has already mastered skateboarding. He'll thrive in Belize, the land of free-spirited adventurists like him and PawPaw.

Another McKay blood free spirit: 1 year old Rhys Rodriguez, your favorite blawger’s youngest blood (grandsons div.) has already mastered skateboarding. He’ll thrive in Belize, the land of free-spirited adventurists like him and PawPaw.

Ditto Trey Rodriguez, 10, Rhys's big bro. Both the bloods celebrated their March birthdays when I was on the Magical Mystery Tour of Texas.

Ditto Trey Rodriguez, 10, Rhys’s big bro. Both the bloods celebrated their March birthdays when I was on the Magical Mystery Tour of Texas.

So you didn’t think your favorite blawger was gonna come back from two weeks of his Magical Mystery Tour in the greatest nation on earth, Texas Our Texas, without some family postcards, did you?

Birthday boys having a large time.

Birthday boys having a large time.

Scattered below are some of the family postcards and some random stuff about some of this and some of that for you too, starting with a blurb about Francis Ford Coppola, who’s a Belizean-American. Which means he owns many hammocks and drinks lots of the National Beer of Belize.

His Greatness the totally original, supremely creative adventurist Francis Ford Coppola. He and I share a lot in common: both live in Belize (he in Belize among other places on the globe), we both like the National Beer of Belize, and both eat organically grown tropical fruit a lot. Really about the only difference between me and him is, he has more money than God. You might say he's the Godfather of dough. I'm a poor boy from Navasota, Texas who has to budget his national beer money down here.

His Greatness the totally original, supremely creative adventurist Francis Ford Coppola. He and I share a lot in common: both live in Belize(he in Belize among other places on the globe), both like the National Beer of Belize, and both eat organically grown tropical fruit a lot. Really about the only difference between me and him is, he has more money than God. You might say he’s the Godfather of dough. I’m a poor boy from Navasota, Texas who has to budget his national beer money down here.

Here’s a quote from His Greatness the film director-turned-winermaker and first-class Belizean resort maker Francis Ford Coppola on his first trip to Belize way back when (1981). He’s talked often about how he fell in love with Belize and loves it still. That happens–it’s a very seductive country to a lot of us who, for whatever reason, get swept away by this weird, original, confounding, peaceful and friendly Eden of a country.

Then, dear reader, after reading the following quote from Coppola about his first trip to Belize and the deadly, Belizean habanero pepper that almost killed him (hebaneros are lethal to anyone but a native-born Belizean), click here for the whole brief interview with one of the world’s master filmmakers. (or was that before he totally lost his movie-making mojo because of his many “enthusiasms,”) from “Bon Appetit.”

“For some reason in 1981–I don’t know why he was there but one of the helicopter pilots from Apocalypse Now had come with us [to Belize]. And he had a buddy who was another military guy, but he was dressed up as a Scottish piper. We went to visit all of these gentlemen who were the first officials of the new government and they were very hospitable and we had dinner with them and they were telling me about the habanero pepper and, “Oh, this is the hottest pepper in the world!” You know, I like spicy foods, so I said, “Oh, that’s nothing to me.” And I picked up one of these things and threw it in my mouth and chewed on it. And the expression on these faces–they looked at me with such astonishment like, “My God, does he realize what he’s doing?” Then it hit me. This is an unbelievably hot pepper and I just screamed out and looked to get some water. They all looked at me like, “We told you so.”

Click here for a look at one of the divine Coppola resorts, definitely not in this Belizean-Texan’s budget.

Adam carries his Marine love on his sizable bicep.

Adam carries his Marine love on his sizable bicep.

On a sadder and serious note, speaking of Marines, the accident that killed seven of them in Nevada seemed to me to receive scant news coverage with all the political wars in D.C. and the usual celebrity news dominating the news.

Click here for their profiles and send up prayers for them and those hurting love ones of theirs. Hard to imagine how hard it must be for those families.

Belize: Some of the prettiest birds in God's fabulous creation. Photo by Joe Schelling at the blog "Natural Moments."

Belize: Some of the prettiest birds in God’s fabulous creation. Photo by Joe Schelling at the blog “Natural Moments.”

And back here in Belize . . . .

If you like birds, butterflies and pretty pictures–and longtimers of the Jitterbug Cult know that your cult leader likes nature and pretty pictures a lot, click here for some pretty Belizean pix at this blog site from photographer Joe Schelling that I stumbled upon.

Good stuff.

A word to the wise: Free your mind, body, spirit and soul--and always dive fearlessly into your birthday cake like baby Rhys did on his first birthday wingding.

A word to the wise: Free your mind, body, spirit and soul–and always dive fearlessly into your birthday cake like baby Rhys did on his first birthday wingding.

With Mama Amy: It's a laugh a minute with baby childs. (Then again, laughing can turn to crying in a minute which is when the grandparents call in Mama or Papa.)

With Mama Amy: It’s a laugh a minute with baby childs. (Then again, laughing can turn to crying in a minute which is when the grandparents call in Mama or Papa.)

And birthday boy with Papa Jorge.

And birthday boy with Papa Jorge.

Good luck catching a 10 year old in repose on his birthday. This picture taken of Trey-Hey sitting down must have been taken by accident.

Good luck catching a 10 year old in repose on his birthday. This picture taken of Trey-Hey sitting down must have been taken by accident.

Been posting today over lunch from Hode’s fabulous Bar & Grill in San Ignacio (click here and also see here), where they just started playing Lionel Ritchie music. This is a sure sign that it’s time for me to pay out and get my motor running.

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Grace & Peace from Belize

Grace & Peace from Belize

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