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Archive for July, 2013

Speaking of Senators . . .  Here's a followup on--gad--the abortion issue that I touched on yesterday with a mention of my Texas Senators, who never let me forget how Christian and high-minded they are in protecting life. Sometimes our "leaders" make me wanna holla.

Speaking of Senators . . . Here’s a followup on–gad–the abortion issue that I touched on yesterday with a mention of my Texas Senators, who never let me forget how Christian and high-minded they are in protecting life. Sometimes our “leaders” make me wanna holla.

So now that I waded into abortion I’ll wade deeper and say that as pro-life as I am, or strive to be, I’m for legalized abortions, if only because they keep abortions safe, contrary to what unhinged Texas politicians might say about abortion and women’s clinics in Texas.

So totally unhinged are these Texas boys that my former Congressman from when I lived in The Colony, Texas, Michael Burgess, is so desperate to sway public opinion against abortion that he, in his twisted and dark mind, somehow sees fetuses masturbating in their mothers’ wombs.

And this poor excuse of a national leader (and, sadly, poor excuse of a Texan) is a physician, an OB/GYN, no less.

Thank God this masturbation of which he speaks is done in the privacy of wombs; masturbation in public is against the law and public masturbation is not something that I or most people of polite society ever want to see.

This stuff would be laughable if not so utterly serious.

* * * *

Look, I’m personally for legal abortions.

But I’m also–and please stop and let this sink it before you send your hate mail to revpaulmckay@gmail.com–for making abortion and war–both abortion and war–as rare as we can possibly make them.

And now read this: I am also for Christians and churches stepping up and leading the way in making violence in wombs, or our own violence against living, breathing humans in distant countries, rare in ways that Christians and churches seem never to have the Christian will to do.

* * * *

In yesterday’s posting I called for a “National Day of Confession, Mourning and Prayer” for all the innocent pregnant women and the children and others that we Americans kill, maim or traumatize, every day, with our own weapons of mass destruction.

I published that yesterday knowing there’s not a chance that my Senators would push legislation for such a day, and in the process of posting it I actually aimed to underscore how cynical and hypocritical our politicians can be in bombing and brutalizing people around the world without a hint of remorse over the children and pregnant women who get blown away.

You never hear politicians who are all for bombing, say, Iran, or North Korea, say how sad it is that innocent men, women, pregnant women and children will suffer and that we need to be in remorse and prayer over our killing people a long, long way from our up-close and personal witness to the horrors of our violence actions.

In fact, you hear politicians, and conservative media more than most media, stirring up that old “patriotic gore” (to borrow a phrase from Edmund Wilson’s classic book on the Civil War), which fans the flamingly un-Christian attitude of “bombing em back to the Stone Age and lettin’ God sort em out.”

Which makes me wonder, as much as I want to give the grace of the benefit of doubt to them, if these political leaders and war propagandists really care, as moral beings, about the consequences of their war-making and their constant calls for violence as the only real alternative to global conflicts and issues.

It also makes me wonder if they genuinely care about protecting pregnant women and babies and children at all.

Lord forgive my own cynicism but cynicism can be contagious when it’s so widespread and practiced as a matter of course by ignorant leaders (“you can’t get pregnant in rape,” they say) who are terribly insecure as people and, worse, insecure in the Christian faith of which they talk.

And talk and talk about.

Sometimes they make me wanna holla:

    “Shut up with your talk about your Christian faith! Show your Christian love and grace and peace and compassionate heart and good will toward all, will ya?” Show your trust and faith in God and your seeking real discernment through and from the God you yap about.

* * * *

And so . . .

I also knew that few Americans would support such a day of “Confession, Mourning and Prayer” anyway, including Christians, although I like to think I’m wrong about that.

(And never mind the issue of separation of church and state–we’ve already stomped all over that with acceptance of a “National Day of Prayer” in which political leaders get to knock down camera men to prove to us all just how genuinely pious and Christian they are! Jesus had something to say about that in Luke 18: 9-14; by all means take your bible and look it up if you don’t know the parable.)

When it comes to these hot-button issues, we all have our blind spots. We get so dug in to our positions that we can’t see our own hypocrisies or double-minded thinking.

So it is with the “disconnect” between protecting wombs here, and bombing wombs somewhere else, without much thought or remorse.

And I hasten to add here that, yes, I can be as hypocritical and blind as anybody else in my lousy but human condition.

* * * *

But here’s the thing. . . .

I’ve always called myself an “almost pacifist,” believing as I do that, on what should be rare occasions, war or violence really is a “necessary evil” in order to protect innocent and powerless people out of the Christian ethic of love of neighbor.

Even one of my faith heroes, Martin Luther King Jr.–who taught me and all of us so much and so well about the power of non-violent resistance in the manner of the non-violent Jesus–acknowledged that sometimes you have to stop a “mad man” running through the village to protect the innocent.

But Christians or anybody else waging war or killing without remorse and a heavy heart, in my own humble opinion, should take no kind of delight in it, patriotic or otherwise. I know what a release it can be to celebrate something like the killing of Osama Bin Laden, who, again in my humble opinion, had to be killed to spare us of so many other killings of so many innocents right here in my own country.

Perhaps even to the sparing of my own life and/or my loved ones, which could still be taken in a terrorist attack.

But I always come back to this . . . .

Me, personally, I just want war and abortion and all forms of violence to be as rare as we can make them–and want the Christian churches on almost every block in this “Christian nation” to lead the way in making anything that is destructive really, really rare.

What have you and I as a Christian–or your church or mine–done to aggressively, intentionally, help women and children and families in ways that will significantly make abortion rare and promote constructive lives and living for other people outside our churches?

It seems to me that these are the soul-searching questions we should be asking rather than arguing endlessly about whether abortion should be safe and legal or outlawed.

Why don’t we stop talking “pro-life” and stop making counter-productive laws that create more unhealthy lives and homes and hardships for women and for children and families while at the same time, as Christians, start really being the church of God’s endless love, endless grace and tender mercies?

That, to me, is our Christian challenge on abortion and so many other issues.

And with that, here’s some thoughts from other Texas native guys on this very matter of the challenge of abortion law and the church’s challenges:
This is a think piece I saved from the Christian wise man Marv Knox at The Baptist Standard, a Christian periodical I’ve mentioned here before that’s very much to my liking, as is Marv as a man–I’ve met him a few times know him to be a really nice and grace-filled man and fine journalist.

This if from Donald Miller, the Houston boy whose Christian evangelical book “Blue Like Jazz” is a spiritual classic. (Actually I posted this once before back in the spring.)

Both these fellow guys are on the same wave lengths as yours truly the ranting radical.

I’m off to the riverside for some radical Sabbath peace time now.

Grace and peace and Lord help us all.

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pro-life-full

Here’s a proposition, and a serious idea it is that I propose to my two, very powerful Texas Senators now working for all the Texas and American taxpayers–that would be my Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz–for their consideration, and for the consideration of all people of faith, especially fellow Christians, in my beloved America.

Let’s set a day we’ll call “A National Day of Confession, Prayer and Mourning in America”:

— for all God’s children-in-development, in women’s wombs around the world, who have been obliterated in mass numbers–along with their innocent mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters and other would-be loved ones–by our American drones, our other bombs that are of “shock and awe” proportion, and all sorts of our other high-tech weapons of our mass destruction that are given such massive financial support, and all too often too willingly, by we American taxpayers, who stand in serious need of a day of confession, mourning and prayer for our sins of misguided, unjust wars and military interventions all over God’s Creation;

— for all the innocent men, women and children–all of whom are God’s children created in the good image of God–who have been traumatized for the rest of their lives because they were near or around bombs that violently and so unexpectedly shook the earth, and obliterated or maimed so many multitudes of innocent people around them–including pregnant mothers;

— for all the killing and traumatizing of innocent people, inside and outside of wombs, that we have justified, or tried so hard to justify, with the detached language of “necessary evil” and “collateral damage”;

— for all this killing and traumatizing of innocents that we keep repeating daily, and need to stop and reflect upon, in a National Day of Confession, Mourning and Prayer;

in Christian grace, peace and good will, I call on my own Texas Senators Cornyn and Cruz to consider legislation calling for this kind of prayer day in America, and call on all Americans of all faiths and even those moral, high-minded and ethical people of no faith who value life, to come together on that special day for quiet reflection and meditation in America.

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“Blessed are the poor in spirit.” (Matthew 5: 3, the first of the Beatitudes in the opening of the Sermon on the Mount.)


(This is another in the continuing series of “Noon Wine” reflections on the poor and poverty.)

To be poor in spirit is to keep up with Christ, not "the Joneses."

To be poor in spirit is to keep up with Christ, not “the Joneses.”

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 5: 1-12

KEY VERSE: (3) “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
———-

To be “poor in spirit” is to be humble.

To be poor in spirit is not to have an “inferiority complex”; it’s not having a “superiority complex.”

To be poor in spirit is to keep up with Christ, not with “the Joneses.”

To be poor in spirit is to put God ahead of anything else: money, possessions, adulation–anything.

To be poor in spirit is to be God-centered, other-centered, not self-centered.

To be poor in spirit is to be self-aware and therefore repentant, mindful of one’s own flaws, faults, sins.

To be poor in spirit is to understand that it is from God that “all blessings flow.”

To be poor in spirit is to truly know grace–the unmerited, undeserved, unconditional love God gives.

To be poor of spirit is to be “empty” in the best sense, as in empty of pride, boastfulness, self-righteousness.

To be poor in spirit is to be always open, with an open heart, open smile, open arms, open hands.

To be poor in spirit is to live in the peace of hope, not fear, worry, anxiety.

To be poor in spirit is to be pro-God, which is pro-Love.

To be poor in spirit is to be truly free, liberated from every kind of bondage, even if incarcerated.

To be poor in spirit is to be rich.

Mark 10: 13-16: "People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them."

Mark 10: 13-16: “People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.”

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Members of the "Landfill Harmonic Orchestra" live in extreme poverty in a slum on a landfill in Paraguay. But some of the kids are thriving as a result of resourceful garbage pickers making instruments from the stuff salvaged from the huge trash heap.

Members of the “Landfill Harmonic Orchestra” live in extreme poverty in a slum on a landfill in Paraguay. But some of the kids are thriving as a result of resourceful garbage pickers making instruments from the stuff salvaged from the huge trash heap.


As I was saying in the last posting about learning from the poor . . .

Here’s a lesson in how resourceful they can be, because they have to be.

In a slum called Cateura that’s built on a landfill in Paraguay, a new violin would be worth more than any of the houses. The 2,500 families in this cesspool survive life there largely by digging through the garbage and recycling.

Illiteracy in the barrio is rampant, as is violence and all the usual social ills that go with poverty. The water is polluted and on rainy days the slum floods with contaminated water.

All of which makes the “Landfill Harmonic Orchestra” all the more amazing.

Check out the video and also the web site here for more about the documentary film due to be released early next year.

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(This is the first in a series of “Noon Wine” reflections on spiritual poverty and “the poverty of God” as a followup to the material poverty addressed in a recent series.)

SCRIPTURE: Philippians 2: 1-11

KEY VERSE: (5-8) “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.” (My italics for emphasis.)

Jesus was a troublemaker and rebel who didn't hang out with the right crowd.

Jesus was a troublemaker and rebel who didn’t hang out with the right crowd.


It’s said that religion is for those who fear hell and spirituality is for those who’ve been there.

The people that Jesus reached out to so radically in his wildly spiritual rebellion were people living in the utter hell of life on earth.

It’s hard for most of us–certainly those of us blessed and privileged to live in a relatively clean and high-tech world of comfort and convenience and endless entertainment–to wrap our heads around the world that Jesus lived in.

It was a hell of no hospitals or cops or 911 emergency responders, no neighborhoods with green lawns and malls complete with pet shops for grooming and pampering pets, no nice restaurants and endless forms of amusement, no homeless shelters and soup kitchens, and certainly no religious leaders with a trace of compassion, empathy or tolerance in their heartless souls.

Jesus–even though he was in the form of God–took the form of a humble servant. Jesus, Paul reminds us, emptied himself of any power, privilege, riches and possessions that could have been his for the taking.

Having already refused to sell his soul to the devil and partner with him in cosmic crime, Jesus could have chosen to live the high and mighty life by going along to get along with the Pharisees and all the other chummy, self-satisfied religious leaders.

Instead he challenged them at every turn.

Talk about creating “class division.” He was plenty guilty of that offense.

Jesus could have joined the boys club of the privileged religious rulers, but chose to live in solidarity with the powerless that the boys kept down.

Jesus could have joined the boys club of the privileged religious rulers, but chose to live in solidarity with the powerless that the boys kept down.

In emptying himself of all those human drives and attachments, he emptied himself of all the usual “stuff” that we attach ourselves to in order for him to make room for the fullness of God’s love. It was in this emptiness that divine power drove him to love others in ways beyond our understanding.

That’s how this Christian love thing works, or is supposed to work. The Christian humbles himself, becomes as a servant, a giver rather than an always needy taker suffering from a needy poverty of the soul.

A peaceful and healthy love of one’s self, first, coupled with a healthy love of others, begins from some degree of spiritual poverty, of being stripped down and empty enough for God to dwell within.

But in every daily step of our endless spiritual journey, we do have to strip down and surrender our human needs for an obedience, first and foremost, to God, in imitation of Jesus, to the extent that the spotless lamb of God can be imitated.

It was no nice, clean world that

It was no nice, clean world that Jesus walked in.

(more…)

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(This is the first in a series of “Noon Wine” reflections on spiritual poverty and “the poverty of God” as a followup to the material poverty addressed in a recent series.)

SCRIPTURE: Philippians 2: 1-11

KEY VERSE: (5-8) “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.” (My italics for emphasis.)

Jesus was a troublemaker and rebel who didn't hang out with the right crowd.

Jesus was a troublemaker and rebel who didn’t hang out with the right crowd.


It’s said that religion is for those who fear hell and spirituality is for those who’ve been there.

The people that Jesus reached out to so radically in his wildly spiritual rebellion were people living in the utter hell of life on earth.

It’s hard for most of us–certainly those of us blessed and privileged to live in a relatively clean and high-tech world of comfort and convenience and endless entertainment–to wrap our heads around the world that Jesus lived in.

The world of Jesus was a living hell with no hospitals or 911 emergency responders, no neighborhoods with green lawns and malls complete with pet shops for grooming and pampering dogs and cats, no nice restaurants and endless forms of amusement, no homeless shelters and soup kitchens, and certainly no religious leaders with a trace of compassion, empathy or tolerance in their heartless souls.

Jesus–even though he was in the form of God–took the form of a slave, and a humble one. Jesus, Paul reminds us, emptied himself of any power, privilege, riches and possessions that could have been his for the taking.

Having already refused to sell his soul to the devil and partner with him in cosmic crime, Jesus could have chosen to live the high and mighty life by going along to get along with the Pharisees and all the other chummy, self-satisfied religious leaders.

Instead he challenged them at every turn.

Talk about creating “class division.” He was plenty guilty of that offense.

Jesus could have joined the boys club of the privileged religious rulers, but chose to live in solidarity with the powerless that the boys kept down.

Jesus could have joined the boys club of the privileged religious rulers, but chose to live in solidarity with the powerless that the boys kept down.

In emptying himself of all those human drives and attachments, he emptied himself of all the usual “stuff” that we attach ourselves to in order to make room for the fullness of God’s love. It was in this emptiness that divine power drove him to love others in ways beyond our understanding.

That’s how this Christian love thing works, or is supposed to work. The Christian humbles himself, becomes as a servant, a giver rather than an always needy taker suffering from a needy poverty of the soul.

A peaceful and healthy love of one’s self, first, coupled with a healthy love of others, begins from some degree of spiritual poverty, of being stripped down and empty enough for God to dwell within.

But in every daily step of our endless spiritual journey, we do have to strip down and surrender our human needs for an obedience, first and foremost, to God, in imitation of Jesus, to the extent that the spotless lamb of God can be imitated.

It was no nice, clean world that

It was no nice, clean world that Jesus walked in.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Belmopan, Belize, the littlest national capital. It's Bel for Belize, Mopan for the famous and beautiful Mopan River.

Belmopan, Belize, the littlest national capital. It’s Bel for Belize, Mopan for the famous and beautiful Mopan River.

Belize ain't for everybody, but as for me--after a full year here as of July 15--I'm all in. Even the tiny capital of Belmopan, pictured here, has its charms.

Belize ain’t for everybody, but as for me–after a full year here as of July 15–I’m all in. Even the tiny capital of Belmopan, pictured here, has its charms.

Hopped on my trusty steed “Rojo” my red motorcycle and cruised over to Belmopan Wednesday for some personal business in what was my first time inside the fortress that is the U.S. Embassy.

I once stopped on the side of the road to take pictures of it when I was in town and a couple of Belizean security guys with forbidding, automatic weapons came running up to me and promptly took my camera, while I fumbled with my wallet for the photocopy of my passport, and deleted the pix I had just innocently snapped of the U.S. Embassy with its big, pretty U.S. flag.

I always drive by the Embassy when I’m in town and pull over and watch the American flag wave and thank God, literally every time that I do, that I was blessed to be born American.

But I always cooperate fully with people bearing large firearms and badges who prefer, strongly, that I don’t take pictures of the U.S. Embassy in Belize for American security reasons.

Even if pictures of said Embassy, official and unofficial, are all over the internet including the Embassy’s web site. Click here and look around and you’ll see it.

Belmopan is a quiet, charming, pedestrian-friendly little "garden city."  It has some shady walking trails and the "outer ring" that encircles the city always has walkers or joggers on the side of the runner-friendly "Ring Road."

Belmopan is a quiet, charming, pedestrian-friendly little “garden city.” It has some shady walking trails and the “outer ring” that encircles the city always has walkers or joggers on the side of the runner-friendly “Ring Road.”

Belmopan is an interesting little city, if you can call it a city. It holds the distinction of being the smallest national capital in this great big world.

Located an hour east of my home in San Ignacio and a little longer drive west of Belize City, Belmopan was created out of nothingness, years after Hurricane Hattie, in 1961, blew away most of the longtime capital city of Belize City.

The new inland capital that is Belmopan was built to be hurricane-proof, far enough inland for extra protection to-boot.

Hurricanes are hell on Belize City and always will be–but monsters like Hattie are rare, thank God, and merciless.

Click here for more about how Belmopan–it’s “Bel” for Belize and “Mopan” for the big Mopan River that runs from the Guatemala border down to the sea near Belize City–and how it came to be.

And see here for more about Hattie.

And if you’re a bird lover hankering to come to Belize for its great birding–if you’re not a “birder” when you move here you will be– click here for an Audubon-protected site in Belmopan.

Another shady path that ends at the "Ring Road" that encircles the nation's laid-back little capital city.

Another shady path that ends at the “Ring Road” that encircles the nation’s laid-back little capital city.

Belmopan is no Belizean tourist town, except as a stopping point for tourists to get to more interesting places. And the beautiful and scenic “Hummingbird Highway” on the outskirts of town takes you to good, now fully-paved highways to all the famous coastal beaches in southern Belize.

But Belmopan is a pleasant, quiet little master-planned city at that, and an important one for expats. It is, after all, the capital, and we expats can buy some things or get some services that may be hard to find other places.

Belize, remember, is a tiny, third-world country, a population of only 300,000. There’s no Wal-Marts or malls or shopping centers–not even a McDonald’s or any other American fast-food eatery in the entire country.

Some, especially old vagabonds and free spirits like me, find that refreshing, especially given all the color and unique opportunities for laying back and living large on little money in a country always described as a piece of Eden on the Caribbean.

Others find they can’t deal with no mall at all.

Anglican Church in Belmopan, near its denominational cousin First Methodist Church of Belmopan, which is opening its new Belmopan Methodist High School next month. Your intrepid American Methodist reporter will be there to send dispatches from Belmopan for that event.

Anglican Church in Belmopan, near its denominational cousin First Methodist Church of Belmopan, which is opening its new Belmopan Methodist High School next month. Your intrepid American Methodist reporter will be there to send dispatches from Belmopan for that event.

Monday marked my one-year anniversary in Belize and I’m all in. But it’s always reassuring to know that Old Glory is always waving in Belmopan for me.

First Methodist, Belmopan, opening its new high school next month. Your intrepid reporter will be there with his camera for that big-bang Belmopan event.

First Methodist, Belmopan, opening its new high school next month. Your intrepid reporter will be there with his camera for that big-bang Belmopan event.

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