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Archive for February, 2014


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‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

— Matthew 5:32-36

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Legend has it that Hollywood’s most hilarious curmudgeon, W.C. Fields, was in his dressing room reading a bible when his manager walked in. Shocked to find the cranky comic with the Good Book in hand, the manager asked Fields what he was doing.

“Looking for loopholes,” he quipped.

"Christ died on the cross for the bigots, too." -- Will D. Campbell, the freedom fighter who close to Martin Luther King while being a pastor to Klansmen and their families.

“Christ died on the cross for the bigots, too.” — Will D. Campbell, the radical-love pastor and freedom fighter who was a close associate of Martin Luther King while also being a pastor to Klansmen and their families.

Wouldn’t it be nice if God had given us God’s Word complete with asterisks pointing out exceptions and loopholes so that we could take comfort in our having so many love deficits?

Wouldn’t it be nice if God said that we’re to love all are neighbors *UNlESS we have issues to the point of hatred for ……

FILL IN THE BLANKS OF All THOSE YOU HATE OR DESPISE, DEAR CHRISTIAN READER (WRITE ON BACK OF PAGE IF YOU NEED MORE SPACE):

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His Greatness the Rev. Will D. Campbell, the great Southern “bootleg” preacher, civil rights fighter and maybe the most interesting White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Christian maverick of the 20th Century, was with Martin Luther King, Ralph Abernathy and all the other giants of the civil rights movement in the mid-1950s, when it required some real courage and Christian integrity even for a Baptist preacher to be in the company of Dr. King and company. He was also among those activists with King at the Memphis motel when King was assassinated.

So there was no denying Campbell’s commitment to anti-racism–and yet he spent his whole life ministering to Ku Kluxers and other flaming racists as well as minorities.

Campbell, who died last year, frequently had to remind us that “Jesus died on the cross for bigots, too.”

Nobody ever said that Christianity–“The Way,” as Christianity was called long before it was known as Christianity–is an easy Way, even if a rare kind of saintly bird like Will Campbell comes along to remind us that you just follow the Way–you just do it no matter how challenging the task of love is–rather than looking for loopholes.

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Beach on the Caribbean at Hopkins, Belize.

Beach on the Caribbean at Hopkins, Belize.

One of the pools at Chaa Creek Eco Resort near San Ignacio.

One of the pools at Chaa Creek Eco Resort near San Ignacio.

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As a followup to the blog posting here the other day, about Ted Nugent and friends, here’s a well-done spiritual take on the Nugent flap from my friend and United Methodist cohort Christy Thomas–a thoughtful pastor who blogs at a blog called “thoughtful pastor.”

The Thoughtful Pastor

open-hands-repentance Like many others, I am so deeply troubled by the choice of both Texas and national Republicans to use Ted Nugent as a spokesperson for their views. Try typing into a search engine, “Ted Nugent Pedophile” and see what comes up. To call this man “vile” might be a compliment. He’s simply appalling.

Now, I will tell you that I’d never even heard of this person before last week’s dust-up in Denton. I’m not much into pop culture, and never have been. Never listened to his music, never even knew he existed. But his association with Republicans is not new. I’ve learned now that Mitt Romney sought out Nugent as a supporter in his campaign and that Nugent made open claims about wishing to assassinate then candidate, now President, Obama.

Apparently this is OK, since Nugent, the ardent lover of all things American (except serving in the Armed Forces…

View original post 543 more words

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Just a thought for a Sunday morning:

jesus-gun

Considering how many gun shows will be going on today in America, on the Sabbath day, I wonder if–when Jesus comes back–his first stop might be at a gun show to stock up on him some assault weapons and ammo?

Don’t think that would be his aim.

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Pictured is a Bulgarian beggar, 99-year-old Dobri Dobrev, sometimes called the “Saint of Baylovo” or “the Saint of Bulgaria.”

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He’s seen some rough roads in his 99 years–he lost most of his hearing in World War II when a shell exploded near him in the bombings of Sofia.

Every day, the old man walks up to 25 kilometers begging for alms, which go to the poor or to maintenance of Orthodox churches, monasteries and orphanages. Over the years the saintly one pretty much withdrew from the material world to devote himself to his spiritual life and ways. He donated all his belongings to his church and now lives in a small extension to the church in his native village of Baylovo.

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The same Texas Republican politicians who defend “the sanctity of marriage” to oppose homosexuality and talk a big game about being “the party of Christian family values” are close pals with, defenders of, and apologists for . . . . their good pal Ted Nugent.

We’re talking Ted. Nugent. They are pals with him.

Read on and step back before my head explodes in sadness for my once-great state of Texas.

Jailbait you look so good to me
Jailbait won’t you set me free
Jailbait you look fine fine fine
I know I’ve got to have you in a matter of time

Well I don’t care if you’re just thirteen
You look too good to be true
I just know that you’re probably clean
Theres one lil’ thing I got do to you

— From the rock song Jailbait, written and performed by Republican Party activist Ted Nugent, the infamous statutory rapist

This is Ted Nugent back in the day. Nugent is the Texas Republican activist, close pal and political cohort of such Texas Republican, uh, "dignitaries" as Gov. Rick Perry and Republican Governor-wannabe Greg Abbott. Seems that Abbott, who had Nugent on the campaign trail with him in Texas this past week, had no idea that Nugent is one of America's most high-profile racists and homophobes, not to mention an unapologetic rapist who once talk of his "beautiful" relationships with girls as young as 13. Yes, politics in my beloved Texas has come to this.

This is Ted Nugent back in the day. Nugent is the Texas Republican activist, close pal and political cohort of such Texas Republican, uh, “dignitaries” as Gov. Rick Perry and Republican Governor-wannabe Greg Abbott. Seems that Abbott, who had Nugent on the campaign trail with him in Texas this past week, had no idea that Nugent is one of America’s most high-profile racists and homophobes, not to mention an unapologetic rapist who once talk of his “beautiful” relationships with girls as young as 13. Yes, politics in my beloved Texas has come to this.

The Republican Ted Nugent, the famous sixties rocker and infamous Vietnam Era draft dodger and former military hater who once called Vietnam veterans “common curs,” is, as everyone knows by now, a close pal and campaign supporter of Texas “dignitaries” Republican Gov. Rick Perry and the Republican Governor wannabe Greg Abbott, among a number of other Texas male Republicans.

Nugent is practically considered a national treasure by gun fanatics like Abbott and Perry, who apologize for Nugent’s unadulterated racism, homophobia and inability to complete a sentence without the f-word or denouncing somebody he hates (i.e., half the people of America) as “subhuman” because Nugent, they tell us, is such a fighter for the U.S. Constitution.

Of course, criminal laws under the Constitution are pretty strict about sex with underage girls, and never mind that Nugent has a longstanding, uh, thing about tender teen babes.

He once famously said in a TV interview that the sex he had with underage girls was “a beautiful thing.”

And the younger they are, the happier Mr. Teddy gets.

Here’s the lyrics from Ted Nugent’s infamous song “Jailbait,” his ode to a 13-year-old girl.

(And so what if he’s a statutory rapist by his own admission–I’m sure his good friends and apologists Rick Perry, Greg Abbott and other Texas Republican dignitaries* would say he had the same Constitutional right to write this steamy ode to a 13-year-old girl as he has to that machine gun he wields on stage in his rock concerts.)

I’ve got no inhibitions
So keep your keys out of your ignition
I steal a car like I got the curse
I cant resist the old lady’s purse

Jailbait you look so good to me
Jailbait won’t you set me free
Jailbait you look fine fine fine
I know Ive got to have you in a matter of time

Well I don’t care if you’re just thirteen
You look too good to be true
I just know that youre probably clean
Theres one lil’ thing I got do to you

Jailbait you look so good to me
Jailbait wont you set me free
Jailbait you look fine fine fine
I know I’ve got to have you in a matter of time

So tell your mama that I’m back in town
She likes us boys when its time to get down
Sheґs got this craving for the underage
I just might be your mama’s brand new rage

Jailbait you look so good to me
Jailbait wont you set me free
Jailbait you look fine fine fine
I know I got to have you in a matter of time

Honey you you you look so nice
She’s young she’s tender
Wont you please surrender
She’s so fine shes mine
All the time, all mine mine
Its all right baby
Its quite all right I asked your mama
Wait a minute officer
Don’t put those handcuffs on me
Put them on her and Ill share her with you

Jailbait, jailbait

“Anybody that’s offended – sorry, but that’s just Ted.”
— Rick Perry’s initial statement on his dear friend and hunting buddy the statutory rapist Republican Ted Nugent

“Ted and I have been on the stage together. He is a proud and a strong defender of the Constitution of the United States. We’ve all said things that we would like to reel back in; I suggest to you this was probably one of those for him,” Perry said. “I would recommend that he [apologize for calling the U.S. President a ‘subhuman mongrel’].”

— Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/02/rick-perry-ted-nugent-103745.html#ixzz2tzR9S8P1
(*OK, my own apologies for referring to Republicans like Perry and Abbott as “dignitaries. That implies that they have any shred of dignity left.)

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Let’s send every undocumented worker harvesting our food, cleaning our toilets in every building from our major hospitals to our favorite restaurants, paving our highways and hammering roofs over our MacMansions and serving as maids as well as nannies to the children of our richest Americans back where they came from and watch the economy tank rather than pass some kind of sensible legislation that is a win-win for us Americans and for the undocumented immigrants who come and get hired by Americans at low wages to keep the American economy strong.

What say you?

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Be still, and know that I am God.”

~ From Psalm 46: 10

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“The contemplative has a sense or a feeling that God is present; He is somehow here; He is in me and around me; He is dwelling in my heart; He is the very core of everything that is; and I am like a sponge in the great sea which is God. God is somehow grasped with a 6th sense, and one knows with certainty that the world around is electrified with His divine presence and love.

~ William Johnston, The Still Point: Reflections on Zen and Christian Mysticism (Hat Tip: Ecumenicus.org)

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“Bill Wilson, one of the founders of the 12 Step Program of Alcoholics Anonymous, said that recovery was not complete until addicts achieved “emotional sobriety.” In many ways he was saying the same thing that mystical religion recognized — authentic spirituality should lead to a total “rewiring” of both our conscious lives and our unconscious programming. It will not just change external behavior, but internal emotions and responses, our entire pattern of thinking.

“Contemplation is not first of all about being religious, introverted, or pious — it is about being emotionally and mentally honest! Contemplation is an alternative consciousness that refuses to identify with or feed what are only passing shows. It is the absolute opposite of addiction, consumerism or any egoic consciousness.”

— Father Richard Rohr, Founder of The Center for Action and Contemplation

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In Houston, a giver named Kenny Thompson, who serves as a mentor and tutor to school kids, donated almost $500 out of his pocket so that 60 children at his own child’s elementary school could have real meals in the cafeteria.

A world away in Ethiopia, the 90-year-old Australian gynecologist Dr. Catherine Hamlin–who’s often compared to Albert Schweitzer, Mother Teresa and other world famous givers who were known for having expansive hearts–has been nominated for a Nobel Prize for her life’s work saving mothers and babies with a horrible childbirth injury called obstetric fistula.

Dr. Hamlin, who’s saved an estimated 35,000 lives, recently stated at her 90th birthday party that she wants to live a few more years to make sure fistula in Ethiopia will be eradicated some day after she’s gone. (See here and here for more on Hamlin and more about fistula.)

Here in western Belize, a young Catholic nurse named Margaret arrived from her home in England about 45 years ago, planning to stay one year on an assignment with the Catholic Institute for International Relations.

This dynamic giver is still here after all these years, devoted to patients at her Good Shepherd Clinic in the ancient Mayan village of San Jose Succotz. (Check out this video from 2009 for more on her and her assistant Christina…)

I’ve always noticed that the happiest, most contented and peaceful people I’ve ever met, or had the pleasure of knowing, were people who are all about living to give. The guy Kenny in Houston who mentors and tutors school kids–and who dug in his pocket so 60 kids could eat–appears to be a rather happy and well-adjusted guy indeed.

Something tells me that Dr. Hamlin, the physician who has devoted her life to saving lives in an African country, appears to be 90-years-young, as opposed to 90 years old, because she’s such a generous giver.

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And then there’s “the Good Shepherd” nurse who left home in England as a young woman and whose young assistant left home in Pennsylvania, right down the road from me in the Belizean village where I once lived, whose faces seem to shine from all the good works they do.

“It is well with those who deal generously and lend, who conduct their affairs with justice,” the Psalmist sings in Psalm 112. And the Apostle Paul famously said that it is better to give than to receive.

I’ve known people who say there is no God, who say there is no meaning or purpose to life, that you’re born and you die and you go back to the great cosmic soup and that’s that. “Life’s a bitch (And then you die),” a once-prolific bumper sticker used to say.

But you can have that old-time existential dread because living is for giving and that’s that.

The givers, whose faces are seemingly always glowing and shining a light in even the darkest of corners, are always the brightest and happiest, the healthiest and the best around.

Let us now give praise to the givers.

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Hanging out up at "The Rock." Read on, thrill seekers.

Hanging out up at “The Rock” with my spider monkey pal. Read on, thrill seekers.

Cooling my heels in the clear, cool waters at Big Rock in Belize--a beautiful site that didn't get a mention in a recent Huffington Post Travel article about "25 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Belize."

Cooling my heels in the clear, cool waters at Big Rock in Belize–a beautiful site that didn’t get a mention in a recent Huffington Post Travel article about “25 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Belize.”


Huffington Post recently published an article featuring “25 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about Belize.”

Hate to brag, but I already knew the 25 things,

which can be found by clicking here.

And for a bonus here’s some pix I took on a Saturday outing at a couple of magnificent, secluded waterfalls and swimming holes up in the rugged frontier country of Mountain Pine Ridge.

Huffington's article makes no mention of all the great places for hiking, swimming, caving and tubing. Saturday was a gorgeous day and I drove up to the rugged frontier country that is Mountain Pine Ridge to explore this waterfall known as "The Rock." The trails to places like this in Belize can be steep and rugged but the payoff can be a place as ruggedly beautiful and peaceful as this.

Huffington’s article makes no mention of all the great places for hiking, swimming, caving, tubing and canoeing. Saturday was a gorgeous day and I drove up to the rugged frontier country that is Mountain Pine Ridge to explore this waterfall known as “The Rock.” The trails to places like this in Belize can be steep and rugged but the payoff can be a place as ruggedly beautiful and peaceful as this.

Down at "The Rock" I met the guy in the red shirt, Chad Burrow, from Arizona, who is with the National Parks Service and once spent six years as a Park Ranger at the Grand Canyon. He was here to teach students from San Ignacio's Sacred Heart College on "the principals and applications of Sustainable Trail Design.

Down at “The Rock” I met the guy in the red shirt, Chad Burrow, from Arizona, who is with the National Parks Service and once spent six years as a Park Ranger at the Grand Canyon. He was here to teach students from San Ignacio’s Sacred Heart College on “the principles and applications of Sustainable Trail Design.” The students and other volunteers camped more than a week at “Big Rock” improving the trail down to the site and making it more accessible.

Since the group of campers had completed the trail improvement project and training ahead of schedule, these four college students asked to ride back to San Ignacio with me--after a week of camping they were ready to sleep in their own beds Saturday night.

Since the group of campers had completed the trail improvement project and training ahead of schedule, these four college students asked to ride back to San Ignacio with me–after a week of camping they were ready to sleep in their own beds Saturday night.

The trail down to the waterfall at Big Rock is still steep but easier thanks to the improvements made by the volunteer campers from San Ignacio and American Chad Burrow. Chad told me he went to college in the States with an instructor at Sacred Heart and comes to Belize often to see him and soak up some of the beauty of Belize. He grew up, btw, on a farm in southwestern Oklahoma. After six years at the Grand Canyon he transferred down south to the beautiful Arizona desert. The man is a natural naturalist and outdoorsman, and extremely nice American guy. One thing I love about Belize is some of the really interesting Americans I happen to meet down here.

The trail down to the waterfall at Big Rock is still steep but easier thanks to the improvements made by the volunteer campers from San Ignacio and American Chad Burrow. Chad told me he went to college in the States with an instructor at Sacred Heart and comes to Belize often to see him and soak up some of the beauty of Belize. He grew up, btw, on a farm in southwestern Oklahoma. After six years at the Grand Canyon he transferred down south to the beautiful Arizona desert. The man is a natural naturalist and outdoorsman, and extremely nice American guy. One thing I love about Belize is some of the really interesting Americans I happen to meet down here.

Big Rock is a great place for swimming or floating around in a tube or just sitting on a cool, camp rock and chilling.

Big Rock is a great place for swimming or floating around in a tube or just sitting on a cool, camp rock and chilling.

Many a wedding was held here at the foot of what used to be Five Sisters Resort, only a couple of miles from "Big Rock" and another mile or so from Francis Ford Coppola's famous Blancaneaux Eco Resort, which I've featured here at the blawg a few times. The Five Sisters Resort fell into disrepair while it was on the market. Now called Gaia Lodge,  it sold to a new owner two years ago. It's almost been restored to its former glory and is a beautiful resort with this great waterfall deep down below it. It's an even steeper climb to access than the waterfall at Big Rock, but the resort has a nice, winding trail of concrete steps to make it accessible. Still, the climb up and down is a workout. I'm in reasonably good shape and can hike for miles a day around Belize, but my thighs were screaming with soreness for a couple of days. Being in good shape in Belize empowers you to escape to some of the most beautiful, rugged, serene and secluded places on God's green earth.

Many a wedding was held here at the foot of what used to be Five Sisters Resort, only a couple of miles from “Big Rock” and another mile or so from Francis Ford Coppola’s famous Blancaneaux Eco Resort, which I’ve featured here at the blawg a few times. The Five Sisters Resort fell into disrepair while it was on the market. Now called Gaia Riverlodge, it sold to a new owner two years ago. It’s almost been restored to its former glory and is a beautiful resort with this great waterfall deep down below it. It’s an even steeper climb to access than the waterfall at Big Rock, but the resort has a nice, winding trail of concrete steps to make it accessible. Still, the climb up and down is a workout. I’m in reasonably good shape and can hike for miles a day around Belize. But my thighs were screaming with soreness for a couple of days after the hikes around Big Rock and Gaia’s waterfall. Being in good shape in Belize empowers you to escape to some of the most beautiful, rugged, serene and secluded places on God’s green earth.

Then again, you could just be lazy and take the tram down to the Gaia waterfall.

Then again, you could just be lazy and take the tram down to the Gaia waterfall.

For more about the Gaia Riverlodge …..

and a full gallery of pictures…..

Click right here….

Zen chairs compliments of Gaia Riverlodge.

Zen chairs compliments of Gaia Riverlodge.

If you don't want to take the steep steps or tram all the way down to the waterfall at Gaia you can stop and take in the view at one of the many lookout points. But this view at ground level is one I'll take every time.

If you don’t want to take the steep steps or tram all the way down to the waterfall at Gaia you can stop and take in the view at one of the many lookout points. But this view down at ground level is one I’ll take every time.


On the way back to San Ignacio be sure to stop at The Junction, a popular watering hole at the base of Mountain Pine Ridge where you can always find expats from the States or Canada having an ice-cold beer  with the Belizean mountain folk. It's got to be the most laid back, relaxing, little jungle tavern on earth.

On the way back to San Ignacio be sure to stop at The Junction, a popular watering hole at the base of Mountain Pine Ridge where you can always find expats from the States or Canada having an ice-cold beer with the Belizean mountain folk. It’s got to be the most laid back, relaxing, little jungle tavern on earth. The lady in the middle is a Canadian who moved to Belize 12 years ago after driving her truck from 4,000 miles from Calgary to Houston where she shipped the truck to Belize. That’s her brother who lived with her a couple of years here in Belize before he built his own cabin a few yards down from The Junction. Like I say, you meet the most interesting North American expats down here–some really adventurous people who march to their own drummers. My kind of peeps. (The young lady on the right is Dee, one of the four college student/campers I transported back to San Ignacio Saturday night. The mother of two sons ages 8 and 10, Dee is back in college for outdoor eco studies but has a teaching degree.

That's Jim, the very outgoing owner of "The Junction," he of British and Australian parentage. His wife is from some strange place called Louisiana. They own the legendary Junction and the 40 acres of lush Belizean bush land behind it.

That’s Jim, the very outgoing owner of “The Junction,” he of British and Australian parentage. His wife is from some strange place called Louisiana. They own the legendary Junction and the 40 acres of lush Belizean bush land behind it.

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