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Archive for April, 2014

“I have finally found a way to live . . .

in the Presence of the Lord.”

— From an Eric Clapton/Stevie Winwood “contemporary Christian” classic song,
from their days together with the “super group” “Blind Faith”

Watcha gonna do when dey come for you, bad boy, bad boy?

Watcha gonna do when dey come for you, bad boy, bad boy?” At Flayva’s Bar & Grill on the Mayawalk in downtown San Ignacio, Bob Marley rocks. Flayva’s is one of the most popular watering holes for expats and tourists and Belizeans too

Bird watchers at the swing bridge where the Macal and Mopan Rivers converge outside San Iganacio, BZ

Bird watchers at the swing bridge where the Macal and Mopan Rivers converge outside San Iganacio, BZ

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A Belizean Mennonite with a Belizean Hindu couple: Belize has a high number of Mennonites and Middle Easterners, most of whom are Hindu.  And then there's all the Chinese who are a significant part of BZ's very diverse population (Pop. 300,000).

A Belizean Mennonite with a Belizean Hindu couple: Belize has a high number of Mennonites and Middle Easterners, most of whom are Hindu. And then there’s all the Chinese who are a significant part of BZ’s very diverse population (Pop. 300,000).

Diving off the swing bridge

Diving off the swing bridge

Meanwhile, back in town on a hot Saturday: a funky, spunky Belizean girl at the market. Thought the hat was a great look.

Meanwhile, back in town on a hot Saturday: a funky, spunky Belizean girl at the market. Thought the hat was a great look.

Sign on Christo Rey Road: don't be a litterbug, mon.

Sign on Christo Rey Road: don’t be a litterbug, mon.

The annual two-day Easter Fair in BZ is always a big, huge weekend: here one of the guys from the Guatemalen carnival sets up a ride.

The annual two-day Easter Fair in BZ is always a big, huge weekend: here one of the guys from the Guatemalen carnival sets up a ride.

A carny's boy staying cool.

A carny’s boy staying cool.

Another roadside attraction: which is to say, another Belizean creepy crawler

Another roadside attraction: which is to say, another Belizean creepy crawler

Another creepy crawler: a carny walking on his hands while his buddy works.

Another creepy crawler: a carny walking on his hands while his buddy works.

High wire at a local soccer field; these kids much prefer barefoot soccer

High wire at a local soccer field; these kids much prefer barefoot soccer

Construction of dams are always and everywhere controversial. Chalillo was built way up in Mountain Pine Ridge and it has vastly curtailed the heavy flooding in San Ignacio, although there was heavy flooding nonetheless in the exceptionally rainy season last fall. But the reduced electric rates from the dam, which the foreign electric company that built the dam promised, never happened. Bellzeans get promised a lot of improvements that never seem to happen.

Construction of dams are always and everywhere controversial. Chalillo was built way up in Mountain Pine Ridge and it has vastly curtailed the heavy flooding in San Ignacio, although there was heavy flooding nonetheless in the exceptionally rainy season last fall. But the reduced electric rates from the dam, which the foreign electric company that built the dam promised, never happened. Bellzeans get promised a lot of improvements that never seem to happen.

Umbrellas aren't just for the rain; you'll rarely see a Belizean woman without an umbrella for the rain or for too much shine from el sol.

Umbrellas aren’t just for the rain; you’ll rarely see a Belizean woman without an umbrella for the rain or for too much shine from el sol.

Until next time, stay crazy: it's always worked for me.

Until next time, stay crazy: it’s always worked for me.

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“Inequality is the root of social evil.”

— Pope Francis, alleged communist, radical leftist and naive, economic simpleton who regularly (naively?) reads a rather radical book, in a tweet

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“Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Listen! The wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts on a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you.”

James 5: 1-6

* * * *

My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favouritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, ‘Have a seat here, please’, while to the one who is poor you say, ‘Stand there’, or, ‘Sit at my feet’, have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonoured the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?

— James 2: 1-7

* * * *

Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you suppose that it is for nothing that the scripture says, ‘God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’? But he gives all the more grace; therefore it says,
‘God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.’

— James 4: 1-6

* * * *

So your Jitterbug thought for the day is, if inequality is NOT the root of social evil, what is at root, according to thou?

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“Well, if I were in charge …. They [terrorists] would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.” — Sarah Palin.

Sarah-Palin

As if it’s not hard enough already for pastors to get their flocks to understand the importance, significance and real meaning* of one of the two sacraments that Jesus commanded (baptism and communion), Sarah Palin cheapens the sacrament to no end, while at the same time cheapening the entire message contained in the birth, life, ministry, death (by TORTURE) and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

That’s one heck of an achievement, Sarah.

Kudos to that great conservative thinker and deep-water Christian Rod Dreher for articulating so well how disgusting Palin and her acolytes can be.

*For more on the aforementioned importance, significance and meaning of baptist from a Protestant perspective, read all about it right here.

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Bronnie Ware once worked in palliative care and heard all the usual regrets of the dying.

Bronnie Ware once worked in palliative care and heard all the usual regrets of the dying.


Bronnie Ware is an Australian singer, songwriter, healer and a wonderful free spirit of a woman. Check out her blog at“Inspiration and Chai.”

What follows is an excerpt of her book about the “regrets of the dying”–regrets she heard expressed when she worked in palliative care.

I’ve published this list of “Top Five Regrets” here at this blog before and I think it bears re-posting occasionally. I used to hear these same deathbed regrets constantly in hospital and hospice ministry.

And then, just the other day, I heard a regret from an American tourist I met. He’s here in Belize with his family who came here because, well–he always wanted to visit beautiful Belize for some extended time to “get away from it all.” Unfortunately, he said, he never took the time from working so hard at his business to really come and enjoy Belize, a country he’d visited briefly before about twelve years ago. “I fell in love with Belize and always wanted to come back every year but just never got around to it,” he told me.

He was recently given six months to live and his return to Belize was first on the “bucket list” he made when he received his terminal diagnosis.

His story reminded me of these very regrets that Bronnie Ware heard and I heard and anyone who has ever been a caregiver to dying people has heard:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

Dying people often regret that they worked so hard and wish they had traveled or done things more for fun and leisure.

Dying people often regret that they worked so hard and wish they had traveled or done things more for fun and leisure.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

My friend finds happiness strolling around the market on Saturdays singing and making people happy with his music. He wants no money for it, just wants the happiness it brings him and others.

My friend finds happiness strolling around the market on Saturdays singing and making people happy with his music. He wants no money for it, just wants the happiness it brings him and others.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

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“I think the oddest thing about the advanced people is that, while they are always talking about things as problems, they have hardly any notion of what a real problem is.” -- GK Chesterton

“I think the oddest thing about the advanced people is that, while they are always talking about things as problems, they have hardly any notion of what a real problem is.” — GK Chesterton

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Be sure to pack your gun in Georgia Sunday at church.

Be sure to pack your gun in Georgia Sunday at church.

“The 2nd amendment should always be at the forefront of our thoughts,’ the Georgia governor said in signing a bill that allows guns to be packed most anywhere in the great Dixie State.

Hail yeah cause we need guns in churches, courthouses, airports, restaurants and bars (and everywhere our cold beer is served), and classrooms, and well, just everwhere, by Gawd.

You just never know when you might have to shoot dead some CRAZY SUMBITCH who RICHLY deserves to be shot to Hell where CRAZY people be-lONG.

I mean, think about all the shootin’s you’ve had, or you’ve survived, right there in your own church (you do go to church, don’t you????), your favorite restaurant or bar, your kid’s classroom, your courthouse, or at the airport.

Really, what we REALLy need is a law requiring ALL Americans who aren’t CRAZY to own guns and to have guns on their persons at all times* to regain this country’s safety and security.

God bless Amerca!**

———
*The only exception other than crazy people being African Americans, Spanish types, Muslims and Kenyan-born foreigners, who absolutely should not be allowed to pack guns and are not recognized as Real Americans in Dixie anyway, are they????
**But God please mostly bless gun-secured Dixieland!

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Capitalism fails the church when people who don’t tithe say the church should take care of the poor.”

— Rev. Morgan Guyton at “Mercy Not Sacrifice”

The argument is that churches should provide health care and take care of the poor. So assuming that you attend church and faithfully tithe, how much is your church doing to provide for people in need?

The argument is that churches should provide health care and take care of the poor. So assuming that you attend church and faithfully tithe, how much is your church doing to provide for people in need?

Being a genuinely political conservative, I agree wholeheartedly, 100 percent, with the conservative argument that churches and faith-based traditions and organizations, not the government, should take care of the poor and sick.

But you have to wonder how many people who make that argument attend churches or houses of worship on any regular basis. I wonder how many conservatives who rail about government welfare are conservatives who tithe and give generously to their churches or faith charities.

How many people in your own church actually roll up their sleeves and encounter the poor and needy, hear their stories and provide directly for them in any serious, Christian-like way in terms of love or money or both?

* * * *

United Methodist Rev. Morgan Guyton challenges us to think about “Six ways that capitalism fails the church” at “Mercy Not Sacrifice”–his blog whose name is derived from Hosea 6: 6.

Here’s a sampling:

“If you don’t think that your hard-earned tax dollars should be used to help poor people get access to health care, then don’t say that you think ‘the church should take care of it’ unless money that you put in your church’s offering plate has contributed to adding a health clinic to your church basement with an MRI machine and an operating table, plus an MD and a couple of RN’s added to your permanent church staff.

“If you don’t think that unemployed people who are actively seeking work should receive any money from the federal government, then I presume your church has its own private Civilian Conservation Corps by which you hire unemployed people to work at a living wage to make improvements in your city.”

And today’s “Big amen of the day to that!” goes to young Rev. Guyton for this provocative thought:

“Instead of using ‘the church’ as a talking point to argue that the government shouldn’t provide for the poor, why not first try to figure out how your church could take some of the load off of the government’s hands?”

Capitalism can certainly serve the poor through the church and faith traditions–and as far as I’m concerned it should. But the church and faith traditions sure don’t exist to serve capitalism, as so many seem to think these days.

Click here to read the whole enchilada from Rev. Guyton.

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“Practice resurrection.”

— from poet Wendell Berry

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"Women at the Tomb"

“Women at the Tomb”

* Art by Sr. Mary Stephens CRSS at http://www.canonesses.co.uk/gallery/art/
——————————
It’s one thing to confess Jesus as one’s Lord and personal savior.

It’s another thing to “practice resurrection.”

To practice resurrection is to practice love, joy, faith, hope and more hope, in spite of all the mud pies of cynicism (i.e., “sin-icism”) they’ll throw at you.

To practice resurrection is to love someone, forgive someone, show mercy to someone who doesn’t deserve it.

To practice resurrection is to be fearless in all the fear you can never quite escape.

To practice resurrection is to love God with all your heart, mind, body and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself.

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“After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”

— From the Gospel of John 13

For Maundy Thursday (see here)

Belizeans walk miles and miles on rocky, dusty roads. The feet can get plenty dirty, as when Jesus walked.

Belizeans walk miles and miles on rocky, dusty roads. The feet can get plenty dirty, as when Jesus walked.

Back when Jesus walked, washing the feet of a guest in a home was far from being a glamorous job. But cleaning feet was an act of hospitality and a custom.

Somebody had to do it.

And it was usually the servants who had to do it.

Here in Belize, where most Belizeans struggle through life outside the purview of all those tourists covered in oil, relatively few people can afford to own or maintain cars and trucks. Those who do own them typically own prehistoric vehicles that come with odometers that have turned over multiple times since the 1980s.

Most car owners keep their driving to a minimum because Belize’s roads and streets are literally some of the worst in all of this great, big world. The ruts and rocks and potholes–Belize me, you can’t even imagine the sizes and number of potholes in the ultra-narrow streets of bustling Belize City–can do violence to a set of wheels in short order.

So Belizeans walk and walk a lot on roads and streets, which right now–in the peak of the six-month dry season–are as dusty as they are hot and dry. It’s not uncommon at all for the every-day Belizean to walk ten, fifteen and even more miles a day, in sandals or ragged shoes.

And the feet show it.

I’ve become aware of just how dry and cracked and callous and dirty the feet can get in an environment of the sort that Jesus and the people of his time walked in.

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Back when he walked with his disciples, Jesus was the man!

Jesus was the master!

So imagine the shock of the disciples when he took up a basin and towel and started washing their feet. Peter–that always peppy, child-like, pre-Resurrection Peter–was so taken aback that he told his Master Jesus that there was no way he’d be washing the Master’s dusty, dirty feet.

Of course Peter was bound to get his dirty, dusty feet washed by Jesus, who told him and the other disciples that he was setting an example of servitude for them, and disciples for all times, to follow.

In a way, we Christians are called to be cops of the Kingdom–the utterly good cops who advance the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.

We’re called in advancing the peaceable Kingdom that Christ ushered in to “Protect and Serve.”

That is, to protect and serve one another in fellowship and protect and serve the poorest and most vulnerable wherever they struggle through a day with tired, cracked, calloused feet.

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What a journey it was to Jerusalem for that strange mystic who had powers to make the broken whole again.

Along the way he’d demonstrated the power even to walk on water, revealing to us his ability to walk with us above all the turbulent waters of fear, anxiety, worry, illness.

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I can look out any window in my home and what I’ll see are the branches and leaves of palm and coconut trees all around. If I step outside and walk a few yards I can see the sturdy greenery of such trees nearby and miles away, too. Palm branches are strong and durable, able to withstand fierce wind and rain and blazing heat as well.

Jesus casually walked across the turbulent waters and triumphantly road across the “pavement” of palm branches and garments spread before him.

The whole of what happens in a lifetime is contained in the stories of Jesus walking across the stormy waters and his riding triumphantly into town on a humble donkey.

One day you’re on top of the world, riding high, honored, respected, feeling so good about yourself.

The next day somebody, if not life itself, is knocking you on your ass.

Jesus picks you up at the bottom of your slide and walks with you and, if necessary, carries you.

“Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!”

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