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Archive for May, 2014

My best bud in Belize, the legendary soul man Edward Jenkins (born 20 miles from my hometown in Bryan,Tx) recently had to have not one, but two brain surgeries because of a bleed from a knock he took on the head 50 years ago in LA. A number of generous and wealthy expats pitched it to pay in advance for the surgeries successfully performed at private hospitals in Belize by the country's one and only  neurosurgeon. We're having a big wing-ding benefit for him next  Sunday. Ed came to Belize to escape the concrete jungle in LA almost 40 years ago when he and his now deceased, Irish-born wife bought 55 acres of bush land, sight unseen, that he saw advertised in a paper. His life story is so unbelievable that no fiction writer could make it up.

My best bud in Belize, the legendary Edward Jenkins (born 20 miles from my hometown in Bryan,Tx) recently had to have not one, but two brain surgeries because of a bleed from a knock he took on the head 50 years ago in LA. A number of generous and wealthy expats pitched it to pay in advance for the surgeries successfully performed at private hospitals in Belize by the country’s one and only neurosurgeon. We’re having a big wing-ding benefit for him next Sunday. Ed came to Belize to escape the concrete jungle in LA almost 40 years ago when he and his now deceased, Irish-born wife bought 55 acres of bush land, sight unseen, that he saw advertised in a paper. His life story is so unbelievable that no fiction writer could make it up. A full, comprehensive reporter on the May 25 benefit will be coming here soon. Mr. Ed–a full-fledged shaman and acupuncturist who made his fame healing half the people of mainland Belize of their maladies at one time or another, is doing well, btw, albeit bummed out that they shaved off his dreads.

Another tree-top attraction: spotted in the rainforest near world-famous Chaa Creek Eco Resort.

Another tree-top attraction: spotted in the rainforest near the world-famous Chaa Creek Eco Resort.

The "bush sticks" are in place at the new bus station  being built for buses from local-area villages. Currently there is no station at all, just a big dusty, sometimes mushy-muddy parking lot where the buses park.

The “bush sticks” are in place at the new bus station being built for buses from local-area villages. Currently there is no station at all, just a big dusty, sometimes mushy-muddy parking lot where the buses park.

What a wonderful world it would be if we could all agree what the bible REALLY teaches, huh?

What a wonderful world it would be if we could all agree what the bible REALLY teaches, huh?

He might want to wake up and watch for the motor vehicles.

He might want to wake up and watch for the motor vehicles.

33 footsteps to Hode's, but who's counting.

333 footsteps to Hode’s, but who’s counting.

You see all kinds at market on Saturday.

You see all kinds at market on Saturday.

Aquarium for sale at market.

Aquarium for sale at market.

Good stuff, and healthy.

Good stuff, and healthy.

Healthy tonic--all kinds of tonics and herbs sold at market on Saturdays.

Healthy tonic–all kinds of tonics and herbs sold at market on Saturdays. People swear to the healing powers of juice made from the noni fruit pictured below.

Noni fruit, very popular as a homeopathic medicine here in the rainforest land of homeopathic medicines galore.

Noni fruit, very popular as a homeopathic medicine here in the rainforest land of homeopathic medicines galore.

Kids cooling down in Belize City. .

Kids cooling down in Belize City.

Finger food for the lady.

That’s a lovely Belizean young lady: any argument with that?

Off to di beach for beach bumming: Because in Belize, the beach is never far from wherever you are.

Off to di beach for beach bumming: Because in Belize, the beach is never far from wherever you are.

Meanwhile out at San Pedro on Ambergris Caye...

Meanwhile out at San Pedro on Ambergris Caye…

The tourist-heavy island of San Pedro.

The tourist-heavy island of San Pedro.

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10320578_10204023335966793_664359034253763504_n(HAT TIP: My former boss at Baylor the Rev. Mark Grace who shared this on Facebook)

“We need another and a wiser . . . concept of animals.

“Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilisation surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion.

“We patronise them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err. For the animal shall not be measured by man.

“In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”

– Henry Beston

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SCRIPTURE: JER. 22: 13-17
KEY VERSE (16): “He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him. Is not this to know me? 
says the Lord.” 


If you want to know God you have to know the poor.

But don’t take my word for it: take the word of God.

In Jer. 22: 16, God himself was speaking of the charitable King Josiah when he said that the good king judged the cause of the poor and needy. Other translations say Josiah “defended” the poor and needy, but the fact remains that he cared for them and for that reason all was well with him.

And then, in what is quite a stunning statement from our Lord, he suggests that to know the poor and needy, to care for the poor and needy, is to know him, God Himself/Herself. It’s stunning because of our tendency to think of God in intellectual and emotional terms. We tend to think that to know God we have to have the right beliefs and practice the right spiritual disciplines such as prayer and worship, tithing and fasting and all that. For sure, there’s no knowing God in the fullest without knowing him in belief and spiritual practice.

But God tells us directly through the prophet Jeremiah that to know him is to know and remember and care for the poor. Even Satan and the demons have the correct beliefs about God (James 2: 19).

God is a relational God and God insists–demands!–that we be engaged in relationship with “the least” among us. Knowing the poor–befriending the poor and hearing their stories as opposed to shunning them or despising them–is the route to connection with God himself.

“Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
— Psalm 82: 3-4.

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Friday night requires music therapy

Friday night requires music therapy

For Donald Sterling, who nobody knows no mo.

With Her Greatness Bessie Smith (see here for news about a movie about Miss Bessie: Her Greatness Queen is to portray her):

Updated by His Greatness Eric:

Her Greatness the Queen as Bessie Smith? Oh yeah; perfect casting

Her Greatness the Queen as Bessie Smith? Oh yeah; perfect casting

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Thurman Haynes: at 97, making his community, country and the world a little better place.

Thurman Haynes: at 97, making his community, country and the world a little better place.

You probably never heard of Thurman Haynes of High Point, N.C.

That’s because Mr. Haynes, 97, is one of the good guys, an “average” American who (at 97, mind you!) makes his community, his country and the world a better place, day in and day out. His kind–the “average Joes”–don’t get showcased much in America’s news-driven and celebrity-obsessed culture. And yet they do the most extraordinary American things without any fanfare.

Mr. Haynes was recently named the winner in a national “Salute to Senior Service” contest for his tireless work at a school for children with disabilities. (Click here for the story.)

His kind advance the kingdom of God and personify the good news and get scant attention for it, but they don’t need attention anyway.

And his kind are found in America’s many other religions and faith traditions, where people of quiet faith and religious and moral integrity slug away in obscurity every day, simply loving their neighbors.

You wouldn’t know from the endless flood of bad and bizarre news and TV programming that America still has a good heart, really, and that so much good gets done by “average Americans” in towns and city neighborhoods day in and day out.

Call me Pollyanna Paul (I’ve been called worse), but I think there’s a lot and a whole lot more Thurman Hayneses out there–good-hearted Americans, from 7 to 97, from all kinds of faith traditions–who hold the country together with their integrity and good works, keeping America beautiful in more ways than one.

May their tribe increase.

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In the photo: The increasingly famous homeless statue. Read a story about it here, and another here.

Homeless Poverty Statistics Data
Source: National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty
Date Verified: July 28, 2013

Number of homeless people in the US 1,750,000
Average monthly income for a homeless individual $348
Percent of homeless that do not get enough to eat daily 28 %
Percent of homeless that did paid work during the past month 44 %
Percent of homeless that have problems with alcohol, drug abuse, or mental illness 66 %
Percent of homeless persons that have been sexually assaulted 7 %
Percent of homeless that have been homeless for more than two (2) years 30 %
Percent of homeless women that are unaccompanied / have no partner 40 %
Percent of homeless women claim to have been abused within the past year. 25 %
Percent of homeless women who claim domestic abuse as the reason for their homelessness 22 %
Percent of homeless population that are Veterans / Vets 40 %
Percent of homeless persons who are employed 25 %
Number of Americans who now live in hunger or on the edge of hunger 31,000,000
Percent of people in a soup kitchen line who are children 20 %
Number of families who are lodging nightly in city shelters in New York City 6,252
Number of children in the U.S. who live below poverty level. 12,000,000
Annual number of food stamp recipients who are children 9,300,000
Percent of cities surveyed that identified domestic violence as a primary cause of homelessness 46 %
Percent of the adult homeless population that suffer from a severe and persistent mental illness 22 %
Percent of homeless persons who have a mental illness that requires institutionalization 6 %
Demographic make-up of the homeless population Percent
Single Men 44 %
Single Women 13 %
Families with Children 36 %
Unaccompanied Minors 7 %
Racial breakdown of homeless population Percent
African-American 50 %
White 35 %
Hispanic 12 %
Native American 2 %
Asian 1 %

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“Bringing Transcendence in Play”

If I can lift up hope to a soul despairing,

Or strive for justice with the will to stay,

If I befriend another in burden-bearing,

Forgive a wrong through Christlike caring,

Oppose any of myriad evils with daring,

Or guide a wanderer lost to find the way,

Show compassion to the poor from day to day,

Or inspire fresh courage that may

defeating fears allay,

I shall share in bringing transcendence in play.

— James A. Langley

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