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Archive for June, 2014

I live a 10-minute walk away from San Ignacio’s Galdez Stadium, a huge, grassy compound of park and recreational facilities that includes a quarter-mile oval jogging track (and, of course, a big soccer field).

Part of the stadium’s cinder-block wall on one side was marred by some really nasty graffiti until recently, when some enterprising muralists painted uplifting signs and messages to cover the ugly stuff

Messages like these:

A few choice words from Led Zep's "Stairway to Heaven."

A few choice words from Led Zep’s “Stairway to Heaven.”

Contrary to popular belief, this is NOT from the Bible. Which ain't to say there  is no Christian wisdom in it.

Contrary to popular belief, this is NOT scripture from the Bible. Which ain’t to say there is no Christian wisdom in it.

This is actually a challenge in Belize, where so  many grow up watching their parents throw their litter out the taxi and bus windows and anywhere there's ground to throw trash on.

This is actually a challenge in Belize, where so many grow up watching their parents throw their litter out the taxi and bus windows and anywhere there’s ground to throw trash on.

HIV is most rampant here in Central America. Out of all these Central American countries, guess which country it's most rampant in?

HIV is most rampant here in Central America. Out of all these Central American countries, guess which country it’s most rampant in?

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What I love most about Belize--they live outdoors, even in their bars and restaurants and hotels, not to mention their homes.

What I love most about Belize–they live outdoors, even in their bars and restaurants and hotels, not to mention their homes.

Sunny side up

Sunny side up

Wisdom

Wisdom

For Pope Francis, a man after my own theology

For Pope Francis, a man after my own theology

Wasn't that a song by Herman's Hermits??? No, wait ... the Stones?

Wasn’t that a song by Herman’s Hermits??? No, wait … the Stones?

The national bird of BZ (toucan) and the flag, too.

Belizean Pride: The national bird of BZ (toucan) and the flag, too.

Be the change you wanna see in the world; I for one am in with that.

Be the change you wanna see in the world; I for one am in with that.

Belize has its share of drug abuse, but most of the abuse, as in America, stems from alcohol, the worst drug of all. Belizean-made rum is smooth and sweet and dirt cheap and many Belizeans gone on two-and three-day binges on it. That leads to the country's massive domestic and sexual abuses of women and girls too. Incest and sexual assaults of minors is all too common sickeningly common here in "paradise." So it goes in a country with a 49 percent poverty rate and a government that keeps the paternalistic government leaders in sprawling, gated houses above the masses of uneducated and jobless .

Belize has its share of drug abuse, but most of the abuse, as in America, stems from alcohol, the worst drug of all. Belizean-made rum is smooth and sweet and dirt cheap and many Belizeans go on two-and three-day binges on it–that and the famous Belizean-brewed Belikin Beer. That leads to the country’s massive domestic and sexual abuses of women and girls too. Inbreeding is all too sickeningly common here in “paradise.” So it goes in a country with a 49 percent poverty rate and a democracy rigged to keep the paternalistic government leaders in sprawling, gated houses above the masses of uneducated and jobless commoners, many who find odd jobs just enough to buy another half-gallon of the sweet demon rum. Maybe the mural should read “Live Free: Drug/Alcohol Free!

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Yup

Yup


You kinda gotta love a soulful singer who just stands and delivers her songs with great chops, who says she smokes and overeats because she likes to smoke and likes to eat.

I could watch this vid all night.

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The beach recently beckoned me and when the beach beckons, this beach bum heeds the call.

The beach recently beckoned me and when the beach beckons, this beach bum heeds the call.


I decided last weekend it was time for some changes in attitude, changes in latitude.

So I took off for Caye Caulker, one of Belize’s two most popular islands, the other being San Pedro (Ambergris Caye), nine miles north of the Caulker by water taxi.

I stayed at the Lazy Iguana Bed & Breakfast, owned by my Austin, TX, expat friends Mo and Irene Miller. They sailed the high seas back in the eighties and fell in love with Caye Caulker and went all in with the B&B. They now live near me in San Ignacio on the mainland, however, in a sprawling and gorgeous mountaintop house. A Belizean couple manage the B&B, which I had all to myself this week.

Fortunately I had my camera in hand when this Belizean took off walking at a fast clip on the water at Caye Caulker! The camera never lies, you know

Fortunately I had my camera in hand when this Belizean took off walking on the water at Caye Caulker! The camera never lies, you know.

This is the so-called “low season” (rainy season) in Belize, when the tourists stay away in droves. The islands are not so crowded and the prices at the touristy resorts, hotels and restaurants take a big drop.

The good thing is, the rainy season doesn’t necessarily produce rain this time of year. Belize has been sunny for days on end.

The little island of Caye Cauker, with a population of 1,200 of the friendliest and most laid back people on earth, is only five miles long. It’s divided by what’s called “The Split,” a once narrow cut that was expanded in 1961 when Hurricane Hattie wiped out Belize (actually what was then the nation of British Honduras). The Split now divides the sparsely populated north, accessible by boat (or a hard swim of 200 yards or so), from the developed south. The north end of the narrow channel is most inhabited by wealthy Americans.

The south end is little more than a mile long, but what a magical mile of a wonderfully funky beach village it is.

The gorgeous and funky island of Caye Caulker is divided by "The Split,", a channel about 200 yards wide, where party boats and sailboats and fishing boats pass the many swimmers and sun worshipers who hang out around the large beach bar

The gorgeous and funky island of Caye Caulker is divided by “The Split,” a channel about 200 yards wide, where party boats and sailboats and fishing boats pass the many swimmers and sun worshipers who hang out around the best beach bar in Belize.

I’ve been to other great Belizean keys, including the far larger San Pedro island that Madonna made famous with her hit song and ode to San Pedro “L’Isla Bonita” (“The Beautiful Island”). Also been to coastal tourist attractions like Hopkins Village and the Placencia Penisula. All those and more keys and atolls make Belize world-renowned for Caribbean fun in the sun.

But in my humble opinion, little Caye Caulker has all the other touristy beaches beat for its wonderful, lazy vibe. It’s commercialized for sure–and it can get crowded. Today (Friday, March 27) it’ll swell up with visitors for its annual three-day Lobster Fest, an endless three-day party.

But as crowded as it gets, Caye Caulker doesn’t feel spoiled at all by the development. It is, in a word or two, lazy, and fun.

You can have the rat race back home, thank you very much. The cost of living in Belize is extremely affordable for somebody like me (little income but no debt); the rich and the poor here mingle and live in close proximity to one another; and there’s a strong, friendly sense of community anywhere you live. (The undercurrent of social ills notwithstanding.)

A $1 million mansion in Belize might have shacks made of bush sticks surrounding it, inhabited by Belizean families that can’t even afford electricity for fans and lights in the shacks. But everybody knows everybody and is on friendly terms, rich or poor.

And then there’s places like Caye Caulker, where there’s no terrible poverty of the sort found even at San Pedro off the beaten tourist paths. Caye Caulker has three modes of transportation: bicycles, golf carts and flip-flops (or bare footing makes four, I guess). The only motorized vehicle you’ll see is a garbage truck. (Even San Pedro and other beach sites have a number of cars and trucks vying for dominance in the streets with the strollers, the golf carts and the bicycles.)

The pace can get so slow and the easy fun so great that sometimes in Belize I feel like time has stopped, a sensation I hadn’t experienced since my kid-hood in a rural Texas town in the fifties and early sixties, or on an occasional vacation from the rat race back in the day.

Riding the water taxi to Caye Caulker Saturday, an American vacationer seated next to me in the boat asked me as we were departing Belize City how long the ride to the island takes.

“I don’t know; just enjoy the ride,” I suggested. “You’re on Belize time.”

I saw him and his wife again today on the beach. “How’s Belize treating you?” I asked.

“We lost track of time sometime Saturday night at dinner,” he said.

So goes the time in Belize.

The best beach bar in Belize, bar none, is the bar down at "The Split," where the owner flies what looks so much like the wonderful flag of Texas Our Texas (All hale the might-teee state! I thought it was my beloved Lone Star State flag myself the first time I ever saw it here, and bowed down in reverence. (Nobody paid any attention; eccentric behavior at Caye Caulker is the norm) I realized as I was leaving that day that it's in fact the very similar flag of Chile. The owner is from there, not, sadly for him, from Texas!

The best beach bar in Belize, bar none, is the bar down at “The Split,” where the owner flies what looks so much like the wonderful flag of Texas Our Texas (All hale the might-teee state! I thought it was my beloved Lone Star State flag myself the first time I ever saw it here, and bowed down in reverence. (Nobody paid any attention; eccentric behavior at Caye Caulker is the norm) I realized as I was leaving that day that it’s in fact the very similar flag of Chile. The owner is from there, not, sadly for him, from Texas!

Kayakers down at The Split. Why is it that the guys always have to do the paddling? Whatever happened to Women's Lib?

Easy boating down at The Split. Why is it that the guys always have to do the paddling? Whatever happened to Women’s Lib?

Good luck bellying up to the bar with the World Cup in full swing in this soccer-crazy part of the world.

Good luck bellying up to the bar with the World Cup in full swing in this soccer-crazy part of the world.

"All of those tourists . . . covered with oil."

“All of those tourists . . . covered with oil.”

Aw man, to be 21 again in Belize.

Aw man, to be 21 again in Belize.

I was betting he's either (a) a musician or (b) a philosophy major. Turns out, no kidding, he's both!

I was betting he’s either (a) a musician or (b) a philosophy major. Turns out, no kidding, he’s both! Nice kid, from funky Athens, Georgia.

One of the best things about Belize, the massages are wonderful and often really, really cheap, like $30 $40 an hour (except at the more exclusive resorts, of course, though even those are cheaper usually than in the States.

One of the best things about Belize, the massages are wonderful and often really, really cheap, like $30 $40 an hour (except at the more exclusive resorts, of course, though even those are cheaper usually than in the States.

P1060828

P1060829

Rented a Jet Ski and sped off into the great blue sea because, well . . . I was just . . . born to be wild.

Rented a Jet Ski and sped off into the great blue sea because, well . . . I was just . . . born to be wild.

Until next time, thrill seekers: Keep on Jitterbug rocking in the free world.

Until next time, thrill seekers: Keep on Jitterbug dancing in the free world.

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what-is-the-future-of-healthcare

What follows is a link to a speech on the future of health care from Joel Allison, whose signature was on my paychecks for five years when I “chaplained” at what was then Baylor Health Care.

Joel Allison: The Marine vet who feels his position as CEO at one of the best and most innovative health-care systems is his ministry. May his tribe increase.

Joel Allison: The Marine vet who feels his position as CEO at one of the best and most innovative health-care systems is his ministry. May his tribe increase.

And here’s a link to a posting about him I once shared (here at the blawg that is saving the world) after “Christianity Today” featured him and his view on the need to provide health care to indigents.

A Marine veteran, Joel is smart, “religious” in the best sense of the word (and a deacon in a North Dallas Baptist church), innovative, “driven” in the best sense (a self-confessed Typed A), forward looking, conservative in the best sense, and did I mention smart?

I don’t know his political affiliation, but I wish he’d run for the Texas Legislature if not governor, even though he’s so smart, “religious” in the best sense, innovative, “driven” in the best sense, forward looking, conservative in the best sense, (and did I mention smart) that he wouldn’t stand a chance of getting elected. At least he would bring some class, reason, common sense and that old, seemingly lost Texas can-do attitude to the crass state of Texas politics for a while.

This lengthy text of a speech of his worth the time if you seriously follow health care issues.

Click here and you’re there.

(HAT TIP: Mark Grace, the longtime head of spiritual care at what is now Baylor Scott & White.)

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Time to make the same sacrifices our military families are making.

Time to make the same sacrifices our military families are making.


Stanley Hauerwas, the legendary Christian pacifist and ethicist at Duke University, contends that the constant debates and conversations about military interventions would be vastly different conversations if we had the draft.

Wouldn’t they though.

“One of the problems we currently have is there hasn’t been in the population any serious engagement with the ethics of war because we have an all-volunteer army,” Hauerwas told Atlantic magazine in an interview last year. “I would think the return to the draft would be an intervention that would require discussion that might be more helpful in terms of our ability to limit war.” (See the interview here.)

Think about it. In World War II, almost every American family had a personal stake in the war because most every family had a loved one who was sent off to fight.

In addition, Americans at home didn’t just slap SUPPORT OUR TROOPS stickers on their car windows. They made sacrifices by rationing and other means.

If we all had such a personal stake in every American war and “military intervention” today, rabid war hawks like Dick Cheney–that roaring mouse and shameless draft dodger who “had other things to do” during the Vietnam era (didn’t we all)–wouldn’t even be allowed in the conversation about what to do in places like Iran, Iraq or Syria.

Even if we did reinstate the draft and started to send our hygienic young to nasty places in the world, Congress would promptly reinstate all the deferments that Cheney (and I) took to dodge military service.

If we’re going to keep intervening and taking sides in every conflict in the world in which our “national interests” and our own safety are truly threatened–as our political leaders (and washed-up old hack hawks like Cheney) keep saying, let’s do it right and get it over with.

Let’s reinstate the draft and make all the sacrifices necessary at home (taxes, gas rationing, etc.) and go all-out World War III against all our enemies real and perceived in the world.

Contact your Congressman today and tell him or her you are ready to sacrifice your son or daughter and your comfortable and convenient way of life!

Let your leaders know you are ready to impose American exceptionalism around the world–and ready to pay the price!

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funny-memes-2

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what-more-do-you-need

people

dog-meme

lame-joke-meme

funny-meme-7

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A-BUBBA-DUB, THAT'S ALL, FOLKS

A-BUBBA-DUB, THAT’S ALL, FOLKS

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A little something from back in the day.

A little something from back in the day.

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For the life of Jesus and him crucified stop bashing or hating on the poor, the homeless, the homosexual, the Muslim and everyone else who might seem from a distance to be so “different” and, in your view, so wrong, or weird, or dangerous.

The Christian way is to engage others and get to know them and hear their stories. (From the standpoint of evangelism, how can you be the example of Christian love and grace to them if you withdraw from them, much less bash them or hate them without even knowing them?)

As Pope Francis says, “Jesus is a physician, not a judge.”
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Real Reporter Shep Smith, naming names and fearlessly detailing recent history on Iraq at FOX News and the emotional tide for more war in Iraq is rising high.

Real Reporter Shep Smith, naming names and fearlessly detailing recent history on Iraq at FOX News as the emotional tide for more war in Iraq is rising high.



Shep Smith is more often than not the voice of reason at FOX News, frequently going off the ultra-conservative FOX reservation on issues like gay marriage and others.

He won me over years ago, back when he was on the ground reporting on the catastrophe that was Katrina, when he slam-dunked Sean Hannity, in a live report, for trying to play down the severity of the storm.

    “Why don’t you come down and see how bad it is for yourself, Sean? I don’t have the words to describe the suffering and devastation.”

Here’s how the Real Reporter at FOX opened his afternoon program Friday:

    “Are we about to be drawn back into a conflict in Iraq? The same people who 12 years ago told us this will be quick, this will be easy, this will be inexpensive, they will see us as liberators, it’s the right thing to do, are now telling us, ‘It’s the right thing to do.’ What’s the endgame? Who’s thought this through?”

I happened to be tuned in yesterday when the Real Reporter opened his program with this hard-hitting history lesson about our first catastrophe in Iraq, when America was hell-bent on exacting revenge on somebody–anybody!–in the wake of 911.

Here Shep not only names the names of the warmongers who whipped the country into a foam the first time we debated Iraq, he also recalls exacting details to Chris Wallace, underscoring just how utterly wrong a couple of our American leaders were in the buildup to Iraq:

    “I don’t think people understand how serious this is yet. I’m talking about people out there because what happened was, we went to war after they told us, Paul Wolfowitz stood up and told us there are no sectarian troubles in iraq, remember? he was talking to Eric Shinseki at the time Chris, remember that? Said there are no sectarian problems in Iraq like we’ve seen in other places, they’re not going to rise up against each other. There’s no evidence of that. That’s what they told us.

    “Then we went in there, we went in for eleven years, then we drew down as President Bush set a time line and president Obama got out. And when we drew down we asked to keep some soldiers there And Nuri-al Maliki said no to an agreement. Then we left. Their sectarian civil war began and they’re ringing us up on the phone asking us to come back because the half million men we trained quit, have melted away in the face of a few hundred insurgents. That’s what they’re wanting.

    “Is there anybody pushing back?”

Not many at FOX are pushing back except Shep, God bless his fearless reporter heart.

I’ve been praying this morning for the innocent men, women and children in Iraq and the throughout the Middle East who are real people like you and me, who have names and faces as you and I do, and who are all made in the same image of God. Whatever Jesus would do, he sure as hell wouldn’t be calling to “bomb them back to the Stone Age” and let his Father above separate ’em.

I’ve been praying also that cooler heads will prevail in American leadership this time. That we won’t go half-cocked into another folly of a military adventure without, as Shep Smith says, thinking it through this time.

Let us pray, pray, pray, and let us think this time rather than riding the tide of avenging emotions.

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