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Archive for April, 2015


“They’re all animals anyway”

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

— Jeremiah 29:7

“Teach your children well”

I saw this reaction to the rioters on Facebook from a friend of a friend:

    “Their (sic) breaking the law and ought to be shot down. Their (sic) all animals anyway.”

Which wouldn’t be so heinous if it weren’t the reaction of so many Americans who aren’t a bit interested in hearing from all sides on how it came to this in a neighborhood and so many other neighborhoods where people have been “kept down” and brutalized (like animals?) for God knows how long.

Just remember that your children and grandchildren are seeing and hearing (and reading you on Facebook???) and internalizing how you react to events like the rioting in Baltimore.

If your response to the news is peppered with nastiness or bitterness or hatred or condemnation or fear and racism and a sense of moral superiority, your kids and grands are feeding on it, digesting it and growing in the image of something other than the God of true justice that Dr. King lifted up so well when he said:

    “Now I wanted to say something about the fact that we have lived over these last two or three summers with agony and we have seen our cities going up in flames. And I would be the first to say that I am still committed to militant, powerful, massive, non-violence as the most potent weapon in grappling with the problem from a direct action point of view. I’m absolutely convinced that a riot merely intensifies the fears of the white community while relieving the guilt. And I feel that we must always work with an effective, powerful weapon and method that brings about tangible results. But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”

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Belize has actual “Dollar Stores.”
If you like the garment and want to try it on behind the hanging curtains and it fits, the cost is an actual dollar.

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I watched the axle break on this car as it turned a corner, an event that’s not at all uncommon in a country where most of the cars are pre-historic and most people don’t have enough money to buy cars anyway.

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Speaking of broken . . .

I’m pretty sure that’s supposed to be MINISTRY of Works & Transportation (and that door’s been broken since I arrived in town three years ago):

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This is what the locals call “super” fruit, which is ripe and abundant this time of year on small trees along the rivers. You pick off the golf-ball size balls, take a sharp knife to remove the shells, boil them over a pit for two hours, remove the water, add more water, throw in 4 pounds of sugar, cinnamon sticks and tiny, sweet spices, stir and stir like, a lot, put five in a small bag and sell for a dollar (50 cents U.S.), or pass around at the party or group occasion.

It’s muy, muy tasty.

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That’s my good and very good friend Jan, or as I call her, “Jan the Mennonite Yogi Lady.”

She and two of her daughters, who chose to be Mennonites, unlike most of the five or children of her and her late husband (a tour guide who was not a Mennonite) have a 70-acre dairy farm just outside of town called “Cool M Farms”). I buy four quarts of homemade yogi (yogurt) and pure milk right out of the cows from them at market every week, but they also sell great cheeses, breads, dressings, brownies and fudge and whatever they decide to make.

Jan was born and reared in very England but she and her husband wandered all over the place, including Mexico, where they heard about Belize, drove in one day many and very many years ago, and stayed with their first baby. She was so impressed by warmth of the members of one of the many Mennonite branches here that she converted even though her husband wanted none of it. One daughter lives in the States but the whole, extraordinary family is known and highly regarded around these parts.

The bed-and-breakfast cottage at their farm is on Trip Advisor, btw, if you want to look it up–the reviews are great.

Jan’s husband once survived alone on an island for months, but that’s a whole other, long story I need to get briefed on to share some day. Her life is the stuff of movies.

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Cool M Farm products at market.

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Speaking of market, mango wine is fairly popular but nothing is as popular with Belizeans as cashew fruit wine, which is definitely an acquired taste.

And one I’m pretty sure I will never acquire.

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Until next time, buckaroos . . . live large wherever you are.

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In reading the words that follow–which I hope you will take some time to read and especially if you “identify” as a Christian–I would urge you to come back to these questions and think about them:

    How is bashing, trashing and labeling a homeless beggar or some poor person, who may be stuck in government dependency and generational poverty, as “a scumbag” or “welfare queen” or “loser” or “worthless piece of (you-know-what)” conducive to evangelism–to paving the way for people to come to a new and productive life in Christ?”

    How is such bashing and trashing and labeling in any way advancing the kingdom of God on Earth as it is in heaven?

    How is it that Christians, so many of whom are guilty of such language, don’t consider the language of trashing, bashing, labeling and demonizing as obscene?

If you passed by the guy with Jesus in the front seat with you, would you call the guy a scumbag or a “worthless piece of (something)?” When did Jesus ever say anything remotely like, “Don’t be like the scumbags?” Or, “Look at those bums, too lazy and worthless to lift themselves up by the bootstraps?”

“God don’t make no trash,” the old saying goes.

This we know because Jesus and the Bible tell us so.

“Trash” ain’t created in the image of the Creator.

So here’s an idea, fellow Christians:

Let’s stop bashing and trashing those we deem unworthy, which include, but is not limited to:

so many of the poor among us, the “welfare queens,” the “scumbags,” the “losers,” the homeless “bums” on the corners who “oughta get a job,” undocumented immigrants, the “other” and whoever that despised “other” might be in our superior judgment.

That is, whomever in our biased, godless judgments that we dismiss as unfit for our love, or unworthy, perhaps, even of God’s love.

God’s will for us is to see all the aforementioned through the corrected vision that Jesus gives us in salvation.

And mind you, I’m not saying this is easy. We all have our prejudices and biases. We all are prone to making snap judgments, or rigidly remaining comfortable with our harsh, judgmental and longstanding prejudices.

It takes some hard, spiritual work to love others as we love ourselves, to do unto all the “others” as we would have them do unto us.

But we can begin this spiritual discipline by dropping all that demeaning and dehumanizing language that even we Christians so casually slap on people that we see or so much as hear or read about.

Might I suggest that we need to work hard and then harder at dropping all those demonizing labels that we as Christians use (trash, scumbags, welfare bums, parasites, losers, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.)

So many among our Christian lot deplore the fact that nasty, obscene language is now part of culture and public discourse, and I’m in with that. My parents would be appalled at the casual, widespread use of vulgarity, especially the “f-bomb,” everywhere we turn.

But all the aforementioned words (trash, scumbags, bums, etc.)–is this not equally “nasty language” from our lips to God’s ears?????

Would we use such vulgar labels in front of Jesus, the “Prince of Peace?”

Jesus could be fiery and harsh and righteously indignant, mincing no words in his condemnation of hypocrites.

But when did Jesus ever say anything remotely like, “Don’t be like the scumbags?” Or, “Look at those bums, too lazy and worthless to lift themselves up by the bootstraps?”

I ask again:

How is the language of such bashing and trashing of the poor (especially those who’ve known nothing since birth but government dependency and the deadening cycles of poverty), the homeless, the beggars, the outcasts, the marginalized, the downtrodden and the down-and-out–the very people that Jesus attracted and desired to attract–how is that conducive to evangelism?

How does such labeling and isolating pave the way for showing anybody the way to new life in Christ?

Christians, everyone we see with our supposedly Christian eyes–no matter how dirty or “trashy” we see them as being–no matter how ugly or shiftless or lazy or violent, whether it’s the prisoner on death row or “those people” across the tracks or down on the city’s toughest side . . . even they are what John Wesley described as “the offspring of God” and “candidates” for eternal life with God.

The dirt-poor beggars, the shunned and despised outcasts, the alleged “losers” of the world–John Wesley was about as good a friend outside of Nazareth as “those people” ever had.

Wesley believed that when we genuinely attain new life in Christ–when our blindness is cured in salvation and we can see as if for the first time–we see anew because salvation comes with what he described as spiritual eyes.

Wesley himself certainly saw everybody and everything in life through very spiritual eyesight:

    “A poor wretch cries to me for alms: I look, and see him covered with dirt and rags. But through these I see one that has an immortal spirit, made to know, and love, and dwell with God to eternity. I honour him for his Creator’s sake. I see through all these rags, that he is purpled over with the blood of Christ. I love him for the sake of his Redeemer.

    “The courtesy, therefore, which I feel and show toward him is a mixture of the honour and love which I bear to the offspring of God; the purchase of his Son’s blood, and the candidate for immortality. This courtesy let us feel and show toward all and we shall please all men to their edification” (“On Pleasing All Men”, Works, VII: 145).

If there was anything in this world that John Wesley hated it was slavery–an institution that he denounced and fought against with a fierce passion. This at a time, of course, when it was considered a biblical given that slavery was sanctioned from on high, and African slaves were considered less then human.

Wesley looked at the slaves he saw being traded through his spiritual eyesight and didn’t see the slaves as sub-human, but instead saw men and women created as much in the image of God as he was:

“Are not these [slaves] also the work of thine hands, the purchase of thy Son’s blood? . . . Thou Savior of all, make them free, that they may be free indeed!” (“Thoughts Upon Slavery”, Works, XI: 79).

With those thoughts in mind I repeat:

“God don’t make no trash.”

“Trash” ain’t created in the image of the Creator.

So let’s stop with the trashing and start up some conversations about how to build more bridges and fewer walls.

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Would you vote for this man for President? Here pictured with his friend and wealthy, 1 percent political supporter “Thing” from “The Addams Family,” who retired to Belize but retains American citizenship.

From the grand old New York Times, the newspaper that ultra-conservatives hate except when hating the great Times doesn’t reflect their biases, comes this:

    The Times reported in an explosive piece on Thursday that Canadian records show the chairman of Russian-owned Uranium One gave over $2 million in donations to the Clinton Foundation, which the Clintons’ didn’t disclose. (My italics for emphasis.) At the same time, Russia pushed for control of a Canadian Uranium company.

    A Kremlin-connected bank promoting stock in the company also reportedly paid Bill Clinton $500,000 for a speech in Moscow. Eventually, the Russian-Canadian uranium deal was approved.

    “Whether the donations played any role in the approval of the uranium deal is unknown,” the Times writes. “But the episode underscores the special ethical challenges presented by the Clinton Foundation, headed by a former president who relied heavily on foreign cash to accumulate $250 million in assets even as his wife helped steer American foreign policy as secretary of state, presiding over decisions with the potential to benefit the foundation’s donors.”

I wanted to bring this to your attention, you of the Jitterbug Cult, because the only person I can see me voting for, for President, at this point in time, is me.

If one of you followers of the Jitterbugger wants to give me the money and resources it takes to run for President, and wants to join me in voting for me, pls contact me.*

Thank you very much for your consideration and, as American Presidents and potential presidential candidates are obliged to say with a straight face nowadays:

“God bless you and God bless America.”

Picture me with a straight face.
—–
*If you were to support me for President, I would promise to buy an assault weapon for shopping at Safeway. Think about it.

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Photo by Tony Rath, Dangriga, BZ

Ride like the wind, young man. Photo in Dangriga, BZ by Tony Rath, a resident of Dangriga, BZ

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And finally, from the man who is one of the top 2 or top 3 best and most influential theologians alive, the Anglican N.T. “Tom” Wright:

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In remembrance of growing up close to the sun and the shade and the healing water from the hose and the grass and the trees and dust and the grasshoppers and the crickets in the hot old Texas summertimes, here’s a poem by John Keats (1795-1821):

“On the Grasshopper and Cricket”
The poetry of earth is never dead:
When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
That is the Grasshopper’s—he takes the lead
In summer luxury,–he has never done
With his delights; for when tired out with fun
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
On a lone winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,
And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.

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It's a sad commentary on our times that Katharine Hayhoe, a conservative, devout Christian and scientist at ultra-conservative Texas Tech University routinely gets threats from other Christians who don't want to accept the science of man-made climate change. "I personally get much more hate mail from Christians than I get from atheists, probably by a factor of 10. And I’m a Christian!" she says.

It’s a sad commentary on our times that Katharine Hayhoe, a conservative, devout Christian and scientist at ultra-conservative Texas Tech University routinely gets threats from other Christians who don’t want to accept the science of man-made climate change. “I personally get much more hate mail from Christians than I get from atheists, probably by a factor of 10. And I’m a Christian!” she says. PHOTO CREDIT: Ashley Rodgers/Texas Tech University

    “The people that I go to church with and the people who live in the place I live, in West Texas, are the people who are most doubtful that [climate change] is a real problem, and who are being targeted and misinformed by the people whom we trust.

    “I felt like it was my responsibility to say: ‘Here I am, and here is what I believe. Here are all the values that I share with you, and here is what I, as a scientist, know to be true.’ I felt it was important to be that voice in the wilderness.”

    — Katharine Hayhoe, devout, evangelical Christian and Texas Tech University scientist

The Christian digital magazine Plough has a great interview with the Texas Tech University climate-change expert Katharine Hayhoe, a much-respected scientist with the peppy, engaging personality of front-desk clerk at a beach resort.

Like most of the masses who have come to know her, I came to know Hayhoe via the actor Don Cheadle when I watched the “Showtime Channel’s” documentary “Years of Living Dangerously.”

Few scientists are as adept at explaining at the grass-roots level how we are changing the climate–and how dangerous it really is right now and to future generations, too.

And thank God for her willing to stand up to the abuse she takes from other Christians, who bombard her with astoundingly hate-filled e-mails.

And yet it’s not surprising considering the utter contempt that so many people in politics, the news media and the oil & gas industry influential–people with clear political and financial agendas–have for scientists like Hayhoe, Christian or no Christian.

As she tells Plough:

    “Every time you stick your head out of the ivory tower and tell people in the real world that climate change is real, that scientists agree, and that it’s affecting us now and we need to do something about it, you will get attacked. Unless maybe you’re doing it in Berkeley.

    “The attacks come in waves. When you become visible in the public arena a bunch of people write you nasty notes or blog about you, and then it kind of dies out until the next time. But the next time, all of those people are still there, plus you have extra people who just noticed you. Now it’s to the point to where, for some people, I am a regular source of blog fodder. They are building a career out of following me and making stuff up about me. I’ve discovered that the healthiest, most sane thing for me to do is to not even look at that stuff. A lot of the nasty emails come in through my website. I don’t read those emails; my assistant goes through them. Anything that she needs to report to the police she does, and I don’t see it.”

What a sad commentary on our times that quote is.

At any rate, I commend the whole interview with Hayhoe to you, which can be accessed by clicking here.

Also check out videos of her like this one, or others on you tube you can access here:

Or you can take the word of climate-change deniers like Newt Gringich or Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly or most of the people running for currently running for President, who apparently don’t believe that NASA scientists put Americans on the moon.

I think I’ll go with the Christian expert at the great university in the western climes of Texas Our Texas.

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Here’s a good resource for climate-change skeptics taken from one of Hayhoe’s own recommended resources. Click here.

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