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Archive for December, 2016


At the highfalutin ceremony in which the absent Bob Dylan was honored with his Nobel for Literature, Dylan’s friend and kindred spirit Patti Smith got the yips so bad in singing his masterpiece “Hard Rain” that she forgot the words.

Talk about awkward. Candidly admitting she was nervous, she repeatedly apologized to the Swedish royalty on hand for the ceremony before she hit stride with vigor and passion.

All in all, her imperfect performance could not have been more perfect. Dylan’s always been tangled up in blue imperfections, starting with a nasal-drip voice that ain’t for everybody.

A nervous Patti Smith got the yips, only to recover brilliantly with her performance of Dylan's "Hard Rain" at the Nobel Prize Ceremony.

A nervous Patti Smith got the yips, only to recover brilliantly with her performance of Dylan’s “Hard Rain” at the Nobel Prize Ceremony.

And yet it seems that most everybody, sooner or later, develops a taste for Dylan’s music and word play. Great poets and singers are irresistibly seductive (and the same could be said of Patti Smith.)

I watched the youtube of Smith, accompanied by an acoustic guitarist and orchestra with a steel guitar overlay that made me want to weep, with my 3-year-old Belizean daughter cuddled by my side. I noticed that she sat up and paid complete attention with her little mouth agape. It held us spellbound the second time as well.

Smith’s musical interpretation of “Hard Rain” definitely did justice to Dylan’s apocalyptic protest poem, which I take to be about a broken, sin-sick world in need of God’s healing power and grace, complete with the call to go out and make things right lest we all get swamped in a hard and very hard rain that seems now more than ever upon us.

    Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
    Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
    I’m a-goin’ back out ’fore the rain starts a-fallin’
    I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
    Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
    Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
    Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
    Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden
    Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
    Where black is the color, where none is the number
    And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
    And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
    Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
    But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
    And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
    It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

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What is truth?

— What Pontius Pilate said to Jesus

Truth? What does it matter?

Truth? What does it matter? (“What is truth?” painting by Nicholas Gai

I’m starting this regular series I’ll call “Today’s Truth Alert.”

I’ll begin with a “Truth Alert” concerning something the bald-faced lying President-elect claims about the election he won via the electoral college vote only.

Let me say first that the President-elect who lost by millions of popular votes and barely squeezed out an electoral championship in three key states is a lifelong, ethically challenged businessman who was obviously never a Rotarian.

Rotary Club International is the greatest of service clubs. Its purpose is to encourage and foster service and high ethical standards in the business and professional sectors around the world.

Rotary is everywhere. It does great service projects right here in San Ignacio Belize.

In addition to local service, Rotary advances international understanding, goodwill, and peace through global fellowship.

What I like most about Rotary is its 4-Way Test applied to every action Rotarians take.

1. Is it the truth?
2. Is it fair to all concerned?
3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

* * *

Now comes the powerful Speaker of the House Paul Ryan–who like so many people had his character assassinated by Trump as recently as October–who says Donald Trump’s lies don’t matter.

In an interview with the (allegedly dishonest) media that Trump (usually but not always ) abhors on “60 Minutes,” Speaker Ryan said it doesn’t matter that Trump claims via Twitter that he won the popular vote because “millions of people voted illegally.”

Let’s get one thing straight: this is a lie. If it was the truth, Trump would have bombarded us with evidence to back up his claim.

As it is, Hillary Clinton, whether Trump or anybody else likes it or not, won the popular vote by millions.

But Ryan and other defenders suggest it doesn’t matter that Trump pulls this kind of stinking load out of his hindquarters every day and presents it as some kind of fact-based truth.

Ryan, who suggested to “60 Minutes” that the truth of a matter doesn’t matter when Trump speaks, said this specifically about the veracity of the man who will soon be the most powerful leader in this big world:

    “The way I see the tweets you’re talking about, he’s basically giving voice to a lot of people who have felt that they were voiceless. He’s communicating with people in this country who’ve felt like they have not been listened to. He’s going to be an unconventional president.

OK great! He’s giving voice to Americans who need to be heard!

Although, a tremendous number of American voices still aren’t being heard by the likes of Ryan and Trump.

And great is this–he’s unconventional! That’s the Default Excuse for every god-awful thing Donald Trumps says or does.

It’s OK–he’s just unconventional.

So is a wrecking ball, which is an unconventional tool because it destroys things the way Trump destroys the truth when the truth will do.

I mean, the guy won the election.

We can only imagine the lies the whiny little juvenile of a man would have spread had he lost.

* * *

What is it about “Thou shalt not lie” that Paul Ryan, a devout Catholic, doesn’t understand?

What is it about all that God’s truth that Jesus Christ was so passionate about fostering?

For that matter, what is it about No. 1 on the Rotarian 4-Way Test (“Is it the truth?”) that Trump … and Ryan … and all those others who defend Trump’s lies, distortions, and misrepresentations day in and day out don’t seem to get?

Somebody famously suggested that God’s truth has the power to set us free from the bondage of sin.

You don’t have to be a Rotarian or Donald Trump supporter or Christian to know that words, which are used to spread truth or lies, matter.

May God and the Truth be with us the next four years.

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