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Archive for April, 2017

It [God’s soliloquy in Job 38] is incredibly biologically accurate, sexy and crunchy.

It’s a sarcastic speech that God gives, taunting Job: “If you’re so smart, can you tell me where I keep the wind and the snow? Can you whistle up a storm? Can you tell the waves where to break?” For Job, like for all people, all he could say was “No, you’re in charge. Can I sit down now?”

My realization was that for us now, that’s changed. We are large enough now to spit in God’s face—and we are. Now it’s us who have to decide how high the waves go, how many storms we are going to get and how strong they’re going to be.

— Environmental activist and Methodist Bill McGibben

Bill McGibben: the leading voice in environmental activism–and a devout Christian (Methodist Div.)

Let us now praise professor, author and activist Bill McGibben, if only for three reasons:

1. He’s known as the most famous environmentalist in the world because he’s the smartest, most sensible and tough-minded environmentalist in the world–and probably the most universally respected.

2. McGibben is one scientist who is a devout, unapologetic Christian who gets extra points for being a Methodist.

Go here to check out his interview with “America” the Jesuit Journal (one of my favorite Christian journals I read online every day).

3. He’s not Bill Nye the Science Guy, who, as it turns out, is a total crackpot who may not be the most credible spokesman for science and the environment.

I mean, you won’t find Bill McGibben getting down with Rachel Bloom on her “sex junk” in what looks like an old Saturday Night Live skit.

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Leath Tonino: a fine and mighty journalist, essayist and poet from Vermont.

Vermont free-lance writer Leath Tonino appreciates the natural and simple things in life. He’s a terrific writer whose essay “In Pursuit of Bird Poop” was a notable mention in 2016’s The Best American Science and Nature Writing.

Read it here.

He wins my vote for the poem below published in the February edition of The Sun magazine.(Link here.)

The last line with its reference to “crooked-in-the-best-sense” delighted me to no end, considering how politicians are crooked in the other sense.

“Write-Ins For President”
LEATH TONINO
I elect that bull elk in the Snake River.
I elect that raven in Canyonlands National Park.
I elect autumn moonlight on metal roofs.
I elect the strand of barbed wire that fell from the post and is now woven into the tall brown grass.
I elect the tall brown grass.
I elect my neighbors’ cat — the neighbors who are always cursing one another and screaming hateful things — because every morning he sits with me on the fire escape and watches the sunrise without meowing.
I elect the feeling of boots laced tight.
I elect potatoes cooked however.
I elect Vermont’s faded, sagging, leaning, crooked-in-the-best-sense-of-the-word barns.

If you’re new to the blog check out my book The View From Down in Poordom: Reflections on Scriptures Addressing Poverty.

It’s available at Amazonbooks.com, here, and Barnes & Noble online books.

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The Rev. Kent Ingram of First United Methodist in Colorado Springs said he has been a “faithful foot soldier” who obeys church law, yet he is supporting Oliveto. He struggled for years regarding the church’s LGBTQ stance, and when he learned from the congregation’s youth minister that six gay youths have attempted suicide because they “thought there was no place for them in God’s love,” Ingram made up his mind.

“Lives were at stake,” he said. “The integrity of the gospel was at stake.”

— From a story in The Denver Post about United Methodist Bishop Karen Oliveto

DENVER, CO – August 22, 2016: Bishop Karen Oliveto posed for a portrait in the Denver Post Building on August 22, 2016 after being elected the first openly gay bishop in my beloved United Methodist Church. (Photo by Vince Chandler / The Denver Post)

Below is a link to a story from the Denver Post about the United Methodist Church’s Bishop Karen Oliveto, whose unforgivable sin, according to my beloved UMC, sadly, is loving another woman.

I hope and pray she prevails today, but that’s hoping against hope considering that the dominant segment of the church can’t accept that Christ-loving people of the same sex can live in honest-to-God love with one another as much as straight couples.

Here’s the story, and a followup will be forthcoming on the turnout of today’s decision about this embattled church leader.

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Consider this the latest in our series we call here at the blog the “Trump Truth Alert,” in which we call out the President of the United States for routinely lying through his teeth, incapable of passing the Rotary Club 4-Way test which asks first: “Is it the truth?” (See here for more on that.)

In tonight’s edition we raise the question, “What’s wrong with this video?”

Hint No. 1: Pavarotti’s been dead for 10 years.

Hint No. 2. The great tenor’s family didn’t appreciate very much candidate Donald Trump using Pavarotti’s music at Trump Pep Rallies.

But you’ll find Trump saying this to Italian Prime Minister Gentiloni in the vid:

On July 21, last year, when then-candidate Donald Trump was using Pavarotti’s music at his Trump Pep Rallies, the great tenor’s family issued a statement that included this excerpt:

    “As members of his immediate family, we would like to recall that the values of brotherhood and solidarity which Luciano Pavarotti expressed throughout the course of his artistic career are entirely incompatible with the world view offered by the candidate Donald Trump.”

See more of the statement here.

God is the truth and the truth matters, even if President Trump has no relationship with truth.

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“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?”

— From the Book of Job, 38:4

Being the nationalistic Texan I am–and being an old newspaper scribe who loves good print journalism–I thoroughly enjoyed reading the ever-great Texas Monthly magazine’s profile of the genius filmmaker and native Texan Terrence Malick.

Malick, who doesn’t give interviews, has made such offbeat but hugely acclaimed and original films as Badlands (1978), Days of Heaven (1998) and The Thin Red Line and, currently the movie Song to Song that is set in his beloved hometown Austin.

The much-acclaimed movie-making genius Terrence “Terry” Malick, now 73, pictured here when he played football back in the day at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School. Long considered one of the most private and reclusive people in the arts, Texas Monthly points out that the enigmatic Malick hides in plain sight in Austin these days, two-step dancing with his wife at Austin night clubs.

I commend Texas Monthly writer Eric Benson’s superb profile of Malick to you, which you can read here.

In the video below are scenes from my favorite of Malick’s movies, The Tree of Life. It was filmed in Bastrop, Texas, not far from where I grew up, and also in some of the most remote places on earth. Malick spent more than 30 years filming scenes for it.

I’ve written here before about it being a thoroughly spiritual if not outright Christian movie: it’s a sublime, surreal, non-linear story and meditation on the age-old questions about evil, suffering, beauty, grace and nature.

Listening to the music from the movie always makes me feel like God has entered my mind, body, soul and spirit to the max.

The music in this collage of scenes is from the late, great Christian composer John Tavener’s “Funeral Canticle” from Tavener’s album.”Eternity’s Sunrise.” ( was introduced to Tavener’s music by a seminary classmate in 2000. I’ve been listening to Tavener since. More on Tavener herehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Tavener.

I could look at and listen to this beautiful vid all day.

And furthermore …

If you’re interested…

There was this analysis from Bishop Robert Barron when the movie came out in 2010.

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Regarding Fox News Channel, where the TV broadcasters are doing their almighty best to ignore the two-ton elephant in the room that is Bill O’Reilly…

I have this question: We’ve got this for a “fair and balanced” interview with an intelligent, informed and utterly polite Nebraska family farmer???

Click onto this link and watch before you answer that question for yourself: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/art-tanderup-keystone_us_58fa85dbe4b018a9ce5b72f7?lq&ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

Watch Fox’s Sandra Smith in action. She might as well have donned her Chinese-made “Make America Great Again” cap in suggesting for four minutes straight that a salt-of-the-earth farmer, Art Tanderup, and 90 fellow farmers are putting their selfish interests above the best interests of America.

Watch how flustered Smith gets toward the end when Tanderup–a retired schoolteacher who has definitely done his homework on the pipeline–counters her prosecutorial questioning.

Another question: Why would a professional TV news broadcaster even play the role of a prosecutor in the way she interviewed a Midwest farmer and retired schoolteacher who–gad!–dares along with 90 other landowners to suggest that it’s time for America to turn to renewable energy?

Is the position of these farmers who care about Mother Earth and the damage the pipeline has already done and will do tantamount to some kind of un-American crime?

Art and Helen Tunderup have been fighting the Keystone XL Pipeline for going on eight years.

They aren’t exactly “extreme environmentalist” flame-throwing liberals, as much as the sophisticates like Sandra Smith in the comfy confines of the Fox News studio in New York City would have you believe.

It might be to much to ask them to go to Nebraska and places like North Dakota and by the way–Canada–where Keystone’s “fancy leak detectors” have failed big-time, and talk to landowners.

Happy Mother Earth Day.

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Just because. This is good.

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