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Archive for May, 2018


Sylvia Bloom was an ordinary woman, a working slug secretary in one of her hometown law firms. She recently died at age 96 — leaving behind something extraordinary.

The Left Behind books that brainwashed millions of readers with its phony “Rapture” theology enriched the two authors of the book series.

They made tens of millions of dollars off the books and related “Left Behind” commercial products. (Don’t get me started on my distaste for those two. See here.)

Somebody should write a book about the great people who leave behind millions of dollars to enrich the lives of people for generations to come.

People like Sylvia Bloom, who retired secretary who died at the other day at age 96.

Many people knew that Ms. Bloom worked for Brooklyn law firm for 67 years. Nobody knew that she was amassing a fortune in all those years until the world learned that she willed $8 million for college scholarships.

This is from the always great New York Times:

    Even by the dizzying standards of New York City philanthropy, a recent $6.24 million donation to the Henry Street Settlement on the Lower East Side was a whopper — the largest single gift from an individual to the social service group in its 125-year history.

    It was not donated by some billionaire benefactor, but by a frugal legal secretary from Brooklyn who toiled for the same law firm for 67 years until she retired at age 96 and died not long afterward in 2016.

    Her name was Sylvia Bloom and even her closest friends and relatives had no idea she had amassed a fortune over the decades. She did this by shrewdly observing the investments made by the lawyers she served.

    “She was a secretary in an era when they ran their boss’s lives, including their personal investments,” recalled her niece Jane Lockshin. “So when the boss would buy a stock, she would make the purchase for him, and then buy the same stock for herself, but in a smaller amount because she was on a secretary’s salary.”

    Since Ms. Bloom never talked about this, even to those closest to her, the fact that she had carefully cultivated more than $9 million among three brokerage houses and 11 banks, emerged only at the end of her life — “an oh my God moment,” said Ms. Lockshin, the executor of Ms. Bloom’s estate.

This kind of story pops up from time to time and is definitely the kind of story that makes you go “Wow!” — in a good way.

These are the kind of quiet, humble people who quietly do extraordinary things with and in their lives.

They are the kind of people who genuinely advance shalom, or the kingdom of God, out of pure, unadulterated lovingkindness, compassion, generosity, and of course, love.

Long may their stories be told.

Please go hear to read the whole story.

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For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers…

“Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They preach the ancient law of life.

“Trees are sanctuaries… A tree says: I am life from eternal life.”

— German writer Herman Hesse, author of Steppenwolf*

My adopted daughter Paulita McKay will be five in July. She’s growing like the trees, and with the trees.

It surely breaks God’s heart every time some obscenely rich coal-mining baron in Kentucky or West Virginia gets richer by literally blowing up a mountaintop to produce the toxin that is coal.

“I think that I shall never see … a poem as lovely as a tree… (From the poem by Joyce Kilmer”

God didn’t create the mountains with all their trees and vegetation, all the wildlife and life-sustaining waters, to be blown to pieces for the purpose of endlessly and needlessly destroying God’s good creation.

This just in to News Central: This is 2018. We don’t need coal and coal mines any more than we need covered wagons and kerosene for long-distance transportation.

There’s a reason that mountaintops and trees and waterways are mentioned in verse after verse and page after page of the Good Book: they are sacred.

One of the final lines in your Bible has a foreboding reference to a tree. (See Revelation 22:19-23 here.)

We all love the trees in our yards. They give us beauty and fruit and shade; that they enhance our property value is like manna from heaven.

How do you grow back a mountain after a “mountaintop removal” for coal mining? In this process, huge machines called “draglines” push rock and dirt into nearby streams and valleys — and bury waterways forever.

Yet we accept the relatively new practice of bombing our American mountaintops — complete with their wildlife, forests and water supplies — for the passing value of a toxic fuel supply in a horrific process called “mountaintop removal.”

There is such a thing as a social sin — putting profits over the health and well being of people, for example. And a sin, whether individual or social, calls for repentance and a whole way of life.

Every day is Earth Day, so let us pray this day and every day for the God-given Creation that sustains us:

Mother God in your mercy,
Forgive us our complacent acceptance of the destruction of your living, breathing Earth for the financial gain of a greedy few people.

Keep us mindful of the ways in which all of us so blessed to live lives of comfort, convenience and pleasure, are complicit in our complacency about the poisoning and deaths of fellow Americans victimized by environmental destruction.

Open our hearts and minds to people living everywhere on this blue globe of a green planet who are choking and dying from the massive destruction of landscapes and poisoning of water supplies by multinational corporations that put profits above lives.

Forgive us for electing and accepting leaders who put their power, prestige and profiteering above the health and well being of their own constituents.

Keep us mindful of your own warning to us that “without a vision, the people perish.” Help us to envision all the ways that we can love and preserve your Creation — so that your Creation will continue to love and preserve us.

Empower us with the will and fortitude to fulfill the vision of a newer and greener America and a new Earth.

In the name of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ we pray,

Amen.

“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” Joni Mitchell

*Here is Herman Hesse’s beautiful ode to the tree in its entirety:

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

“A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

“A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

“When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

“A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

“So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”

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“We have found our dream president.”

— Jerry Falwell Jr. speaking about President Donald J. Trump, the only man ever to appear on the cover of Playboy magazine

Donald J. Trump was on the campaign trail in Pella, Iowa, in January 2016 when he autographed a vintage copy of Playboy magazine with his picture on the cover for an adoring supporter. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer via Atlantic magazine)

America’s “dream president” spoke about the power of prayer this morning at the National Day of Prayer event outside the White House.

With his hair shining like a golden halo, he spoke about the great Christian leaders the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize) and the Rev. Billy Graham, quoting those to Christian giants on prayer.

“Great great people,” he said.

That sonic-like boom you heard this morning was the sound of Martin Luther King and Billy Graham rolling over in their graves.

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