Archive for June, 2018

In spite of the deaths of their comrades, two working-slug journalists put their grief on hold to spend the night doing the unappreciated jobs they do for a living. Josh McKerrow, left, a staff photographer, and Pat Furgurson, a staff reporter, worked Thursday on the next day’s newspaper from a pickup truck in a mall parking garage in Annapolis. (New York Times photo by Nate Pence)

I left the journalism profession in the year 2000 because I was called to serve God and the church in ordained ministry.

But my first calling in life, at age 16 or so, was to journalism. I even worked my way through the first two years of seminary at SMU working full-time as an associate editor for The United Methodist Reporter.

Nobody loves reporters and editors except other reporters and editors, people like myself who were called into a profession in which you won’t ever win any popularity contest–not if you do your job with honesty and integrity.

Even though I left journalism a long time ago, I’ll always miss the camaraderie unique to the news profession.

I’ll always stand in solidarity with journalists around the world who slug away every day seeking the truth in the face of enormous resistance from people who want very much to keep people in the dark and can’t stand the light that journalists are trying to shine on them.

Journalists are definitely not perfect people and sometimes they blow it. In fact, resisters work hard sometimes to make sure they blow it so they can bash them. It’s a hard, tricky profession where a lot of people are out to get you.

Yet contrary to what some shamelessly corrupt, lying American leaders want you to believe–and you may believe it yourself–they (we journalists!) are not “enemies of the people.”

Gosh, you’d be surprised to know how many of them love the God and feel like they are doing God’s work in speaking truth to power.

See the profiles of the dead journalists here and pray for their families if you will because Journalist’s Lives Matter just like yours.

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With respects to Monty Python…





What he learned to say first day in medical school.

But they could probably go $1.4 and survive.

FOR YOU WINE SNOBS: From his greatness James Thurber back in the day.



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I mentioned in my last post — written in a fit of righteous indignation or what may have been, Lord help me, just sanctimonious self-righteousness — that I’m researching and writing a book about the theology of touch.

The abiding reference point of this book — or the touchstone (pun intended) — will be the Gospel of Mark, where Jesus is constantly touching or being touched.

That makes it a book about God’s gift of the healing power of touch — touch appropriately applied. “Appropriate” is a word that will show up repeatedly in the text in a time when people are scared to touch anybody in a loving, consoling way.

I will of course, uh, touch on what is appropriate and not in this age of the me-too movement.

But drawing on research and interviews with all kinds of experts on the skin and physical human contact, the book will delve into matters like how the body, mind and immune system react to human touch.

Just as important, it will delve into the potential lethal danger of touch deprivation in young children and anybody else, like so many old folks who are trapped in the darkness of loneliness in homes and nursing homes and places like VA hospitals.

God only knows how many sick and old folks in this broken, sin-sick world– and in the USA alone — are starving and dying of thirst for someone to hug them or hold their hands and just be a quiet, listening presence to them.

And of course, today we’re seeing even babies in diapers dying for the maternal and paternal touch that’s been lost — or any other touch at this point from any consoling caretaker that they can get.

Touch deprivation: it’s potentially lethal. (photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

I hope this border crisis will go down in history as the time when the American church united to be the church, a time when church people stepped up and stepped in to help the poor and vulnerable innocents who are now being spread out in shelters all over the country. It’s going to be a long and very long time before the issue is resolved regardless of whether a win-win political solution for all sides concerned is hammered out.

A star is born. July 12, 2013. My brown, Central American daughter Paulita McKay was born into Central American poverty. Yet she’s been blessed to have an enormous amount of loving touch from me, her mom, sister, brother–and many people in Cayo, Belize, who are drawn to her magnetic personality.

So the book wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t include a chapter on this political crisis and the response to it from political leaders and everyone else — especially the response of the American church which is just as divided as the political tribes and so desperately needs to unite and just be the church to the poor and vulnerable whomever and wherever they are in this world, our border included.

Still, the book I’m developing will be not be a political polemic but a theology book on the theology of (appropriate!) healing touch.

It so happens that on a hot June day outside the Vatican two years ago, Pope Francis had something to say about how Jesus invites us to touch the untouchables, as follows (with my italics for emphasis):

    (ADAPTED FROM: Vatican Radio Online) Pope Francis on Wednesday held his weekly general audience. …. During his catechesis, the Pope focused his reflections on the Gospel story of the leper who was healed by Jesus as a sign of God’s mercy and forgiveness.

    As Jesus reached out and touched the unclean man, he said, so we must never be afraid to reach out and touch the poor and those most in need. At the same time, he said, the Lord invites each of us to feel our own need and to ask for his healing touch.

    Please see below the English summary of the Pope’s words at his Wednesday General Audience.

    Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy, we now consider Jesus’ healing of the leper (Lk 5:12-14). As we know, lepers were considered unclean and bound by law to avoid contact with others.

    Saint Luke tells us that one leper, moved by faith, did not fear to pass among the crowds and beg Jesus to cleanse him. If this leper broke the law, Jesus did likewise by touching the man and cleansing him of the disease.

    The Lord’s example teaches us not to be afraid to reach out and touch the poor and the needy in our midst.

    Significantly, the encounter does not end there. Jesus tells the healed leper to present himself to the priest to make the prescribed offering, and as a testimony to his healing. In this way, he shows us that his miracles of healing aim at the rehabilitation of sinners and that true faith bears fruit in witness.

    The Lord invites each of us to feel our own need and to ask for his healing touch. Like the leper, may we turn to Jesus in faith and let our lives proclaim his gifts of mercy, forgiveness and spiritual rebirth.

Reach out and touch someone — the health you boost may be your own.

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This child will be sent to a United States government shelter where she will have a comfortable bed and toys, but caretakers will NOT be allowed to give her what a traumatized child desperately needs: human touch. Caregivers of these kids are not allowed to hug, cuddle or console these children with any touch whatsoever, according to an American Pediatric Association report. (photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

President Trump is being the Supreme Liar-in-Chief, as always.

He says repeatedly, to a base that chooses to believe the dozens of lies he spews in a day (I guess because he’s not a lyin’ Clinton or a lying’ Obama so his nonstop lies are OK?), that federal law requires families crossing the border illegally must be separated.

Federal law and the usual suspects (Democrats).

“I hate it. I hate to see the separation of families and children,” he says, lying through his teeth yet again.

He doesn’t hate to see this evil government policy at all.

He wants to rip these families apart to demonize and blame Democrats and Obama and anybody except himself for a whole new and cruel zero-tolerance policy that he and Sessions imposed on a whim. They gave no notice whatsoever for the government officials who have to prepare to detain these children and other separated family members.

So now the government is scrambling to set up tent cities for children under 5.

At least the tents are air-conditioned.

How humane of them.

Although, not allowing the children to be touched by their caregivers is not so humane at that. According to a pediatrician who was allowed to tour some of the government shelters, the kids are given beds, toys, and meals — but aren’t allowed to be touched whatsoever.

That’s a government rule. You can’t hug and console a traumatized, crying child in U.S. government detention.

Think about that.

You know and I know that human touch and consolation is the one thing every baby and child in this world needs every bit as much as food, water and toys.

In fact, we all need consoling hugs, kisses and pats on the back no matter what our age.

But to a child, consoling touch is as necessary as oxygen for healthy development. Many studies have shown that young children literally die from touch deprivation.

I know this, because it so happenings I’m researching and I’m writing a book about the healing power of the touch of Jesus, with the gospel of Mark as (no pun intended) the book’s touchstone.

So now we have traumatized children in America who are being denied any healing care by contact whatsoever. It pains me to say that is ugly episode in American history will be included in the book. I wish it weren’t so.

See here for what a prominent American pediatrician who has seen the kids reports about this.

Is this child some kind of animal? She looks much like my brown Belizean daughter Paulita McKay to me. Click on the photo to enlarge

What’s so maddening is that Trump (and Jeff Sessions of Romans 13-fiasco fame and the ever-heartless Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and everybody else) knows good and well there is no law requiring children be taken away from their parents when they cross the border.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, Trump’s ally and golfing partner who sometimes goes off the Republican reservation to speak the hard truth to Trump and everybody else, said today he plans to tell Trump that since he (Trump) hates to see these separations, he can stop them cold “with one phone call.”

And should.

He could do that, but he won’t, because he doesn’t want to end this cruel action. Approval from his rabid base trumps the need for common decency.

The fact is that crossing the border illegally is a federal misdemeanor that has almost never been enforced for a lot of good reasons.

Children have been separated from parents if the parents are referred for criminal prosecution.

The huge spike in the separation of these families in just two weeks was caused by that cruel zero-tolerance policy introduced by the Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and defended by the likes of my Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Huckabee Sanders of course is the daughter of an ordained Southern Baptist preacher-turned-greedy-political-opportunist who lives in a seaside mansion on the Florida Coast that Fox News built; Fox News been very, very good to Mike Huckabee.

Trump, finally by his own admission today, is trying to force Democrats to agree to an immigration bill to provide the money to build the wall he promised that Mexico would pay for.

I’ve said before that I would never call Trump the anti-Christ, because metaphorical anti-Christs of all kinds are always with us.

People like Trump’s buddy in North Korea Kim Laugh-a-Minute, who is so funny and has a great personality and is so respected that his people run up to him in tears to bow down to him–he’s a biblical anti-Christ.

Trump himself is just another in a long line of anti-Christ figures. But this is a first. He’s the first American president who was so anti-Christian.

I’ve seen many Trump supporters on social media say Democrats and “the mainstream media” hate Donald Trump because he’s white and because he’s a Christian.

I look at him and see a man who is orange, with tanning booth eyes and a strong but craven personality. And Christian?

If Donald Trump’s a Christian, his pal the leader of North Korea is the latest incarnation of Buddha himself.

What’s sad is that it turns out Attorney General Jeff Sessions–who reportedly is a Sunday school teacher at a United Methodist Church in Mobile, Ala. — is an embarrassment to Christianity, the United Methodist Church with its Wesleyan Connection and tradition, and America itself.

It was bad enough that Sessions completely lied by omission about what the Apostle Paul really said about obeying government authorities. He’s been roundly rapped for that violence to scripture by everybody from the Southern Baptist Church to Franklin Graham and most of the world’s Roman Catholic Church leaders — especially the American Catholic leaders.

What really irked me, and irked even most of my conservative and very conservative evangelical friends upset by this zero-tolerance horror, is that Jeff Sessions said the separation of children is biblical with a shit-eating grin on his face. As if he is delighted to see these families separated and children terrorized because it’s God’s law.

I hope he and Trump and the boys have had a cheerful Father’s Day.

I’ve had a hard time fully relishing mine with my beloved America so utterly, tragically lost.

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Was our great nation founded on a rebellion against God? It would seem so from reading Romans 13.

So … if Jeff Sessions and Sarah Huckabee Sanders are right about government authority they see it according to Romans 13 — which they cite to justify state-sanctioned terrorism against children and their families — it seems to me that our Founding Fathers rebelled against God and God’s word when they waged a bloody revolution against the British government.

The colonists tarred and feathered the government’s tax collectors. Didn’t that fly in the face of Romans 13?

But then, if our Founding Fathers had submitted to government authority because of what the Apostle Paul said in Romans 13, we’d all be speaking British.

Here’s what Paul said in Romans 13:1-7 (NRSV) — complete with what he said about paying taxes:

    Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God.

    2 Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval;

    4 for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer.

    5 Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience.
    6 For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is due them — taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.

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Really, he’s got a great personality.

He’s a funny guy, he’s very smart, he’s a great negotiator.

He loves his people, not that I’m surprised by that, but he loves his people.

And I think that we have the start of an amazing deal.

We’re going to denuke North Korea.”

— President Trump on Kim Jong Un in interview with Greta Van Susteren, here

Just a good ol’ boy, never meaning no harm: “He’s got a great personality. He’s a very funny guy.”
photo: Doug Mills, NY Times

I looked into his eyes and saw his soul.

I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy.

We had a very good dialog. I was able to get a sense of his soul, a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country.

And I appreciated so very much the frank dialog. I wouldn’t have invited him to my ranch if I didn’t trust him.

— Then-President George W. Bush after meeting Vladimir Putin (see video here)

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In which rock legend Felix Cavaliere explains the idealistic sensibilities of his legendary band “The Young Rascals,” complete with the story behind one of the band’s many great and greatest hits.

I often wonder how my generation lost that idealistic spirit and vision of freedom for all — and why we can’t seem to recapture it.

All the world over, so easy to see
People everywhere just wanna be free
Listen, please listen, that’s the way it should be
There’s peace in the valley, people got to be free

You should see
What a lovely, lovely world this’d be
Everyone learned to live together, ah hah
Seems to me
Such an itty bitty thing should be
Why can’t you and me learn to love one another?

All the world over, so easy to see
People everywhere just wanna be free (wanna be free)
I can’t understand it, so simple to me
People everywhere just got to be free

If there’s a man
Who is down and needs a helpin’ hand
All it takes is you to understand and
To pull him through, ah hah
Seems to me
We got to solve it individually, ah ah
And I’ll do unto you what you do to me
Said, no

Hear the shoutin’ from the mountains on out to the sea
No two ways about it, people have to be free (they gotta be free)
Ask me my opinion, my opinion will be
Natural situation for a man to be free
Get right on board now, huh, huh
Yeah oh, what a feelin’s just come over me
Love can move a mountain, make a blind man see
Everybody sing it now come on let’s go see
Peace in the valley now, we all can be free

See that train over there?
Now that’s the train of freedom
It’s about to ‘rrive any minute, now
You know it’s been’a long, long overdue
Look out ’cause it’s a’comin’ right on through
Ha, ha, yeah, ha, ha, yeah

*Songwriters: Edward Brigati / Felix Cavaliere
People Got to Be Free lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Ted Nugent, that old rock star picture on the left, is a close, personal friend of Donald Trump (and the likes of Rick Perry and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott). Ted Nugent once called Hillary Clinton a
C–T. He has never apologized to Clinton, and won’t.

To quote the great rock god and poet Jim Morrison, “Strange days have found us.”

It’s strange to see how much more vile and vulgar America’s politics and culture become every day.

And just as strange to see the double standards at play in ultra-conservative politics and religion.

Take the case of political satirist Samantha Bee.

She’s a sure-enough leftie who has a huge audience of people who pay to watch her be (in my opinion) not very funny on cable TV. Comedy, like music and all the creative arts, are extremely subjective.

I love great, biting political satire and have my favorites who deal in it, and she’s just not a favorite.

Ah … but ain’t that America.

To each his or her own.

It’s still a free country. So far.

* * *

Samantha Bee was recently forced to apologize for jokingly calling Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka “a feckless c–t.”

I mean, Wow. She went there with the most demeaning word that anybody, male or female, can use to diminish a woman’s humanity.

There’s this unwritten code in America that even a vulgar comic in the hilarious, satirical, and oh-so-discomfiting tradition of George Carlin and Richard Pryor can’t use that word.

At any rate, much of the American nation is still in a state of outrage over it.

But a lot of the outrage is coming from people, like Donald Trump, who thought it was funny when the old Rock star Ted Nugent called Hillary Clinton by that same, vile word that Samantha Bee used to slap down Ivanka Trump.

If context matters at all–and it almost always does matter to some extent in now daily outrages)–Bee made the horrific “joke” in the context of calling attention to Ivanka Trump’s blind spots regarding mothers and children being ripped apart by government ICE agents.

Ultra-conservative political and righteous Christian leaders are still piling on Samantha Bee, who apologized unequivocally to Ivanka — while giving the rock god of nasty political discourse Ted Nugent a pass for the same offense.

In fact, in April last year, Trump backer Ted Nugent had lunch and a lot of happy schmoozing with Trump in the White House with Kid Rock and Sarah Palin–those other two champions of women’s rights.

Nugent, like his hero and pal Donald Trump, never, ever apologizes.

And Belize me when I tell you … today’s liberals and Democrats practice plenty of their own double standards.

That said, most Americans never even heard of Samantha Bee before she went over whatever the invisible top is today. (Talking about “grabbing em by the pussy” used to be over the top but no more.)

Ted Nugent has been famous since the sixties for being a rock n roll guitar god, even though he was no Jim Morrison and no guitar god like that guitar god in Jim’s band The Doors, that I can tell you.

Nugent’s fame grew over the years as he became a close, personal friend of everybody from Texas’s former governor Rick Perry and current governor Greg Abbott to the current occupant of the White House.

Republicans frequently call on Ted Nugent to perform at their inaugurations and fund-raisers.

Yes, Ted Nugent.

The man who amused Trump and his “base” by unapologetically calling Hillary Clinton that word.

I guess it’s OK because . . . you know . . .


Get over it, snowflakes.

Political comic Samantha Bee called Ivanka Trump “a feckless c–t, and will never be forgiven. Rock god Ted Nugent, called Hillary Clinton a “c–t” — and got to spend 4 hours schmoozing with President Trump in the White House. Strange days indeed.

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At many of our past high school reunions, we rocked all night to classic rock hits from our era, like Purple Hay by Jimi Hendrix.

My classmates from the Class of 1968 at Navasota (Texas) High School are having a quiet get-together at a local restaurant this month for our 50th Reunion.

I won’t be able to attend. And anyway, it’s going to be a really quiet get-together, unlike so many of our past reunions where we danced all night to sixties classics from our era.

That was before about 50 of us developed bad backs and had too many knee and hip replacements to dance like they do in the land of a thousand dances.

But seriously, ladies and germs. A lot of life — and too much death — rolls down the currents of 50 years. Innocence and vigor start fading all too quickly after the school years that you spent crossing the bridge from youth to adulthood.

But that’s OK. The Spirit of ’68 is still flaming in the Land of a Thousand Dances. (Black and White editions follow.)

The State Legislature of Texas has designated Navasota as the official “Blues Capital of Texas.”

Find out why at this blog site.

Navasota is an old, historic and unique Texas town and cultural center, with the blues being at the heart of its culture.

The influential blues man Mance Lipscomb lived in a house out on Piedmont Road, not far from my home in Navasota, Texas. (Bob Dylan mentions his visit to Lipscomb’s house in his autobiography Chronicles. Another music legend, Joe Tex also grew up there and returned to a house he built there in his later years.

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