Archive for July, 2018

“For what does it profit a man if he loses his soul?” — The Lord

At one of his frequent pep rallies with his cheerleaders in their China-made MAGA caps–this time in Montana–the President of the United States was “on,” as the comedians say.

— He trashed George H.W. Bush, who at age 94 is frail and grieving the loss of his beloved (one) wife and First Lady by mocking the former president’s “Thousand Points of Light” program.

Meanwhile, down on the border…

For those too young to remember, that was a program aimed at rewarding patriotic Americans who had started and sustained effective volunteer programs.

It was one of the few Bush programs Americans on both sides of the political divide supported and respected Bush for.

That’s because American volunteers make America great without costing American taxpayers the millions of dollars Americans have paid to underwrite Trump’s weekly trips to his Florida Resort where he attends church at Easter before getting back to his beloved golf course.

But back to the Montana rally.

— Yet again he thoroughly trashed the great American war horse and hero John McCain, who is dying a slow, horrible death.

Pass the pom-poms!

That was some funny yuckin’ shit right there, weren’t it?

But seriously, he was just getting warmed up …

— He once again denigrated every Native American alive–including the Indian war veterans he has honored at the White House who have pleaded with him to stop with the racist slurs.*

— He praised two of the world’s most brutal dictators, his BFFs Kim and Vladimir.

And … well … he just loves to hear himself talk smack about decent Americans who deserve our honor and respect.

Once again …. President Trump is not only not being presidential –which, perversely, he loves not being–he is continuing to be an anti-Christ leader.

Once again I plead with those fellow Christians who think Jesus put him “back in the White House” to stop and think about what this is doing to the integrity of the Christian faith tradition; how is steadily destroying the influence of Christianity and the universal church; and how much it wounds our Lord Christ Jesus every time this president assassinates the character of fellow Americans and the poor and marginalized people Jesus loves.

*What Sen. Elizabeth Warren said about her Indian blood was a dumb and awful case of a white politician appropriating Native American culture. She shouldn’t have done it. The thing is, her dumb gaffe does not make Donald J. Trump’s brazen racism for some laughs acceptable. Racism is never acceptable. This is sort of Christianity 101.


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If you love great films and high-quality film making, and, like me, you love Texas movies most of all, I urge you to read “The Top 50 Texas Movies” list compiled by five writers at The Houston Chronicle.

You can read their picks at this online link, as the Chronicle will allow if few views for non-subscribers.

Ben Foster and Chris Pine channeled Paul Newman in Hud and James Dean in Giant in their grade-A performances as a pair of Texas brothers seeking to justice from callous bankers.

As a movie fanatic and a nationalistic, patriotic Texan, I like the Chronicle’s picks, even though it’s not the list I (or you anyone else) would have compiled.

All in all, however, I’m OK with their Top 10 Texas picture shows.

I’ve always thought Hell or High Water, which I’ve watched at least six times as it’s frequently shown on cable movie channels, should have picked up a wagonload of Oscars in 2016.

I really like the Chron’s terse, “Notable Texas Moments” they included with their picks. Their notable moment for Hell or High Water: “When the brothers rob a bank and find they aren’t the only ones who are armed.”

Indeed, there were a LOT of notable, pucker-up Texas moments in this movie.

Jeff Bridges, one of the three or four greatest actors alive, and the excellent Gil Birmingham as Indian partner in the gritty (and oh-so wonderfully politically incorrect) Hell or High Water.

Movies like Hell or High Water, which tell powerful stories about broken-up human beings seeking and finding hard-won grace and redemption, are out of fashion in Hollywood now.

If the filmmakers had made Jeff Bridges’ Texas Ranger a Marvel Comic character, with him able to leap whole West Texas towns in a single bound, it would have would won 15 Oscars and broken box-office records. (Note that the ever-great Jeff Bridges is in the Chron’s Top 2 movie picks, btw.)

In addition, the entire cast of Hell or High Water would have made group appearances on every late night show on TV* and yapped (lied?) about what a GREAT TIME THEY HAD WORKING TOGETHER!!!!

Hell or High Water is the kind of anti-establishment, anti-hero movie that’s a throwback to great films in that genre like Hud and, for that matter, Giant.

And that’s a pretty high commendation in this Texan’s book.
*(Jimmy Fallon never had a guest on his show who wasn’t a dear friend he loved like a brother or sister and knew to be one of the world’s greatest human beings. David Letterman, please come back and save late night TV!!!)

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Chances are, your mom or grandma or whatever nurturer you had growing up rubbed you with Vicks® VapoRub. Just as healing as the menthol aroma was the healing touch of your caretaker’s hands.

(For all those brown-skinned children and their nurturers suffering in America.)

In researching my book about the healing (and potentially destructive) power of touch, it occurred to me that Vicks® pharmaceuticals are as iconic as the great American products invented by Henry Ford or Steve Jobs.

Yet chances are you don’t know the name of the Greensboro, N.C. druggist who, in 1890, concocted Vicks® VapoRub in his pharmacy–it and a lot of other healing Vicks products marketed today by Procter & Gamble.

That Greensboro pharmacist was named Lunsford Richardson. His name wouldn’t fit on his famous menthol balm, so he named it after a brother-in-law — Dr. Joshua Vick.

Chances are that when you were a child, your mom or grandma or primary nurturer gave you fast-acting relief from your cold and cough by laying some of that wonderfully gooey Rub on you.

Chances are good that you have it in your medicine cabinet to rub on your children or grandchildren or your spouse or significant other even now.

I don’t know much about the science of how the aromatic, menthol goop works to promote relief of the sinuses and respiratory system. I just know that, to this day, when anybody rubs it on me when I’m laid low with congestion and coughing, the rubbing motion of the hands full of Vicks VapoRub is just as relieving as the menthol aroma.

I’m sure you’d agree that rubbing it on your own chest and neck and facial areas when you’re struggling to breathe just doesn’t have nearly the same relieving effect as someone laying those menthol-cool hands on you.

I moved to Belize six years ago this month. I lived at that time in the ancient Mayan village of Succutz, home of the world famous Xunantunich temple. The temple compound is a full mountain mile above the mighty Mopan River and only five miles from where I live now.

That oil-and-herb concoction in the cosmic-blue jar is so perfect that Mayan healers in Mexico and Central American keep it on hand.

On my first day in old Succutz, I was walking down a trail in the bush and passed by a typical clapboard house with kids and dogs running around a yard that sloped down to a stream.

Beneath a shady mango tree just outside the house, a boy about age 8 was lying flat on his back in his underwear on a blanket. His mother, clad in Mayan threads, was bent over him on her knees and rubbing him. Being the incurably curious creature I am, I strolled up the slope and said hello to the woman, curious about what she was doing.

It turned out she was slowly and methodically massaging the child’s chest, neck and head with that not-so-ancient Mayan salve called Vicks VapoRub.

Mind you, this was a Mayan bush woman who had all kinds of healing herbs and ancient remedies at her disposal to relieve a child’s deep cough and congestion.

And yet she had a jar of the same Vicks VapoRub, with its simple but perfect mix of oils and herbs, that has given me and you and people around the world healing relief since we were babies.

I see the blue Vicks jars in even the most remote villages everywhere south of the U.S. border for three reasons: 1) it’s so effective and 2) it’s oh-so-affordable for even the poorest people I meet and 3) it has a long shelf life.

Such is the power of that great American balm that the nerdy pharmacist Lunsford Richardson stuffed into a now iconic jar that was and is and always will be a soothing cosmic blue in color.

And such is the divine, healing power of touch in a body rub, appropriately rendered.

Read more about the nerdy pharmacist who invented the world’s most famous healing ointment in Greensboro, N.C.

This is also a good overview if you’re a fellow history buff.

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