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Watching the news yesterday, I saw a state official in Florida standing and talking in the middle of utter destruction–his voice cracking with emotion.

For the victims of Hurricane Michael, with gratitude for blessings.

He was talking about how so many of his fellow Floridians who had everything they ever wanted have been robbed and rendered penniless by Hurricane Michael.

“They had homes and cars and boats,” he said. “They had no flood insurance and the places where they made their livings have been destroyed. Even the places where they kept their money and savings are gone.

“They’re never going to recover from this. They’re going to be sleeping under bridges.”

What an arresting word picture of the untold numbers of Americans who’ve been dropped like stones into the Valley of Poordom.

What a stark reminder that so many untold millions of the poor and homeless in America are not lazy bums or moochers.

I always have prayer candles around the house, but keeping a special one for the victims of Hurricane Michael, who’ve been abruptly dropped into Poordom, temporarily or perhaps permanently.

I’m keeping a special candle lit to remind me to keep praying for all the victims of wicked Michael, those who have the ways and means to recover and those who don’t.

I have intentionally chosen a lifestyle based on the value of simplicity. I have a humble house with all the creature comforts I need, complete with a wide-screen TV and a good fridge and oven and a lot of books and a beautiful big mahogany desk my Belizean landlord and dear friend gave me for my office for as long as I want it.

I am writing this on the sort of wonder that only a free-market system that rewards incentive could produce: a MacPro Apple computer–what may be the most valuable tool-and-toy I own. Probably the one possession I would hate to lose the most.

Not counting, of course, certain family mementoes and certain Bibles and sentimental valuables that money can never replace.

When we weep, he weeps. When we suffer, he suffers. He’s been there.

Many of those victims of the storm are torn up today by the divisions within their very souls. By turns, they are angry even at God (and perhaps feeling needlessly guilty for anger at God) and thankful to God for being alive and for the opportunity of hope.

Like every other American, I am extremely sad, as we all have to be, over all the loss of lives and the ways of life lost in Florida, Georgia and other states.

The special candle I have flaming every minute that I’m home is also to remind me to be grateful to a God for all the many blessings I take for granted every day.

Lord in your mercy, hear it all: our confusion, our tears, our anger, our pain, our suffering, our gratitude.

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Texas novelist and essayist Larry McMurtry, no slouch in writing sharp prose, once opined that “poets are the thoroughbreds of writers.”

All my life I’ve embraced God’s grace by lying on my back and floating, letting the water and that grace bear me up. This is my favorite floating spot, where the Belizean water is extremely soft and healing.

Throughout my life I’ve turned to poetry for relief when the world is too much with me. In 2018, I’ve been turning to poetry–reading and writing it–more than ever.

One of my favorite poets is Denise Levertov (1923-1977).

A devout Christian who became increasingly outspoken as an anti-war activist in the sixties, Levertov’s poetry grew evermore political–and was always high-minded. The body of work she left us deals with matters of personal conscience on social issues like war and environmental destruction.

Still, Levertov, the daughter of an Anglican minister who moved from England to the U.S. at age 25, frequently waxed eloquently about the most commonplace things in life. Things like a man walking two dogs in the rain, or sunlight glittering on trash in the street.

Everything she penned flowed from her wellspring of faith in the God she loved.

In her typically perceptive poem “The Avowal,” Levertov makes us feel and see how easy-breezy it is to let God’s “allsurrounding grace” hold us up.

Pictured with the iconic American monk and poet Thomas Merton (right) at his hermitage in Kentucky are fellow Kentucky poet Wendell Berry and another of my favorite all-time poets Denise Levertov.


I especially like the first three lines of “The Avowal.” I love nothing more than to lie on my back in a still body of water and allow it to bear me up, to float like a boat and watch the birds and clouds do their easy-breezy thing.

Enjoy “The Avowal” by Denise Levertov and remember: God’s grace is everywhere and extravagant.

As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that allsurrounding
grace.

——————-
Learn more about her greatness Levertov here.

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Raw Anger Management

I only pick the best people.”

— Donald J. Trump

Judge Kavanaugh’s Attitude: How dare you question me: I’ve been an elitist all my life. I’m entitled to a position on the Supreme Court. I drank beer. Sometimes too much beer. Who hasn’t? Kiss my privileged preppie-Yale Law School ass.”

Judges have sent criminal wrongdoers to Anger Management classes for far less than Brett Kavanaugh’s historic nervous breakdown.

Considering that knuckle-dragger Mark Judge, jittery Kavanaugh’s good buddy back in prep school, wrote a book about how out of control he and all the boys were with alcohol and drugs and girls in their teen years, I have no doubt in my mind that Kavanaugh got drunk out of his bucket with Mark Judge and dragged Christine Blasey Ford from a bathroom to the bedroom.

The title of Judge’s book at the school where he and Kavanaugh were close: Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk.

Interesting that Judge hid out for a week hoping nobody would find him to question him about that allegation by Professor Ford that Judge joined Kavanaugh in assaulting her back in the boys’ raucous days at the Catholic Animal House.

That said, let’s lay aside the issues with Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual and alcohol abuse.

Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination is now opposed by:

1. 1,200 law professors and legal scholars

2. the American Bar Association

3. former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens

4. the Catholic Journal

5. the National Council of Churches

The opposition is not so much on grounds involving sexual abuse or an alcohol problem he clearly once had and may have to this day considering his sadly comical emphasis on his romance with beer.

Trump this week made some weird comments about his warm-and-fuzzy “love” of the pudgy, cuddly leader of North Korea.

Kavanaugh talked about beer in his Senate testimony as if beer was the love and soulmate of his life.

He’s opposed by the aforementioned parties because of the complete lack of judicial temperament he demonstrated toward U.S. Senators when questioned about his problem of drinking to the point of blacking out.

He has since conceded in a Wall Street Journal commentary that he let his emotions get away from him, but attributed his meltdown to frustration.

Well of course he was frustrated.

The problem is that he was so frustrated that he was verily frothing at the mouth.

His total lack of grace under pressure in the Senate pressure chamber was something to behold.

But I fully expect him to make it to the Supreme Court. Sadly, the Republicans have been doggedly determined to get him railroaded to confirmation, by hook or by crook, from Day 1.

Kavanaugh, who proved himself to be a seriel liar and dodge-ball artist in his testimony before sexual impropriety or alcohol abuse ever came up, will probably be approved for the Supreme Court, under Republican leadership, for two reasons:

1. He wasn’t nominated by Obama or any other Democrat.

2. His name’s not a Clinton.

He could have shot somebody on Park Avenue, drunk out of his bucket on beer–which he really, really, really likes a lot–and Trump and Trump supporters would give him a pass.

If there is any justice, Kavanaugh will get rejected by the Senate.

Not only that, the legal community will bring him up on code-of-conduct charges to answer for his combative behavior under questioning by senators.

Call it what you will: judicial temperament, grace under pressure, sober inner strength.

It’s what we expect from any judge.

To settle for less would be a settlement that only a desperate, ambulance-chasing lawyer would feel good about.

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Tubing

Tubing in the Mopan River in Bullet Tree Village, Belize

May what I do flow from me like a river,

no forcing and no holding back,

the way it is with children.”

— poet Rainer Maria Rilke

Life is water.

Water is life.

Our bodies are something like 75 percent water.

In Christianity, water is a connection to God. By water, we baptize, we bless, we cleanse.

But water is symbolic in every religion. On one of their pilgrimages, Tibetan Buddhists go to 108 different springs, praying at each one.

Who doesn’t love the ocean, where you can literally tune your heart to ocean waves. Your happy heart. Your broken heart.

Philosopher Simon Critchley, who loves all sources of water, wonderfully describes a still lake as “a decaffeinated sea.”

Still, Critchley seems to prefer the sea to lakes and rivers:

    “The never-ending drone of the surf, sitting by the sea in fair weather or foul and feeling time disappear into tide, into the endless pendulum of the tidal range.

    “At moments like this, one can sink into deep reverie, a motionlessness that is not sleep, but where one is somehow held by the sound of the surf, lulled by the tidal movement.”

Me, I do love the beach: It’s one big reason I moved to Belize after all. (See here for the story on why I moved to Belize.)

But just as I relish the sound of an ocean’s music, I love the tune of a river when I sit quietly on its banks.

Down by the river: A “Mercy Seat,” fashioned from the hard wood of a Bullet Tree.

In the jungles of Belize, especially near sources of water, you’ll see wooden benches built low to the ground (Mayan bloods are extremely short people with short little legs) under blessedly shady trees, perfect for escaping the heat.

One day I was hiking along the riverside in the beautiful village called Bullet Tree, a mere three miles from my home.

I saw a toothless old Mayan man sitting on one of the benches, watching the river go by. His English was not great and neither is my Spanish always very fluent.

But we struck up a good conversation. I told him I saw benches like the one we were sitting on all over Belize. I noted that they are all are exactly alike, although some seat as many as three or four people, like the one we were on, and others only two.

“Yes,” he said, grinning and patting his hand on the hard bench cut from a Bullet Tree. “Mercy seat. Mercy seat.”

Turns out that’s what the old Mayans call the benches: mercy seats.

The mercy seats are, more often than not, close to a water source, usually a river or lake.

And where there is a source of water there is a merciful God.

Welcome to the jungle.

Listen to the music.

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Putting “God back in the White House” has created a hellacious national crisis.

So here’s my best guess on the New York Times “anonymous” mystery, which is scary but oh-so-politically-intriguing.

I’m convinced it was former Sen. Dan Coats, who demonstrated in his now famous and historic interview with Andrea Mitchell that he doesn’t give a spit at this point what Trump says or does to him.

Or … it could have been Secretary of State and former Congressman Mike Pompeo.

Or … there is a good chance it was Coats and Pompeo with a third insider, like one of the generals who is at Trump’s side every day.

At any rate, it certainly comports with everything we’ve been able to read in Bob Woodward’s latest bombshell book.

I think it’s one or two or all three — Coats, Pompeo and a third insider — who had a hand in writing what the Times dared to publish.

If for no other reason than the fact that Coats was especially close to John McCain, who is lifted up in the Times piece.

But then, so was our Secretary of Defense Mattis, who was literally keeping Mrs. McCain proposed up all those days and nights during McCain’s funeral in D.C. just last week …

Some have suggested Coats or such a cabal outlined it and gave it to somebody like a close family member to actually write. Even having a speech writer do it would involve one too many insiders and enhance the risks.

A cabal gives two or three people “plausible deniability.” The ability to say, “I didn’t write that, I swear!”

All kinds of plausible speculation is out there, which, again, makes it intriguing for those of us who are lifelong, incurable, opinionated political junkies.

Some of us are born with that curse.

At any rate, it’s scary that people in the White House that NOBODY voted for are having to go to such extreme, blatantly dishonest measures to prevent Trump from doing something catastrophic for the nation an-or the world.

It’s scary that there has been this so-called “soft coup” in Washington. I, like most Americans, hate the whole god-awful mess.

I much prefer such political intrigue in great novels or movies.

But herein lies the root of the problem: If Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan and other GOP leaders would grow some rugby balls and put the country ahead of their jobs and desire for stacking the almighty Supreme Court and passing tax cuts to benefit the already rich on the backs of the poor and working poor, we wouldn’t be here.

But then, the authors of the anonymous letter trashing their boss wanted those same extreme tax cuts and stacked Supreme Court and that’s why they hired on.

Nobody forced Coats or Pompeo or any other “resistors” in the White House to work for a sick, corrupt president who demonstrated his sickness and corruption in the most bizarre political campaign in history.

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CORRECTION: In the original post of what follows, I incorrectly referred to Yemen as an African nation.

Yemen is located in Asia (which has 48 countries!) and is bordered by Saudi Arabia and Oman. I have no excuse for the error. I believe that with nations around the world so interconnected, for better or for worse, it’s vital to get geography right.

Go here for more at Wiki.

Please go here to learn more about the war in Yemen.

We made a great weapons deal with the blood-thirsty, de facto Saudi dictator Salman last year, and now we’re complicit in the intentional bombing of civilians in Yemen.

Here’s a national news story that got precious little attention last week with all the funeral news and the usual Mueller-Sessions bashing.

In the Asian nation of Yemen, a 500-ton American-made bomb was dropped on Yemen children by our friends the Saudis and a Saudi-led coalition.

This kind of intentional bombing of innocents is becoming all too routine by our Saudi “friends.”

You’ll recall that back in May of last year, Trump was in Saudi Arabia bragging in a speech about the massive $110 billion arms deal that he and his Saudi dictator friend Mohammed bin “Woo Woo” Salman signed.

Trump promised that he would help Salman and the Saudis get a “good deal” from our American weapons makers.

That’s one promise he actually followed through with.

For America, Trump said in the speech, “This means, jobs, jobs, jobs.”

At the time, the human rights division of the American Bar Association came out with legal guns blazing because the weapons were likely to be used for war crimes in Yemen.

The ABA warned that the deal would no doubt violate U.S. law.

And what do you know.

That massive, $110 billion deal for weapons, which created new American jobs, has America exporting Saudi terrorism to Yemen while.

We’ve known for months, by the way, that Arabia’s Salman and the boys are in cahoots with al Qaeada militants, who the Saudis used to kill for us, in the terrorism in Yemen.

So much for international law and order and a more peaceful world and all that bloody rot.

Meanwhile, our American military leaders including Defense Secretary Mattis — who in his public time was funeralizing with the McCain family last week — are working overtime to reign in the Saudi terrorism!

Somebody needs to put up one of those billboards outside the White House to say:

Your Terrorism: Not good, America.” — God

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CORRECTION: In the original post of this, I incorrectly referred to Yemen as an African nation.

Yemen is located in Asia (which has 48 countries!) and is bordered by Saudi Arabia and Oman. I have no excuse for the error. I believe that with nations around the world so interconnected, for better or for worse, it’s vital to get geography right.

Go here for more at Wiki.

Please go here to learn more about the war in Yemen.

We made a great weapons deal with the blood-thirsty, de facto Saudi dictator Salman last year, and now we’re complicit in the intentional bombing of civilians in Yemen.

Here’s a national news story that got precious little attention last week with all the funeral news and the usual Mueller-Sessions bashing.

In the Asian nation of Yemen, a 500-ton American-made bomb was dropped on Yemen children by our friends the Saudis and a Saudi-led coalition.

This kind of intentional bombing of innocents is becoming all too routine by our Saudi “friends.”

You’ll recall that back in May of last year, Trump was in Saudi Arabia bragging in a speech about the massive $110 billion arms deal that he and his Saudi dictator friend Mohammed bin “Woo Woo” Salman signed.

Trump promised that he would help Salman and the Saudis get a “good deal” from our American weapons makers.

That’s one promise he actually followed through with.

For America, Trump said in the speech, “This means, jobs, jobs, jobs.”

At the time, the human rights division of the American Bar Association came out with legal guns blazing because the weapons were likely to be used for war crimes in Yemen.

The ABA warned that the deal would no doubt violate U.S. law.

And what do you know.

That massive, $110 billion deal for weapons, which created new American jobs, has America exporting Saudi terrorism to Yemen while.

We’ve known for months, by the way, that Arabia’s Salman and the boys are in cahoots with al Qaeada militants, who the Saudis used to kill for us, in the terrorism in Yemen.

So much for international law and order and a more peaceful world and all that bloody rot.

Meanwhile, our American military leaders including Defense Secretary Mattis — who in his public time was funeralizing with the McCain family last week — are working overtime to reign in the Saudi terrorism!

Somebody needs to put up one of those billboards outside the White House to say:

Your Terrorism: Not good, America.” — God

Read Full Post »

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