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“Don’t Mess With Texas!”

That famous phrase is actually a double entendre. For one thing, it’s a caution against littering. Anyone who has traveled the vast state of Texas has seen the signs noting the heavy fines for throwing trash on the miles and miles of roads and highways.

But it’s also a reminder that Texans are a tough, independent lot, not to be messed with.

As a Texan with roots pre-dating the fall of the Alamo, I can assure you that rural Texas landowners covet their properties –their farms, their ranches and their thousands upon thousands of old country churches and cemeteries.

The Trump administration keeps learning this cultural fact as it keeps meeting legal resistance from Texans who refuse to let Trump steamroll them and their sacred properties.

It’s a sad thing that Trump holds nothing in this world sacred except Dollar Almighty. And more sad that people like the good Texan and his kith and kin featured in this video are having to fight like hell to preserve a historic United Methodist Church chapel and cemetery that they hold so sacred.

(Once you’ve viewed the video, here’s another horror story from two years ago regarding the wall.) https://jitterbuggingforjesus.com/2017/08/04/trump-vs-land-owners-ugly-wall-news/

God created the good, green Earth, which some are intent on destroying.

I wish we’d get over this lunatical notion that we need to explore Mars because humankind is going to need it to re-locate some day.

Now that I got that off my chest…

I’m sharing this Ute Native American poem for the simple reason that I love poetry and memorize a lot of it and I liked this so much that I memorized it a few years ago.

And sharing because every day is Earth Day, or should be.

EARTH teach me stillness
As the grasses are stilled with light.

And sharing because I’m so distressed by the current administration doing everything in its power to steamroll American Natives and their sacred lands.

While, at the same time, it is thoroughly advancing the destruction of American land and water sources from coast to coast.

So I need the beauty and wisdom of these words to help me maintain my spiritual equilibrium.

And with no further ado … I invite you to reflect on these loving words, gentle reader:

EARTH teach me stillness
As the grasses are stilled with light.
EARTH teach me suffering
As old stones suffer with memory.
EARTH teach me humility
As blossoms are humble with beginning.
EARTH teach me caring
As the mother who secures her young.

EARTH teach me courage
As the tree which stands all alone.
EARTH teach me limitation
As the ant who crawls on the ground.
EARTH teach me freedom
As the eagle who soars in the sky.
EARTH teach me resignation
As the leaves which die in the fall.

EARTH teach me regeneration
As the seed which rises in spring.
EARTH teach me to forget myself
As melted snow forgets its life.
EARTH teach me to remember kindness
As dry fields weep with rain.

~ from the poetry of the Ute Native American Indians

Meanwhile, down on the U.S./Mexico border…

Art by Angel Valdez for The Houston Catholic Worker at http://www.cjd.org

The Trump administration–with all its Christians who never let us forget how Christian they are–continues its policy of cruelty toward poor, vulnerable, so-called “invaders.”

I still hear this all it time from conservatives: Parroting Trump, they say we’re being “invaded” by people from south of the U.S. border. They love that Trump is fighting to stop this invasion.

I point out to them that invaders are almost always heavily armed because they seek to conquer a land and its people by force. The desperate people seeking asylum at our borders are unarmed men, women and children who couldn’t conquer America if they wanted to.

Which they don’t.

They hardly qualify as “invaders.”

Art by Bro. Mickey McGrath, an Oblate of St. Francis De Sales, artist, author, and speaker. More on him at http://www.bromickeymcgrath.com and http://www.embracedbygod.org

It’s interesting the responses I hear from those conservatives. They typically pivot to the argument that we are being invaded by violent, heavily armed drug smugglers. Which is an entirely different issue from the issue of poor and vulnerable people fleeing violent, heavily armed drug gangs in their home countries.

I’ve said it often and will say it again: American conservatives–especially those who purport to be Jesus-loving, God-fearing Christians–simply have no defense for the Trump administration’s endless cruelty toward asylum seekers.

* * *

The wonderful Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation shared an article about St. Peter Claver this morning on its Facebook page. The Spanish Jesuit devoted most of his life ministering to thousands of African slaves who arrived every year at the port city where he lived in the 16th century.

Mary van Balen, a fine spiritual writer who penned the Shalem Institute article, writes:

    As I thought of Peter Claver’s instinctive action to first alleviate human suffering, the plight of refugees at our Southern border came to mind. They come mostly from Central and South America, fleeing unspeakable violence, poverty, and fear for their lives. How are they met?

    I spoke with Sister Barbara Kane, a member of the Dominican Sisters of Peace in Columbus, Ohio. She and others in her community have traveled to El Paso to serve as they could.

    She spoke of refugees’ long waits in enclosed areas (some liken them to cages) until they have their Credible Fear Hearing (when the refugee states what has driven them to seek asylum). “The enclosures have concrete floors, are kept at 60 degrees, and are so small people are packed together, unable to lie down to sleep,” Sr. Barbara said. People receive little food. Yet, despite the great needs, no one is allowed inside to help.

Thank God we still have many American Christians, clergy and lay alike, whose “instinctive actions” are to do whatever they can to alleviate the suffering that is still being compounded by the Trump administration while impeachment is in all the news.

You can read van Balen’s entire article, which I commend to you, dear readers, here.


God is packing his bags for Cancun. Let me explain why.

The godly woman in the video above, the fabulously wealthy evangelical preacher Paula White–who has the kind of hair and figure that has always appealed to Donald J. Trump–is now employed by Donald J. Trump in the White House, which is now without question The Christian People’s House.

As far as I can tell, her job description is simply to protect God.

And probably to provide the kind of Christian moral training that the president and First Lady undoubtedly want their young son Baron to receive from God’s most favored evangelical preacher.

And to always stand real close to the Chosen One and give him lots of hugs throughout the working day and night if you know what I mean and I think you do.

The candidate Donald J. Trump once told an audience of evangelicals in a campaign appearance–I am not making this up–that “You don’t have to worry about God anymore. I’m going to protect God for you.”

God has been able to relax ever since Trump moved into the Christian People’s House.

And now, with his favorite blonde Paula White a few doors down from The Chosen One Donald Trump–she whom God has sprinkled with glitter as shiny as all the gold she has made off of poor, gullible people–God can go down to Cancun and chill.

So relax, America. You’re in Paula’s hands.

Paula White, whom God has sprinkled with special, holy glitter.

Him.

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

“The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”

— Psalm 46:10-11

It’s getting increasingly difficult in a world so LOUD and full of EXCLAMATION!!! to “be still” and let God be God.

It’s increasingly hard, isn’t it?, to pause and sit still, wherever you are or whatever you’re doing, and focus on your breath and be fully in the present moment — that place where you can hear your heart beat in calming, steady rhythm with the heart of God.

Every chance you get, be still, breathe, and hear the quiet, still voice of God.

Had I not learned a long time ago in my spiritual journey to monitor my anxiety — had I not learned to “pray without ceasing” by deeply breathing in the breath of God when I feel my anxiety rising throughout the day and night — I frankly think I’d go full loop.

The great old mystic Meister Eckhart said:

    “There is a huge silence inside each of us that beckons us into itself, and the recovery of our own silence can begin to teach us the language of heaven.”

“Nothing,” he also said, “in all creation is so like God as stillness.”

At bottom, there is no such thing as the past or the future, both of which we can only know in our imaginations.

But there is pleasant relief from anxiety, even in the midst of chaos, by getting still and breathing and coupling with God in the Here and Now.

Some people have the natural gift of stillness. We call them unflappable. They just seem to know how to breath.

But the gift of stillness, the gift of the Here and Now where God dwells, is available to us all through intentionality, practice, mindfulness — call it what you will.

Seek … be silent … and you shall find rest in the arms of God.

Me and Stephanie Garcia. She’s making straight As and Bs in her 3rd year of schooling at St. Ignatius High School here in San Ignacio/Santa Elena, BZ. However, because I also support her brother Felix’s high school education, and support their little sister Paulita McKay (AKA Miss Belize, my daughter) I need financial help to meet all their needs.

OCTOBER 12, 2019 UPDATE
Greetings from San Ignacio, Belize from me and Stephanie, who I am happy to report is making all As and Bs in her 3rd year at St. Ignatius High School.

When the school year started in early September, I asked for $1,200 to help me finance Stephanie’s education, with the caveat that I might need more early next year.

However, at this point only two months into school, I’ve raised only $575, well short of the $1,200 target.

Any donations that contributors can give at this point would be much appreciated.

And for those newcomers who may be unfamiliar with Stephanie’s story and her needs for school: her story is detailed at our GoFundMe account, in the Education category, at Stephanie’s Education Fund 2019-20, where donations can be made.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/steph039s-education-fund-2019-20?viewupdates=1&rcid=r01-157098462156-ad64da66061249dd&utm_medium=email&utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_email%2B1137-update-supporters-v5b

Email me for more information at revpaulmckay@gmail.com, or contact me on Facebook.

(Also, anyone wanting to see receipts for tuition, books and all the other needs paid for with donations, feel free to make that request via my email.)

Donations can be made through:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/steph039s-education-fund-2019-20?viewupdates=1&rcid=r01-157098462156-ad64da66061249dd&utm_medium=email&utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_email%2B1137-update-supporters-v5b

1. GoFundMe, where donors can search and find our account in the Education category under Stephanie’s Education Fund 2019-20.

2. Directly to my Bank of America checking account via my PayPaul account at revpaulmckay@gmail.com.

Many thanks for your consideration and continued support for Steph.

Paul & Stephanie.


And now for some Friday Music Therapy with The Brotherhood of Dobbie, doing one of those songs that spoke deeply to me the first time I ever heard it and speaks to me so deeply still that I will never get tired of hearing it and dancing to it when nobody’s watching or when they are.

“The Captain And Me”

Deep as a river, wide as the sea
Changin’ the ways of a captain and me
I could be happy, Lord, so then should he
If all of the universe unveiled itself to me
So then a day flows into night
Down the street the beggar man who finds himself in wine
If I am a good man and sure in all my ways
The captain of a starship that’s homeward bound today
Growin’, growin’, changin’ ev’ry day
Knowin’, showin’ all my worldly ways
Hear the chimes, hear how they ring
Marking time all through the day

A whisper, an answer, a cry in the night
Break down, turn around, a feeling of fright
The Indian, the Black Man, the Asian who see
A door that is opening, and they’re goin’ to be free

Growin’, growin’, changin’ ev’ry day
Knowin’, showin’ all my worldly ways
Hear the chimes, hear how they ring
Marking time all through the day

We are all acceptable, we are all a place in time
Moving through a passageway, bringing forth the end of time
Growin’, growin’, changin’ ev’ry day
Knowin’, showin’ all my worldly ways
Hear the chimes, hear how they ring
Marking time all through the day
Light the fire, start the day, mark the light that shows the way
Changing times of fortunes past, we will all be free at last

We are the people of the round about
We are the sails upon the sea
We’re gonna be there when ev’ry body laughs about
The way that we are changin’, you and me, yeah
We are the people of the round about
We are the sails upon the sea
We’re gonna be there when ev’ry body laughs about
The way that we are changin’, you and me, yeah
We are the people of the round about
We are the sails upon the sea
*Lyrics by Tom Johnston

And oh wait … here’s bonus therapy!

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest.

You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your God.

~ Leviticus 19: 9-10

The poor are not the problem: they are the result of all the problems the rich and super rich create.

I get so weary of the poor and powerless people being scapegoated and blamed for all the economic and social ills in America.

Almost every page of the Bible speaks to treating the poor and marginalized (including the aliens) with love and compassion.

If you want to know God — if you want to be transformed into the full image of God through the saving power of Jesus Christ — take time to know the poor and powerless.

Let go of your fear of the poor — they aren’t the people who wreck economies and markets around the world with the reckless manipulation of money in order to make (or try to make) big money.

Let your guard down.

Hear their stories.

Allow yourself to feel as vulnerable as that man, woman and child who struggles mightily every day just to survive.

Empty yourself of all your preconceived notions about the poor and vulnerable.

I noted in my book, The View From Down in Poordom: Reflections on Scriptures Addressing Poverty, that God himself/herself said that in order know God, we must know the poor.

God says it right here.

God said it.

I believe it.

That settles it.


Some things we can all agree on about God.

For example, we all know that He/She loves the rich and privileged people of the world.

We all know that God despises the poor and powerless. This is because they are a drag on society. They don’t have the initiative that God gives all human beings to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and make something of themselves by making all the money they can and piling up all the consumer goods they can possibly accumulate.

God’s will is for human beings to be nothing less than well-to-do, to have spacious houses with two- or three-car garages, nice cars, lots of car-wash coupons, swimming pools, ridiculously green, shady, bug-free, manicured lawns, and lavish birthday parties for the children and grandchildren.

Once a person has succeeded in making good money and having lots of great stuff, that person is expected by God to go for more, to attain all the wealth possible.

God wants us to aim high, to seek to be Uber-rich! To be so tax-relieved by our wealth as to not pay any taxes whatsoever!

God knows that paying taxes is for suckers! It’s for losers.

And if there is anything God hates, it’s losers.

And we all know that the poor are losers, by-God — lazy and shiftless and living like rats in rat nests.

We know these things about God because, as the Bible says, “God helps those who help themselves!”***

And so, ask yourself today this question:

Is there something I’m not doing that I could do starting today, starting right now, to make more money to buy more cool stuff?

Remember, God loves the rich. And the richer you get, the more God will love you.

TRUTH ALERT!

***TRUTH ALERT HERE: Contrary to the popular belief of so many Christians who talk about the Bible and read only the parts they like, nowhere in the Holy Book is it writ that God helps those who help themselves. It is good for people to take responsibility for themselves to the extent that they can, of course; but the truth is that God expects the haves to help the have-nots, not only with material help but by treating them with the common dignity that all human beings deserve. As Dr. King said, “It’s a cruel thing to tell a man to lift himself up by the bootstraps when he has no boots.”


Art by Angel Valdez for The Houston Catholic Worker at http://www.cjd.org


Back when Jesus walked, children were definitely kept in their place, seen and not heard.

They did not get sweets and presents for their birthdays. (In the big scheme of things historical, birthday celebrations are relatively new.)

People in New Testament times were eager to welcome and rub elbows with people of high social status in order to raise their own status. Even the disciples were prone to this. (See here.)

So when Jesus embraced children against the protests of his disciples — when he said that one had to be like a powerless little child to enter the kingdom of God — he shocked people out of their socks.

He was always good at going for the shock effect.

This Guatemalan girl, who became congested and very ill with a 104-degree fever, was never properly treated before her release from custody in the ICE detention center in Dilly, TX. She died shortly after her release. This was before the current flu outbreak that has caused three deaths of children.

“The Gospel of life is at the heart of Jesus’ message.”

So wrote Pope John Paul II in a document in which he contrasted the Gospel of life with the world’s culture of death and destruction.

“And how can we fail to consider the violence against life done to millions of human beings, especially children [my italics for emphasis], who are forced into poverty, malnutrition and hunger because of an unjust distribution of resources between peoples and between social classes?

We are living in shocking times in America, a time when the leader of the free world (and “King of Israel”) seems to go out of his way every hour to spin our heads around with his shocking words and actions. Me, I’m still trying to get over the shock of something that happened in Donald J. Trump’s America a couple of weeks ago.

In these United States, where we supposedly cherish liberty and justice for all, it took a federal appeals court ruling to ensure that powerless children with brown skin have enough edible food, clean drinking water, sanitary bathrooms and sleeping conditions.

Not to mention soap and toothpaste.

Think about that, people (and especially you who are fine with Donald J. Trump and his treatment of powerless children and their families). It took a federal court order for vulnerable children — who now are being denied flu shots in the wake of three child deaths from the flu — to be treated as Jesus would have them treated.

Jesus was always on the side of life and that which gives life. He was a life giver, a carpenter-turned-construction worker for life.

Denying children soap and toothpaste and reasonably healthy food and clean water runs counter to what Pope John Paul II said was at the heart of Jesus’ message.

And meanwhile, oh by the way, millions of impressionable American children are being brainwashed into believing that owning weapons made for war, and not for sport or even for protection, is a God-given right.

Whatever heart that America once had — an American nation that we’re constantly told was founded on Judeo-Christian values — is suffering from a near-fatal coronary attack.

I am praying every day that the nation I love will be able to repair her damaged heart back to good, holistic health.

Pray, and then put prayer into action in order to advance the kingdom on earth.