Archive for the ‘Christians’ Category

A Poem for Christmas

December 24, 2016

Chrsms

Every Christmas season that comes and goes brings an emphasis that is different from previous years. This year’s discovery is something called a “Christmas market.”

This term, which seems to indicate a market that is in some way unique to the Noel season, a market that is more joyously conducted, perhaps, than just any old assemblage of vendors selling stuff. I first pondered the phrase while reading sad reports of the murderous bus driver at the “Christmas market” in Berlin. A day or two later, while Pat and I were skyping with our daughter, who is in Europe, Katie mentioned that Christmas markets are “all over the place” over there.

This Christmas eve morn, I was sitting in the chair by the tree,  listening to Handel’s Messiah, and wondering about the Christmas market phenomenon, and how it might be different from just any old walmart or kreske store. In order to learn what it is, I thought I’d look it up. But suddenly, a star shone brightly in my brain and I decided to write a poem about it instead, without even knowing what a Christmas market really is!

Oh Christmas market, O Christmas market free,

How lovely are your goods to see!

Though not in session when summer’s here,

You’re only in the Noel time of year!

Oh Christmas market, O Christmas market free,

How lovely are your figs and pears to see!

Oh Christmas market, O Christmas market free,

How festive Man hath profited from thee!

Thou biddest us to all buy faithfully,

Our trust in free enterprise, consumerly!

Oh Christmas market, O Christmas market free

How enterprising  Man hath been with thee!

Oh Christmas market, O Christmas market free,

Thy giftings gleam so, so brightly!

Each purchase doth add its tiny part

To make our economy glow and spark!

Oh Christmas market, O Christmas market free,

Thy prosperity doth shine so,  so brightly!

Oh Christmas time, O Christmas time so holy,

Thy nativity’s obscured now almost wholly

by buying and selling of so many services and goods.

We would buy them all, if we could!

Oh Christmas child, O Christmas child,

Where art thou now in this world so wild?

But hey! What light through yonder darkness breaks?

Still through our dark markets shineth

The everlasting light.

The thoughts and gifts of all our years

are giv’n in Thee tonight!

Feliz Navidad, Jesus!

Glass half-Full

supremacist, really?

November 23, 2016

I got in the car to drive home from work. Radio was on. Juan Gonzalez was interviewing Jeremy Scahill on Democracy Now. Jeremy was speaking about a political thing that is reportedly happening in our country now, a  movement of misguided zealots who are striving to impose on the rest of us some so-called  “Christian supremacist agenda.”

But this Christian says, I beg to differ; consider this:

Here is a picture of the man who established the Christian religion:

ChristCruc

Does this person look like a “supremacist”?

This pic, taken from a very old painting, is an artist’s rendering  of the man who long ago said:

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.

This is the man who, when two of his disciples wanted to call down a firestorm of judgement on people who had rejected them, denied them permission to impose such a vengeful retaliation, and then explained, “. . . (I) did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”

This is the man who, on the night of his arrest, who would not allow his right-hand man to wield a sword to resist their arrest.

Does such a strategy sound like the beginning of a “supremacist” uprising?

I do believe Mr. Scahill has confused us Christians with some other group, a group whose identity is not rooted in the One who was willing to give his life for me and for all the rest of us.

Mr. Scahill is referring, I believe,  to those honky whites who think they own the place. They need to read the gospels instead of whatever white supremacist webstuff  they’ve gotten a hold of. And they need to quit emulating the jihadi supremacists who want to impose a caliphate on us dhimmi-witted Christians.

As for you, Juan and Jeremy, just keep on doing what you’re doing, if that’s what floats your boat. But please, try to get your nomenclature correct next time you go reporting on us who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ.

Glass half-Full

A Tale of Two Citizens

May 30, 2016

The following letter, having been set aside some time ago– years, even,  before that damned old war between the states– was recently retrieved from a dusty old trunk that had been slumbering in some historic personage’s great great great grandmother’s attic. A few of the smudged words have been hyperthetically reconstructed by digital accumulations for the sake of clarification and in the interests of obfuscation forensically reconstrued; furthermore, the date, although specified herein below, is still unproven, indeterminable except within a two-centuries margin of error. Be that as it may, the letter reads thusly:

April  26, 1816ish

My Dear Kate:

It is my hope that in the best of times wisdom can prevail over foolishness; yet in these days, which I fear may actually approach being the worst of times, it is the other way around. I notice that the general willingness of human souls to profess a belief in God Almighty is on the decline, while widespread faithless cynicism runs rampant through our apoplectic citizenry.

Yeah, I say unto thee, in this season of darkness, when a black man, Walter Scott, is carelessly gunned down in the streets without  probable cause, many of the black community are fallen into despair. At the same time, the white citizens whose comfortable existence is not threatened by such illegal abuses are free to lollygag along their merry way with no care in the world, sauntering along on Calhoun boulevard just a whistling dixie as if there’s nothing really out of the ordinary happening around here in this day and time.

I mean, I noticed this, just sayin’, be that as it may. . .

Today as we strolled through Charleston we happened upon a sight quite impressive–four magnificent horses cast in stone, rendering a fountain sculpture that appears quite fluidic with artistic remonstrance and equine bravado unparalleled anywhere else on the streets of this fair city.

Horses4

Turns out we had stumbled upon the entrance to a most superlative hotel, which we promptly and without further ado entered, and found to be quite the bellisimo Belmondo accomodationo. Among several fascinating portraitures hung there in the sumptuous foyer upon a wall I snapped this one daguerrotype, which happens to be, for reasons I will heretofore explain a double image:

Pinckney

I refer to this j.ust p.lain g.ood image as CCPinckney numero uno,  and the other as CCPinckney numero duo, because both of these guys are called–although they sport quite different countenances–by the same name: Pinckney.

A little googling around soon brings to mind a few noteworthy  factoids about these two great South Carolinians, although each one lived about 200 years apart from the other. To whit:

~ Both were Senators in the South Carolina Legislature.

~ The elder, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, actually signed our US Constitution, along with all those other founding forefathers, on September 17, 1787–that Constitution which later secured and assured (in spite of the subsequent damned ole war between the States) the right of the younger. . .

~ Clementa Carlos Pinckney, to represent, and legislate on behalf of–not only the general citizenry of South Carolina– but also the descendants of both former slaves and  former slaveowners, to assure their rights and privileges as free citizens of the great state of South Carolina, and also, in the wider sense, the United States of America.

~ while one was a diplomat and a slaveowner back in the dawn of American independence, the other has served God’s people as a pastor in these modern times–worst of times and best of times– and, in the secular realm as a defender of the oppressed peoples of a somewhat dysfunctional democratic republic known otherwise as the land of the free and home of the brave.

~ while the elder, CCP numero uno, ran for president twice as the Federalist party nominee in 1804 and 1808, and lost both elections, the younger CCP numero duo didn’t run for Prez or anything except South Carolina House of Representatives and South Carolina state Senate, at which prospect he did succeed and went on to do a whoppin’ good job of it– representing his own soul brothas and sistahs as well as the broader  interests of the people of the great state of South Carolina.

~ CCPinckney numero uno had fought against the redcoats, to assure that an American flag (instead of the Brit one) could flap in the breeze over all our forthcoming institutions, while CCPinckney numero duo later strove and struggled to obtain  justice for oppressed people, kinda like the biblical Amos, to such an extent that he was lauded posthumously as a humbly bold, though effective, Christian leader, a skillfully compassionate legislator, and a highly respected human being whose untimely death–at the despicable hands of a racist asshole–evoked a resolution from the South Carolina legislature, the decree of which was the removal of that old confederate rag from the flagpole at the legislature and the state Capitol and God only knows how many other institutions in this here Palmetto State.

So I must conclude, my dear Kate, having communicated to you this tale of two citizens, that on this fair spring day there is much good to report concerning the gentle citizens of Charleston, with the exception of a few renegade rebels who insist on having their own way and dragging up old raggedy-ass grudges to be rudely displayed, instead of Old Glory, upon the local flag poles.

But I know in my heart that this too shall pass.

I hope this note finds you well and happy as a goose in heat. Be ye kind.

Yours truly, your Uncle

Sid

P.S. It’s looking like these upstart Democratic-Republicans will prevail in this year’s election and thus propel James Monroe into the Presidency. I hope they know what they’re doing.

Glass half-Full

The Wisdom of Eldridge Cleaver

April 20, 2016

I am reading the book that Eldridge Cleaver published in 1978, Soul on Fire.

As I am currently writing a novel about the year 1969, my research has followed many paths of discovery about that period of time in which I was a teenager; One of the most influential dissent groups of that period was the Black Panthers. I’m not talking about the Carolina Panthers who lost this year’s super bowl to the team from Denver.

I’m talking about the militant Black Panthers, revolutionary terrorists of the 1960’s, who were infamously lead by a trio of intrepid militants: Eldridge Cleaver, Bobby Seale and Huey Newton.

During the course of Eldridge Cleaver’s amazing sojourn through civil rights activism and the minefields of 1960’s black extremism, he had renounced, along with Stokely Carmichael and other leaders, the non-violence that  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had espoused.

Eldridge fled the United States as a fugitive in 1968. In the seven years that followed, he visited the primary communist countries: Cuba, USSR, Peoples’ Republic of China, North Vietnam, North Korea. The young revolutionary, having been driven out of America, sought revolutionary guidance from communist leaders.

Because I’ve got to go to work in a few minutes, I’ll just cut to the chase here. On page 109 of his book, Soul on Fire, Eldridge writes:

“While in overseas exile, I discovered the frequency with which I was lecturing the hard-rock mentality of Communist leaders, reminding them that the world revolution was deeply rooted in the American people. I had heard so much rhetoric in every Communist country about their glorious leaders and their incredible revolutionary spirit that–even to this very angry and disgruntled American–it was absurd and unreal.”

And on page 97:

“I had lived defiantly so long and in such seething hatred of all governments, people in power, people in charge, that when I came under the shelter of Communist powers, I sadly discovered that their corruption was as violent and inhuman as the people the ‘victoriously’ displaced. ‘Up against the wall’ was a trendy slogan of the underground movements around the world–but I later learned that without inner control, a moral perspective, and a spiritual balance that flowed out of Christian love, justice and caring, the Communist promises were to become the largest fraud of all.

“Pig power in America was infuriating–but pig power in the Communist framework was awesome and unaccountable. No protection by outbursts in the press and electronic media–the Reds owned it. No shelter under the benevolent protection of a historic constitution–the Marxists held the book and they tore out the pages that sheltered you. No counterweight from religious and church organizations–they were invisible and silent.

“My adult education began in prison and was ruefully completed in the prison that is called Marxist liberation, ‘power to the people’: that was meant for the party in control, writing the script, and enforcing the rules. I did mean it deeply when I said seven years later that I would rather be in prison in America than free somewhere else.”

And prison in American he did do, when Eldridge Cleaver returned from exile. He did his time, was released in 1976, and lived free, free indeed, until his death in 1998.

King of Soul

What do you see?

January 17, 2016

Look at this.

Cross

What do you see?

Two lines crossing?

Yes.

Use your imagination. There’s more to this symbol than meets the eye.

Maybe you see an X/Y axis where mathematical equations can be graphed in two-dimensional space.

Maybe you see a crossroads, a place where a traveler, perhaps you, would retain a straight path, or make a turn.

And we know there’s the possibility that you see here a religious symbol.

Maybe you see organized religion fastened irretrievably to a stiff framework of dead tradition.

Think about this. This configuration has been used, at different times in history, as

         an instrument of torture,

         where one human being might be nailed, even unto death, by other human beings.

Or perhaps can you see, in the crossed paths of historical nations,

     the desires of different people groups at cross-purposes with each other,

     or the interests of different ethnicities at cross-purposes with each other,

     or the dogmatic stubbornness of different religions crossing each other in warfare?

You may even see any possibility of World Peace nailed to this cross–

     straightjacketed hopelessly to the hard reality that this world is a cruel, bellicose place.

Maybe you see any hope for true justice in this world bound repeatedly by the terrible deeds that men do.

Stretch you imagination. Canst thou discern Peace On Earth nailed to our inescapable propensity toward war?

Can you, perhaps, even see the hopes and dreams of fearful Syrian citizens nailed to a ubiquitous grid of war?

Or, the lives of black men and women that matter, strewn lifelessly across an intersection of corruption and injustice?

Maybe you can visualize, in the collective memory of our history, a cross burning in front of Great-great Grampa Tom’s cabin.

Can you envision all the wasted time that Saeed Abedini spent in an Iranian prison fastened to a cross of injustice?

Can you imagine all the terrible deeds of mankind throughout history nailed to this cross?

There was a man crucified on it at one time. But he is not bound to that cross any more.

A couple of days after our sentence upon him was passed, and the execution complete, he was carried to to an intersection with eternal life.

Can you imagine eternal life on the other side of that deathly cross?

I can. I’ve been to the crossroads.

Glass half-Full

The Fall of Man–Past or Future?

January 15, 2016

This world is a mess, isn’t it? It’s a screwed-up place. How in the hell did it get this way? Who’s responsible for this mess?

Among my people, the Christians, we generally attribute this world’s fallen condition to a collusion between the devil and a couple of homo sapiens named Adam and Eve. We read in our sacred book a story of how this presently messed-up arrangement of things originated in a place called the garden of Eden where the devil, shapeshifting as a serpent, tricked Eve and Adam into eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, whatever that is.

That book, the Book of Genesis, was written by Moses.

Moses’ impact on mankind has been huge. His writings have had more influence on human belief and behavior than just anybody else I can think of. His best-seller, the first five books of the Bible, is still more widely-read than any other written work. Moses’ ancient influence has outdone all the masters of modern storytelling, even heavyweights such as Shakespeare, Melville, Twain, Dickens, Hemingway, Tolkien, Crichton, Grisham, Rowling and even Stephen King.

But Moses’ chief contender these days for the role of Primary Explanator of the human condition is an Arabian prophet who has been around for 14 centuries: Mohammed. All around the world the advocates for Mohammed are giving Moses a run for his money. We shall see how this turns out.

As for me and my house–my money is on Moses. More importantly, my faith is in Jesus Christ. But I have to tell you–I think Moses was really onto something.

He, and his predecessor Abraham, had latched onto some pretty potent stuff. That is to say, some real truth. As for the Arabian, we shall see how all that plays out. Seems to me his deal is quite legalistic and compulsory, instead of being, say, benevolent and full of grace.

Consider Moses and his legacy.

His writings, and the writings of those who followed in his revelation, eventually became what we call the Judaeo-Christian heritage, generally associated with the Western World. When Mohammed came along, about 620 C.E., he sought to place himself into that Abrahamic/Mosaic stream of revelation. And as I said before, we shall see how that all works out. As for me and my house, I’m not into the Mohammedan thing, but the Mohammedans can do what they want. You go your way and I’ll go mine, okay?

Getting back to my original question of how or why the world got to be such a screwed-up place, I would have to direct you to an appraisal of some recent human history. About a hundred years ago, the whole damn world started to blow up with powerful new technologies that had been applied to human conflict. World War I was no walk in the park,  and World War II wasn’t either. In fact, both of those conflagrations were pretty horrendous blow-ups that caused, in an historically unprecedented way, a lot of damage and pain and strife among the peoples of the world.

I mean, looking back on it. The whole damn 20th-century–and even up to now in the 21st–is shown to be powerful evidence that the human race is fallen, depraved, or, as they say in the Red states, screwed-up, or as they say in the Blue states, dysfunctional. Something is wrong with us. Human history proves it.

So, as I pointed out above, Moses was correct in his assessment when he brought forth the story about the Fall of Man.

Now Moses was a Jew and that has gotten him into trouble.

The modern historical nemesis of Moses and all the Jewish people was a bestial man from Austria named Adolf Hitler. History has shown that Hitler’s diabolical hatred of the Jews, and probably his hatred of all the rest us who don’t measure up to his Aryan bullshit standards, turned the whole world upside down with war and destruction for a period of about five years, back in the 1940’s.

Hitler had spent his youth in artistic pursuits. He fancied himself an artist. During that first 20th-century decade before World War I, he had tried to break into the art world and become a recognized artist. While living in Vienna and trying to promote his art, he encountered some Jewish critics who did not appreciate his work. This became a big problem for Hitler. He acted out his inner resentment against them in such an extremely phobic way that his hatred for Jews became an obsession. One thing led to another, and, you know the rest of the story.

The point I am making is that Hitler blamed all the world’s trouble and dysfunction on the Jews. And he damn-near  destroyed the civilized world just to prove his point.

Look what happened as a result–another world war, millions of people dead. In some ways, it is still going on, although the names and the faces have changed.

But let’s learn from history. The problem is not with the Jews. The problem is with all of us.

As far as the present arrangement of things goes, in 2016,  there have been some interesting developments.

Take the Climate-bangers, for instance. They met in Kyoto, then in several other major cities, most recently Copenhagen, Lima, and Paris.

They’re working toward a worldwide implementation of their program to save the world by phasing out Carbon Emissions.

Good luck with that, Naomi.

Now some of their rhetoric is quite legalistic, even repressive. Sounds like it could even morph into a police-state kind of .gov program.

If they think they can correct this world by regulating everybody into enforced, low-carbon poverty, I have to say, respectfully, I beg to differ.

Over a hundred years ago, the Marxists were all hot and bothered with their new theory about what would straighten this mess out. They wanted to organize and equip the working people of the world to take control of the Means of Production–that is– to take all the resource-converting industrial/financial/gov infrastructure away from the Capitalists and let the proletariat run the show and this would evolve into the golden era of human brotherhood and thereby true communism.

History has shown, however, through the bloody regimes of Stalin, Mao, Pol-Pot, Kim Jong-Un and other delusionary demagogues, that their theoretical Plan for our deliverance from oppressive Capitalism, while it looks credible on paper, does not actually work according to plan.

Why not? The problem is Fallen Man. We screw it up every time.

Nobody, not even God Him/Her self, will ever get all homo sapiens together on the same page working together to correct our messed-up world.

Now consider the problem of Climate Change. This is a lot like the old problem of Capitalist Exploitation.

The Climate-bangers’ doctrine we see evolving among world-class Academics involves a strategy similar to the Marxist prescription that was supposed to render Capitalism obsolete. This new Regimen calls for Taking Control of the Means of Emission–which is, practically speaking, the same as the Means of Production. But this has not happened under the Communist banner and it will not happen under the Climate banner. It’ll never happen.

Men are emitters–always have been, always will be. We are guilty of flatulence every day, in oh so many ways, whether through an exhaust pipe, a coal stack, or an anal expulsion.

Men are sinners–always have been, always will be. We are guilty of murder every day, in oh so many ways, whether through the gun, the bomb, or the polluted environment.

Word from the Tower is if we don’t get a hold of this Carbon thing it will be the end of us.

So now the Climate-bangers have predicted an Apocalypse of Carbon destruction. It arises from Man’s inability to get his shit together and properly disposed of, based on the 2% increase Plan, or even the 1 1/2% plan. Our goose is cooked. The train is about to derail. The jig is up and that’s all she wrote. It’s curtains for us, unless we can get everybody together on the same regs to curb our carbon flatulence.

But there is another Apocalypse scenario that is just as likely to happen, if you think about it. For many centuries, we Christians have read and taught from our scriptures, the last book of which describes an Apocalypse that befalls us as a result of our depravity. Now, in the 20th-century, we religious types who warn of  a possibly impending Tribulation, which is a result of our human carbon emission sin– we are thought to be on the  lunatic fringe because we are seen as doomsayers.

So as it turns out–it’s history’s little joke on us– we Bible-thumpers are not the only ones on the street with a Repent the End is Near sign.

But hey, we’re all in this together. Come, let us reason together.

Just lighten up, and let’s all try to get along here. I’ll minimize my emissions if you’ll minimize yours.

And by ‘n by, we shall see how this all pans out. But be careful; try not to fall on your way out of this mess.

Smoke

Free Kim Davis!

September 6, 2015

The legal issues surrounding Kim Davis’ job duties should be worked out in courts of law. But there is no way this public servant should be confined to a jail cell.

Free Kim Davis!

SCortMedia

Glass half-Full

My Washington Favorites

July 4, 2015

Here are my four favorite pics from our sojourn in Washington earlier this week:

VietMem1

BrikOldNew

StrbxWashj

And lastly, contributing her professional nursing presence to the “Nurses” statue at the Vietnam Memorial, my bride of 35 years:

PatNurss

Glass half-Full

Tribulation

June 21, 2015

The Climate Change fanatics are expecting a Climate Apocalypse.

The FreeMarket fanatics are expecting an Economic Apocalypse.

The Religious fanatics are expecting an Armaggedan Apocalypse.

The Islamist fanatics are expecting a Dabiq Apocalypse.

The Shiite Twelver fanatics are expecting a Twelfth Imam Apocalypse.

The Entertainment fanatics are expecting another Apocalypse blockbuster.

The Leftist fanatics are expecting a RightWing Apocalypse.

The Rightist fanatics are expecting a LeftWing Apocalypse.

The Racist fanatics are expecting a Race War Apocalypse.

For some groups of people, an apocalyptic tragedy has already begun, having changed their lives forever, in ways that we, the clueless online onlookers, can never comprehend.

For members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, life as they knew it has been torn asunder, as if a raging lion had attacked a grazing lamb.

Two days ago I heard people on a radio program arguing about whether the mass murder committed by a lone racist gunman in Charleston was a “hate crime” or a “crime against Christians.”

What we call it is really meaningless.

The truth is; it’s both–and. . . a serious multiple homicide perpetrated by a hateful, anti-Christian man who is worth of only thing, the death penalty.

This multiple murder did take place in a Christian church; Nine Christians were cruelly murdered.

In my Church this Sunday morning, our pastor lead us in a prayer for the families of these nine martyrs, who are now in the presence of Jesus Christ, who, like them, was murdered in his own innocence.

Our pastor reminded us of Paul’s counsel to the Christians of 1st-century Rome, who were later persecuted in the same murderous way as our brothers and sisters of Emanuel AME. Paul exhorted the believers in Rome to “weep with those weep.”

And so, while most of us did not weep for these deceased saints, we did pray for their families, and for their gathered believers, which is to say their church. We stand in solidarity with them, in what we call the Body of Christ.

CharlestonMartyrsSunday1

In such a time as this, we are reminded of the words Jesus spoke:

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

In such a time as this, the collective prayers of the church will summon the Holy Spirit to comfort the families and saints of Emanuel AME Church.

And although murderous acts such as this may come, they will not defeat the purposes of God among his people.

Nor will any coming Apocalypse, imagined or otherwise, extinguish the love of Jesus that draws his people together in times of tribulation.

Glass half-Full