Sunday, August 25, 2013

United States Poet Laureate

Natasha Trethewey is the Poet Laureate of these United States. She teaches creative writing at Emory University. And like the pages that frame her art, she is Black and White. Born of mixed parentage on the Mississippi Gulf Coast Trethewey understands more than most, root and branch of racial intolerance and inequity.
The poems in Native Guard did not let me rest in the comfort of my middle-class; I finished the poetry but it was not finished with me. In a vague and impersonal way I know about slavery, cotton, sugar cane and the unspeakable crimes of Man's inhumanity to Man. But Trethewey brings it home. It moves in, it lives with's uncomfortable and unsettling because it is "today."
Beyond Katrina is a chronicle of times past and present; poverty past, poverty present, worsened by government injustice. Gulfport, Mississippi like other costal cities was struck by Katrina's fury. Nature does not discriminate...people do. Katrina left a record of destruction and rubble; there was cleanup and rebuilding to do, so for a time work seemed plentiful. Federal funds sent for rebuilding were somehow diverted into widening and deepening the shipping channel...assuring a more prosperous future for Gulfport. City officials rewrote ordinances so that condemned or destroyed homes could not be rebuilt. This was accomplished by increasing the legal setback distance from the street to the home resulting in lots that were...with the stroke of a pen...too small for rebuilding. For the poor, their monument to Katrina (and the city fathers) was a naked slab of condemned concrete too small for building. In a word, they had nothing; legislated, homeless refugees in a city where many had lived for generation upon generation..
The Bible has an message for Gulfport and all cities practicing similar legal evils: These are the words of God given to  Isaiah"What do you mean by crushing my people and grinding the faces of the poor? declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty."  Isaiah 3:15 [NIV]
Think on these things. ec

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

John 14

In the New Testament of the Bible, I love reading the book of John. It is filled with promises of peace. Written in red, the beloved disciple of Jesus begins with these words; "Let not your heart be troubled." To me Christ is saying, "Don't be anxious or afraid. I AM your creator, redeemer and friend." He continues, "You believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions (many rooms), if it were not so I would have told you." Then comes promises; "I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go I will come again and recieve you unto myself, that where I AM there you may be also." [vs. 1-3] I hear Christ saying, "I AM building a place for you; designed and built with you in mind. I AM coming back to Earth a second time to take you, along with the redeemed of all the ages, to live where I Heaven.
Later in the chapter the opening words are repeated, but with an assuring and strengthening twist [vs. 27]. "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." The Old Testanent prophet Daniel speaks of the End Times [chap. 12] (paraphrasing) 'That there will be a time of trouble such as has never been on the Earth.' I believe that we are living in tha last days of a dying world. The waters of the earth...fresh and salt...are polluted. Fresh water is increasingly in short supply in many parts of of the Earth. And that means that the agricultural water supply... for growing food... is becoming insufficient to maintain an adequate food supply.
Fact: here in the US the Ogallala aquifer which underlies much of the mid-western states...the nation's bread being depleted faster than it is replenished. This largest of US underground aquifers supplies fresh water to agriculture, industry and domestic use, and the level continues to fall.
There are reasons for people to fear what is already happening on a startlingly broad scale. We don't hear much about this on the news, but does that mean it is not occurring? No!
If and when you begin to search these things out...which each should do rather than take my words for it...remember the words of Jesus Christ: "Let not YOUR heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Little Folding of the Hands in Sleep

More than once I heard my mother say, "Whenever I woke up during the night there never was a time that Lawrence (my dad) wasn't awake...smoking." He died at age 45, she at 92.  First-hand smoke, second-hand smoke; it was everywhere all the time during my growing-up years in our small home in western Washington.
Four things kept my father going as long as he did; music, meat-and-potatatoes, lots of gravey and beer. There was always music in the home, either on the radio or at gatherings of family and neighbors (in the days when neighbors were neighborly). Dad played the guitar, Alita the accordion and Pete the bass fiddle; a homemade affair of odd shape but not-so-odd sound.
Of course, everybody harmony...the old songs; the ones you used to hear in nursing homes at Saturday sing-alongs: I'm gonna buy a paper doll that I can call my own, a doll that other fellas cannot steal..." or maybe... "Down by the old mill stream, where I first met you..." that one a Mills' Brothers favorite for harmony. The Mills' Brothers were a black family famous for their velvet voices blended in four-parts.
We don't go to the nursing homes anymore. Those who were there are gone. I see my turn coming  up like a slow ship over the horizon returning from a long voyage.
People are living longer but I'm not convinced that's necessarily a good thing. My grandmother, who had a heart of Ophiric gold and gave opinions freely, said many times near the end of her ninety-nine tears, "Buddy, it"s not easy to grow old." She knew. I was 60 years old the day she died. My grandson was watching me put down a tile floor in the bathroom; watching his grandfather weep over his now-gone grandmother.
In case you're  doing the math (she 99, me 60) Inga was married at 16 and birthed my mother at 17. Two times in succession we were five generations alive. Looking back, I can't see any of them. Looking ahead, I know where  it ends...but not yet do I look forward to that sleep that all must enter. For now an afternoon nap is good enough. ec

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Lost in the Thicket of Thinking

It's been a year or so since the last post and there is much to report...which by necessity of  the sisters,  "Privacy" and "Paranoia"...will go unreported. We write not from the forest but the desert where there are but three seasons; cold-and-windy, warm-and-windy, hot-and-windy...which may much describe text and context of most blogging.
If any are interested in a month or so of reading consider downloading (for free) "The History of The Reformation" by Merle D'Aubigne. Written in the 1800's, it comes on the relative heels of those who, like the apostles of Christ, turned the world and the Church upside down.
Lutherans can rediscover why they are who they are, and what they are or, ought to be. Protestants of all species (read denominations) owe a large debt to the men who brought a page of scripture to life in today' church of Christ on the earth...which is not a denomination but a world-wide communion of saints who hold to the foundational principles of Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Solus Christus and Soli Deo Gloria!
The man or woman who believes...presumably sincerely...that by any work or works they can secure or insure salvation is a contradiction to the atoning sufficiency of the perfect, sinless life of the Christ and perhaps doubly so to His death on the cross which paid for our sins and FULL!
This was a central pillar of the Reformation and remains unchanged today. Some chip away at the Rock with sharp words spawned by less-sharp ideas, but the Truth about Christ (Messiah) remains what is has been from the beginning; unchanged and unchangable.
It is the man and woman changed by Christ and His indwelling Holy Spirit who asks, "LORD, what can I do to serve You?" Service to God (works) follows Salvation. To reverse the order is adverse to the Plan of Salvation laid down by the Trinity before the Creation of the World.
Blessings in the Name of Jesus Christ. ed

Saturday, September 22, 2012

"You Don't Have to Keep Those Ten Things"

The title? those aren't my words, but a-sort-of-a-quote from a man who said he heard them fall from the lips of preacher Creflo Dollar. They were a sideswipe at the Ten Commandments during a sermon that emphasized Grace...which is something we all large and frequent servings.
Of course I started wondering which of the Ten Words should be trashed; that is if I choose to follow CD's advice. So I thought and thought until my mind hurt from thinking and still I could not find a "bad" Commandment that needed to be tossed.
Come to think of it...more brain pain...Jesus had a lifestyle...we know He did but what was it like? Did He steal; did He lie; covet the stuff of other's that He didn't have? Did He take His Father's name in vain (swear)? No! because if He had sinned in any way He would have been disqualified to be our Redeemer.
Didn't the Christ come to save mankind from sin? And how was He  able to do that? Or in today's parlance, how was He able to pull that off? By living a perfect and sinless life as a man and bruising the head of the serpent...Satan. It's all there in the first few chapters of the Bible.
If the Ten Words had an expiration date, when was it? At the cross? Again I have to say no. It is Satan, who is the enemy of all righteousness, who hates the Ten Words. Throughout the history of the world Satan has done his best to destroy the government of God; and on what is it based? Love to God and love to our neighbor as ourself (Deut 10:12; 30:6; Matt 5:43).
Interesingly, in Matthew chapter five, the first part of the Sermon on the Mount series (5-7), Jesus talks about the Ten Commandments, references two as examples (murder and adultry), enlarges on them and pronounces a blessing on those who "do" or keep the Commandments. How is this done? There is only one way; through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. Read the whole 7th chapter of Romans. Paul is usually credited (quoted) as saying the law was done away with. Three laws were laid out before Israel's children; The Ten Words (Commandments), the Ceremonial Law that had to do with the sacrificial system for sin and the Civil Law. Which one(s) expired at the cross...and why?
No mean spirited criticism of Creflo intended...I believe the man is well intended with respect to grace and faith but in error regarding the foundation of God's government and His lifestyle...which BTW is the lifestyle of Heaven.
Think on these things. ec  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Fear The Future

Fear finds occasion to affect each of us in one form or another; especially in these times, this economy and our violence-filled society: Witness the latest inexplicable shooting rampage in Colorado.
Should we stop going to movies because some deranged person may invade with intent to kill? Should we not get on an airplane because terrorists may use it as a weapon of mass destruction?
Silly questions! Overreaction! Perhaps.
Life brings surprises and some are going to be unpleasant; even painful. That's no surprise.
This being true, why do some choose to live in fear of what might happen? Why dim the light of today because life-circumstances may turn it off tomorrow? 
The sum of human pain and suffering at any one moment is sufficient; it's best not to invent fear of sorrows that may come...sorrow has a way of finding the door to our hearts without us marking out a path.
" The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe." [Proverbs 29:25]
What it means: that by trusting in the Lord, our souls are safe in His keeping. What it does not mean: that we are safe from life.
It means that in YHWH we are safe in life. ec

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Silence As Deceit

Good morning. For those strong enough, brave enough, concerned enough to allow themselves to be discomfited by Man's evil designs toward other weaker souls in the World, here is a must-read book; The Good News About Injustice by Gary A. Haugen.
For background, Haugen writes an autopsy on injustice as he has (vividly) seen it while an official UN-appointed investigator in Rwanda, Africa, the Philippines, and other unfortunate parts of this planet.  Through his words we see writhing in pain of all species among peoples of all colors.
Haugen was so deeply affected by what he saw in Rwanda that after returning he established the International Justice Mission (IJM) whose mission is to intervene in the Name of Christ by rescuing victims and shining the light of God's justice into the darkness, cruelty, greed and deceit in the marketplace of man's inhumanity to man.
Young girls in their early teens abducted into forced prostitution; children forced to labor a lifetime for a family member's debt that can never be paid; men rotting in prisons without charge, without representation and without hope.
In the chapter, The Anatomy of Injustice, Haugen dissects injustice into its larger parts; 1. Coercion by force, and 2. Deceit. Those who coerce---by whatever means---cover the truth with lies.
 The Old Testament prophet Micah exposed the injustice of Israel's leaders (political and religious) when he wrote...
"Both hands are skilled in doing evil;
the ruler demands gifts,
the judge accepts bribes,
the powerful dictate what they desire---
they all conspire together." [Micah 3:7]
The prophet goes on to say...
"But as for me, I am filled with power,
with the Spirit of the Lord,
and with justice and might,
to declare to Jacob his transgression,
to Israel his sin," [Micah 3:8]
It occurred to me this morning that there is another---perhaps equally evil---face of deceit: Silence.
Very often the trail of lies can be uncovered as evidence---documents and witnesses---are discovered and published; but Evil is not easily shamed.
 Silence on the face of evil deeds is insidious; more so than lies, I would opine. Silence is a faceless, expressionless, sinister attitude that cannot be read. It is a different, far different behavior than was the silence of Christ when he faced His tormentors and accusers the day He was crucified.
The silence of Evil is cynical; contemptuous in other's opinions; smug in its selfishness.
Those who believe there is Good and Evil; who differentiate between Right and Wrong...especially those who name the Name of Christ...cannot keep silent in the face of injustice because in doing so they become default conspirators with the Unjust.
Christ ended His Sabbath in the grave, emerging as the Judge and Conqueror of all Evil and Injustice. That being True, what shall we do?
The Christ answered that question: "Go ye into all the World...preaching the gospel..." even into the dark, evil, unjust, uncomfortable and unsafe places where corruption, coercion and lies flourish like an unchecked plague. Take heart dear souls. He is coming. Meanwhile, what will you do about injustice? ec