Wednesday, December 05, 2007

When In A Storm

Recently read quote that I found beneficial and needed to hear. Don't know tp whom to attribute the wisdom.

"Don't tell God how big your storm is. Tell the storm how big your God is."

Friday, September 14, 2007

Modern Prophecy Come True

If you read this particular post, please read it carefully. I hope you find it interesting, although you will likely be frustrated that our nation did not listen. You may also be very surprised of the source of the address.

. . . We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved our own country. Despite these holocausts America is today the strongest, the most influential and most productive nation in the world. Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America's leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.

Throughout America's adventure in free government, such basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among peoples and among nations.

To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us a grievous hurt, both at home and abroad.

Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle – with liberty the stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in the newer elements of our defenses; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research – these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.

But each proposal must be weighed in light of a broader consideration; the need to maintain balance in and among national programs – balance between the private and the public economy, balance between the cost and hoped for advantages – balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between the actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.

The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their Government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well in the face of threat and stress.

But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. Of these, I mention two only.

A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.

Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system – ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.

Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society's future, we – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without asking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.

Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.

Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.

Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war – as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years – I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.

Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.

So . . . I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and peace. I trust that in that service you find some things worthy; as for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future.

You and I – my fellow citizens – need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nations' great goals.

To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America's prayerful and continuing aspiration: We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.

Surprisingly, this warning against a large, expensive military driven by an industry dependent on government contracts came from the man that many consider America's greatest general, Dwight D. Eisenhower. This excerpt is the bulk of his farewell address to the nation as he left office as our 34th President.

If you found this post thought-provoking, I encourage to view the documentary Why We Fight. It has been running on cable, probably can be rented locally, and is avialable at most media outlets. Worth the time and price if you get it.

Friday, August 31, 2007

The Death of Mass Transit

Please visit Stephen Meek's first hand blog on his work in Darfur. Pass it along, spread the truth!

Excerpt from Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser; copyright Eric Schlosser.

Southern California had recently given birth to an entirely new lifestyle -- and a new way of eating. Both revolved around cars. The cities back East had been built in the railway era, with central business districts linked to outlying suburbs by commuter train and trolley. But the tremendous growth of Los Angeles occurred at a time when automobiles were finally affordable. Between 1920 and 1940, the poplulation of southern California nearly tripled, as about 2 million people arrived from across the United States. While cities in the East expanded through immigration and became more diverse, Los Angeles became more homogenous and white. The city was inundated with middle-class arrivals from the Midwest, especially in the years leading up to the Great Depression.

It was the first large-scale migration conducted mainly by car. Los Angeles soon became unlike any other city the world had ever seen, sprawling and horizontal, a thoroughly suburban metropolis of detached homes -- a glimpse of the future molded by the automobile. Other cities were being transformed by car ownership, but none was so profoundly altered. By 1940, there were about a million cars in Los Angeles, more cars than in forty-one states.

The automobile offered drivers a feeling of independence and control. Daily travel was freed from the hassles of rail schedules, the needs of other passengers, and the location of trolley stops. More importantly, driving seemed to cost much less than using public transport -- an illusion created by the fact that the price of a new car did not include the price of building new roads. Lobbyists from the oil, tire, and automobile industries, among others, had persuaded state and federal agencies to assume that fundamental expense. Had big auto companies been required to pay for the roads -- in the same way that trolley companies had to lay and maintain track -- the landscape of the American West would look quite different today.

The automobile industry, however, was not cotent to simply to reap the benefits of government-subsidized road construction. It was determined to wipe out railway competition by whatever means necessary. In the late 1920's, General Motors secretly began to purchase trolley systems throughout the United States, using a number of front corporations. Trolley systems in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Montgomery, Alabama, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and El Paso, Texas, in Baltimore, Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles -- more than one hundred trolley systems in all -- were purchased by GM and then completely dismantled, their tracks ripped up, their overhead wires torn down. The trolley companies were turned into bus lines, and the new buses were manufactured by GM.

General Motors eventually persuaded other companies that benefited from road building to help pay for the costly takeover of America's trolleys. In 1947, GM and a number of its allies in the scheme were indicted on federal antitrust charges. Two years later, the workings of the conspiracy, and its underlying intentions, were exposed during a trial in Chicago. GM, Mack Truck, Firestone, and Standard Oil of California were all found guilty on one of the two counts by the federal jury. The investigative journalist Jonathan Kwitny later argued that the case was "a fine example of what can happen when important matters of public policy are abandoned by government to the self-interest of corporations." Judge William J. Campbell was not so outraged. As punishment, he ordered GM and the other companies to pay a fine of $5,000 each. The executives who had secretly plotted and carried out the destruction of America's light rail network were fined $1 each. And the postwar reign of the automobile proceeded without much further challenge.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Reacting Rationally To The System

Below are a few gems from Diamond: A Struggle For Environmental Justice in Louisiana's Chemical Corridor by Steve Lerner, MIT Press, copyright 2004.

During the same period, Richard's mother worked at a restuarant on the white side of Norco. The front door bore a sign saying, "whites only." There was a window on the side where blacks could buy take-out. Since she was in charge of the kitchen, Richard's mother took full advantage of this segregated arrangement, dishing out 13 shrimp on a loaf for the white customers and 32 shrimp on a loaf to black customers at the window. Richard could take a super-loaded sandwich home and make short shrimp po' boys for the whole family. "Hah," her mother rejoiced. "They [the whites] think they got us, but we are going to make it."

. . .
Margie Richard had painful memories of the racial divide between Diamond and Norco. When she was growing up in Diamond, Norco's only public movie theater . . . was segregated. "On Sundays, if you put on your Sunday best, you could go to the [movie] show, but you better not get your dress dirty," she recalled. The faucet outside said "coloreds only," and after the faucet had been used a few times the dirt beneath it turned to mud. This created a dilemma for Richard and her friends: it was hot and they wanted a drink of water but they did not want to get their Sunday dresses and shoes muddy. "The faucet inside the show was nice and cool, and they had one man collecting ticketes, so we always went in all at one time, ordered popcorn, and when he turned his back to get the popcorn we would drink from the white faucet because we didn't want to get our dress dirty." To this day Richard is proud of the strategy that she and her young friends devised to circumvent the segregation rules.

. . .
While the girls were sneaking drinks at the water fountain reserved for whites, the boys had their own brand of protest. In those days blacks were made to sit upstairs in the balcony of the theater, where it was stifling hot owing to the absence of air conditioning. "they put us up top, but we used to throw stuff down [on the whites in the seats below]," recalled Devon Washington, 47. As a result, black patrons were soon moved out of the balcony and made to sit in the front rows. That was a victory of sorts.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Social Gospel

Judge Mitchel Ransom: Judge, white, father of Carter Ransom.
Cartern Ransom: white, son of Judge Ransom.
Elijah Knight: black, friend of Carter, mother is housekeeper for the Ransom family.

Mitchell started up the truck and pulled into traffic, his expression troubled.

"What was the holdup?" Carter asked.

"Those people look mad," Elijah said.

"The damndest thing," said Mitchell. "Some kind of protest. Students from a local Negro college."

"What were they protesting?" asked Carter.

"They were sitting at the whites-only lunch counter big as y0u please, ordering Cokes and sandwiches same as white folks. Since they were breaking the law, the manager closed the counter and I guess he called the police. The coloreds were sitting in the dark by the time I paid and left. I have to buy your Cokes at a service station."

The pulled into an Esso station, and while the attendant filled up the car, Mitchell went inside to get the boys their Cokes.

"Judge Ransom?" Lige said when he returned.

"Yes, Elijah."

"When you bought the Co'-Cola, did they know you were going to give it to a Negro?"

"They didn't ask me."

"Would you have been breaking the law buying me one?"

"No son."

"Why not."

"The crime is for white and colored to sit down together."

Lige looked at Carter, and Carter looked at Lige, squeezed in beside each other in the cabin of the truck. Then they both stared at the broken white line of the pavement dividing the road before them. The incident was not mentioned again.

. . .
By then they had been swallowed up in the baroque machinery of seperate-but-equal, and their estrangement was taken for granted by both of them.

. . .
Lige gave Carter a look of infinite patience.

"And I can't condone breaking the law." Carter continued. "I don't know--you weren't talking this way the last time I saw you. What's happened?"

"I went to seminary and studied the Bible just like Mama wanted," Lige said. "Hebrew prophets, the Sermon on the Mount. But the only thing was, they also taught us about something called the social gospel. About how these things apply to real life. Not just the sweet by-and-by but the nasty now and now. You ever read Tolstoy on the Sermon on the Mount? I did. And Gandhi. And Thoreau on civil disobedience. I met some folks like me who realized those ideas we'd been reading about weren't just Sunday school memory verses but real-life, down-to-earth blueprints for social change."

--Passages from Magic Time by Doug Marlette. Copyright 2006 by Doug Marlette. Sarah Crichton Books, Farrar, Straus and Giroux New York.

In memory of Doug Marlette, killed July 10 in a car accident in Mississippi. He was a Pulitzer Prize winner, the creator and cartoonist of Kudzu, and the author of two incredible books, The Bridge and Magic Time. He was also a gentleman southerner.

I am deeply saddened that he will write no more.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Children and Angels

'There is nothing,' cried her friend, 'no, nothing innocent or
good, that dies, and is forgotten. Let us hold to that faith, or
none. An infant, a prattling child, dying in its cradle, will live
again in the better thoughts of those who loved it, and will play
its part, through them, in the redeeming actions of the world,
though its body be burnt to ashes or drowned in the deepest sea.
There is not an angel added to the Host of Heaven but does its
blessed work on earth in those that loved it here. Forgotten! oh,
if the good deeds of human creatures could be traced to their
source, how beautiful would even death appear; for how much
charity, mercy, and purified affection, would be seen to have their
growth in dusty graves!' [Chapt. 54]

She was dead, and past all help, or need of it. The ancient rooms she had seemed to fill with life, even while her own was waning fast -- the garden she had tended -- the eyes she had gladdened -- the noiseless haunts of many a thoughtful hour -- the paths she had trodden as it were but yesterday -- could know here no more.

'It is not,' said the schoolmaster, as he bent down to kiss her on the cheek, and gave his tears free vent, 'it is not on earth that Heaven's justice ends. Think what it is, compared with the World to which her young spirit has winged its early flight, and say, if one deliberate wish expressed in solemn terms above this bed could call her back to life, which of us would utter it!' [Chapt. 71]

-- Charles Dickens, The Old Curiousity Shop

Dicken's Preaches Christ

And let us linger in this place for an instant to remark that if ever household affections and loves are graceful things, they are graceful in the poor. The ties that bind the wealthy and the proud to home may be forged on earth, but those which link the poor man to his humble hearth are of the true metal and bear the stamp of Heaven. The man of high descent may love the halls and lands of his inheritance as a part of himself, as trophies of his birth and power; his associations with them are associations of pride and wealth and triumph; the poor man's attachment to the tenements he holds, which strangers have held before, and may tomorrow occupy again, has a worthier root, struck deep into a purer soil. His household gods are flesh and blood, with no alloy of silver, gold, or precious stone; he has no property but in the affections of his own heart; and when they endear bare floors and walls, despite of rags and toil and scanty meals, that man has his love of home from God, and his rude hut becomes a solemn place.

Oh! if those who rule the destinies of nations would but remember this – if they would but think how hard it is for the very poor to have engendered in their hearts that love of home from which all domestic virtues spring, when they live in dense and squalid masses where social decency is lost, or rather never found, – if they would but turn aside from the wide thoroughfares and great houses, and strive to improve the wretched dwellings in bye-ways where only poverty may walk – many low roofs would point more truly to the sky, than the loftiest steeple that now rears proudly up from the midst of guilt, and crime, and horrible disease, to mock them by its contrast. In hollow voices from Workhouse, Hospital, and Jail, this truth is preached from day to day, and has been proclaimed for years. It is no light matter – no outcry from the working vulgar – no mere question of the people's health and comforts that may be whistled down on Wednesday nights. In love of home, the love of country has its rise; and who are the truer patriots or the best in time of need – those who venerate the land, owning its wood, and stream, and earth, and all that they produce? or those who love their country, boasting not a foot of ground in all its wide domain?
-- Charles Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop

Friday, May 11, 2007

Perceptions: Don't Judge A Temple By Its Vessel

I love the way Charles Dickens lauds the virture of the misfortunate while illuminating the self-blindness of the fortunate.

It was natural enough that her short and unfinished dialogue with Kit should leave a strong impression on her mind, and influence her dreams that night and her recollections for a long, long time. Surrounded by unfeeling creditors, and mercenary attendants upon the sick, and meeting in the height of her anxiety and sorrow with little regard or sympathy even from the women about her, it is not surprising that the affectionate heart of the child should have been touched to the quick by one kind and generous spirit, however uncouth the temple in which it dwelt. Thank Heaven that the temples of such spirits are not made with hands, and that they may be more worthily hung with poor patchwork than with purple and fine linen! -- The Old Curiosity Shop, chapt. 11.

It must be specially observed in justice to poor Kit that he was by no means of a sentimental turn, and perhaps had never heard that adjective in all his life. He was only a soft-hearted grateful fellow, and had nothing genteel or polite about him; consequently instead of going home again in his grief to kick the children and abuse his mother (for when your finely strung people are out of sorts they must have everybody else unhappy likewise), he turned his thoughts to the vulgar expedient of making them more comfortable if he could. -- The Old Curiosity Shop, chapt. 14.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

My Concern: A Commentary

I wrote the below commentary expecting to make a brief presentation of ~ 3 min. I did not have to make the presentation, but did deliver a one minute abridged version. Since I wrote it, I thought I would post it.

I am concerned that our culture has become much too selfish, too me oriented. Observe the attitudes in the way we drive: "my time is more impotant than yours; courtesy and rules do not apply to me--I am in a hurry; get out of my way." Look at what we drive, vehicles that far exceed the necessity of mere transportation in both price and luxury.

Look at what we buy, large screen, hi-def TV's and elaborate sound systems to watch big budget productions and over-paid athletes in order to escape footage of war, Darfur, and our inner cities.

Look at where we live, houses whose size and design are exuberant examples of form over function; whose furnishings are so opulent they cost more than our parents' houses did.

We have become an "I deserve", materialistic society to such an extent that we flirt with amorality.

We are more intent on fighting injustice done unto us than we are in fighting the injustices we do unto others.

Yet, are we growing more content? Are we happier, more peaceful at heart or restful in soul? Do we sleep better at night? Based on the sales of sleep aids . . . well, you decide. Have we found our sense of purpose or does it seem ever more elusive driving us deeper into our consumerism?

I think it is time we seriously contemplate the advice of the great American psychologist, Karl Meninger, who gave this answer when asked what one piece of advice he would give to someone about to go insane. “Lock up your house, go across the railroad tracks, and find someone in need and do something for him.”

Money-giving is a very good criterion of a person's mental health. Generous people are rarely mentally ill people. -- Karl Menninger

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Conclusion

From a recent service involvement, some discussions with a brother, and mostly through internal mental arguements, I have reached a conclusion of thought.

I must show the love of Christ to everyone, every minute, everyday. Then I must trust in God to handle the rest.

I am not sure which is going to be harder, perpetually living Christ or completely trusting God. Such hard tasks to execute from such a simple conclusion. Well, Christ did promise that discipleship would be hard and that it might even kill me. Oh well...

Monday, March 19, 2007

Sweeeet baby!

I love college basketball. I love March Madness. I love the sweet sixteen!

Know what I love the most about it? Being in it!


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Head Down

This post needs a short explanation. First, I don't have anything pressing on my mind or heart, so I revert to my easy way out--publishing song lyrics or some past writing. Today I choose one of the handful of poems I have written.

This poem is not indictative of my current mood (I feel great right now). I wrote this poem in February 2002. Some events in my life triggered some deep seated emotions, leftover scar tissue, from way back in my past. This is one of my favorite self-authored poems, not because it is dark, but because it was cathartic. I finally expressed some pain that had been lingering a long time. Now, pain doesn't just go away because you wrote a poem, or song, or told a therapist. But such actions are a small step toward healing.

Anyway, I subject my readers to this poem for a lack of anything better to write, and the fact that continued silence would just be too prudent.

Head Down
Head down, head down, maybe the beating will pass.
Head down, head down, maybe the ridicule will miss.
Born not this way – head down.
Created this way I believe not – head down.

Head up, head up, is my natural place.
Head up, head up, with smiling face.
Head up, head up, through life at an excited pace.
Innocent and naïve, degradation I did not believe.
Was not looking, was not prepared, when execration came sweeping.

Heads up, heads up, your above your place.
Heads up, heads up, your out of place.

Head down, head down, put you in your place.
Head down, head down, inferior is your space.
Ashamed, I am, that I was not stronger; but fight, I can no longer.
The neck of my soul has been broken, and its shoulders falter.

Head down, head down, head down this lonely path.
Head down, head down, head down into the depths.
Head down, head down, head down this dangerous path.
Head down, head down, maybe this too shall pass.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

What Would Jesus Do? If You Want to Follow Jesus, You Will Be Tested.

Walking in the ways of Christ will bring demanding and uncertain opportunities to test our discipleship. Christ assured of this in scripture. Follow the link below to see one group of Christians faced with just such a test.

Sex Offender Causes Stir at Nev. Church

I think they are probably handling their situation pretty well, but what are your thoughts?

On Saturday evening, our church faced a little test too with a new participant (nothing on the scale of the Nevada church). It will be interested to see how those involved will handle the situation. Maybe Phil will blog about that incident (hope he takes the bait).

Do Christians really want to love those outside their sanctuaries? It isn't going to be easy, but it is critical we do so.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Mockingbird Singing for the Blind

I had a rewarding experience resulting from a previous post entitled, Mockingbird Singing, which was poem I had written. During a moment of curiosity I was looking through the tracking paths for my blog and I noticed a hit on this old post. Going back I found the following comment had been left.
Greetings Tony, ... . I work with an agency that produces materials for people who are blind or visually impaired. One of our projects is a small monthly magazine provided in braille and/or 24-font large print. This magazine always has a poetry section, and in recent issues we have been trying to relate the poems to the lead article of the magazine. Since the lead article in April’s issue is about the mockingbird, I was searching the Internet for a poem to go with the article and ran across your blog. I believe your poem would be perfect for our April magazine and hope to use it there. Copyright regulations do give us the legal right to use copyrighted material for special formats used by people who are blind or visually impaired, but I wanted to give you the courtesy to have the ability say “no” if you do not want this poem in the magazine. You can find our web site at Horizons For the Blind. The site is a bit outdated, and we are working on an update soon, but you can learn more about us there.

After verifying that the non-profit was legitimate and exchanging an email with the contact there, I was thrilled and humbled that they thought the poem was worthy of using. I had no reservations about its usage in their publication. Below is the lead-in they sent me.
This month’s poem is not from one of the classic poets, but rather was found on the Internet. Tony Arnold is a business and operations professional who lives in Nashville, Tennessee. The poem below was found on his blog * site. Arnold claims that “All my poetry is based on real things that happen to me or feelings I have …” He claims not to be a poet, nor to read much poetry, but his poem below belies this claim.
* A “Blog” is an Internet diary of sorts where people share their thoughts with others and allow a place for others to comment.

Notice they included a footnote explaining what a blog is. Many of their readers are probably not familiar with blogs because their disability inhibits computer use. This was a reminder of all the small things I take for granted everyday.

This correspondence sure was a pleasant, uplifting surprise. It is also an example of those small occurrances that are considered luck or coincidence, but could easily be a small measure of God's providence. That is, me even seeing the comment left on this 6 week old post. I could easily never have been aware of the request or the poems use.

On the negative side, the whole situation does feed my narcissistic tendencies. :-)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

My Apology

I have been blogging for almost 2 years now (March 11, 2005). In that time, I have been spared truly mean-spirited comments or attacks on my thoughts, views, etc.

That changed the other day. During the dialogue on my post A Major Faith Struggle, I made the following comment to one of the participants in the discussion:

One thing you might consider and of which you may be unaware. When you draw discussions in the direction you have, and which you have done before, it quickly moves away from the intent of the original post and you become the focus. I don't think you want to appear narcissistic, but you may want to consider the effect.

The person to whom I addressed this comment responded and did not seem to take offense.

However, someone else left this comment anonymously:

I find it comically unbelievable that Tony would suggest that someone else is narcissistic. Wow. This will now be my new definition of irony.

My first reaction was shame, which then bred a little anger, then settled down pretty quickly into an embarassed hurt. The pain was confounded by the fact that I have no context in which to judge the statement; no identity with which to associate it. What relationship do I have with this person? It is very hard to know how to weigh the comment and its merit.

What hurt the most, besides the validity of writer's accusation, was the underlying venom present in the comment. It seemed so vindictive and I could not get a grasp on why. This confusion was compounded by a follow-up response after I challenged the person to not leave such biting criticism anonymously. I left my email address so that the person could respond discretely and I promised to keep their ID confidential. Here was the response to that challenge:

I WILL do it annonymously. If you don't want annonymous comments, you can remove the ablitity to do so. Otherwise, I will continue lobbing grenades at will.

After stewing on all this, I realized something. Something that made me feel awful. I realized that this comment had to be made by someone I had hurt in some way. A hurt of which I am likely unaware. It obviously wasn't a small slight either. I must have hurt them significantly.

I pray that the following appears sincere and neither narcissistic nor sarcastic, because I intend sincerety. I would prefer to do this in person so as to avoid any misconception, but the anonymity of the comment leaves me no choice but to do it publicly.

So my final response is to offer my sincerest apology for causing such harm. If I ever find out who you are, I will ask for your forgiveness directly. Until then, I hope you will accept my apology in this forum and forgive me.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Major Faith Struggle: Part 2

Thanks to those who commented on my previous post. I found aid in much of the discussion. I thought I would share with you a series of email exchanges that I had with a spiritual mentor when I shared my post with him. I hope you find it as beneficial as I did.
Tony: shared my Faith Struggle post.

Mentor: There is a powerful scene in Elie Wiesel's book Night, which describes his experiences in the Holocaust, in which a beautiful, dear-hearted young boy is hanged, between two older men. As Wiesel stands in the ranks with the other prisoners, all of whom who had been assembled to watch the executions, Wiesel hears a man behind him muttering, "where is God now?" Wiesel says to himself: "He is there, on those gallows." And then, as I recall it, Wiesel says that his faith in the justice of God died with that child. But it is Wiesel's remark that I think is the clue to the meaning of Jesus' execution: God was indeed there on those gallows. God is not removed from the suffering of children, the suffering of the innocent. God is crucified afresh in their suffering. It is one of the most fundamental meanings of Jesus' cross. Peace.

Tony: I am very familiar with the book and that passage. I remember when I first read that part of the book. I was sitting on the balcony of a lodge room around 6:00a at Fall Creek Falls, overlooking the lake as the sun rose, a very stark contrast to the scene in the book, complete peace surrounding me. I read that passage, dropped the book, and cried for several minutes. I just cried.

I agree with you that Christ is crucified anew. That is another hard issue for me. Was not once enough? It hurts me just as much knowing that Christ dies continually due to man's evilness.

I know what I am really struggling with is endurance in dealing with the suffering and evil of this world, and there are some triggers that are far worst for me than other things. I just cannot get the visions of what these children go through out of my heart and my head. And I don't want to ever rid myself of the realization, but the pain is so bad. I cannot imagine how those who are close to a child who has suffered like this feel? I don't think I could bear it if it were my child or a child I was close too. God has had mercy on me.

Yesterday I spent some time contemplating all my emotions and thoughts and listening to God. I have begun to suspect that God is leading me somewhere on this, calling me to something. I don't what it is. Please pray for me on these issues.

Mentor: Blessings on you, Tony.

I think too that such moments can be guiding moments to which we should pay attention.

In my own experience, I have also found that there are certain situations/scenarios/news that I must simply ignore: because contemplating the graphic nature of the horror leads to depression, which means I am even less available to be of service to people around me. So sometimes I simply choose not to read certain stories, etc., and sometimes, even to fast from "the news." "The news" is never new: it is just a continuing account of all the Fallen World. I choose in those times to focus instead on concrete ways I can be of service to the people and community around me. It doesn't seem that our constitution was created to handle the glut of horrors that can be downloaded onto our psyches through mass media; so I've decided I don't have to try to handle that...Peace.

Tony: Excellent advice. I usually do fast from such items, but sometimes I give in and read the details. Maybe those periodic delvings are at God's direction. Thanks so much for the thoughts, they do help.

Peace and Christ's love to you.

"Do not be deceived. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer understanding but still desiring to do our enemy's will, looks around upon a universe from which every trace of God seems to have vanished, asks why he has been forsaken, yet still obeys God." – Sr. Devil Screwtape in letter to subordinate devil Wormword. The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A Major Faith Struggle

I have one area in my faith, in my relationship with God, with which I struggle deeply and painfully. It is the suffering of the unknowing, non-understanding innocent. Specifically, horrendous cruelty and evil inflicted on children. The two links below provide recent, stark examples to what I refer.

You can find similiar reports daily with ease. Millions of similiar incidents and other heinous acts occur across our globe daily.

These reports make me angry. I want justice that includes severe vengeance upon the perpetrators. I want more than earthly justice, I desire immediate spiritual vengeance. I know that this is not right for my heart.

I will be frank that these test my faith more than anything else. I can understand or least rationalize the existing of suffering on this earth. I have found faithful ways to handle suffering and the understanding of suffering. But this type of suffering, the extreme abject evil of these acts darken my heart and my faith.

I do not pretend to understand God's plan or His allowing such malevolence to continue and even to increase. I get angry with God. I pray for understanding. I pray harder that God will protect the children of this world. I cannot get my head and my heart around these issues in a productive way. I physically weep with rage and pain when I read, for example, of a man that killed a 5 year boy by slamming him into a shower wall repeatedly until he died of massive head and internal injuries. The reason for the man's anger? The boy screamed and cried while he was repeatedly raped by the man. A 5 year old little boy! How does anything remotely resembling a human do such a thing?

Dear God, I cannot bear the thoughts I have of the terror this innocent child endured! The pure and innocent have no understanding of evil. They cannot understand the wrong. It seems to me to be a vicious, calculated attack on goodness by some force of evil-- an act meant to slowly destroy us all.

After I delve into my anger for a while, I begin to contemplate how God and Christ must feel watching the most pure forms of evil recur unceasingly minute after minute . How does God endure us, endure this world, watching the destruction and torture of those pure, innocent souls that He not only loves deeper than we can imagine, but which He created? They are a continual recreation of the rejection of Christ and His crucifixion streamed forth in broadband. How does God withhold his wrath and not destroy us all? In these moments, I want Him to do so. I want Him to end it all; to save the innocent that have not yet been harmed. It is during these moments I truly can understand the psalmist who cries out for God's wrath and vengeance upon the unrighteous.

At this point in my Christian immaturity, my method of faith survival is to blindly trust God's plan. I reach a point of shutting off the pain and any thought process, and I just believe that God is with us. I have no illusions that this is a good or proper response. But I cannot give up my faith in God, so I have to shut down the overload to my faith senses. I do not permanently shut them down. I do not ignore. I will revisit the issues and the evilness again when I see another example. But I feel that each unintentional plunge into the pit kills a little part of me.

I beg for insight and help from any that may provide wisdom. And please pray that God ends this evilness. I don't mean to be depressing, but I need a release. I need to be open with this struggle with the naive hope that such openness is a way to fight evil in the Light.

Monday, February 05, 2007

John Remains (or John's Remains)

I find one of the last paragraphs of the Gospel of John (21:22-23) absolutely fascinating, although I don't know what to think about it. I am hoping to get some insightful and interesting commentary from the blog world.

Jesus to Peter concerning John:
Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?"

This passages raises so many interesting questions. Both about Peter's emotions, thoughts, and fears and about the ramifications on John. Concerning John, could this have been a little foreshadowing of the revelation on Patmos (although many scholars believe the John of Revelations was not the apostle John)?

Any comments or insights you may have regarding any of the above, please share.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Joseph, Husband of Mary

When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From this time on, this disciple took her into his home. John 19:26

As I was reading through John this morning and read the passage above, I had one of those weird thoughts, one of those perplexing thoughts that feigns insight. The thought is that this scripture implies that Mary's husband, Joseph, is dead. I then realized that as far as I know, scripture never mentions Joseph's death. Jesus did not react to Joseph's death in such a way that any writer made mention of it.

Some quick Study Bible research revealed that past the first fleeting sciptures describing Jesus' birth, Joseph is not mentioned at all. The latest reference of Joseph is in Luke 2:48 when Jesus is a boy in the temple, and this reference is indirect stating, "When his parents . . ."

I find the enigma and spareness of Jesus' relationship with his earthly father intriguing and curious. Any thoughts or comments? (Is anybody other than JMG or Jettybetty even reading these posts?)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Challenging Change of Vision of Church

There have been a few blog discussions about what the Church is really supposed to be and about our knowledge of God. I ran across the link below today at John's blog. For all those interested in these discussions or wrestling with these issues, this article is a must read. It is a short article but will challenge you to think about what Church is.

We Can't Do Megachurch Anymore

I hope this spurs some discussion.

And thanks to John for bringing this article to my attention.

Friday, January 26, 2007

God's Mysterious Ways

If you have not already seen this, the below CNN report is intriguing. I hope it is not a hoax, although there are some very mean, and vulgar things being written on blogs about this young girl.

Akiane: Child Prodigy and Heaven Visionary

Don't Be A Jerk Believer

Monday, January 22, 2007

Selective Evolution?

While reading the December 2006 issue of Scientific American about a 3.3 million year old, amazingly complete skeleton of a child and what she means to human evolution, a question popped in my head--a question about evolution that depending on the answer would seem to cast some doubt on the premise.

Before I state the question, I must preface it with the fact I am talking about evolution of a species into another species. The question is not framed in the context of adaption over time of a species. Also, I am not well educated on evolution science, therefore my question is not meant to be argumentative for or against, but is a question arising from my lack of understanding of stated evolution science and the contrary bits that I see.

Q: If you accept the evolution over long time periods of a species into a more advanced species, such as the evolution of chimps into primitive human species and these into the advanced homo sapien species, then how do you explain the inconsistancies of selective evolution? That is, if chimps evolved into more advanced hominin species, why did certain branches stop evolving but remain in existence like the chimps of today? Why didn't primitive hominin species exhibit similiar patterns, so that Neanderthal or Cro-Magnon species survive rather than become extinct? I would think that whatever wiped them out should have wiped out the chimps as well. For me, it seems like a big hole in the theories? Some species advance and their precursors die off while others branched and evolved and their precursors lived on?

I won't get into the problem of the statistical improbabilities of multiple, major evolutionary changes occurring simultaneously which many non-religious scientists have raised.

Does anyone have thoughts or insights on this? I am really curious.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Whose Your Daddy? Or, Guilt by DNA Association

If Homeland Security watch lists, phone call monitoring, email and internet monitoring, every cell phone a bug, and sweeping new powers to open your mail without a warrant were not enough to bother you, hang on. Now the bad egg in your bloodline could be used against you.

The December 2006, issue of Scientific American has this news article, “Partial to Crime: Families Become Suspects As Rules On DNA Matches Relax”, by Sally Lehrman. Below are excerpts.
If a sibling or other close relation of yours ever went to prison for more than a year, suspicion of criminal behavior now extends to you. The Federal Bureau of Investigation recently opened its forensic DNA database of felony offenders and certain other arrestees to allow states to share information that does no exactly match blood, semen or other crime scene evidence but may come close enough to finger a relative. Critics fear, however, that partial matches intrude on privacy and cast suspicion far too widely.

Nationally officials have compiled more than 3.6 million profiles based on 13 regions, or loci, of the human genome that vary among individual people.

When labs can show a match is close enough to indicate a likely relative—that is, when at least one of the two versions (alleles) of the gene segment at each locus matches up—and there are no other leads, a new interim plan allows states to disclose identifying information on FBI approval.

By widening its net, law enforcement can move more quickly and potentially head off future crimes, Bieber, points out. Critics wonder, however, whether extending genetics surveillance from individuals already associated with crime to their families will help catch enough criminals to outweigh its likely intrusion on privacy and civil liberties. “We’re talking about innocent people by proxy being included in this database,” objects Tania Simoncelli, science adviser for the American Civil Liberties Union.

“We’re kind of blundering ahead with this technology,” worries William Thompson, a criminologist at the University of California, Irvine, who would like to see the government open up the database for independent scrutiny and statistical analysis. He is especially concerned about the reports of faked test results and poor-quality lab work such as cross-contamination and sample mix-ups.

So, George Orwell was maybe 20 years behind on his predictions because of technology, but his understanding of government paranoia is scary. I really detest the hypocritical, dual nature of the message our government presents. To the world and our young soldiers, we say freedom is worth dying for. However, to our citizenry we say you must be willing to forego some freedoms for safety.” At what price--morally, ethically, and monetarily?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Mockingbird Singing

I have not posted much recently, for many reasons. One reason would make a good post, but I just don' t have the energy to recount the story in words. Let me just say, if anyone has seen The Money Pit with Tom Hanks (1986), I had a money pit week during my time off between Christmas and New Years.

Anyway, to fill the gap in my blogging I thought I would inflict some of my poetry (term is used loosely here) on my readers, those that are left. I write very little poetry and I read less of it. But here you go. All my poetry is based on real things that happen to me or feelings I have, which is about the only connection I might have to anything related to real poetry.

Mockingbird Singing
Written Oct. 7, 2003

Little gray angel, mockingbird singing;
are you singing for me?
Outside my office window, on crape myrtle swaying;
were you sent to me?
Afternoon winding, sun sweeping;
Autumn leaves turning with your song.
Eyes watching, in staring;
God are you speaking to me?
Little gray angel, mockingbird singing;
how long you have played.
Outside my office window, you keep returning;
are you singing just for me?
At just the right time, when spirit is waning;
God watching over me?
Little gray angel, mockingbird singing;
what cause launches your song?
Instinct burning, passion flowing;
or just a random song?
Greater design, beautiful plan;
God the artist I perceive.
Little gray angel, mockingbird singing;
Many questions you provoke.
Outside my office window, among lavender myrtle;
I quiet the asking, and let the heart enjoy.