Sunday, December 30, 2012
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Saturday, December 8, 2012
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
So - why the despicable behaviors of so many presidents? Here's a possible clue: in Harpers, Vol. 325, No. 1950, p. 96, it is suggested that psychopathic traits may make for better presidents. Harrison was right! Ya gotta be nuts to want to be President. A psychopath, among other things, is defined as having maladaptive behavior ("Let's go to war with somebody!"), difficulty in knowing the difference between truth and untruth, "I never had sex with that woman!", Reagan before the Iran-Contra Investigating Committee, "I had no knowledge of, or information about, that operation," (later witnesses testified he lied), and presidential aspirant Barry Goldwater, "...extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! ...moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." In other words, Nuke 'em.
I don't know, maybe a president does have to be loony to want to be president and to endure four years of it. My hat is off to anybody who has been, is now, or ever will be, president. Maybe what we really ought to do is pick a candidate from one of the wards at Bellevue Hospital and elect him or her on the slogan, "He kept us out of war with Bermuda." Then he or she wouldn't have to go crazy in office, he's already got it made. I'll vote for him, her, on the slogan "ON TO THE WHITE HOUSE ALL YOU CRAZIES." Can't hurt, and maybe we’d see a better outcome than from some of the former occupants of that lunatic asylum.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Computers have an important function called Messenger. By way of this function we're able to keep in contact with friends by exchanging emails, keeping up on what people are doing, letting off steam, asking advice, giving advice, ad infinitum. Down at the bottom of some lines this is the notice, YOUR FRIENDS HAVEN'T DONE ANYTHING LATELY. I think, what? Any computer that doesn't know what my friends have done lately ought to have its head examined. OK, I'm stretching here but there's a message, not about this computer that I have social issues with, but about our friends.
Robert Louis Stevenson in his poem, THE CELESTIAL SURGEON, reminds us "If I have faltered more or less in my great task of happiness, if I have moved among my race and shown no glorious morning face..." Whether I look or whether I listen I see friends of mine moving among our race and making the faces of others look up in hope and gratitude and appreciation for the gifts of others. I see my friend who is a nurse bringing a healing touch to every patient she touches. I see my friend the auto mechanic fixing cars so we can do things and go places. I see my friend the fireman risking his life every day in his service to the community. I see my friend the teacher bringing knowledge to her students and challenging them to a higher life. I see my little friend Aaron taking his even smaller sister Ellie to the ice cream shop for a cone. I see my artist friend bringing to life with ink and brush the whole panorama of the world. I see friends who, with the smile Robert Louis Stevenson describes, light up the whole environment.
So, here on this glorious morning with cooler weather and the singing of the birds in the trees out in the yard, I say, Get lost, computer, with your unsmiling face and heartless screen. Get it?
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
There is a provocative saying about marriage to the effect that men, who say they will change, never do, and that women, who say they will never change, always do. In the 1700's in the Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada desert country the coming of the Spanish conquistadores from the south and Anglos from the east brought both in conflict with Native Americans who had been there for centuries. The Apaches were one of the most tragic tribes who suffered from this conquest. As it was the intention of both Spanish and Americans to take Apache territory, over a century of conflict ensued between these groups.
Among the many families, tribes and related groups of the Apache, especially the Nnee, there was a mythical spiritual figure know as Changing Woman. This figure was important in Apache symbolism and especially so in the midst of the destruction of Apache life. In this time of troubles the Apache were able to draw inspiration from Changing Woman because their lives and culture were being changed continually.
I like to think the so-called unpredictable nature of women, if there is such a thing, is a blessing both to men and to women. To be able to adapt to changing circumstances, to see the good in the bad, the possible in the impossible, to build on the good and put away the bad, to embrace rather than reject, is to be the leavening, the healer, the mediator, the listener, the forgiver in marriage and family life and in community life. It's what helps tide us over. As it was said of Florence Nightengale as she visited the sick, the wounded and dying during the Civil War, "Make way now for your angel is coming to bless you."
A friendly piece of pastoral advice: Next time there is a disagreement, a conflict, a moment of violence by word and deed in your family life or marriage or between parent and child, or between you and AN ENEMY! put your hand on the face of the other and say, "Make way now for the coming of your angel to bless you."
It works and it doesn't cost a thing, just courage. Respond and I'll tell you how I know.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Yes, it’s a comin’ on, June, weddings, showers, receptions. I love these rituals, these gatherings, the fun and romance. In that regard I read now that the average American wedding costs $25,632 exclusive of a wedding planner and other incidentals (from The Wedding Report.) Wedding planners are up 40% from last year. Well, jeepers, I like weddings as much as anyone – I’ve done literally hundreds of them on two continents. I love the rituals, the music, the laughter, the children, the drama, the mishaps, the beauty and pageantry. IF IT JUST WASN’T THAT SO MANY OF THEM ARE DEB AUCHERIES OF EXHORIBANT COSTS, RECKLESS BEHAVIOR, DRUNKENESS AND OBSCENE STUPIDITY. Why can’t a wedding with its profound traditions and ancient symbols, Christian, Jewish or otherwise, be a joining together of that which asks God’s blessings rather than the Devil’s bacchanal? It’s so easy to do it the right way. The wedding planner I talked to for this blog told me she can do a perfectly beautiful, complete wedding with reception for somewhere around $ 5,000. I happen to believe weddings are supposed to be a “mystical union” as the ritual says, rather than a circus spectacle.
I know all the pressures on couples and families to have weddings that “keep up with the Joneses.” Honestly, I’d like to meet the Joneses we’re supposed to keep up with. I suspect they’re probably trying to keep up with us. We know weddings are to honor our children, to given them this special gift, to send them into marriage with many blessings. When I perform weddings, I see things from the front looking out. I am often disheartened from this view when I think I see “the things” of a wedding being substituted for “the spirit” of it.
“And what is so rare as a day in June,
Then, if ever, come perfect days………
Whether we look or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur and see it glisten.”
So, you know what, friends and neighbors? A lawn is a perfect place to hold a wedding. Neither the grass nor the sun nor the breeze nor the smell of the earth charges us a thing for their use. I’ve always thought a lawn was just begging us to use it. And (you can write this down), I’ll even come and do it for you for nothing, just for the joy of it.
Monday, April 2, 2012
Yet the thing is, I've actually seen miracles. Webster defines miracle as, "An extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment." OK, I've never seen anybody walk on the water but I've seen a teenager suddenly, unexpectedly, against the odds, go into remission. That hospital room rose up in one united shout of joy when the news was delivered to the family. Know how many miracles take place every day when someone is cured of alcoholism or drug addiction? IT'S LIKE WALKING ON WATER! I've seen a 3 day old baby undergo surgery for cornea cancer and given sight. I've seen a distraught mother pulled back from the brink of a bridge when overwhelmed with despair, saved by love no less. I've seen a young doctor who might earn $ 400,000 a year in a lucrative practice give his whole life to the poor in the slums of La Paz, Bolivia, his name is Charles Peterson. Whenever I hear someone call it a miracle when Jesus walked on the water I respond, "Absolutely!" When I see or hear of a child being delivered safely in childbirth I say, "A miracle, absolutely!" Jesus affirmed in Matthew 14 that believers can walk on the water. Yes, and when that water is the water of Easter newness, of cleansing, renewing, rising up, overcoming, seizing hope, we truly, honestly, victoriously, walk out into the light of the Easter hope. "Come to me," Jesus said to Peter, "Walk with me here where it’s deep and uncertain." No, not to a rose garden, just a daily walk to life's beauty in the Easter Promise.
Friday, March 23, 2012
I love that line. It tells me we aren't born happy which is the reason 85% of people will answer, "Just to be happy," when asked what they would like to have more than anything else in the world.
Yet we know that nothing exterior to us can make us happy. No person can make us happy. Happiness, as Ponette says, is something that is learned from life's experiences. We are happy as we learn to incorporate life's unhappiness, its sorrows, its grief, loss, disappointment, loneliness, into a broadening of our interests, our friendships, our intimacies, our time, our cultivation of life's ready-to-go gifts, our challenges and even life's dangers, to plunge into the wealth and riches of daily life as it comes to us. We can learn to be happy. It comes when, above all else, we have learned not to be unhappy.
Friday, February 17, 2012
In the mail recently I received a letter from Dan and Sarah. It was a letter of greeting and kind thoughts. Included in the letter was a single page from a small devotional booklet which this couple obviously used in their personal and family devotions. In the center of the small page, which Sarah had marked for emphasis, were the printed words, from Luke 12:32, "Fear not little flock for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you his Kingdom." Sarah remembered!
After every sermon I ever preached beginning in seminary and continuing throughout my more than 40 years of pastoral work I have used those words as a blessing at the close of the sermon. It is a Promise to be shared. Reading Sarah's greeting was a reminder to me that whether a 'flock' be a congregation or a family or a single person, the gift of the Kingdom has been promised. This kingdom is always the possibility of love in the midst of hate. It is a kingdom of peace in the midst of conflict. It is healing in the midst of sickness, faith in the midst of doubt, eternity in the midst of what is temporary, a meaningful life in the midst of so much that is meaningless around us, hope in the midst of despair, renewal in the midst of all that is old, gain in the midst of loss.
Thank you, Sarah, from across the years, for expressing in your own life, and for each of us, how God, the Eternal Spirit, hovers over us in our own personal kingdom which is, as the rest of the title line says, "...the house of thine abode."