Friday, November 9, 2018

Guns Do What They Do

They do what they do
Put holes in us
That’s what they do.

They do what they do
Kill the innocent in the parking lot*
That’s what they do.


They do what they do
Blow away the innocent as they dance**
That’s what they do.


They do what they do
Destroy life and limb and parents’ hearts
That’s what they do.

They do what they do
Blow away unarmed black men and children***
That’s what they do.


They do what they do
Maim worshippers both Jew and gentile****
That’s what they do.


They do what they do
While we offer hope and prayer*****
That’s just what they do.


They do what they do
Threaten asylum seekers+
That’s just what they do.


They do what they do
Display the power of the owner 
That’s just what they do.

They do what they do
While Congress bows to the NRA++
That’s just what they do.


They do what they do
Hunting and humane purposes
That’s what they also do.

But guns
In the hands of some
But guns
The big ones for use in times of war++
They do what they do
They do those things they do all too well.
And only time will tell
If we shall do
What we need to do
To save us from ourselves
And for generations to come.


Only time will tell
But guns do what they do.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Gains and Losses: A Blue Wave or a Blue Fizzle?

Back when I was a student at Ole Miss, I had a really, really good statistics professor. He later moved on to Cornell from the south, but he was very patient with me, very funny and engaging, and pointed out the use and misuse of statistics. His last lecture focused upon the use of various methodologies for use of stats:  fadiddle, fadaddle, and finagle and their approaches.  Easy to remember and apply these days.

So, was the Blue Wave a total bust? Was the Blue Wave a resound success? Was the Blue Wave a moderate success?

It all depends upon who you are listening to, with respect and apologies to all of my grammar teachers from of old.

If you listen to the president*, mid-term elections was a success. I think he categorizes it as such because he did not lose as many to the opposition as did his successors, Clinton, Bush, and Obama. Curious way to spin losses.

If you listen to the Republicans, it was a bust.  Afterall, they flipped three seats in the Senate in Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota, and lost one in Nevada. They won (maybe they have and maybe they haven’t as of yet) in key states of Texas, Florida, and Georgia.

If you listen to us Democrats, it was a resounding success and a referendum against the current resident of the White House. No, we did not win Texas although Beto made Ted sweat. Ted won by a much smaller margin than during his last election and he lost some traditional red strongholds. Florida squeaked by in a contentious election that pitted races against each other. Georgia is still up for grabs and there appears to be a run-off in early December. There are multiple complaints of voter suppression that must be looked into.

Here are more successes for us Blues:  a run-off featuring Mike Espy in Mississippi; gained seven Democratic governors across the country (this will be important in the fight to set districts more appropriately); gained 27 seats in the House and many in traditional Red strongholds; here in Texas the House picked up a dozen seats and two Senate seats, and we flipped four major appeals courts; and across the country summary reports nation-wide gains. See this link for a visual display of gains. 

What among other things does this mean? It may mean these things for me and no one else.  First, the economy is good, and it still rests upon gains under Obama, and people like that, regardless of what some of my friends say.  Second, people are growing weary of the president* and his shenanigans as he embarrasses us before the country and before a watching world. Third, people are weary of the vituperative style and the violence and dissonance that it includes. Fourth, people want a return to civility and less angry rhetoric from our elected officials. We want more across the isle partnering to solve domestic and global issues. Fifth, we want an end to the unethical dealings of the current administration. The number of indictments against the president* and others is mind-boggling. Sixth, we want sensible gun control, and many of us want military type weapons off the streets. Seventh, we want meaningful immigration policies that allow asylum and for opportunities for families to stay together and for people wanting to come to America to come without being seen as criminals. And eighth, because this list could go on for a while, many of us refuse to believe that the people coming up from Honduras are to be labeled “an invasion.” An invasion? Women and children, and adult males, to the tune of 5K an invasion, while our border is managed by the Border Patrol and the military?

And the number of women and people of color elected? That is way too huge to be left as a footnote in this lengthy post.  I'll save that one for another day. Please be on the look out for it. 

So, bottom line, the Blue Wave was not as large as we had hoped, but it has been substantive nonetheless and we believe our future is bright. Or in my own words, speaking only for myself since this is my blog and I speak for no one but myself, “I believe our future is bright. We have shone the light in dark places and the American people by and large disapprove of the current administration’s handling of things.”

Lord, rescue us from ourselves.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Hanging Out with Jesus and Learning His Ways

I continue to ponder the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman and its implications for these perilous times in which we live. Yes, today is election day, and that is a day of both anxiety and excitement across the country. I am looking for those who can help us to move beyond division and the "Divided States of America" to the "United States of America." Vitriol is found on the left and the right. Violence and threats of violence are actually nothing new in our country. All we have to do is study our history and it is right there in our faces. We have had voter obstruction from the very beginning, so that is nothing knew. We all yearn for a better America, yet we have varying views as to what that looks like and sounds like.
The Man from Nazareth has some things to say to us about reaching across gender and racial lines, engaging those who have been "othered" by society, and longing for a better way. His apostles' faces looked a whole lot like our faces when they saw Him talking to her. Maybe we, too, will be puzzled when we find folks who can rise above the roar of the crowd and take us with them into a space and place of respect across various isles of life and politics.
I long for a world in which people ask questions rather than making loud and obnoxious assertions based on limited sources. I long for an engagement that situates us all as learners and less as those with megaphones screaming above the noisy throngs.
I yearn for civility and respect, compassion for those sitting on the curbs of our society, and a vision of a future that is respectful of all of us, one that calls us to service and good will.
I'll still linger in John 4 to see what she and He can teach this old heart of mine. Anyone want to join me there?

Friday, November 2, 2018

I Choose Jesus

I could not sleep last night. During the early morning hours, "I choose Jesus" came to mind. This is but a short list. What would you add both in terms of words and actions? 

The President* says “lock her up,” but Jesus says, “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” I choose Jesus.

The President* has had multiple marriages and affairs, but Jesus says, “Let no man divide what God has joined together.” I choose Jesus.

The President* says that we’ll shoot those who throw rocks at our soldiers and the caravan is full of criminals maybe from the Middle East. Jesus says, “Love the Lord you God with all of your heart, mind, strength and your neighbor as yourself.” I choose Jesus.

The President* says, “I try to tell the truth, I really do.” Jesus says, “Let your yes be yes, and your no, no.”  I choose Jesus.

The President* says that he can unite us, despite the fact that he has divided us. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” I choose Jesus.

The President* says that it’s ok to bully and insult people. Jesus says, “By their fruits you shall know them.” I choose Jesus.

The President* says that it’s ok to support white supremacists. Jesus talked about spiritual truths to the woman at the well in Samaria. I choose Jesus.

The President* appears to have little empathy for the suffering and loss people experience. In the gospel of John, “Jesus wept.” I choose Jesus.

The President* boasts about his accomplishments often. Jesus says, "Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all." I choose Jesus.

The President* admits to his greed, “My whole life I’ve been greedy, greedy, greedy! I’ve grabbed all the money I could get. I’m so greedy.” Jesus says, ““No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” I choose Jesus.

The President* says, “"I love the old days, you know? You know what I hate? There's a guy totally disruptive, throwing punches, we're not allowed punch back anymore. . .I'd like to punch him in the face, I'll tell ya." Jesus say, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.” I choose Jesus.

The President* has said, “You know, it doesn’t really matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.” Jesus says, “But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” I choose Jesus.

The President* has said, “"I'm not sure I have ever asked God's forgiveness. I don't bring God into that picture." Jesus says, “But I tell you, if you do not repent you will all perish as they did! Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” I choose Jesus.

The President* has said, "Women: You have to treat them like shit." Jesus says, “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.” I choose Jesus.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Unholy Mess We Are

Dear Lord,

I’d like to chat with you,
If you have the time
For some things are on my mind,
And you are the right one to talk to.

My prayers to you come out as a lament
While friends of mine seem pretty thrilled
To see those actions and their hopes fulfilled
While me and mine just feel pretty spent.

We are an unholy mess
As I look around at this place
And I hang my head in disgrace
But I love this place I must confess.

Jewish people slaughtered when they met
Worship on their minds and hearts
They unknowingly would depart
Before that holy day would set.

Guy with a gun sought entrance into a church
Door was locked to the black church so he gunned down
Two black people while making very little sound
Except that gun burping away leaving us all in an unholy lurch.

And then that killer down in the south
Made all those bombs and sent them out
To people who’d been attacked by the one running about
Spewing hatred from his wide-open mouth.

Still people coming up from other places
Looking for asylum from pain and destruction
Hope in their hearts and their fear of abduction
Walking the long path with weary worn faces.

While still a thousand long miles from here
The man in the White House sends military down to the border
Just a week from the election, no small order
But we know what is behind his very thin veneer.

It’s all a big unholy political stunt
To arouse his base and inflame the fury
Of people of his ilk will not face any jury
While we worry and pray and bear the brunt.

Some of us keep on hoping and praying
That the man with the power will see his wrongs
Repent of his narcissism but we’ve waited too long
To see any hope of change, you know what I’m saying.

Compassion is lost across this fertile land
Incivility reigns and is seen all day and night
Just watch FOX NEWS, CNN, or MSNBC for the sight
Of people hurting people and kindness banned.

We have chosen up sides to the left and the right
And some in the middle cling to hope
That some ray of sensibilities will help us cope
When our long, long days turned into the night of nights.

We’re going to polls in large numbers as we pray
Then election day is here for all of us to anticipate
That change will come that we can all create
With our children in mind and work for a brighter day.


I know that you hear
And that you are near
Though you are above the fray
And that is why we hope and pray.


Monday, October 29, 2018

Land Gains, Land Losses: The Odyssey of African Americans Since Reconstruction

Here is the abstract for the article by the title above. Would be honored if you could read it and respond to it.

Abstract. The history of African American land acquisition and
dispossession is a long and torturous story from the shores of Africa,
through the Middle Passage, to enslavement in America in both urban
and rural settings, and into the complexities of freedom under
Reconstruction and Jim Crow. Prior to enslavement, Africans lived in
agricultural settings. Despite the horrors of slavery, their cultural
attachment to the land in their homelands would prove beneficial
after emancipation. Developing an agrarian spirit and accumulating
land at a rate beyond that of whites in the first few decades of freedom,
despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles, black land ownership
peaked in the early 1900s. Thereafter, African Americans began to
lose their land faster than whites. This article explores the larger
context of the South, the creativity African Americans showed in
resistance and in declaring themselves human, the movement toward
land ownership, and the ways and means by which African Americans
lost their land. Narrative and data reveal the complexities and the
lived experience of African Americans.

Here is the link. It allows for viewing all of the articles in this issue on racism and its impact in today's world.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Let Justice Ring: Is Diplomacy Lost Forever or Merely Misplaced?

Let Justice Ring: Is Diplomacy Lost Forever or Merely Misplaced?: Seems like most days there is another sound bite by the man at the top of the pole insulting someone else, and I wonder to myself, "Is ...