The Pros Went Out Golfing

The pros went out golfing on an Easter Sunday, but not before a young, white, evangelical, pietistic, golf pro conducted an Easter Sunrise Service on a hole close enough to the clubhouse so the devote professional devotees could slip away unnoticed to grab a cup of hot coffee. Those pros knelt in pious prayer

near a sand trap, for what reason no one is sure except perhaps a few eagles and birdies and no bogies and, for sure, no double bogies let alone triple bogies, but it all looked super sincere and the corporate sponsors loved all of it in the hope that such a demonstration of athletic piety would boost

the dwindling numbers of golfers nation wide and help every last one of those duffers to buy drivers promising lengths beyond anyone’s imagination at those ridiculously high prices for a game of primarily rich, idle, elderly, politically conservative, white guys. In the club house

when it was all over, the assuredly pious wife of a loser, caught on camera giving a perfunctory kiss to her loser husband, then looked at the winner and his wife and made her way with a huge smile toward them apparently hoping to be caught on camera with the winning couple on an Easter Sunday

afternoon when a really rich, affable, young, white guy (on his way toward being a really rich, old, white guy) won the tournament which, in reality, was won or, perhaps, was lost by old, corporate, white guys desperately hanging on to something that was slipping away faster than Tiger Woods’ knees

and any chance he might have of beating an old, conservative, white guy’s record. There go the minorities. They didn’t have a prayer anyway — couldn’t afford the green fees let alone those supersized, titanium drivers.

 

 

The Author Mentioned

The author mentioned, in an

interview at the back of one

of his books of short stories,

the practice of conflating wealth

with virtue.

.

“How does he know my West

Michigan town?” the reader asked,

“The writer grew up in the south

suburbs of Chicago and teaches

out East.”

 

The reader hadn’t made the “virtue

connection” in quite a while, but

“That really gives it all credibility

now, doesn’t it?” he asked rhetoric-

ally.

 

In this Bible belt along the

eastern shore of Lake Michigan,

the wealthy love to quote the

validating proverb and the masses

just say, “Must be God’s will.”

 

And so it goes: wealth = virtue

and wealth = power and power

corrupts and absolute power

therefore absolutely corrupts

whatever virtue may have been.

 

Too bad the wealthy have never

been very good at Aristotelian

logic and simple syllogisms.

They still think wealth =

virtue.

 

And so do the masses that

say, “The Bible says it, I

believe it, and that settles

it, don’t jah know,

too yet?”

Happy Holy Weekend

(Here is something a bit different from the poetry I blog. It harkens back to my days of preaching. Maybe the thought on Thursday of Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday brought it on. — R.E.D.)

James Pennington, senior pastor, First Congregational UCC, Phoenix, AZ speaking from the pulpit to his congregation this past March, said (to paraphrase), “You may be taken aback by my use of the word queer. You see, I am queer…but…then…so are you; each of us is queer in some way.” After the momentary awkwardness, we all had a good, hearty laugh.

To start, everyone was thinking that he was speaking about being gay in what some would consider a slang or disparaging way. Many see it as pejorative. It certainly is not a word one would expect to be uttered from the pulpit.   However, we knew he was speaking about himself in a literal sense, because he is openly gay.

But he was using the much older definition of queer, that is “strange or odd from a conventional viewpoint; unusually different.” He was making a play on words to help us understand that in our peculiarities, we aren’t so different from each other and therefore in no position to judge each other. His broader use of the word put us all in the same boat.

It was a gotcha moment, a good, gotcha moment.

A symbol of the universal church is a boat. We, in the church, are all on God’s boat weathering the storm-tossed seas of life. We hold onto each other and trust God to carry us through.

Jesus made use of the ancient concept of Kingdom, which today we would call “Realm.”

I thought about how Israel was called to be a “holy” people. The word means “peculiar.” The people of Israel weren’t to be like the people around them; they were to live as God’s children, not children of the world and they were to be a light unto the world.

Jesus called that holy living, that peculiar living — living in the Kingdom of God. For Jesus, the Kingdom of God was different from the kingdom of the world. The Kingdom (Realm) of God was characterized by trust, justice, peace, mercy, forgiveness, agape (sacrificial) love of all unlike the fear, selfishness, oppression, greed, divisions, hate and wars of the world’s kingdom.

I have to admit my idiosyncrasies, which, when I am honest, remind me that I am just one human among all other humans.  And thanks, in part, to Rev. Pennington, I know I am queer, a queer straight; I am a peculiar person like all the peculiar people sitting in the pews that day. Our personal peculiarities keep us humble.

In the biblical sense of the word peculiar, I am a passenger on God’s boat weathering the storms of this world with my fellow peculiar (holy and idiosyncratic) passengers and, at my best by the grace of God, I am living in God’s Realm with the living spirit of Jesus guiding me to live that justice, mercy and peace for all, for in the peculiarity of Jesus, we know that we are all God’s holy children.

Happy Holy Weekend.

Recently but Eons Away

Recently,

they caught up with

a movie

from

1993,

“The Remains of the Day.”

His wife said, “That

is why.” “Why?”

Because at the time

they both were

remains of the day,

their spouses having

died in that year

one day.

They noticed Christ-

opher Reeves could

move his arms and

legs. When they

awoke several years

later, he was a

quadriplegic because

of a fall from a horse.

He was the remains

of the day.

Back then he could get

up and play

on the English country-

side, at a fox hunt back

in the day,

in 1993,

the year the

couple were amnesiacs;

Had they seen it? They

couldn’t remember

anyway.

It still seems very

recently,

but at the same time,

“Remains of the Day,”

still seems eons away.

 

In Light Of…

In light of the DSA’s surveillance

program, he read that the majority

of Millennials believe that the

Whistleblower was right and should

be welcomed home warmly.

 

In light of all the news about

gay marriage, he read that the majority

of Millennials couldn’t care less and

think it’s just plain fine.

 

In light of the dust storm of racism

that has kicked up as a backlash to

the first half black/half white president,

the Millennials appear to be wearing

gas masks and goggles.

 

In light of the news of a United

Nations’ panel of scientists

that global warming is worse

than imagined or believed,

 

he, as a senior citizen, believes that

if something could be done about

those CO2 emissions, there just

might be a bit of hope out there

for his grandchildren.

Four Days on the Road

Four days on the road after four months

away — back home — it all felt unfamiliar

in its familiarity – the house, cold from

the long winter’s nap, would have to have

 

the furnace turned up for a while just to

warm the walls. The green, leather chair

still creaked as always, the paintings on

those cold walls each told a story with

 

which he was familiar but now he didn’t

know if those stories were still his or if

the artists had taken them back. One after-

noon he suggested to his wife that they

 

go north to a nearby, seaside town for

happy hour. Another afternoon he

suggested that they go south to a

nearby, seaside town for happy hour.

 

A third day he suggested they just

stay in town for happy hour. The

previous night he dreamed of people

in town he knew but weren’t his

 

friends. They rose up like ghosts to

haunt him. He woke up damp in the cold

downstairs bedroom glad to be awake

but not wanting to get up and step

 

on the cold, tile floor. He thought about

the church to which they used to belong.

He had even driven past it the day they

went south for happy hour. The church

 

has a new pastor. The man thought how

it might be nice some Sunday to visit

the church and then go to one of their

old haunts for brunch. He wished it

 

would warm up so they could go camp-

ing up north. He felt along a wall and

decided he could turn the thermostat

down to normal. He sat back down in

 

the green, leather chair, pushed against

the back and heard the creaks. He

looked at each painting and retold

the stories to himself.

Years and Years of Doing

Years and years of doing

what you had to do

but when forty-three years

were through,

was there anything left

to say or do

that you were here

or is it fair to say

that you are through

and there is nothing

left to do

but say adieu

or toodledo

to everyone else and

also to

you?

 

A Dog Day Hike

From the dry, hot, furnacy

hike while the Western

Diamondback rattler said,

“It’s spring; I’m hungry;

go home to the upper-

Midwest,” and the dog

heard it and paid attention

because he had just had

rattlesnake training, to nine

days later, having finished

a wet, chilly, refrigeratory

romp through the forest

near Lake Michigan while

the Eastern Massasauga

rattler continued to sleep

in his swampy, winter home,

the Chocolate Lab arose from

his post-hike nap, perked

his ears and listened to some-

thing he hadn’t heard for

some time – sleety, spring

rain beating down on the

roof right over his head

near the fire-place.

The Revered Reverends

The revered reverends and pious priests,

bishops and cardinals

assume vows of faithfulness,

chastity, humility and poverty

and after years of puffed-up pride

at the cleverness of their

publicly presented propriety

bite the dust and vanish in

posterity

to somewhere else’s

and someone else’s

everlasting, eternal ignominy

or,

if they are lucky,

blessed forgetfulness

in history’s

memory.

Aspirations, Aspersions and Asparagus

Ages ago, the three stooges hilariously

malaproped “aspersions”

in a movie, “Are you casting

asparagus

on my cooking?” asked Curly of the

maladapted diner from the other side of

the diner’s counter.

Supposedly a smart lawyer from

Texas

fifty years ago or so mangled the

malapropism

saying, “Are you casting

aspersions on my asparagus?”

A really not-so-smart

Texas politician,

apparently with a good memory,

resurrected the wreck by

quoting the supposedly smart

Texas lawyer’s obscure mangled

malaprop

while interrogating the

country’s top law enforcement

officer

at a House of Representatives’

committee meeting.

A couple of years later

the country’s top law enforcement

officer in a

tete-a-tete-redux with the not-so-smart

U.S. representative

from Texas concluded their tit-for-tat

with,

“Watch out for your asparagus.”

That begged the question about the less than

brilliant representative’s

asparagus, “Was that the canned variety or fresh?”

And no fair casting personal

aspirations or inspirations,

for that matter on the matter.