Not Bad for a Two-Hundred-Fifty Year Old Man

He felt his body begin to betray him,
as it were, a knuckle here, a knee there
and now not much hair as he holds his

hands together behind his head rubbing
back and forth from the hair-line to the
smoothness of his scalp with the sides

of his thumbs. He stares out the window
and wonders while his mind wanders.
He swallows hard, runs his tongue over

his crowns and sees a tiny bird off in the
distance, which he then realizes is but a
speck on his eye glasses, looks down

through his bifocals at the obituaries in
the paper and notes three people who
died at a younger age than he is now.

He ate too much white bread for Thanks-
giving and his stomach is bloated. As he
leans forward his stomach is squeezed

between his lap and his lungs. He straight-
ens up, draws a deep breath and sighs,
breathing the Yahweh prayer — In through

the nose Yah, out through the mouth Weh
— Yah in, Weh out, Yah, Weh, Yah, Weh,
Yahweh. Today, he will skip his waddle

formerly known as a jog for a nap. Not
bad for a two-hundred-fifty year old
man. Some days it just feels that way.

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The New Southern Hospitality

Having lived in the great
Commonwealth for seven-
teen years, he thought he
knew his old Kentucky
home pretty well but the
election of the bizarre be-
yond belief chief just left
him in limbo, a better place
by far than the Medicaid
recipients who were just
thrown off the bus and then
under the bus and then run
over for good measure all
in the name of less govern-
ment and let’s not forget
more cruelty, the new
Southern hospitality.

You Have to Do Some of the Work

They had been kibitzing with
relatives and without realiz-
ing it, unhealed, old, eccles-
iastical wounds revealed them-
selves and he thought, it is
time to let this go, to “Let
Go and Let God” as they say
in AA. A sponsor once asked
an AAer where the source
of his resentments was. The
AAer said he didn’t know and
the sponsor tapped him on his
head and said they are running
around in there but in reality
were probably on a golf course
with no thought of him. The
sponsor offered the AAer a
vehicle to freedom — a con-
veyor belt. Just put the resent-
ments on it and send them up
to God. What if they come back
down? Keep putting them on
the belt until they don’t. You
have to do some of the work.

Life Short and Sweet

He read a poem comparing
life to a short story —

seventy, eighty pages, at
best a novella the laur-

eate wrote. It was an eleven-
line poem, short and sweet.

The poet mentioned, rhetor-
ically, comically, that we

don’t get out of the mess
alive; all books end, but

he might be tempted to settle
for a mere eleven lines of

life if they all were short
and sweet and not a mess

or maybe that’s just wishful
thinking or poetic license.

Regal Plumage

I sit at the desk looking out the
window into the berry bush, berry-

less thanks to the Cardinal couple
that used to live there but now simply

use it as a playground. Yesterday,
the male came to the bush and pluck-

ed off a couple of small pieces of
bark and spit them back out. He then

looked at me and cocked his head.
I didn’t make a sound which I was

sure he could hear through the glass
or move and he just studied me as

I studied him. I can only hope he
thought as much of me as I thought

of him, his beauty, his regal, red
plumage and stature. Who am I kid-

ding — me, regal plumage? Anyway,
he tired of looking and moved on.

Today, he was back with his mate.
They chased each other through the

bush not giving me a glance as I
sat smiling at their agility and

mobility and that regal plumage.

His Thanksgiving Favorites

His Thanksgiving favorites
are the gizzard,
liver and heart.
While he was composing,
his wife brought
him a part
of the gizzard, liver
and a whole heart.
She said there are two hearts —
two hearts in the big bird.
He knew of the Big Two
Hearted River in the
UP and he knew Big Bird
had a big heart,
but two boiled hearts
for the price of one?
This Thanksgiving is
destined to be the best one —
white meat, dark meat,
stuffing for the family
and a whole heart each
for the composer and his hon.

Was He Destined To Be An Outsider?

Was he destined to be an outsider,
the half-breed his own Dutch re-
latives thought him to be, the

black sheep of the family, son
of a renegade Swede and a Dutch
mother? Raised among those Dutch,

this half-breed son of a renegade
Swede always felt on the outside,
even when he went to a college

and seminary of Dutch persuasion.
He switched denominations three
times settling late in ministry

on a denomination he thought
would be home to his decidedly
liberal views but turned out to

be but another temporary harbor
in the storm of ministry. Once,
a friend from college and semin-

ary days, someone deeply entrench-
ed in the faith of his fathers,
told him, seemingly in an accus-

atory tone, that he relished the
role of outsider and the man ac-
knowledged that was and is true.

It might be mere delusion but it
makes him feel a little closer to
Jesus, the ultimate outsider,

according to the story with which
he feels a particular kinship,
part of a community of two and

then three and then four and
isn’t that what Jesus said, that
he would be in the midst of them

where two or three were gathered?
He hopes so, because he has staked
it all on that promise. And then

he took a DNA test and found out
he was fifty percent Swedish and
thirty-one percent English, Irish,

Scottish and Welsh and not much
Dutch, to which the Dutch say,
“If you aren’t Dutch, you aren’t

much,” but this actually makes
him feel like an insider, loving
BBC’s Masterpiece Theatre especial-

ly the series Wallander, the Swe-
dish detective, and Rick Steves’
travel show through Scandinavia.

Tackling the Issues With Authority

Denominational bureaucrats with nothing
much to do and even less “authority,”
unlike Jesus who spoke with “authority,”
came up with cute, clever phrases they
think might catch on and stem the tide
of annual losses in members and con-
gregations. The worst thing for a den-
ominational bureaucrat is to list the
losses in his or her association and
conference in the annual year-end reports.
Not exactly career making stuff. One
is a humorous punch line Gracie Allen
used in response to straight man George
Burns: “Don’t put a period where God
puts a comma.” Cute from the mouth of
Gracie. Anemic and corny in advancing
the cause of justice, mercy and peace.
Perhaps when you have lost your way,
there is no where else to go than cute.
The other is the line “God is still
speaking,” like some old, crotchety
guy who is about to croak but can still
croak out an opinion or two, which old,
crotchety guys do on a regular basis
much to the chagrin of their adult
children who make compulsory holiday
visits to the nursing home. Is that it?
Is that the best they can come up with
to save a dying denomination — hoping
that pastors and choir members will
lead the chants over and over energiz-
ing the crowd, whipping up a frenzy
of passion for Jesus like NFL cheer-
leaders at the real worship services
in America any given Sunday. “Don’t
put a period where God puts a comma,
rah, rah, rah. God is still speaking,
cha, cha, cha.” At least the cheer-
leaders offer some crowd pleasing T
and A and the gods tackle with
dunamis, exousia, power and authority.
All glory to the Pigskin be.

Solidarity Against Road Violence in America — a think piece

In light of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut resulting in approximately 173 deaths, the World Council of Churches, wrote a statement of solidarity. With no intention of diminishing the barbarism of such attacks, I have taken the statement and changed the language to reflect a statement on the violence that occurs on the roads of the United States resulting in 32,000 deaths a year (or an average of 83 deaths each day for 365 days) and innumerable injuries. The # of deaths from terrorist attacks worldwide for 2014 is approximately 32,500.

While the annual death count on the roads is down from the 45,000 of just a few years ago (a number equivalent to all US military deaths in Viet Nam), the number remains unacceptable in a civilized society.

My point has to do with proportionality, priorities and unreasonable fear exploited by an audience hungry media, attention grabbing politicians and fundamentalist Christians of a premillennial persuasion hell bent on ushering in through US military intervention what they literally believe to be Armageddon, the second coming of Jesus, the thousand years of peace, the loosing of the beast for a season and the culmination history.

Take note of this comment: Wikipedia notes that there were 32,367 automobile accidents in 2011, which means that you are 1,904 times more likely to die from a car accident than from a terrorist attack. As CNN reporter Fareed Zakaria wrote last year: “Since 9/11, foreign-inspired terrorism has claimed about two dozen lives in the United States. (Meanwhile, more than 100,000 have been killed in gun homicides and more than 400,000 in motor-vehicle accidents.).” And that quote is from as far back as 2012, so multiply the total gun deaths and motor-vehicle deaths as of 2015.

Oh, and by the way, 1000 US citizens were killed by US police in 2015 – over 3 Per Day — two dozen citizens killed by foreign inspired terrorism since 9/11 as of 2013 (no stats for 2013-14) and 1000 police killings in just one year, this year, and it’s not over, but back to our roads:

“In the face of the brutality on the roads of the United States, the human family, all people of faith and of good will, must stand together to recommit to respecting and caring for one another, to protecting one another, and to preventing such violence. We cannot and do not accept that such atrocities on the roads of the United States can ever be justified in the name of hostility, rudeness, arrogance, entitlement, selfishness and mindless adolescent driving behavior. Violence in the name of these things is violence against courtesy and common sense. We condemn, reject and denounce it. Let us confront it by holding firm to and upholding the democratic and human rights values that this road terrorism seeks to attack. Let us not allow these events to diminish our care and hospitality to those fleeing the violence and oppression committed on the roads of the U.S. daily. Let us continue to strive to do what we know is required of us: to act justly, to love mercy, and to drive humbly on the way to justice and peace.”

Perception is Reality?

Periodically, he will run into former
acquaintances who will say, “Oh my,

I never would have recognized you.”
He would like them to have lied and

said instead, “Oh my, you haven’t
changed a bit,” but what they said

just popped out, so he assumes it
was exactly what they were perceiv-

ing at the moment, but that begs the
question, were they perceiving object-

ively an accurate image from the past
in contrast to what they were perceiv-

ing objectively at the moment or is
it all subjectivity based on previous

desires or what they used to think he
looked like back in the day as they

now say or had he really changed all
that much — hair lost, weight gained?

They didn’t see the wonder of the poem
he read that morning, which filled his

head and heart and transported him back
in time to when his former acquaintances

certainly would have recognized him, at
least the surface stuff.