The Messages on the Screen/The Behavior in Life

On the larger left side of the
computer screen we read daily
of allegations of sexual harass-
ment and sexual misconduct and
worse and then we read that this
or that celebrity or politician
has been dismissed from some
position because of those alle-
gations. On the smaller right
side of the screen, we see spon-
sored links with many, many
ads meant to attract people to
view the link. Daily, the links
show a lot of attractive young
women with substantial cleavage
as an effort to attract viewing.
Is there a disconnect here? Are
we receiving mixed messages? Is
there evidence that we are still
a Victorian society when it comes
to sex — prudes with prurient
interests? Is this about men in
power doing what they want and
what they think is just fine? On
one hand there is the message,
go for it boys because boys will
be boys; on the other hand, don’t
you dare. Do you think most of
those sponsored sites are de-
signed by men to exploit the
strongest, most basic, physical,
urge as the best way
to get the money?

Double the Enjoyment

A poet wrote that she forgets
her poems as soon as she writes
them but enjoys them during
the writing.
I do, too.
I thought there was something
wrong with me
with the forgetting the poems I do.
Poets can recite from memory —
theirs and others’ poems.
It’s nice to have company.
Once in a while I will come
across something
I wrote, won’t recognize
it as mine
and like it —
“Did I write that!”
That’s double the enjoyment
the second time.

In a Czarist Bubble

Melania Antoinette during Davos,
headed sans Donald to Mara-Lagos
to lounge in the spa
for $64,000 taxpayer dolla’.
Meanwhile, brown-shirted ICE
deported a Palestinian man,
a pillar of his community,
we are given to understand,
for nearly forty-years,
increasing all immigrants’
worst fears.
Was there a voice coming
from near a lake
in Switzerland, “Let them
eat cake”?
Was it The Donald, pray tell?
He would want his chocolate cake
and eat it, as well,
while telling immigrants to go to hell.
And such is our presidential couple,
wannabe royals living
in a Czarist bubble
and leading the US into
a constitutional muddle.
It would be funny
if it weren’t so tragic
to awake
to the scare
that our democracy
will up and flee
and we are left with
a Gestapo led nightmare.
A seminary president wrote,
“Fascism and Nazism do not
thrive on a German weakness,
but a human one.”*

*Michael Jinkins in his 01/30/2018
e-newsletter, Thinking Out Loud.

The Weather Warmed

The weather warmed and the giant ice
along the shore began to break up as
the surf struck and waves crashed.

Bits of ice flowed out into the Big
Lake, but interestingly, little ice-
bergs flowed up the channel against

the current but with the wind — hund-
reds and hundreds of little icebergs
floating on the surface bumping into

each other like rubber ducks but look-
ing like tablespoon-sized scoops of Cool
Whip searching for Windmill cookies upon

which to land. They floated up the lake
called Macatawa, Ottawa for black. The
Ottawa left when the settlers moved in,

reputedly because the natives didn’t
like the odor of the Europeans. My
wife said, “It’s getting dark. Let’s

come back tomorrow and photograph them.”
But the next day the little icebergs
in the shape of creamy swirls wouldn’t

be there and neither would the Windmill
cookies; they are that popular here in
the Dutch settlement along the shores

of Lake Michigan called, appropriately,


In a dream he had been drunk and had
made such a fool of himself that the

bar owner wouldn’t let him back. He
pleaded and exclaimed that he wasn’t

an alcoholic and that he would behave
himself in the future but had just lost

himself temporarily because of trauma
in his life, two traumas to be specific

and then he sincerely detailed the two
and he gained the owner’s approval and

admission to the bar. On the way out
the door, he thought about his con-

fession and appeal to sympathy and
he realized he had gotten what he

was after and it was in that thought
and the accompanying smile on his

face that he secured his expulsion.
When he awoke, he thought about that.

Virtual Reality?*

He felt fantastical
about erethism
still quite dependable,
but he wondered
if it is all just
or simply a mere figment
of a fake news

*I came across the word “erethism”
in a novel and use it in its basic
definition: “rapid reaction to
stimulation of a part of the body,
especially the sexual organs,” but
not in its definition as a clinically
abnormal condition.

Our Parents Taught Us….

Our parents taught us the basics about honesty, not lying and so
forth. Our Sunday School teachers told us the same things. Our
Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Brownies and Girl Scout leaders — ditto.

We heard the ten commandments read on Sunday during worship and
the summary of the law, too. Then we heard the words of St. James,
a stickler if there ever was one, about how breaking one law was
a guilty verdict on all ten.

Well, with all that conditioning and reinforcing, it all had
to be for some reason, like our inclinations are such that
doing the opposite of the ten was really good and in our self-
interest, and a lot more fun and that all that conditioning
was by the afore-mentioned party-pooping curmudgeons.

Well, we learned the lessons and at some point along the way
discovered that the commandments actually have a lot to do
with love and are not arbitrary rules imposed from on high to
kill the fun and trip us up, but rather are a blueprint of how
to return love to God and how to love others as we would like
to be loved.

We did a pretty good job of doing the right thing for the right
reasons, but now, for just doing the right thing, we are looking
like paragons of virtue in comparison to just about everything we
see coming from the people responsible for running our federal
government. Can the bar get any lower?

As an elder in one of my congregations once pontificated, “So,
if you are only doing what you are supposed to do, why should
that be to your credit and worthy of praise?” Talk about a
curmudgeon. Aren’t we Christians supposed to encourage one
another? “Hey, good job,” can’t be all that bad.

I kind of like being thought of as a paragon of virtue, and
then a little bird tweets in my ear, “Pride goeth before a
fall.” Killjoy!

We Got a Call

We got a call that he had fallen.
We wondered how far.
We wanted to hop on a plane,
rent a car, knock on the door
and then slap him upside the head,
but we just sat and cried some
wondering when we should call,
hoping he would answer.

He Read the Line

He read the line about burying the dead —
family, friends, those from the past
who keep occupying minds not necessarily

for the best, but what about his mind
and his deeds and misdeeds and sins of
omission and commission from the past

distracting like dancing demons enabled
to some extent by a Dutch Reformed
mother conjuring for him ghosts of guilt

and a Swedish father passing down the
grand Scandinavian tradition of igniting
flames of shame in children? And then

one day he spoke with a women who had
done some of the same things he had
done, honestly confessing and re-

gretting but obviously, seen in her
joyful smile, free of the dancing
demons and for some inexplicable but

wonderful reason, his demons took
flight and he sleeps blissfully
through the night. Without even

knowing it, he let go and let God
and in that he began to understand
self-forgiveness and the grace

that waited patiently for him
to come home from wandering in
the wilderness of his own creation.