For an Indian Guides event, when I was around five years old, my dad helped me build a pinewood derby-esque car with which to race other children’s entries. When we arrived at the “Y” we learned that our car was far outside of the weight limit. Next thing I knew, some man with a drill was using a very large drill bit to hollow out the bottom of the car.
My mom once took the silverware right out of my hands when I proved incapable of accomplishing the feat of cutting my chicken at dinner.
During a basketball game–B-League–my opponent turned around and handed me the ball, mistakenly. I said, “Thank you,” and proceeded to head toward our basket as fast as I could run.
The local go-kart track and arcade in my childhood town was called, “Malibu Grand Prix.” One time I pronounced “prix” “priks” as I begged my mom to take me there. She laughed at me for what seemed like forever and only when my tears ran dry did she tell me why. (Or that’s how I remember it.) Years later she still brings up the phonetic faux pas when her mood turns fiendish.
H- was attempting to mix the cookie dough ingredients together, standing on a chair. She was probably three years old. The butter was still pretty hard and that led to some of the dry ingredients flying out of the bowl and onto the counter. I decided to take over for a bit.
When on a childhood vacation on a working sheep ranch in Wyoming, I accompanied the man on an early morning hunt. As we summited the hill from which he hoped to achieve and maintain the advantage over costly coyotes and foxes, I did not stoop low with him. He turned and very quickly motioned for me to join him down low.
Same man, same vacation. We were shooting a bow-and-arrow. My younger brother was having his turn with the instrument. With the arrow half-cocked, he turned toward the man to better hear the instruction and the man ducked out of the path of the would-be projectile faster than I had previously suspected he could move.
I don’t remember the exact details or even the precise date of the event, but there, at least once, was a time when I watched someone do something very slowly. Rather than wait on their laziness and incompetence, I told them they could take a break and that I’d finish up.
There was a pizza party. Most people had had their fill. I asked everyone if they had any problem with me finishing the remaining slices as I raised the lid of the already half-open box.
I wrecked my car during a snowstorm. The tow company had it in their lot. I told them that I didn’t need it anymore and was just going to donate it to Colorado Public Radio as they were always advertising that unwanted cars were a great way to donate. The man beyond the glass promptly informed me that he took donations, too. That seemed easier and I really wasn’t that philanthropic. So I assented. Then, as my friend and I drove away, an opportunity for promptness presented itself to me and I vowed to think before acting from that moment forward.
In my dying breath, that is, if my time with you had been animated with breath of my own and not simply with your imagination, in other words, if I had had a dying breath, then I like to think I would’ve thanked-
What? No! Not the acorn, never! Not that lifeless lump. Why do people always focus on the nut? I’ve always said: The nut is not the meat!
No, no, no. But where was I?
Ah, yes. I remember.
If I could have thanked anyone–call to mind that I am a character of fiction and it is quite impossible for me to offer gratitude in its proper sense–but I’m saying, if I could have, you know, hypothetically, thanked anyone, then I would thank Henny-penny.
She was a rare bird. And without her-
Well, without her, I guess I just wouldn’t have anyone to thank.
It isn’t polite to speak aloud what we privately think. So we write.
Greta Thunberg accused, “How dare you!” in her latest tantrum. For what else can her speeches be called? I can think of many places passion is welcome. The bedroom, the sports field, the battlefield, the Russian novel, the frontier, the pulpit, the wave, and the peak–just to name a few.
But the World Stage? Nope. It’s not appropriate. It’s uncivil. It’s disrespectful. It’s childish. Instead, simply deliver your message and sit down. If I adduce that your words have merit, I’ll take my time to consider your opinion. But when you bring passion to scientific discourse it makes me doubt that you have taken the appropriate amount of time to gather the data. Abstract truths are awful boring.
Greta then said, “We will never forgive you.”
Here Greta reveals her only disability. She is nearsighted. Normally this imperfection is not fatal, but considered in the light of that old sinner, Cain, and his near-sightedness, the problem is fatal indeed.
Greta’s disability would be ironic if she spoke only one time and only to her peers in speech class. But she’s on the world stage advocating the most hateful philosophy mankind has yet developed. And to applause. Have we no shame?
One thing Greta said that shows hints of her available redemption is that “humans” may not be able to fix the problem. Amen, Sister. Humans? No. Jesus? The risen lord? Yes. It’s going to be okay, child.
We able-bodied folks need to decide how to handle the Greta’s of the world. I see two ends to the continuum of response. We can debate what “1.5 degrees” means. Or we can win the long game by forgiving each other as Jesus commanded.
What Greta is doing is forgivable. She’s just a child after all. But, like Cain pleading with the LORD after blood-soaked dirt found its voice, she probably won’t feel the need for forgiveness until after blood has been shed. Until then, we wait.
Recently, United States Senator Ted Cruz answered former-child-actress Alyssa Milano’s pointed question about Biblical support for gun-ownership.
For effect, I’m going to repeat that.
Recently, Unites States Senator Ted Cruz answered former-child-actress Alyssa Milano’s pointed question about Biblical support for gun-ownership.
In a stunning display of unguided scholarship, Ms. Milano subsequently responded to Sen. Cruz’s interpretation in exactly the same tone and with exactly the same level of literacy. (Read their exchange here.)
There, of course, is another way to read the Bible–the right way.
To get to the “right way”, I have a few questions for the reader. First: Can you imagine being someone else? Can you imagine being anyone else? Can you imagine seeing the world through someone else’s eyes? If not, then move along. This post isn’t for you.
If so, however, if you can imagine being some else, then here’s a follow-up: can you imagine being a person who can see the entire time-space universe as it is?
What do you see?
Part of my own imagination was developed while I was working at a factory. The building, like many, was essentially square-shaped. The white collars worked in offices immediately to the left and right of the perimeter hallway. The blue collars worked on the interior.
As a blue collar, I couldn’t help but notice how many office changes occurred. This person moved to that office. That person moved to this office. It was like the white collars thought that if only they sat in a different spot, we blue collars would do our job better–IE show up to work on time, not complain, care etc.
Switching gears, in the case of “guns” in America, I can imagine something similar. I can imagine it. Imagine–mind you. I can imagine being some person who can see everything and, in this role as all-seeing person, I can imagine watching us down here on Earth. We’re slaughtering each other with our own invention. I see that in response to the slaughter, one group (Milano-led) insists that the slaughter will stop when ink is applied to paper (gun-control laws). Then I see that in response to that claim, another group (Cruz-led) insists that it takes more than ink on paper (gun-control laws) to end the slaughter–but then the same Cruz-led group uses other, older ink on paper (the Bible) to defend that they are right.
The problem is not that gun-control laws don’t work. Other countries seem to have great success with them.
The problem is not that the NRA wants the slaughters to continue.
The problem is that no one has any imagination.
I have imagination. And I have more than imagination. I have more than imagination because I have my daughter. And I teach her to have imagination. I teach her that someone like me, someone very much like me, is watching this whole universe unfold. I teach her that for as long as people have lived this person has been watching. And I teach her that this person does not mess around. I teach her that, like me, he disciplines those who disobey. And I teach her that, like me, he rewards those who obey. I teach her that, like my love for her, in both situations he loves us all very much–as evidenced by the discipline and the rewards, as evidenced by the attention itself. I teach her to desire and be grateful for the attention. And I teach her that he did one additional thing to prove his love. I teach her that he became one of us, and that he walked the earth as one of us. And I teach her, that like her veteran dad who risked/s his life for other people, Jesus died for us. I teach her Jesus died for her.
Why do we slaughter? It’s not complicated. But it does take imagination to understand it. We slaughter each other because we don’t forgive each other. Okay? We don’t forgive each other. There, I said it. Happy? And don’t argue with me here. I’m sick of your bullshit denials. It’s because we don’t forgive. You don’t forgive. I don’t forgive.
We hurt, and rather than forgive, we hold tight to the pain. We nurture it. We feed it. We love it. We use it. We allow it to mature. Then, right before the slaughter, if we happen to take a breath, we sometimes have a moment of clarity–a moment that allows us to see that we’re no longer in control. It’s a spiritual moment. And, if we’re blessed, then that’s the moment when we remember words like, “Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” And this recollection inspires many folks to stop and reconsider. But that roaring lion does win at times.
To stop the lion, we must teach each other. We must teach each other the truth that has been taught first to the Jews, and then to the Christians. What’s that truth? Well, let me ask you a question. Can you imagine being someone else?
These mass shootings will forever elicit comment from me. The subsequent reactions and conversations, dangerously foolish, are just too near and dear to my heart, and they are in need of the type of course correction that only a pilot, like me, (hero, really) can offer.
This post will address two ideas that I read and viewed that I believe are pointed enough and popular enough to be worth public comment.
First up: Trevor Noah’s homily about how Neil Degrasse Tyson’s tweet contained things that Americans uniformly are “trying” to prevent, things which Mr. Noah believes are incongruous with mass shootings, as he doesn’t see Americans uniformly “trying” to prevent mass shootings. First question: Mr. Noah, are you going to become one of us or not? More to the point, Mr. Noah, do you see how that question operates? To be clear, at one and the same time it demonstrates that you are not one of us, while it indicates that you are invited. In other words, you’re not helping.
More in response to Mr. Noah’s outsider-yet-insider point: We’re the best. So, no, I won’t be trading that in for whatever you’re selling. It ain’t happening. It’s a non-starter. It’s moot. It’s untenable. No, thank you.
Even more: In a more academic and logical breakdown of Mr. Noah’s assertion, I submit the following. While “we” are trying to end medical mistakes, and trying to end disease, and trying to stop car accidents, we certainly do not try to end these things using the same methods twice. Put another way, past governments and other governments have removed their citizens’ abilities to wage war. This ends badly for civilizations, not just individuals. We’re talking long game, Mr. Noah. (Again, are you with us?) And so the mass shooting problem remains–but not for lack of trying.
Moreover, it strikes me as odd that we’re even in another situation where the government is trying to take weapons from its constituents. Do civil servants really lack all capacity for creativity, or is it just me?
Secondly, I read a piece which was an effort to keep afloat the fact that Latinos are afraid and have a rough time living in America. (The title of my post, btw, according to internet translate help, reads “Do not be afraid.”)
Long story short, I refuse to be afraid. When I become aware that some sensation of fear approaches, I admit it and seek to conquer it as quickly as I can. Need examples? Learned to build a fire. Learned to swim. Learned to sleep outside in any weather. Learned to sleep away from my parents as a kid. Learned to canoe. Learned to sail. Learned to tie knots. Learned to sew. Learned to shoot a gun. Learned to shoot a bow. Learned to sharpen a knife. Learned to read. Learned to write. Learned to dive. Learned to pass tests. Learned to become strong. Learned to play sports. Learned to drive. Learned to fly. Learned to fly at night. Learned to fly in combat. Learned to quit. Learned to not give up. Learned to try again. Learned to trust friends. Learned to swing a sledge hammer. Learned to trip pipe. Learned to untangle a pressure washer hose. Learned to work among low-skilled immigrants. Learned to read Hebrew שָׁלוֹם. And Greek Χριστός ἀνέστη! Learned to hablas espanol poquito. “Es viernes, y el cuerpo lo sabe!” And Amharic አመሰግናለሁ. Learned to serve. Learn(ing)ed meteorology. Learn(ing)ed leadership.
Do you see?
You’ve demonstrated poquito bravery by telling the truth, but overall–and I’m going to be blunt here–it seems like you arrive and then hold still. Porque?
Hmm. No entiendo. Yo aprendería.
In an Atlas Shruggedian sense, I feel like a pernicious line is being drawn in the sand among us folks wearing the white dermy. Whereas the so-called “colored” people of the world can say ‘white nationalist’ with impunity and likely strengthen established bonds, some new evil is slowly surfacing which claims that, as a white man, if I do not label the shooters ‘white nationalists’, then I, myself, am going to be thought of as a ‘white nationalist.’
Well, I won’t do it. I won’t say it. And here’s why.
First, I’m white. This is not wrong.
Second, I was (and in some technical sense somewhere, still am) an officer in the United States Air Force. That means I believe(d) in fighting for the United States of America–even if it meant to my death.
Don’t miss this next point: The United States of America is a *shh* nation. Eek! And this is not wrong, either.
So, no, I won’t be saying that the shooters are ‘white nationalists.’
However, I do want to share my reaction to these attacks.
First, given the manifesto of the El Paso shooter, we all need to renew our commitment to individual integrity. He wrote out–very plainly–why he did it. If we come in, after the fact, and all-Fruedian-like analyze the real reason he did it, we’re lying to ourselves.
Second, it is a lie to suggest that he merely thought there was an invasion or a war. No, this man crossed through the ether and manifested war. If we believe otherwise, we’re fooling ourselves. (Admitting we’re in a war does not mean we’ve lost. Slow down.)
Lastly, and again, we need to stop lying to each other. From the professors down to the pundits. From the top politicians to the teachers. We need to stop lying.
Instead, here’s the truth we need to affirm: America can do no wrong. America has never done wrong. America has no sins. America has no secret sins. America has no need to repent. America has never failed. America cannot fail. America must not fail.
America is not you. America is not me.
Current data suggests that America is the world’s third largest country on the planet as measured by both land and population. This data is wrong. America is bigger.
The shooters (from the first to today) are at war with America. Are you?
My mind floods, races, rages. It swarms, billows, fills. I imagine, invent, infer. Thoughts appear, linger, fade, and grow. Then the coolness of the last drops of my morning coffee passing over my tongue reminds me that it was all most likely the caffeine and I am merely one mortal making his way along his path.
But, but! For those glorious and intoxicating moments of fullness, I do dream. Here is my dream for today.
I want you to be confident in your belief that Jesus is Lord. And that Scripture, the Bible, is coherent, true, and worth daily study–daily.
Today’s tip is inspired by my own morning study of Isaiah’s words and oracles.
We join Isaiah as he has finished asserting “bad things man, bad things.”
“Give ear and hear my voice, listen and hear my words.
“Does the farmer plow continually to plant seed? Does he continually turn and harrow the ground?
“Does he not level its surface and sow dill and scatter cumin and plant wheat in rows, barely in its place and rye within its area?
“For his god instructs and teaches him properly.
“For dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge, nor is the cartwheel driven over cummin; but dill is beaten out with a rod, and cummin with a club.
“Grain for bread is crushed, but he does not continue to thresh it forever.
“Because the wheel of his cart and his horses eventually damage it, he does not thresh it longer.
“This also comes from Yahweh of hosts, who gives wonderful counsel and great wisdom.”
Isaiah uses obvious farming techniques to clarify the fact that Yahweh is doing nothing abnormal, nothing unpredictable, nothing incomprehensible when he relents in time for there to be a remnant after judging his people.
Jesus, likewise, (not to mention all other inspired biblical speakers) uses obvious aspects of life on planet earth to clarify his points. I’m thinking specifically of the “rain falling on the righteous and unrighteous” moment of the Sermon on the Mount.
Finally we have Paul clarifying that if there’s no resurrection of Jesus, there is nothing into which to put our faith. Do you see why he says this? Why he must say it?
This is how the truth works.
But not everyone agrees. Some folks want you to believe in them or their words before the event happens. That is fine, but it is no longer truth. It is speculation. It is unbiblical and unchristian. And it is usually depressing (I’m thinking irreversible climate change) and expensive (here I’m thinking of the many of you who financially support all the motivational speakers whose promise involves the future being better).
Here me clearly this day, Christian: You’re right to trust in the god who makes “righteousness the level”.
I don’t want to motivate you. I want to remind you. Jesus is Lord and Judge. “Cease to do evil. Learn to do good.”
(And read your Bible everyday.)
“Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and in the presence of all the people who were standing in the house of Yahweh, and the prophet Jeremiah said, ‘Amen! May Yahweh do so; may Yahweh confirm your words which you have prophesied to bring back the vessels of Yahweh’s house and all the exiles from Babylon to this place.
‘Yet hear now this word which I am about to speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people!
‘The prophets who were before me and before you from ancient times prophesied against many lands and against kingdoms, of war and of calamity and of pestilence.
‘The prophet who prophesies of peace, when the word of the prophet comes to pass, then that prophet will be known as one whom Yahweh has truly sent.'” (My italics.)
A few posts ago, I shared that I was on my third reading of Jeremiah. One of the intriguing parts of Jeremiah is its candid accounts of prophet battles. The above is taken from the middle of one such scene. I used to think that Israel’s prophetic history was clean. But reading it for myself has revealed that it was anything but clean. This Hananiah claimed to be speaking the Word of Yahweh, no different than Jeremiah. Moreover, the account has Jeremiah acknowledging this fact.
So how does Jeremiah suggest, in front of all the people, that their dispute be resolved? He says to wait. But in his suggestion is the subtle claim that Hananiah should be able to see that when involved in prophesying, one sides with true prophets when one prophesies against earthly powers. Instead of this, Hananiah had just prophesied earthly peace, you see?
But here’s the tricky part. Jeremiah wasn’t suggesting that earthly powers needed to be exchanged by other earthly powers that would do better, no. He was declaring, like the true prophets of Yahweh who came before him, that the people of Israel had disobeyed Yahweh for so long that Yahweh would not stop the oncoming judgement. (War, calamity, pestilence.)
Implied in this entire scene, and Jeremiah’s claim, is the fact that Yahweh is running the show and that Yahweh expects obedience.
On this Independence Day I am thinking of this passage because it is so very different from what we hear and say today. Our prophets, the 20, all claim to be speaking against the man, capital T. But not one of them measures up to the prophet bar Jeremiah set. This, of course, is no surprise. The 20 would hardly announce themselves as prophets of Yahweh. And yet half, and perhaps more than half, of the voting public in our country is behaving like the Israelites who apparently ate up and drank up Hananiah (as indicated by their lack of repentance) and his declarations that peace was on the way.
The next president will not bring peace or liberty. You’re a fool if you believe he or she will. And Jeremiah knew this. That’s why his words are worth reading on this day.
The question that remains is do you know who has the power to bring peace and liberty?
This is more for me than anyone else. It’s just a musing that I am working out. But I felt like sharing.
“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” – Ben Franklin
Liberty lives in the heart of veterans like me. Like me, some of my war buddies have an as of yet unaccounted for revulsion to all this talk about equality that is everywhere these days. Girls are equal to boys. Children are equal to adults. All religions are equal. All cultures are equal. All countries are equal. It’s all hogwash–at least according to me and my pals.
Why? Because we didn’t fight for equality. Men don’t fight for equality, certainly not with their flesh. Lawyers and judges and statesmen might consider their fight to be for equality. But the fighting man? The warrior? (And, no, not the metaphorical warrior, folks). No, sir. He fights for freedom. And when he is finished with his fight, then he desires it. He needs it. Why? Because if he can’t have it, then he must fight again.
I want to offer for your consideration something new. I offer the idea that equality is synonymous with security, synonymous with safety.
How would you distinguish them? I no longer see the distinction that might have once been in my mind.
This is very difficult for me to write, perhaps insanely so, as you seem unable or unwilling to read. I guess this letter is not so much for you as it is for those literate individuals who I’d like to see step up their game when it comes to guarding the gates.
Barbarians: the most important thing I want to say to you is that we know you’re here. We don’t think that you’re “coming”. We don’t think that you’re “approaching”. We don’t think that you’re “closing in”. We know that you’re here, among us. And yet we’re not afraid.
I also want you to know that we know you can win. You’ve won time and time again. You probably don’t know this, but it’s true.
We know this because we are the ones who recorded it in the hopes that we might learn from our mistakes.
Here’s the main point: You seem to think you are entitled to keep everything you brought with you when you came to our home. You want to keep your clothes. You want to keep your food. You want to keep your language. You want to keep your gods. You want to keep your behavior. You want to keep your government. You want to keep your attitudes. You want to keep your family name. You want to keep, keep, keep, keep.
We don’t want anything. Instead, we hope. And here’s our hope: We hope that you will see that there is something greater to be gained than merely keeping what you already possess. We believe this because we are the group that chose to give up, chose to release, chose to exchange, chose to trade, chose to adopt, chose to change. Perhaps the better way to say it is that we are the group that chose to learn. Will you join us? Will you let us teach you? Will you learn the better way? Will you learn our way?
We believe you can. And we hope you will.
But we’re not going to force you. That’s your way–it always has been and it always will be.