Thursday, May 4, 2017

The America I've Known ...

The America I've known for most of my life,
And for which I've watched good and decent people strive:
Overcoming the Great Depression, Dust Bowls and disasters ...
Working through the horrors of McCarthyism,
Expanding civil rights and ending, mostly, segregation.

And a host of good things.
Sound diplomacy, mostly.
GOP Presidents, less than good, but mostly tolerable.
And too much given away to the rich.

But attention still paid to Working America.

Now, being trashed.
Tossed out on the rubbish heap behind a billionaire's home.
The American Worker savaged.
Mutuality destroyed by American individuality.

A poisonous me-first cluster-bomb.
Exploding across the land.
Racism rampant born again.
Misogyny revamped.

Here I am, 72, soon to be 73.
And my America is being thrashed and trashed.
By the greedy and the cruel
By religion run amok.

Evangelicals who are nothing more than Baalists.
Osteen lovers of wealth and dreamers of dominance.
Robbing the treasury of my nation.
Giving it away to the Philanthrobbers.

All is lost, it really is.
In a cesspool of GOP Chamber of Commerce.
Reliance upon the Almighty Dollar.
The Capitalist Way, the Truth and the Life.

I'll not look the other way.
Though a forthright view of things is hideous.
I'll not put on an alternative-fact smile.
Though tears are more than likely.

Now is the time to tell the truth.
The King has no clothes.
The promise of greatness is a chimera.
Birthed to win votes.

Tell the truth.
I think that's what my heroes did.
Jeremiah in the muddy well.
Isaiah in the temple.

Paul to the Romans when he spoke of grace.
And James to those who gutted the faith of life.
And John to those who cheapened love.
And Jesus to the bankers.

And Wycliffe and Huss.
And Luther and Calvin.
And Bonhoeffer and Barth and Bultmann.
And Martin Luther King, Jr.

All's well that ends well, is for sure.
I believe in the good ending.
But not always a good path in the meantime.
But the path upon which God walks with us.

I'll trod that path in the years that remain.
It'll surely be for others to clean up the present mess.
Cleanse the air and the water again.
And set the people free.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Reading Some ...

Reading some Psalms this morning, and
Then a poem by Edward Thomas, who
Died on a WW1 battlefield.

And then the note about Robert Frost, and
The Road Not Taken.
A joke for his friend, Edward Thomas.

Who could never quite decide what road to take.
And then would sigh.
For want of taking the other.

Melancholy is the mood sneaking around in my mind.
A gentle sort of feeling, a quiet sadness, not quite so sad:
Things come, and things go.

And roads are taken.
And young men die in the mud of ancient battles.
Roads to take no more.

Such is life, as it unfolds.
Like some kind of spring flower.
Only to dry up and blow away.

Having done its critical thing.
To produce a seed, in hope.
For another day.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

God's Joyful Judgment - Early-Morning Thoughts

From Psalm 98 ...

Let the floods clap their hands;
     let the hills sing together for joy
      at the presence of the LORDfor he is coming
      to judge the earth.
      He will judge the world with righteousness,
      and the peoples with equity.

For some, the judgment of God has been used as a tool to inspire fear, because fear is a handy tool to corral the folks, get 'em in line, fleece 'em and fool 'em.

How many children over the millennia have gone to bed terrified of god, dreaming of a lurid end, with the sounds of some screaming preacher or priest echoing in their little minds.

And how many adults have emotionally crashed and burned in the fear of committing the "unforgivable" sin ... crossing some invisible line, and not ever knowing it until the Last Judgment, when its too late to do anything about it.

But here in the Psalm, and plenty of other places, we have a joyful anticipation of God's Last Judgment ... and a good one it is ... because God is utterly and completely righteous, i.e. faithful to God's creation, to all of its creatures, rocks and stones, and to you and me, brother and to you and me, sister.

Faithful to save.
To love.
Forgive and make new.

To welcome and receive
To bind up and heal.
To restore the lost.
Give sight to the blind.

Release to the prisoner.
Food to the hungry.
Rest to the weary.

Utterly fair, utterly kind, comprehensive and inclusive, God's judgment sets things right, recalibrates the mechanisms of life, fine tunes the whole thing, to be sure that it's working just right, as God intended.

No fear here.
No nail-biting and angst.
No threats, no hellfire and damnation.

Only joy.
Clapping and singing.
Because the LORD is coming.
To judge the earth.

Hallelujah and Amen!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Holy Saturday Prayer

Holy Saturday Prayer, 2017

Now what, dear God?
Now what?

Pilate has retreated to his palace.
The soldiers to their barracks, except for a few:
Guards at the tomb.
Sealed with a stone.

Where they buried my LORD.
Yes, my LORD; that’s what I said.
Can it get any worse?
My LORD, I said.

My LORD: I cried.
It’s what I believed.
It was my hope.
He was my prayer.

So, there they stand.
In their rough and ready gear.
Hardened soldiers in a troubled land:
Palestine. Filled with fear.

There they stand, relaxed, mostly.
They have a job to do.
They’re ready for it.
They can handle it.

These soldiers do their duty.
A thousand days before, and more to come, they know.
They’ve killed plenty along the way, and they know they’ll kill again.
They know how to do it, swift and hard. These Palestinians are nothing.

It’s been a long night for them.
Chilly and damp. 
They’re tired. Me, too, O God.
My heart reeks with weariness.

Now what, dear God?

Now what?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

There Are Times

There are times I wish:
To be lost in my theology.
Guilt, grace and gratitude.
And all the rest, for a better attitude.

But I can't.
Every word of theology I read.
Sends me into the moment.
Into the crimes of the times.

Crimes against earth, wind and fire.
Crimes against the children.
Crimes against the people.
Crimes against the nation.

How can I lose myself in the rhetoric of faith?
When insanity swirls like a dust devil?
When prophets cry out?
And Jesus is lead into Pilate's chambers?

I can read some poetry; that'll help.
But, dadgumit all, every word therein zings.
Rings with poignancy and pain.
Dark nights and chilly winds.

Unrequited love.
Longing for the lost.
Wondering what it means.
Words trapped in heavy frost.

Read the Bible.
But it doesn't get any better.
From Adam's sin to the bloody cross.
Humanity bound and bitter.

I'd like to lose myself.
Close my ears to the noise.
Close my eyes to the sorrow.
Close my mouth and be silent.

But I can't.
I'm a human being.
I can't ignore.
The horror.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Morning Prayer

A morning prayer ...

'Tis a big world you've managed, O God ... though I suppose, when measured by the eons, the planets and the stars, then maybe not so big after all.

But it's big to me.
Really big ... people and cultures and mountains and valleys and noises and nonsense, the African Veldt and the Black Sea, the remnants of war half buried in the fields of France, blue skies and magnificent men in their flying machines ... the Great Lakes and Mt. Rushmore ... and vast oceans and coral mountains.

And our stuff ... tons of it ... miles of it ... mingled in and mangled in ... wedged here and there, pushing and shoving, shouting and screaming ... a bloody mess at times ... 

And our hopes, too, O LORD ... the heft of a good book and a cup of coffee ... the pleasure of a snuggled sheet curled around my neck, as I lay me down to sleep and pray ... something on TV to pass the time, or engage me ... yes, I know ... the middle class things that we dangle around ourselves to hush the fears of the soul, and so many envy us for the dangling in front of them, while they trudge dusty miles for a bucket of water and bag of rice.

What a world we've created in the midst of the world you've created.

I know, dear God, that you were pleased with what you did ... are you pleased with what we've done?

Some of it?
Sure ... I'm sure.
All of it?
No way.

So, help us, O LORD, to be the creators you intended, the caretakers of earth and wind ... to till the earth and grow tall corn and bright flowing wheat to feed both beast and man ... and man, and man, and man again ... and woman, and woman, and woman, again ... and child and child and child again ... in the millions of lists of endless begats ... how much we consume, O LORD; we take, and then take again and take some more, or so it seems to me.

Forgive us?
I suppose you have to ... the alternative is darker than the present arrangement ... even for you, I'm sure.
So, in this world, so tiny to the universe, so big for me, I say Thanks ... and pray for all the good you can give to me and to mine, that we can be mindful of what counts, and then give ourselves to it, with all our might and main ... 

And to you I belong.

I've said that a millions times over the years, dear God ... well, maybe not a million times, but often, in the worst of it, and in the best of it ... because I don't cherish the idea of belonging only to myself, or to anything else, for that matter.

Though I'm more than pleased to belong to some folks who love me dearly ... and I them ... we belong to one another, for sure, and if that's all there were, I'd be satisfied, sort of ... because it's not very long ... I think love is eternal, love needs a little more time to flourish, to grow and move and have some being, more than the span of my time, maybe even all time ... 

I don't know ... is that selfish?
I suppose some of it is.

Yet, I hope we all belong to you, and that in the end, whatever that means, we'll be there, with you, as Jesus said, and he with us ... on a summer Sunday afternoon picnic, in the sun and warm tree shadows, with children playing and the sound of horseshoes and women and men laughing ... a bowl of potato salad and a glass of cold beer.

'Tis a big world, O God ... and small, too ... small enough for me, and big enough for you. Amen!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Morning Meditation - Jeremiah 5, the Poor and the Rich

The Lord has a complaint against the people: They have refused to take correction.
They have made their faces harder than rock.
They have refused to turn back.

In defense, Jeremiah says:
These are only the poor, they have no sense; for they do not know the way of the LORD, the law of their God.

Let me go to the rich, says Jeremiah.
And speak truth to them.
Surely they know the way of the LORD, the law of their God.

But they all alike had broken the yoke, they had burst the bonds.

Jeremiah seeks to defend the hard-hearted and the obtuse by
suggesting to God that they are disadvantaged, they're the poor; they simply haven't the wherewithal to make sound judgments.

Well, for what it's worth, hats off to Jeremiah for trying to find some defense of the people in their social and economic status. In other words, they're disadvantaged.

So, don't blame them, O LORD. Give them a break.

I'll go to the rich instead, says Jeremiah, who have all the advantages of life: status and schooling, learning and leisure, the wherewithal to know what the truth would be and your ways, O God. Surely, they'll know. The burden belongs to them, to those with much advantage in the race of life. Those to whom much is given, much is expected.

But, alas alack. It is not the case, as Jeremiah finds.

The rich, who ought to know to better, don't. They have broken the laws of life and love; they, too, have hardened their hearts against the will of God.

Those who should know better, don't.

And along with the poor, whom the rich have manipulated, the whole of the nation turns from God and, in willfulness and desire, seeks its own way.