Sunday, March 30, 2008

In God We Trust - Part Two


Okay, let’s try this again.

A few days ago I received an email about our national motto, “In God We Trust,” being removed from Post Office walls. This upset me, and I posted the email for your consideration. (It’s the post just below this one.)

I received one comment, and almost immediately realized that I needed to explain my upset … ness.

Ya see, it’s like this; I’m fully aware that there’s a war raging in this country. Religion is under attack. You know that. There are those individuals who appear to delight in pointing out the letter of the law. They argue that separation of church and state insures not freedom OF religion, but freedom FROM religion. Legalistically, they could be correct. On the other hand, it’s my opinion that a belief in God was so imbedded in our founding father’s way of life that they couldn’t conceive of anyone being without it. And, as a result, they felt no need to spell out what, to them, was obvious.

That’s my opinion, and I could be wrong. But I don’t think so.

But that’s not what bothers me.

THIS is what bothers me. I don’t care if religious symbols and sayings in government have been around for ten lifetimes, five lifetimes, or two lifetimes. They’ve been around for MY lifetime! I take comfort in these things being prominently displayed in public places. This tells me that my country, the most powerful on earth, places the government under a HIGHER authority, and under a strict set of moral guidelines. And following these guidelines prohibit us from doing truly stupid things … like invading countries that are not at war nor pose any threat to us.

And THIS bothers me. Who are the people responsible for my symbols being taken away? They are, if you can believe in statistics, a small percentage of the people who live in this country – a VERY small percentage. Excuse me. I thought this was a democracy here! Whatever happened to majority rule?

On the other hand, my friend Nicki put it this way. “I guess what steams me is what steams you too -- that a vocal minority can get all het up about something that is not that important. God IS important, of course, but when I say "In God We Trust" I mean "I am trusting God that the path I am taking is the right path and that I am following His will and not screwing things up." Not "We are going to fight this war and we trust that God will win it for us." You must carry your belief in your heart, not put your faith in symbols or, well, false idols as it were. America was founded on freedom--freedom to worship differently, but also think differently. In England, you could go to jail for being blasphemous or speaking out against the king. We are so used to freedom of speech that we take it totally for granted--we take it as a RIGHT--and we forget that it's worth fighting for. Is the right to put the ten commandments up on the wall a right worth fighting for? If it offends other people--do you have the right to offend other people? Or be offended when they take your commandments down?”

So … whadda ya think? I’m looking for guidance here. I want to accommodate people, but shouldn’t there be a point where I take a stand – enough is enough. I’m told to be loving. I’m told to be meek. There’s a line from an old song that keeps coming back to me, “It’s not the earth the meek inherit, it’s the dirt.” I’m beginning to wonder if that could be true.

And how was your day?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

IN GOD WE TRUST


I’d love to tell you that the following article originated with me. It didn’t. It was emailed to me. Disclaimer aside, it gave me information I didn’t know, and evoked a response. Since you and I think alike on many issues, I thought it was worth sharing with you.

JB


LET'S DO IT!!!!! You may have heard in the news that the Post Office has been forced to take down small posters that say "IN GOD WE TRUST" The law, they say, is being violated. Anyway, I heard proposed on a radio station show that we should all write "IN GOD WE TRUST " on the back of all our mail...after all, that is our national motto and it's on all of the money we use to buy those stamps. We are the people and individually we must take back our nation from those who think that anything that offends them should be removed. ( I am personally offended by them, aren’t you?) If you like this idea, please consider participating. It has been reported that 86% of Americans believe in God. I have a very hard time understanding why there is such a mess about having "In God We Trust" on our money and having God in the pledge of Allegiance. Could it be that WE just need to take action letting the squeaky 14% see that we are not going to be silent anymore?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

No, I Have Not Forgotten You

I'm involved in a project - actually grinding out the kind of picky detail work I don't much care about, but do well.

But I'm thinking about you - and miss our conversations. So if you'll just hang in there for a day or two, I'll be back. Promise.

Jack

Thursday, March 20, 2008

There! I hope you're happy, now! I've worked a little sax into the Act!


People Are So Interesting. Part Six. Galloping stupidity in political decisions.


For the past month I’ve heard nothing on the news except how unfortunate and unfair it is that the Florida and Michigan Democratic delegates won’t be seated at the National Convention. If I understand it correctly, the decision was made to move the primary elections in these states forward by months, in order to directly influence the decision regarding who the democratic nominee would be. The Democratic committee declared that this maneuver was unfair, that these elections would not be recognized, and in the end – no votes would count!

In other words …

The decision was made by individuals in Florida and Michigan BEFORE THE ELECTION that the votes of a few million people would not count. This was not something discovered later. The thought at the time was that by holding an early vote – even one that didn’t count – a pattern would be established that would lead to the clear leadership of one candidate over another, thus making these two states to appear mature and wise.

That didn’t happen. The candidates are deadlocked, and the two states look amazingly both infantile and senile at the same time.

Excuse me, but this leads me to ask a few questions.

If there is such concern for the voting rights of the people in Florida and Michigan, wouldn’t it have been better to voice these concerns before the initial elections?

If there were no great concerns about the voting rights in these two states before, what changed? Who benefits by their voting again?

If it’s going to cost many millions of dollars to hold re-elections, shouldn’t this money be charged against the people who are responsible for the debacle in the first place?

If I lived in Florida or Michigan, who would I sue for cheating me of my voting right?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

People Are So Interesting. Part Five. Comments on Human Authority

I came across the following article on the blog of a writer I always find interesting. I thought the post was worth reprinting (with permission), and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to slightly expand the basic idea.


THURSDAY, MARCH 13, 2008

Obama’s Lovely Church, John Hagee, and Doesn’t It Always Go This Way?

By now you have most likely heard the Christ-less “sermon” by Jeremiah Wright, the UCC minister at Trinity Church.

I couldn’t help but think of John Hagee, the Religious Right version of the same. Pimps of “race,” and churches that have washed away the Gospel.

In both settings, you can hear almost the same thing, just replace one ethnicity for another. And in both cases, when the Gospel is washed away, all the secondary issues of the world take it’s place.

Which gets you nowhere. Fast.

POSTED BY LUTHERAN LUCCIOLA


So. Point one. Question one. What does a leader in a church look like? Is he or she hired? Appointed? Uh-h-h … the answer is “no.” If the church is smart, the person applying for any form of leadership is on trial, and has to meet very specific criteria. And even then the candidate may or may not be accepted. In the end, a true “leader” is neither hired nor appointed. A leader is acknowledged. This person has a following, therefore he or she must be a leader. An example of this starts with the apostle Matthias. After the death of Judas, Matthias was elected to fill his position among the apostles. Remember Matthias? Acts I is the only place in the New Testament where he can be found. On the other hand, another figure appeared, unwanted, certainly uninvited, already established with a following. His name was Paul.

You notice how careful I’m being here? It’s important to understand each step before we move on.

Question two. What authorizes someone as a church leader? Answer; a church does. When an individual is hired by a church as a pastor, it’s understood that the person is a – or perhaps the – church leader. Now if that answer sounds both obvious and simplistic, bear with me.

When a person is hired to pastor a church, please understand that the person has been approved by a church, not the church. And, unlike the schooling required to have the title of doctor or attorney attached to your name, no actual schooling is required to be licensed as a pastor – you just need to find a church na├»ve enough to hire you in that position. Is this the exception rather than the rule? I pray to God that it is! But it does happen. Anybody can study the Bible, and can get it to say whatever that person wants it to say. (More on that later.)

Now let’s combine the first two points. A person is a leader because that individual has a following. A person is acknowledged and licensed as a pastor because a specific church somewhere hired that person for that position. Billy Graham is at one end of that equation, Jim Jones is at the other, and everybody else falls somewhere in between.

Point two. As Christians, we are “under authority” of those above us in the church, because ALL authority comes from God. But if someone is leading a church, who is above that person to guide and advise? (And yes, before you climb all over me, I would be first to state that most church organizations have restraints and safeguards built in where outright heresy is concerned. But what about those things that are not outright heresy?) As any individual grows in authority toward a national level, doesn’t it follow, then, that the human authority above this individual grows pretty thin? “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

With all this as background, we are now in a position to comment on the article written by LUTHERAN LUCCIOLA, and reprinted above.

To me, what made the article remarkable was that it commented on the fact that statements made by Jeremiah Wright were inappropriate, and why they were inappropriate. Mister Wright spoke from the pulpit, in a recognized position of authority, “ministering” to those in his congregation. Yet his comments were secular and inflammatory. From the tape I saw, it was obvious they were stirring increased responses from a largely unspiritual congregation.

To discern what is inappropriate would imply knowledge of what is appropriate. This normally is the result of old-fashioned Bible study, using the brain God gave you, and not accepting anyone’s word without a solid Biblical reference. As I had mentioned before, you can make the Bible say anything you want. So here is a general rule; everything is important, but you should teach what the Bible teaches and emphasize what the Bible emphasizes. And everything is in context.

The final point indicated in the article is that it’s acceptable to question authority. Respectfully. It’s acceptable to say “show me where it says that in the Bible.” In 1st Corinthians it says, “by one spirit we are all baptized into one body.” All are equal. Respect those in authority, but don’t follow blindly. I would not disparage any minister. But I left a church when the congregation stopped saying, “The Bible says …” and started saying, “The pastor says …” If this happens to you, run!

So thank you, LuLu, for your article. You made me think – and speak. And … isn’t that what we are supposed to do?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Good advice

I can’t help it. Over the past year I’ve had growing concerns about my future and the future of my country. The war, the jump in prices of everything, the seeming political hypocrisy, the increase in lawlessness, and the list of angst just goes on and on …

And then, only today, I remember the sage words set to music by that esteemed philosopher David Seville, a number of years ago.

Oh, Baby ....
Ooo eee, ooo ah ah, Ting tang, walla walla, bing bang.
Ooo eee, ooo ah ah, Ting tang, walla walla, bing bang...
Ooo eee, ooo ah ah, Ting tang, walla walla, bing bang.
Ooo eee, ooo ah ah, Ting tang walla walla, bing bang.

Don’t you feel better now? I know I do.

JB

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New Play

So. Okay. My life has become an open blog.

Ya see, it's like this; here I am, it's evening, and I'm looking thru my sorry collection of partially completed plays. Don't you have things like this? These are ideas that seemed pretty good at the time, but never really went anywhere. But I still keep 'em, work on 'em once in awhile, and have the hope that one or more in this collection of fish on the beach is just napping.

In fact, I just down-loaded a couple into my computer, opened one, and closed it after page one. Nothing here was giving me any kind of buzz. I immediately switched to writing this post because I couldn't wait to tell you what I'm doing. Or maybe I'm writing to you in order to avoid ... well, you know what I'm avoiding.

I guess maybe I should explain something to you. I mean, you know me pretty well by now, but you might not know this - I know the answer to one of the great questions about writers - why do we write? Personally, I write because I truly enjoy writing. It's not some deep secret - pretty simple, really. All this time you've been wondering, and I would have given you the answer if you had asked. But nobody ever asked. Why is that, do you suppose?

Anyway, I really did hope to finish an old play before starting a new one. And that's not true at all. I've got a new idea in mind, and I can hardly wait to get the first part of it down on paper.

And that's why my life is an open blog. I've never told anyone about a new play until I'm usually 15 or 20 pages into it, so this is a first for me.

The story - as much as I have - goes something like this. The main character is a cartoonist, and he's constantly driving his girl friend crazy because he lives the plots to his cartoons. I dunno. It sounded better before I wrote it down. But I'm gonna work on it, and you are now a part of the process from the very beginning. We cool with that? I hope so.

I even have a title - BUCK BUNNY RIDES AGAIN!

What do ya think?

JB

Monday, March 10, 2008

People Are So Interesting. Part Four. Reactions to a post


  • It started with a post on THE RADICAL WRITE blog - “103 Things You Might Not Know About Me.” I read this with interest. Here was someone I know (in fact, a good friend.) I chuckled not so much at the eclectic assortments of facts as much as the personality that was being laid out before me. Here was an important version of how this person saw herself, not in the mirror but in the mind’s eyes.

    Later, at a writer’s group meeting, I made the mistake of complimenting the author on her candid post. She immediately invited me to post my own version of 103 things … Nonchalantly I agreed. (Mr. Cool, me.) During the drive home I mentally practiced the speech I would tell my wife – that we were changing our names and moving immediately to Outer Mongolia. Or that I had just learned that the computer was an invention of the devil, and that’s why I was burying it deep in the back yard. Or that all this blog writing was actually woman’s work, and it would be better if she just took it over and never ever never mentioned it to me again, thank you very much.

    She just looked at me. She does that a lot.

    So I wrote my version of 103 Things … You’ll find it – it’s about three or four posts before this one. And actually, it wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be. Here were things that have never made it to a resume, but in the most intimate way, largely define me. This is who I am. This is what has been important in my life.

    I enjoyed it so much, in fact, that I wanted others who blog to contribute their own versions. The next to (reluctantly) post was LuLu, on LUTHERAN LUCCIOLA. Next was another friend, Nicki, on NICKI LOVES DRAMA. This was followed by the Great Guru of our Writer’s group on COLLA VOCE.

    (At this point the author of The Radical Write commented that this thing was “spreading like an oil slick.”)

    Anyway … in the process of promoting this idea (and quite often laughing out loud at the clever results), I made a few unexpected observations.

    As writers, we all enjoy reactions to our comments. The reactions can be more appropriate if the reader begins with an understanding of the writer’s point of view. That was my justification for writing the post in the first place. What I learned was that, based on what I read, there are more similarities between writers than differences. For some reason this surprised me.

    The second observation was that, unlike some posts, the 103 Things … posts always received a number of reader comments, regardless of who the author was. And the comments were always in agreement.

    So … here’s my question. We – all of us – are readers and writers. We are all similar. We are all here, together.

    Why?

Monday, March 3, 2008

ALYCE TIMES ONE


ALYCE TIMES ONE. That’s the name of the play Julie Ocean and I have just finished writing. It’s still in first draft form – rough, to be sure. It will require revision – not a great amount – no more than any other work. But some revision is always required.

The play relates the story of 30ish-year-old Alyce, a woman living in a harsh reality. Gently guiding and supporting Alyce is Jack, her husband. He has been dead for three years, and his appearance on stage is explained as being her memory of him.

Co-author of the work is Julie Morrison, a gifted screenwriter and journalist. Julie is genuinely loving and shyly reserved as a person, and an “always go for the throat first” writer. Her share of the writing often has an audacity that catches me by surprise. Her blog is The Radical Write, and certainly worth your consideration.

For whatever it might be worth to you, when I write a play, I never think of it as fiction. The people are real to me, living their lives in the forefront of my imagination. I am given a most sketchy series of sequences – the basic plot – and from these I profile the characters, filling in details and bridging islands of inspiration or serendipity until there’s a completed story – beginning, middle, and end.

As a result, I can give you copious details about the individuals I profile. Where Alyce is concerned, I can tell you everything from what her father did for a living to what she had for breakfast this morning. I can even tell you that she is the product of mixed parentage. One parent is white, the other black. Logically, then, she would have characteristics of both races. However …

At my request the artwork you see above was also created by Julie, to be used as the logo for the play. When I first saw it, I literally held my breath. For all my supposed knowledge of this character, suddenly I’m looking at eyes that are looking back at me.

In spite of my best words, the picture tells its own story.

Thanks, Julie. You are awesome.