20 MINUTES SCRUBBING MY NONSTICK PAN

So, I’m slaving away on my nonstick pan at the kitchen sink yesterday, because, as you surely know all too well, it’s recommended forbidden by the manufacturer that you run it through the dishwasher.  Such a crime against nonstick surfaces will void your warrantee.  (Wait, what?  My pan has a warrantee???)

At any rate, such mindless work as that gives a fella time to think.

Am I right?

And I can’t help but think how bad the world don’t make sense.  I mean, what with another school shooting and all.  Especially on the heels of a race riot inflicted on blacks with a surprise attack.  Guess, black people should learn to carry their AK’s to the grocery store.  You never know when another white person might just go off.

Makes sense.  Right?

America.  Love it or leave it.  (Unless you are a slave, brought here against your will 200 years ago.  In that case, “love it or leave it” don’t make sense either.)

While I’m on race, just for a moment, indulge me this: What about if you are a Native American?  Shouldn’t we appeal to those founding fathers for something?

Oh… That wouldn’t be “the will of the people” would it?  We would be beholding to some minority who claims they were here first.  They don’t represent us.  That doesn’t make any sense either.

Okay… So let’s put it to a vote.

Wait, what?  You mean the electoral college has the final say?  So, even if Gore wins the popular vote, the will of the people are just arbitrarily overrun?  Hmmm…  So, if Hillary wins the popular vote but the electoral college differs, the will of the people is just overrun again???  Hmmm…

Oh… so you just claim the vote is rigged then?  But wait, you won the electoral college!  Why the gripe then?  Who does this make any sense to, besides me?

But what if the will of the people is just plain wrong?  Did anyone ask the fetus if it wants to get ground up like hamburger?  I have a right to do with my body what I want too, but that doesn’t include driving drunk and killing you.  It doesn’t include getting my sexual jollies with your kids!  That’s rights to do with my body that I don’t have, and for good reason.  But, if my wife wants to kill our unborn child in her womb, she is free to do that?

That is a human life in there with a body who should have rights over his/her little body!  No???  Not to mention, it’s my kid too!  Maybe not my body, per se, but my semen, and that’s pretty close to being my body.

But I don’t make sense?

If I tell you Jesus was born of a virgin, died on a Roman cross, and three days later was raised to new life again, not only does that not make sense, I can get in a lot of hot water for mentioning it in certain settings.  If I give $5 to a homeless bum, I have a church full of brothers and sisters who claim I am harming him.  They write whole books about it, hold seminars and webinars on it.

And that makes sense?  To who?

When I was young, I heard a comedian say he was “a lesbian trapped in a man’s body,” and I thought that was so stinking funny that I used that line at least a half dozen times, getting laughs and having fun with it myself because, strangely, it made sense in a queer way.  But then I saw some guy interviewed on the Geraldo Rivera Show, or maybe it was The Oprah Winfrey Show, or… man, I don’t know which dumb show now, I just remember this guy claimed he was a lesbian trapped in a man’s body and wanted a sex change so he could be a real lesbian.  Suddenly, I didn’t tell my joke anymore, and it wasn’t because of some newfound sympathy for people with gender issues, but because it didn’t make sense anymore.

I keep trying to make sense of this world I live in.  Supposedly, I am supposed to be a supposedly informed voter and citizen.  Supposedly.  I reckon with all my information, I can vote.  My vote will count, right?  It will get counted five, ten, twenty times.  Right?  Not that they will tally up how many times I vote, but that they keep counting the same vote over and over, and yet, my vote won’t count.

I am not a Hillary supporter.  Never have been.  Not exactly a hater, but definitely not a supporter.  I never voted for her before, and I can’t imagine myself voting for her in the future either, but I surely do appreciate the restraint she showed in her concession at the 2016 election.  I feel the same way about Al Gore from the 2000 election.  In fact, I really hated to see John McCain concede in 2008, but I nonetheless appreciated him for doing it.  It made sense.  It was hard to accept, but it made sense.  Or so I thought, but maybe I was fooling myself.

Ahhhh… Those were the days.

2 + 2 used to equal 4, and I felt fine.  Here we are all these years later and 2 + 2 = Q, and I am really baffled.

So, anyway, I scrubbed some more on that nonstick pan, and I almost got the stuck-on blueberries off, almost.  But there is a little left.  The nonstick surface is gone, now, but the blueberry is still there, at least a speck of it.  And I still got my warrantee!  Right?

Oh, man.  Where did I put that warrantee paper?  I need a refund.

GOING POSTAL

Wow! Guess I could reblog this and just keep being relevant.

Fat Beggars School of Prophets

(This post is a drastic departure from my usual content.)

As with all posts here, the material considered is covered from my own very specific viewpoint.  I did a little research, but not much.  I merely verified (and enhanced) my own memory and experience(s). 

I am well on my way to becoming an old man.  Like most old men I know (and have known), I have stories to tell (and retell too many times).

Some mutterings, in my experience, have value.  I imagine if I had grown up a century earlier, respect for elders and viewing them as a resource of contributions surely was stronger.  While I imagine being one of the kids/grandkids sitting on the porch in the cool of the day, after the work and dishes are done, grandfather in his rocking chair, family gathered around reading Bible, playing music, and the old ones telling stories, such is…

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CHURCH JOKES TO EMBARRASS THE CHURCH (II)

Once upon a time, there was a church of Christ with a handful of very forward thinking and outspoken members who yearned for installing a piano with which to worship in the assembly.  Of course, that set off a firestorm that no one could put out.  The arguing went back and forth for years on the issue until one Sunday morning the flock arrived, surprised to find a beautiful Steinway Grand Piano just sitting there.

No one knew who put it there, when or how, and no one dared touch it.  And so, it sat there quietly, just as pretty as could be, as the church worshipped as usual that Sunday.

Then the very next Sunday when the flock returned, to everyone’s astonishment the piano was gone.  Just like it had mysteriously appeared, it now had vanished.  No one had a clue where it went.

Over the years, people talked about it.  Some were glad to see it appear and sad to see it gone.  Others were glad it was gone and hated that it had ever appeared.  But one question they all shared: Where did it go?

For years it remained a mystery until finally a plumber was called in for repairs and drained the baptistry.

CHURCH JOKES TO EMBARRASS THE CHURCH (I)

(I credit Special Agent D – SAD – for this series of jokes)

After many, many, many years lost on a deserted island, a church of Christ member was finally rescued by a passing ship.  Upon discovering the man’s long lonely plight, the captain was particularly intrigued by the fact that the castaway had built three huts on the beach.

“You are just one man.  Why did you build three huts?” the captain asked.

The church of Christ member puffed out his chest and replied, “That one I lived in.  That one over there is where I went to church.  That other one,” with a contemptuous tone a roll of his eyes, he continued, “is where I used to go to church.”

YOU STUPID GALATIANS!

(I know, right??? If I call you stupid, I am being a jerk and full of contempt.  But if St. Paul calls the Galatians stupid… well, that’s just the inspired word of God.  Hey… if the shoe fits…)

I live in Lubbock, Texas.  We are just about as “conservative” as it gets here.  And honestly, I am okay with that – to a large degree.  I am a conservative, and I am more at home among conservatives.  Ninety five percent or more of my family and friends are conservative.  I grew up conservative, and I hold many basically conservative values as well.

But somehow this lifestyle has become bitter and mean and stupid.  It’s become a political powerplay to champion “conservative” values for a mean spirited, hateful and fearful political agenda to lord it over “liberals” and rub it in their face.

Wow!

And the church has weighed in with a thumb on the scale supporting this tawdry trashy unchrist-like agenda.  The church.

Stupid Galatians!

(Can you feel my contempt?)

The political ploys, in one sense, are not really all that new, but the intensity of it, the shrillness, has definitely surpassed any in my lifetime.  And it is making us stupid.  Smart people I otherwise admire and love getting just as stupid as stupid can be, getting shrill and hostile about it in my face, all to out-conservative the other conservatives.

Here’s what I mean:

Run-off elections.

Don’t bet on any liberals winning anything in Lubbock, Texas.  Okay?  Feel me?

We are conservatives here, and the few liberals we have are a joke.  So, it’s a foregone conclusion that we will elect conservatives to represent us.  But when you have three, four, or more conservatives all vying for the same seat, they have to fight it out, and politics being what they are, that means getting dirty.

So now my TV and radio is filled with conservative people calling other conservatives liberals.  Meanwhile, they all cling to that Trump name for all they are worth too.  They try to out conservative each other and out Trump each other.  Even if Trump endorses the other candidate!  Don’t let a little thing like that mean anything!

Oh… and don’t bother counting the votes either.  That just means you are a loser.  Only losers count votes.  (Recounts excepted, right???)

But here is where I finally lost it:

We have one conservative now going after the other because he was born in… drum roll please… New York City!

OMG!

How can you claim Trump and criticize THAT?

STUPID Galatians!

Oh man, I know every dumb little thing about every conservative in this race because all the other conservatives in this race have absolutely destroyed each other in out Trumping and out conservativing each other.  They are all butchered scraps of their former selves carved up and left for the trash heap thanx to each other.

Oh… and that’s how the “Christians” are treating each other in an election year!

God help us.

A WHOLE NEW VISION OF REALITY

I’m not gonna whitewash this, but the phrase “whole new vision of reality” is so huge, so drastic, so deep and wide, that it sounds like it simply has to overstate itself.  The vibe I get from it is that it says too much in too succinct a fashion.  It sounds like juvenile hyperbole in my ear.  If the phrase were coming from the lips of a seventh grader, I would dismiss it.

In fact, I almost want to not blog about it.  I almost want to dismiss it now.  Close this post and walk away.  Or possibly consign this post to the ever growing number of would-be posts collecting dust in my bin of drafts.  Or better yet, maybe just erase it and be done with it completely.

Yeah.  I am the writer of this post, and I have so much contempt for the phraseology of the title that I can hardly stomach it.

EXCEPT…

I must confess, I was a big fan of the original movie The Matrix.  As a quasi-paranoid person with a very boisterous inner mental patient, that movie really played with me.  (It wasn’t the first, but it set the bar at a new level!)  And that movie is nothing if it isn’t about a whole new vision of reality.  Am I right?

Also, I find the phrase used in a powerful sentence, situated in an important paragraph, located in a powerful chapter, in one of the most influential books (to me at least), written by one of the premier theologians of our day – Walter Brueggemann.  I suppose I should give you the quote for better context.

Allow me to say just a bit more about that context first.

This particular Brueggemann book is old and somewhat outdated.  First published in 1976, it is going on fifty years old now.  At it’s first publication, the title he gave it was Living Toward a Vision, but after going out of print several years, it was republished in 2001 and given the title Peace.  (I use the later publication, personally.)  The vision Brueggemann would have the church live toward is one of Shalom.

Walter Brueggemann is an Old Testament Bible scholar.  I always appreciate those Bible scholars who appreciate the OT, and Brueggeman is our man for this generation, it seems.  But I won’t get into all that.  I have no doubt that those reading here who are familiar with him know all that already, and those who are not won’t be enriched by my recital of it.

Nevertheless, I quibble with Brueggemann at numerous points.  My praise of this book is not a blanket endorsement of everything in it.  But I recognized nearly 20 years ago when I found this book that chapter 6, “Ordering and Eating,” profoundly shapes my views of ministry.  In the years since its first publication, I get the sense Brueggemann himself would change some bits of it, and I certainly would too, but I must confess that standing on his shoulders to look at God’s Peace for the world gives me a huge advantage, even with the bits I would change too.

We need a vision of Peace, the goal we work and live toward.  We need it to encompass all of reality.  The world wasn’t made to be run the way we run it, and even many of the “good” things we do are not worthy of the Peace for which God created it.

Thus, I give you this excerpt –

After quoting Luke 14:12-14, Brueggemann states:

This is a staggering comment that catches most of the Lukan gospel in one instant.

This is perfectly symmetrical with a “do” and a “do not.”  DO NOT invite all the insiders!  And the reason? Because they will repay you.  We have that conversation in our house.  Let’s don’t invite them because we will get involved with them, and it goes back and forth, so let’s stay clear of that.  Jesus offers an alternative to burdensome social obligations.  There is something gross and debilitating about living in a quid pro quo world where there are no unanswered gifts, no disinterested risks, no freely given suppers.  Jesus also, in another place (Matthew 5:43-48), said, “If you love those who love you, what reward do you have?  Do not even the tax collectors do the same?”  Everybody lives in a safe, measured world where we get and give all on the same scale.  But all those other neat things – surprise, newness, play, Sabbath – all of them cannot come into a perfectly symmetrical universe.  We are reduced to calculation, and no humanness rises there.  It is a no-surprise environment devoid of graciousness.

I have wondered what sign Jesus would have on his drive-in.  He hints here that it might say, “No friends, no kinsmen, no rich neighbors – no exceptions.”  A hard saying indeed!

And then the counterpart: DO!  And we have that whole repulsive list that includes the ones shut out whom God would liberate?

    • The poor, people with no manners?
    • The maimed, crippled bodies that fascinate and repel?
    • The lame, their clubbed feet that irritate?
    • The blind, so aggressive, loud, and presuming?

I want my little tea party, and they have no manners.  There are two kinds of dinners, one symmetrical and one for folks who can’t repay or reciprocate with an invitation.  Each dinner yields its own brand of humanity – Pharaoh’s kind of humanity and Jesus’ kind.  One is proper and exclusive, the other is on the move, vital, and healing.  And then in good didactic fashion, Jesus’ statement adds a motivational clause (verse 14): “You will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous [sadiq].”  That’s a good time for repayment, not by the poor and outcast, but by God.  When the new humanity is born and the new creation is called into existence, you’ll be there.  And it won’t be the same dull social obligation, but something like you never imagined.  And you’ll be there!

The same motif is at many places in Luke.  He plays on the theme of humbleness and exaltation and invites some to go up higher to a place of honor at the dinner (Luke 14:7-11).  He observes that the well-off usually don’t come, and so the invitation is given to the unqualified because they just might come, and so the invitation is given to the unqualified because they just might come, not being worried about propriety.  This text is the other side of the passage in Luke 14:12-14 that we have considered.  There Jesus says, “Don’t invite them.”  Here he discerns that they won’t come anyway, because this kind of party is not attractive to them.  Jesus is clearly radicalizing the rules of society for giving parties, and in doing that he is tampering with the primal ordering of society.  Clearly he is calling into question the vision of shalom that lies behind and within rules for banquets.  It is important to recognize his radical critique and his incredible alternative.  He is not just creating a new guest list, but he is offering a whole new vision of reality that dictates how parties are held. …

(The bold print is my added emphasis.)

Sometimes I wish I were a blues musician.  I would write some killer songs, and you would dig them, I am sure of it.  But once in a while, a great while, I wish I were a movie maker.  If I was, I would remake The Matrix, and instead of all the killing and shoot’em up scenes, I would bend reality around Eucharist.

God is throwing the party of the Age to Come.  It’s bigger than you ever imagined.  I hate to rain on Prince’s parade, but he can party like it’s 1999 if he wants to.  The party Jesus hosts is a mite bigger than Prince’s tiny imagination can squeeze out.

But the proud aren’t coming to it.

Let us live toward a vision of Shalom – a whole new vision of reality.

INTERSECTION

What is/where is the intersection of God and creation?

I have given thought to this sort of question before, and as put, it sounds so philosophical.  It sounds like the theological version of a complex math equation.  And I don’t mean to smear math (I have met people who see something almost artistic in it, but I personally am NOT one of those kind).  But I need to talk about this kind of question in a down-to-earth context.  I am not sure how to get it there.

Let me provide the context in which I am coming to such questions presently, and hopefully we can be grounded there for a start.

I am writing a book.  This is the first book I ever wrote in which I hope to seek publication of some sort.  The book is specifically about Christian hospitality, but born out of Christian street ministry for the poor and homeless.  

As far as writing goes, it is a skill I am not overly developed in AND I do it in odd moments or late at night because my home-life is filled to overflowing with babies and small children, most of them in diapers. These are people in need of almost constant attention which interrupts my work on a moment-by-moment basis round the clock seven days a week.  (It can be a challenge to hold a single thought – all the more to develop thoughts which build on one another.)

Now for the OTHER context. 

My book aims to be “biblical” in nature.  I am not a straight up slave to the Bible, but I did give myself in servitude to the God of the Bible, and I trust his word harmonizes with his will – that it gives me what I need.  There are a few places where I theologically construct ideas and actions which strictly speaking are not quite represented in the text (one thinks of the word TRINITY, for instance) but I work diligently to harmonize these bits with the Bible all the same.  And I aim to do it in a down-to-earth, easy-to-read voice.

Thus, when I ask about an intersection of God and creation, biblically speaking, the first and most foundational context I have for that is the creation of Genesis where God speaks creation into it’s created order and especially where he blows his spirit into the nostrils of the adam.  But the premier biblical instance of this intersection is the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and the premier instance where he reveals this intersection is the cross.

God who makes, judges, and redeems creation intersects with it frequently in lesser ways all through the Bible too.  But the way (The Way) most pertinent to Christian faith is through the church.

Hmmm…

It all sounds so biblical and theological.  Something of a biblical theology.  But we are back to that dry place with it, like a theological math equation.  It’s something on a chalk board in a sleepy lecture at an institution of higher learning for people smarter than me and you at this point.  That’s not quite the down-to-earth, I am looking for.

My book is about hospitality. 

My thesis tells us that God’s redemption for creation is a work which unfolds (like in a Master Carpenter’s workshop) in our hearts – but by “hearts” in that sentence, I mean the place where our treasure is (think Matt. 6:21).  So, in the fuller scope of your heart, I mean your HOME (and I include your church building/sanctuary in that too).

God’s work of redemption is happening in there (or not as the case may be).

Also, in this construct, there is implied work which we do and which God does through us.  Our work is small, but significant, and joins his bigger more mysterious work.

Now…

There are competing visions for world order and competing powers establishing the various orders.  In a super-simplified sense, let’s say we have governments (with their armies/navies, ballot boxes/monarchs, taxes and so forth), corporations (with their capital, their goods and services, profit margins and prices, and their agendas), and finally the church.

The church.

What does the church bring to this world order business that isn’t brought by the others?

This is getting to the nub of my point in this post.  It is a hinge upon which swings my entire thesis in my book.  And it is a thing which the world at large AND THE CHURCH AT LARGE TOO easily overlooks, I think.  

Consider this:  If I go to a city council meeting and propose Lubbock prays for rain (we are in a terrible drought, btw), there will be some who laugh and many who scoff.  However, this happened in Lubbock a few years back (2011???) during a previous drought, and the city moved to do it.  Prayer became an official way Lubbock addressed our water conservation.

It made headlines in major network and print news organizations where it faced scrutiny and scorn from the larger public.  

If I go to Goldman Sachs and propose prayer, I expect they already have their world order agendas covered in other ways.  If I went to the United States congress and sought prayer, there will be many there who will desire it, but many of those will seek to pray to all the gods or to no god or to Allah or to Mother or… you get the idea.  Then even most of the Christians will begin to scoff!

What does the church bring to world order that these other institutions can’t or won’t? 

The intersection of God and his creation.

That’s my answer, in a somewhat philosophical frame.

We bring prayer, worship, in fact the embodiment of God.  

But the world isn’t running to us for our help with their world order problems.  Ukraine isn’t seeking the church’s sermons and prayers, but America’s drones and antitank weapons.  

These are not goods or services of the church.  

What are the goods and services or (to use a Walter Brueggemann metaphor) the “tools of the church”?

The tools of the church are things like towel and basin.  Such are the tools of the hospitable.  Hospitality is the workshop of God in our hearts where he redeems creation at a heart level, where baptism and table remake us, where splagchnizomai reshapes objects of redemption on the divine workbench you otherwise cannot see.

Our tools and our workshop are humble, patient, virtuous, kind, hopeful, and vulnerable, they are symbolic but powerful with a depth other powers cannot touch.  They are mysterious, requiring faith in things you cannot see.  They affect change down at the heart of matters and in the hearts of people calling forth repentance and discipleship leading to shalom.  Nobody is forced or coerced into this.  On the contrary, they must humble themselves to participate or else they will be repulsed from the pride in their own hearts.

The other world powers have more glitz and glam, but their reach is too short.  They never intersect with God.

Somehow, I need to explore these ideas in two or three paragraphs, two or three pages at the most.  I have enough chapters already, and I don’t think a book like mine needs another.

Wanna help me write?  

Leave me your comment.

Thanx.

 

 

GOING POSTAL

(This post is a drastic departure from my usual content.)

As with all posts here, the material considered is covered from my own very specific viewpoint.  I did a little research, but not much.  I merely verified (and enhanced) my own memory and experience(s). 

I am well on my way to becoming an old man.  Like most old men I know (and have known), I have stories to tell (and retell too many times).

Some mutterings, in my experience, have value.  I imagine if I had grown up a century earlier, respect for elders and viewing them as a resource of contributions surely was stronger.  While I imagine being one of the kids/grandkids sitting on the porch in the cool of the day, after the work and dishes are done, grandfather in his rocking chair, family gathered around reading Bible, playing music, and the old ones telling stories, such is not my personal experience.  But I knew old people when I was young who surely knew it. 

The meaning of life might be handed down from generation to generation in those ways.  A lot of stories told and retold, but absolutely no competition with TV or internet.  Life moved slower and the meaning went deeper.  None of the exchange as rich or potent as listening to Socrates or watching a Shakespear play, but for common people, it did fine.

Here is me on a blog taking a turn in the rocking chair.

Today the kids call them “active shooter events.”  There is not one strict, widely accepted definition of a “mass shooting,” but generally if a shooting spree kills four or more people, that qualifies.  But since some “shooting sprees” involve dozens or more victims, and since there are so many, a mass shooting with only four murders might not stand out in your mind unless you were there for it.

As it turns out, America has experienced mass shootings since at least the 1920s and before, however some of those early events involved multiple shooters and/or unions strikes which to my way of thinking opens a different category of event.  Also, they tended to call them “massacres” in the old days.  When I hear the term “mass shooting,” I think of a lone gunman shooting disinterested bystanders.  (Funny how language/terminology shapes categories in my mind, and thus my experience of them.)

But the term “mass shooting” is not the only term we use for it these days either.  If the event occurs in a school, we tend to call it a “school shooting.”  If in a church, we call it a “church shooting.”  This kind of pointed designation already makes the phenom a bit more sinister in my mind since these events are so common in such places as to warrant those particular designations.

Oh, how I wish I lived in a world where the term “school shooting” was nearly as jarring as the event.  There is something jaded about it when it gets its own term – even more when the term is overused.  And “church shooting”???  Don’t get me started.

I was born in the 1960s, but sometime after the UT sniper of 1966 (and 100 years after that other mass shooting event aka Civil War).  Still, I grew up hearing about that UT sniper.  Harry Chapin’s song was one of my dad’s favored.  When I was young, my parents and grandparents would occasionally reference it.  (We weren’t exactly sitting on the porch whitling when it was discussed, but perhaps in moments akin to that.)  When I was young, that story had such a singularity about it, I thought it was probably a one-off event for the history books.

Wow!  How innocently naive, huh?

To my mind now, I think of it as the first.  (Not accurate to think that, of course, but that is the frame my mind references it in, nonetheless.)

I was a high school student in the summer of 1984 when the gunman shot up a McDonalds restaurant in San Ysidro, California.  Somehow my memory of that one always struggled for clarity.  For one thing, I was young and easily distracted.  For another, California was a world away from me in Texas.  But in particular, my family was in transition that summer.  We were moving from Texas to Colorado, and I was staying with my grandparents for a few weeks when that shooting occurred.  This made it easily forgotten by me.

I didn’t forget it entirely, but the memory of it became extremely vague.  Until I looked it up, I thought it happened earlier – even thought it was the late 70s.  And amazingly, I did not recall any pictures from that story.  However, I recently found a video documentary on it (released in 2016), called 77 Minutes.  This film spares little to the imagination and suggests that photos of the bloodbath were likely aired on TV news at the time.

I don’t recall seeing images broadcast in Texas, and possibly I just missed the broadcasts which might have aired them, but I do recall, even in vague terms, this shooting created a category of mass shootings in my mind.  No longer was the UT sniper a one-off case, though I still did not imagine such shootings would become commonplace.

I remember giving pause to the thought of innocently eating a Big Mac only to be shot at by a fellow patron.  I was almost 16 at the time.  Young, strong, stupid, vigorous enough to think I would find a way to survive it, but smart enough to see that it would be traumatic.  I was asking myself, “What would I do?”  But of course, it was so far away, and so uncommon, that I didn’t really fear it would happen to me.

After watching the documentary, especially seeing the bloodbath footage, the corpses lying in their blood and food, and as an older adult now, I am more shocked by the carnage than ever.  I have watched a lot of these events unfold on the news over the last 30 years, but the media always sanitizes the pictures, and that keeps it just a little easier to deny.

Just a couple years later, the post office in Edmond, Oklahoma was shot up.  I was a senior in high school just starting the Fall semester when that one happened.  As I recall it now, there was one, maybe two, other post office shootings just prior to that one, but the Edmond case was particularly bad.  Fourteen died in that one.  Still, between the bad one and the fact that a spate of them occurred in post offices, we got a new term for it; we called it “going postal.”

The kids today never heard of going postal, but when I was a senior in high school, that was the new term for it.  And it was becoming commonplace.  Just a few years after that, the Luby’s in Killeen, Texas was shot up, and if it had not been for the post office and the term “going postal,” between the McDonalds and the Luby’s I might have viewed the crime as more a dining out experience.

There as so very many mass shootings now, and they tend to be labeled as “active shooter events” anymore.  My job has “active shooter” training/drills these days, and my kids’ schools are all in permanent lock down.  They do the “active shooter” drills too.

These events are so common now that I either don’t hear about them (there’s too many to report on) or I forget a lot of them as they blur together.  But it seems the notable shootings all have some unique characteristic which makes them stand out as notorious.  Of course, the number of those killed plays a part in that, but in the case of Sandy Hook Elementary, the age of the victims made the real difference.

If we were talking about black people shot by white cops, there would be an effort to “say their name” and remember.

Of course, there is also the politics aspect.

If there were no guns in the world, none of these events would have happened.  Not like they did.

Yes, there are mass stabbing events.  And, yes, they are happening with more frequency anymore.  But nowhere near the level of shootings.

A gun has exponentially more power than a knife.  Even a .22 revolver can kill more people with more ease than any knife.  High power, large magazine, semi/full automatic guns take the exponential exponent to the next power.  I never heard of bump stock rifles until after October 1, 2017.

We call it a “gun control” issue, another term governing categories of thought.  The term by itself is not a dirty word, but when put in the political context it becomes one.  Who doesn’t want “gun control”?  If your toddler finds your loaded revolver and points it around the room, you are going to do your damnedest to have gun control!  But if congress votes on it, nearly half the nation doesn’t want any.

Context, I reckon.

I can’t help but think of Chris Rock’s comedy act where he calls for “bullet control.”  Maybe he says it better.

I am not writing this post to take a side on that issue or to inform you about it.  I merely note the impact our terminology has on these things.  Whether we call these events “mass shootings” or “active shooter events,” or if they are said to be “going postal,” we have come a long way from calling them massacres, which they are.  And I wonder why we don’t call them “terrorism.”

A commentor in the 77 Minutes documentary called that event San Ysidro’s Nine-Eleven.  Funny, I was thinking that very thing shortly before the comment was made.  How is it that the shooting at the El Paso, Texas Walmart or the Sutherland Springs, Texas Baptist Church isn’t called “terrorism” is beyond me.  Perhaps there are good reasons, but they are still terroristic events.

I wonder sometimes what Billy the Kid or Wyatt Earp or Gen. Custer would call them.

Whatever they call them, don’t call me “psychic,” but I am having a premonition all the same.  I think we are about to have another, and I expect it will be noteworthy.

$3.5 MILLION* ON 250 PEOPLE**

*/**(Disclaimer: My figures are not accurate.  However, they are close.  (Sorry, I heard the reports while changing diapers and chasing toddlers armed with Sharpie pens.) But I was listening as best I could, and the figures are rough, but fair estimates.)

Come shoot holes in my report if you must.  The devil’s in the details, and I am short on those.  Nevertheless, what ever the sources, what ever the exact figures (and I don’t believe the media had accurate numbers to begin with), the story filtered through me is that the count of Lubbock’s street homeless is down.  “Experts” now put the count in the 250s.

Yay!

Yay!!!  We are making statistical progress!  And I want to celebrate every number that ticks down rather than up.  (Genuinely, I mean that.)  And if the number ever goes down to zero – for real – then I will be done griping about this issue.  I will congratulate those who get us there.  But…

Look.  If you want to throw money at the problem, I never was against that.  Let’s make it double.  How about $7 million?  Why stop there?  Let’s round that off at $10 million!

I could not catch the details, but I think some, if not the bulk, of this money comes from ARPA funding.  Whether you are for or against ARPA conceptually, I can’t find anyone turning down some funding.  In fact, as I recall it, the first distributions of ARPA in Lubbock went to help homeless relief organizations, and it made the news because special arrangements had to be made to put the helping organizations at the front of the hand-out line.  There was a kind of, dare I say, “favoritism” there that authorities felt needed to be explained.

I don’t even want to make a big deal about the fact that those same helping organizations criticize me for giving a dollar to a bum on a street corner.  You know… that whole “enabling” thang.  (That only applies to bums, not to career social workers and ministers and their ever-growing organizations.)

I don’t want to make a big deal about the method of counting homeless either.  (I have always sensed that the official numbers are below my own best estimates.  However, in recent years, I have not been in a good position to estimate, and so I now must rely on “official” counts too.)

But you know what?  Three and a half million dollars devoted to roughly 250 people seems a bit extreme to me.

I have a plan that might not “end homelessness” per se, certainly not as a direct result, but would effectively resolve the issue within a few weeks, all without raising a dime.  The bonus of this plan (I use that word euphemistically) is worldwide redemption of creation – the churchwork in which church was always meant to be engaged from the beginning.  (I used to think that kind of thing was important to people of Lubbock.)

I am talking about work against which even the gates of hell cannot prevail, funded by two mites from widows.

But all your Republican types with their conservative agendas, throwing good money after bad at the poor faster than a tax-and-spend liberal on fire… well…   Any time you wanna come to Jesus, so do I.  Please let me know.

I SHOULD’VE BEEN GAY (STRIKING A CONSERVATIVE TONE WHILE ARGUING WITH CONSERVATIVES)

Allow me to simplify this post, which otherwise quickly becomes overly cumbersome if I don’t iron this point out up front:

***This post is NOT ABOUT the issues discussed in it (though there is insight to be had from them in their own rite).***

The point here IS ABOUT being heard – gaining a listening ear.  THAT is the point.  Please don’t lose that in the following, otherwise there will be all manner of loose ends when it is done.

This “prophet” (blogger, street minister, reporter of God’s wonders) goes continually marginalized year after year.  At this point, I am basically just thoroughly ignored.  I have not got in anyone’s hostile face about matters discussed here in about four years.  (Remember when it was my “tone” being rejected?)  The dust has pretty much settled.

However, the blog continues, and I have a small readership who has been with me through the duration.  Of those readers, I have witnesses who can testify (even if only vaguely) that I have not shut up about the church’s door slammed in the face of the homeless.  But this blog is about the only place for that message now, and all the potential dialog I might have had with the church is quietly fizzled out since it is so easy just to change the channel.

And yet this weekend, MOTHER’S DAY no less, when half the nation is in an uproar over the right to kill our babies, there is fresh talk of protesting out front of, or even inside of, church buildings during worship.  Somehow the church is viewed as behind this issue, and those taking issue with the church want to be heard.

Wow!  I don’t share the opinion on this issue, but I have spent over a decade banging on that door!

It occurs to me that if I had been gay, I would have not only got a hearing, but the church would have accommodated my plea long ago.  In fact, Vandelia Church, where I was a member a decade back, where my street ministry took off and began taking on prophetic shape, split several years ago, decimating the membership there because of the eagerness there to welcome and affirm homosexuality – in the leadership!

I come knocking, asking that we open the door to the poor, and I am run out on a rail!

(And I find myself thinking this stuff and suddenly realizing this is just how conservatives “discuss” issues.  Liberals turn the argument into a joke to make sport of conservatives, but conservatives apply the same rhetoric to more obscure moral issues trying to demonstrate inconsistency or immorality.)

Yeah.  I should have been gay.  I would be collecting a pay check from the church if I had.