Author Madness

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Had I known it was this complicated, I might have thought twice about publishing a book. Yikes! I like to write. Securing copyright permissions, adhering to the publisher’s requirements for final manuscript submission, converting from Apple’s Pages to Microsoft Word, and completing the marketing survey are much more complicated than auth0r vanity imagined.

Be careful what you ask for. (You might inadvertently end a sentence with a preposition.)

September 10 is the date for final submission of “Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness,” in the once vain hope of making the NYT Best Sellers list. The author’s life is way too complicated!

The Daily Post’s invitation to write something on the word “complicated” is responsible for this waste of your time.

  • Gordon, Chaska, MN, August 14, 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first best thing…

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We’ve been silent recently on Views from the Edge. The world doesn’t need one more blah-blah-blah pundit.

But when a candidate (we won’t use the name because the media are flooded with it, to his advantage) tells a crowd there would be “nothing you could do” to stop his opponent from stacking the Supreme Court with anti-gun justices, and follows with “although, the Second Amendment people,  maybe there is, I don’t know,” a memory seems worth sharing.

During a 2013 public dialogue (First Tuesday Dialogues in Chaska, MN) to discuss the Second Amendment in light of gun violence in America, a participant proudly cited a Facebook posting that “the second best thing that could happen to Obama would be for him to be impeached.”

The speaker continues, “And we all know what the first best thing would be….”

What was said the other day in North Carolina is not new. Mr. ____ blamed the media for the widespread criticism of his remark. “Give me a break!” he said.

Insinuations of assassinations never deserve a break. It didn’t deserve a break in 2013. t does not deserve a break in  2016. It’s not a joke. It’s not funny!

Enough said. Thanks for dropping by.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, August 11, 2016.

 

 

 

An Evening of Sin

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Steve recently published A Sin a Week: Fifty-two Sins Are Described Here in Loving Detail for Folks With the Inclination and Ability to Do Wrong, but Who Have Run Out of Bad Ideas. You can hear Steve’s renditions in an audio book available on Amazon.

This morning he posted this invitation on his CaringBridge page:

A Sin a Week: 52 sins described in loving detail…

Remember my book reading tonight, Thursday, August 11, 7-8 pm @ the Philo Presbyterian Church, 105 E. Jefferson, Philo, IL.

Crackers, cheese, coffee & wine with words about sin. A whole evening with sin.
Free & open to the public. Free parking.

Bring your copy to follow along & see the illustrations. The bookless can use loaners–or just listen happily….

NOTE from Gordon: Steve’s poetry and reflections on life, death, and dying are featured on Views from the Edge. Just enter his name in the search box and he’ll pop up!

 

The Answer to “Who said it?”

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All the quotations in “Who said it?” (yesterday’s post) are from Adolf Hitler. According to Ivana Trump, Donald Trump’s first wife, Trump kept a collection of Hitler’s speeches in a cabinet by his bedside.

The quotes we cited in “Who said it?” also could have come from the likes of Italian strong man Benito Mussolini:

  • “I want to make my own life a masterpiece.”
  • “I don’t like the look of him.” (referring to his ally, Hitler)
  • “Better to live a day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.”
  • “We do not argue with those who disagree with us, we destroy them.”

Or the quotes could have come from Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS and second in command in the German Third Reich, who later declared in a “60-Minutes” interview with Lesley Stahl,

“I still lack to a considerable degree that naturally superior kind of manner that I would dearly like to possess.”

 

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, August 2, 2016.

 

Who said it?

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These statements come the same source. Name that person.

“Money glitters, beauty sparkles, and intelligence shines.”

“To be a leader means to be able to move masses.”

“The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force.”

“A single blow must destroy the enemy… without regard of losses… a gigantic all-destroying blow.”

“I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator”

“How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.”

“I use emotion for the many and reserve reason for the few.”

“Demoralize the enemy from within by surprise, terror, sabotage, assassination. This is the war of the future.

“The doom of a nation can be averted only by a storm of flowing passion, but only those who are passionate themselves can arouse passion in others.”

“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”

“The art of leadership. . . consists in consolidating the attention of the people against a single adversary and taking care that nothing will split up that attention. . . .”

“Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way round, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise.”

“The leader of genius must have the ability to make different opponents appear as if they belonged to one category.”

“If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.”

“The victor will never be asked if he told the truth.”

“The greater the lie, the greater the chance that it will be believed.”

“There must be no majority decisions, but only responsible persons, and the word ‘council’ must be restored to its original meaning. Surely every man will have advisers by his side, but the decision will be made by one man.”

“All propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach.”

“I do not see why man should not be just as cruel as nature.”

Use the Comment feature to make your guess and say why you chose that source. The answer will be posted in the next two days.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, August 1, 2016

 

The turtle on the fence post: the rise of Donald Trump

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“If you see a turtle up on a fence post, you can be pretty sure it didn’t get up there by itself.” Someone(s) put it there. This VOX video explains the rise of Donald Trump related to the rise of authoritarianism in an unsettling time. “If you see a turtle….”

 

 

Verse – NRC

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I fear for her life
haters speak their hate
Handgun rifle knife
Semi-automatic fate

Nothing could be worse
Her Chief Commander
USA will fail
To the blacks she’ll pander

Supreme Court she’ll stack
Liberal lawyers pack
Constitution lack
All have empty gun rack

Use them while we can
Vitriol drives our plan
Sneers give us our cue
We know what to do

  • Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, July 21, 2016

When Trump becomes an adjective

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Trump is getting Trumpier is the headline of David Brooks’s NYT editorial. Its reference to psychological discussion of the sources of Narcissism and examples of the candidate’s speeches increasingly spiraling out of control are worth the read . . . and cause for prayer.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, July 19, 2016

Trump: a conversation in France

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Donald trump hand

The proprietor of a small shop in a small medieval town in France engages the American visitor in friendly conversation. He asks what’s happening in the U.S. He wants to know whether Donald Trump really could be elected president.

He explains that he has a brother who’s a narcissist. “Every time I see that finger pointing on TV, I see my brother,” he says with a cringe. I share his cringe.

I later ask a psychotherapist about the hand – the strangely pointed finger with the circle made by the thumb and ring finger. Notice, he said, that the circle is closed. There’s no room for disagreement. The finger sends the same message.

Lesley Stahl’s “60 Minutes” interview in Mr. Trump’s apartment in Trump Tower last night was worth its weight in gold. One couldn’t help noticing that the chairs on which Lesley, Mr. Trump, and Mr. Pence sat were gold-plated.

Gordon C. Stewart, non-partisan observer, author of Presidential Disorders – A Voter’s Guide 😇, Chaska, MN, July 18.

 

Verse – White Folks

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White folks can be the shade they want,
not be the shade they’re born.
Tanning beds, beach vacations, cruises
Creams, and dyes, all for one damn race.
Pale faces can become bronze.
Pasty legs and arms be brown.

Only white folks show their blushes–
they have so much, they should blush more…

  • Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, July 18, 2016

Presidential Disorders – a Voter’s Guide

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The American Psychiatric Association and the Mayo Clinic provide useful descriptions of personality disorders that may help as we watch and listen to candidates for president @ the Republican and Democrat conventions in the next few weeks.

NARICISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) offers a number of symptom of narcissistic personality disorder:

  1. Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  2. Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
  3. Exaggerating your achievements and talents
  4. Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
  5. Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
  6. Requiring constant admiration
  7. Having a sense of entitlement
  8. Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
    Taking advantage of others to get what you want
  9. Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
  10. Being envious of others and believing others envy you
  11. Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner

“Although some features of narcissistic personality disorder may seem like having confidence, it’s not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal and value yourself more than you value others.”

A 2013 article published by HealthResearchFunding.org (HRF) provides a video on Narcissistic Personality Disorder and lists three famous examples:

  • Adolph Hitler
  • Joseph Stalin, and
  • Joseph Mengele

ANTISOCIAL PERSONALITY DISORDER

The Mayo Clinic provides the following signs and symptoms that may indicate Antisocial Personality Disorder:

  1. Disregard for right and wrong
  2. Persistent lying or deceit to exploit others
  3. Being callous, cynical and disrespectful of others
  4. Using charm or wit to manipulate others for personal gain or personal pleasure
  5. Arrogance, a sense of superiority and being extremely opinionated
  6. Recurring problems with the law, including criminal behavior
  7. Repeatedly violating the rights of others through intimidation and dishonesty
  8. Impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead
  9. Hostility, significant irritability, agitation, aggression or violence
  10. Lack of empathy for others and lack of remorse about harming others
  11. Unnecessary risk-taking or dangerous behavior with no regard for the safety of self or others
  12. Poor or abusive relationships
  13. Failure to consider the negative consequences of behavior or learn from them
  14. Being consistently irresponsible and repeatedly failing to fulfill work or financial obligations.

A 2013 article posted by HRF lists the following notorious examples of Antisocial Personality Disorder:

  • Garry David
  • Kenneth Lee Lay
  • Jeffrey Dahmer, and
  • Charles Manson

I’ll be watching and listening carefully and spending the mornings in prayer that wisdom prevail.

Thanks for dropping Views from the Edge.

Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, July 17, 2016

Verse — If she died first

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If she died first
I’d die soon
trying to find
all I need
to live.

  • Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, July 13, 2016

Note from Gordon: Steve may be sick, but his humor’s in tact! Every day’s a new day for Steve in no small part because of his beloved Nadja. They celebrated 50 years of marriage this year.

Sierra Club: “#BlackLivesMatter!”

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Sierra Club, the nation’s highly respected environmental conservation and preservation non-profit, weighed in on the police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile this week with this statement by Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune:

“It is impossible to not be outraged by the devastating images of black people being gunned down by police on a shockingly regular basis and it should be impossible to remain silent in the face of this sustained injustice any longer. Sadly, the tragedies that are unfolding before our eyes are just a fraction of the violence that has been happening off camera in our nation for far too long.

“The Sierra Club believes all people deserve a healthy planet with clean air and water, a stable climate and safe communities. That means all people deserve equal protection under the law and the right to a life free of discrimination, hatred and violence. Unfortunately, those aspirations and goals are not a reality in our country, and that is why that is why the Sierra Club stands in solidarity with all of those saying #‎BlackLivesMatter, demanding justice, accountability, and action to confront the racism and inequality that has allowed these tragedies to persist. We can do better and by standing together to work for the changes that are needed, we will.”

The violence on the street and the violence to the environment are cut from the same cloth.

Thanks to Sierra Club’s executive director for making the connection and taking the risks of fallout among purists donors who don’t want the Club to stray outside of its core environmental mission.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, writing from Georgetown, MT, July 8, 2016.

May God thy gold refine

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Views from the Edge reader Carolyn responded to yesterday’s re-blog of Hold to the Good’s Fourth of July article on the difference between patriotism and nationalism by John Buchanan. Carolyn wrote the following:

True patriot, Senator Carl Schurz of Missouri, in a debate said:

‘The Senator from Wisconsin cannot frighten me by exclaiming ‘My country, right or wrong.’ In one sense I say so too. My country; and my country is the great American Republic. My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right. Feb. 29, 1872.

Schurz expanded on this theme in a speech delivered at the Anti-Imperialistic Conference, Chicago, Illinois, October 17, 1899: “I confidently trust that the American people will prove themselves … too wise not to detect the false pride or the dangerous ambitions or the selfish schemes which so often hide themselves under that deceptive cry of mock patriotism: ‘Our country, right or wrong!’ They will not fail to recognize that our dignity, our free institutions and the peace and welfare of this and coming generations of Americans will be secure only as we cling to the watchword of true patriotism: ‘Our country—when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right.’”—Schurz, “The Policy of Imperialism,” Speeches, Correspondence and Political Papers of Carl Schurz, vol. 6, pp. 119–20 (1913).

+++++

I also like to bear in mind some phrases from verses 2 and 3 of the wonderful patriotic song “America the Beautiful”.

“America! America! / God mend thine every flaw / Confirm thy soul in self-control, / Thy liberty in law!”

“America! America! / May God thy gold refine / Till [‘Til] all success be nobleness / And every gain divine!

Amen

This Land So Fair and Free

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John Buchanan’s post for The Fourth of July speaks for me by differentiating clearly between patriotism and nationalism and by applying the difference to the voices in America today.

Hold to the Good

Nationalism seems like it ought to be synonymous with patriotism but nationalism is actually very different and much more than patriotism. Webster defines patriotism as “love for or devotion to one’s country.” Nationalism, according to the dictionary, is “exalting one nation above all others, promoting its culture and interests as opposed to other nations or supranational groups.” Nationalism is patriotism with a hard edge, sometimes a nasty edge, dangerous even. It is difficult to overestimate the power of nationalism, the superiority of one’s own nation. Adolf Hitler was a master at appealing to and manipulating the latent nationalism of the German people, convincing millions that theirs was a “master race”, entitled to rule and that people of other nationalities and ethnic groups were inferior; in the case of the Jewish people, not entitled to exist. Vladimir Putin has fanned the flames of Russian nationalism and the paranoia that accompanies it…

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Fourth of July Sermon @ St. Timothy’s Chapel

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St. Timothy’s Memorial Chapel, Southern Cross, Montana, July 3, 2004.

“Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight. It was full of violence,” wrote the Genesis writer. “The LORD was grieved that he had made man and His heart was full of pain.” (Genesis 6, the story of Noah and the flood)

The question this morning is: “Do we share God’s grief and heartbreak over the violence of our time?”

Elie Wiesel, the great novelist survivor of the Holocaust, who died yesterday, was familiar with God’s anguish. In his book Four Hasidic Masters, he wrote a tribute to a famous Hassidic Jewish rabbi known affectionately as Rebbe Barukh:

The beauty of Rebbe Barukh is that he
could speak of faith not as opposed to
anguish but as part of it. “Faith and the
abyss are next to one another,” he told
his disciple. “I would even say: one
within the other. True faith lies beyond
questions; true faith comes after it has
been challenged.
[Elie Wiesel]

Today across the world there is more than enough anguish to go around to challenge faith. But only faith that has faced the questions, only a faith that understands that it is not apart from the anguish is truly faith.

This Fourth of July weekend is one of those times to reflect on who we are as Christians and Americans in a world that teeters next to the abyss of violence and nothingness.

One month ago today, June 3rd, Kay and I arrived in Paris. When we arrived at the apartment we’d rented through Vacation Rental by Owners, we were struck immediately by the bookcases lining the long hallway, the living room, dining room and bedroom walls. Some of the books stood out as particularly beautiful — whole sections of beautiful red leather-bound volumes with gold Arabic calligraphy on the bindings.

Among the books was tucked away an award recognition from the University of the Philippines in recognition of Abdelwahab Meddeb, Professsor, University of Paris, for his wise counsel and assistance in creating an atmosphere of mutual respect and peaceful discourse among the different religions of the people of the Philippines.

Little did we know when we had rented the apartment that we would be staying in the apartment of the Tunisian-born Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Paris and former Visiting Professor at Yale — a Sufi poet and novelist who had published 20 books in French, two of which had been translated into English: The Malady of Islam and Islam and the Challenge of Civilization.

We learned from his daughter that Professor Meddeb had died in March, 2014, two months after being diagnosed with stage four cancer, but his wisdom was everywhere in that lovely apartment. After 9/11 he had devoted his writing and lecturing to a Koranic critique of Islamist extremism and the violence rooted in a flawed reading of the Koran.

In a book published by his friends and colleagues following his death, a professor from the University of Albany wrote that Meddeb’s “moral stance was best expressed by the words of Ibn ‘Arabi:

“I believe in the religion of love; whatever direction its caravan may take — for love is my religion and faith.”

Back in the States, my friend Steve Shoemaker put me in touch with Jane Kuntz, Meddeb’s English translator for Islam and the Challenge of Civilization. Steve had interviewed her on “Keepin’ the Faith,” his weekly radio interview program on the University of Illinois Public Radio station. It’s a very small world!

His translator wrote to say how glad she was that we had been introduced to Abdelwahab, albeit too late, but that in one way it was perhaps a blessing that he had died before the ISIL attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the Paris night club. “They would have broken his heart,” she said.”

“Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight. It was full of violence,” wrote the Genesis writer. “The LORD was grieved that he had made man and His heart was full of pain.”

________

Shift now to our first Saturday morning in Paris. We step outside the Meddebs’ apartment building to wait for an Uber.

Two French soldiers with machine guns across their chests are guarding the building next door. We wonder why they’re there — next to the professor’s apartment building.

I ask one of the soldiers. “Terrorism?” “Qui,” he says. “Jews.”

They’re guarding the synagogue.

A man walks by, ignoring us and talking loudly into the air. “Crazy man,” says the soldier. He points to the taser he will use on the crazy man if he becomes a nuisance or threat. It occurs to me that the whole world is no less crazy than the crazy man.

The French soldier’s English is much better than my French. He asks where I’m from. I tell him I’m from the United States. He asks where. I tell him Minnesota. He knows where Minnesota is in the U.S. “I like the U.S.A.,” he says, “Patriotic!”

I wonder what he has in mind. I wonder how a 20-something-year-old French soldier guarding a Jewish synagogue against a Islamist extremist terrorist attack in Paris next to the Islamic French professor’s home defines patriotism.

My mind flashes back home to my grandchildren in the U.S., wondering what kind of people they will become.

I wonder whether Jack, Mimi, and Ruby are they learning the faith that participates in the grief and pain of God over the world’s violence? Is their young faith the kind that is not opposed to anguish, but part of it? Does it sit next to the abyss? Will they grow into a faith that is mature because it has been challenged?

That likelihood is challenged by a fundamentalist alternative to that kind of faith near where they live in Kentucky.

A new theme park called Ark Encounter opens its gates to the public this Thursday, July 7.

Ark Encounter was developed by Answers in Genesis, the same faith-based for-profit corporation that developed The Creation Museum showing humans and dinosaurs living together on a planet that’s 6,000 years old, a kind of Disneyland for the biblically and scientifically illiterate. Answers in Genesis willfully disregards the Cro Magnon caves in France Kay and I visited — magnificent paintings by our human ancestors that date back 17,000 years — 11,000 years before Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum claim the planet was created.

If Jack, Mimi, and Ruby go the literalist routs of The Creation Museum and Ark Encounter, they might find himself like the little boy who asked whether Noah did a lot of fishing on the ark.

“No,” he said, “because they only had two worms!”

While my grandchildren’s friends are being bussed to see the young giraffes in Noah’s ark — “We think that God would probably have sent healthy juvenile-sized animals that weren’t fully grown yet,” said the head of the Ark Encounter project, “so there would be plenty of room.” I hope Jack, Mimi, and Ruby stay off the busses and learn to read the Bible literately, not literally.

More than one person’s faith has been destroyed by encounters that pit faith against reason.

Of equal concern on this Fourth of July weekend is the relation of church and state. The State of Kentucky has granted $18 million dollars in tax breaks to a religious theme park, a case still in the federal courts. Meanwhile, the State of Kentucky has already spent millions of tax-payers money expanding the entrance and exit ramps from the interstate to and from Ark Encounter.

The value of a secular republic here in the United States and in France where religious freedom is guarded by Constitutional guarantees against the establishment of any one religion over is in danger. The French soldiers were protecting a vulnerable religious minority as a way of exercising the French constitution’s guarantees of religious freedom.

The issue is not only in Paris, Kentucky, Syria, Afghanistan, or Iraq. It’s everywhere people read their sacred literature literally, calling for their own versions of jihad in God’s name instead of reading them the way they are meant to be read: literately. The text may be sacred literature but it is literature. It does not substitute for thoughtful inquiry that challenges it.
“Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight. It was full of violence,” wrote the Genesis writer. “The LORD was grieved that he had made man and His heart was full of pain.”

The question this morning is whether we share God’s grief and heartbreak over the violence of our time. Will we shrink faith to the size of certainty apart from God’s anguish, swallowing the camel of violence while straining a gnat, or will we join Jesus and the Professor from Paris in affirming the generosity and kindness which is true religion?

“I believe in the religion of love; whatever direction its caravan may take — for love is my religion and faith.”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Guest Minister-in-Residence, St. Timothy’s Memorial Chapel, Southern Cross, MT, July 3, 2016

Verse – Kissing in a Hearse

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Only college seniors were allowed
cars on campus in those ancient days.
Four guys, Juniors, searched car lots and found
just the thing, a ’47 hearse,
Pontiac, straight 8, just fifty bucks
each. A Senior said he’d claim the beast
legally was his. Quadruple dates
were the thing: one couple in the seat,
driving, six would lounge on pillows where
caskets usually rode. Of course, at times
two young people would kiss, death be damned.

Steve's Hearse

Steve’s Hearse

  • Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, July 1, 2016

Blue Daddy

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At the birdhouse outside our window in Montana the bright blue male Mountain Bluebird feeds his young at day-break.

Mountain Bluebird Daddy

Blue daddy’s not blue today, soaring
through sunlit skies in search of
berries and beetles he pulls from
the green world for their baby blues.

The Bluebird is not blue today at
crack of dawn, returning to their
brood in the Bluebird house
beneath the telephone wires.

He fills the open beaks with
breakfast brought from Momma’s
kitchen stocked from the pantry
of Nature’s Earth-green Temple.

The Mountain Bluebirds are threatened by changing climate, according to research you can read HERE on The Audubon Society website page.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Georgetown, Montana, July 28, 2016

 

Make Britain Great Again?

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The Brexit referendum results are in and the earthquake in Britain is sending out global shockwaves.

From this observer’s perspective, Brexit happened in no small part because of the sentiment that could elect an unfit American candidate to the office of President here at home: Nationalism. Tribalism. National idolatry: “We are British!” We are Americans!”

The immediate result for Britain is the loss of more than a few Pounds. Watch the tremors in  world markets, hold on to your wallet, and remember that sometimes the people get what they ask for. A lesson in advance for the November election here in the States.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN 55318

Garrison Keillor: The Punk who would be president

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Click The Punk who would be President for Garrison Keillor’s piece on Donald Trump’s presidential aspirations.

This is too good to miss.

“He is a thug and he doesn’t bother to hide it. The only greatness he knows about is himself.

So the country is put to a historic test. If the man is not defeated, then we are not the country we imagine we are.”

  • Garrison Keillor
  • Gordon  C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, June 22, 2016

Gabby Giffords and Gabby Hayes

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Sometimes I scratch my head and wonder. Other times I don’t wonder at all. I’m amazed, disappointed, and chagrined. Today was one of those as the Senate’s refused to pass legislation that would have indicated a modest degree of sanity and freedom from the gun lobby.

gabbyhayeswestern17My generation grew up watching Gabby Hayes and others in the Westerns that dominated our TVs.  The law of the Old West was the law of the gun-slingers. We played cowboys and Indians with pretend guns and bows and arrows, re-enacting America’s westward expansion sometimes wondering whether the ones with bows and arrows were more civilized than those with guns.

Gabby Giffords book photo

Gabby Giffords book photo

More recently a different Gabby – Gabby Giffords, a vibrant U.S. Representative from Arizona – was shot and nearly killed, joining the growing numbers of victims of gun violence.

This later Gabby sent an email expressing her disappointment after today’s Senate’s refusal to adopt simple, common-sense legislation.

Moments ago, the United States Senate voted on two measures that would have strengthened our gun laws and helped keep guns out of the hands of criminals, domestic abusers, the dangerously mentally ill, and known and suspected terrorists.

And in the wake of yet another mass shooting — the deadliest in modern American history — the Senate chose to do the unimaginable: nothing at all.

Five years ago, I was shot point blank in the head, and the Senate did nothing. When 20 young children and six educators lost their lives in Newtown, Connecticut, the Senate did nothing. San Bernardino, Roseburg, Navy Yard, Charleston, Isla Vista — nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing.

Well, I am a fighter and I am not going to give up now. This won’t be easy, but we’ve made great progress over the past few years. And I know that if we continue to stand together, we are going to pass legislation that saves lives, or we will elect a Senate that will.

… I am sure we’ll hear platitudes like “tough vote” and “complicated issue,” but this was neither. These senators made a decision based on fear and calculations about the gun lobby’s influence. But I can promise you their fear is nothing like the fear my constituents felt years ago, or the people at Pulse nightclub in Orlando felt last weekend.

 

Sometimes I wonder. What will it take for those we elect to office to become clear?

Until they act, the Gabby Giffords of this world and those she represents will continue to fall because someone believes, or wants us to believe, that the old world of Gabby Hayes is the real America.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, June 20, 2016

 

The Wisdom of Adalbert Stifter

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“Don’t the overwhelming majority believe that mankind is the crowning achievement of Creation, that man is better than everything, even things we haven’t yet investigated? And don’t those people who aren’t able to escape the bonds of their own ego think that the entire Universe, even the countless worlds of outer space, is just a backdrop for this ego? And yet it might be quite different.”
― Adalbert Stifter (1805 – 1868), Indian Summer

Click HERE for more about Adalbert Stifter.

 

 

English Translation

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Trump in ceramicsHere’s the English translation of the French Cro-Magnon chorus posted yesterday as The Cro-Magnon Chorus:

“You think you are superior (to us). You are very stupid. Your intelligence and behavior insult your Cro-Magnon ancestors. We never changed the climate!”

Confession: I had to use an online French to English translator to understand the message of the Cro-Magnon Chorus. I wasn’t trying to be superior!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, still in France, June 16, 2016

 

The Cro-Magnon Chorus

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Viewing the 17,000-year-old cave paintings of our Cro-Magnon ancestors in Lascaux, France yesterday, I wondered what they would think of their more developed descendants. Suddenly, I thought I heard a Cro-Magnon chorus echoing through the caves:

“Vous pensez que vous êtes supérieur. Vous êtes très stupide. Votre intelligence et le comportement insultent vos ancêtres Cro-Magnon. On n’a jamais changé le climat!”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Beynace et Cazenac, France, June 15, 2016

Orlando and Madness

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cartoon

 

Orlando is the latest locale for an outbreak of madness. It was committed by an individual claiming allegiance to ISIS, but it was nevertheless evidence of a larger collective madness, a frame of heart and mind angry because reality doesn’t accord with what we believe the world should look like: like, a world without LGBTQ people. A world without blacks…or whites…or Latinos…or Gringoes…or Jews, Christians, or Muslims, or men…or women…or children.

Investigators and journalists are telling us about the Orlando shooter.

But no one can really tell us why. Most of what we hear frames the picture of horror from the righteous outside, ignoring the ironic madness of onlookers’ gasps and sighs, bound together by our hatred of the hater, the shooter, assuring ourselves that we’re not haters, that we’re not shooters.

Life is always both simpler and more complex than we can grasp. Meanwhile, the imagined division into the saved and the damned metastasizes. It takes many forms.

In my tradition the crucifixion exposes the malady — the anxious fear that creates a scapegoat; the competing claims of goodness according to one ideal or another, and the death of man and God at the hands of the righteous. In this view there are no clean hands. Or, to put it differently in the terms of the cartoon, we’re all in the same leaking boat. There is no place from which to proclaim from on high that the boat is leaking only on the other side.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Beynac, France, June 13, 2016

The Story of a Book

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A Sin a Week:
     52 sins described in loving detail for folks with the inclination and ability to sin,
but who have run out of bad ideas.
     ILLUSTRATED!

To order: email sshoem3636@gmail.com
$ 19.30 incl tax

I began writing poetry in Urbana High School. I continued the questionable practice in college. Ten years later my first poem was published in a reputable journal.
Twenty years after grad school, I believed a collection of my poems could be made around the theme of sin. I hired an undergraduate cartoonist, T. Brian Kelly, who had a weekly strip in the Daily Illini student newspaper to illustrate them. At $20 a poem I could afford it, and he needed the money.

“A Sin a Week” became the title and I sent the manuscript to finally a total of five unimpressed NY publishers. They said few books of poetry sold well. Then I put it in a drawer for 25 years.

A month ago Doris Wenzell of Mayhaven Publishing asked me if I had a collection of my poems she could see. She had heard I had readers of my poems on FaceBook, especially since I had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Two days later I handed her my manuscript with my newly added subtitle. (See above.)

She loved it, we signed a contract, she rushed through the editing and printing because of my predicted shortness of time, and the book has now been selling for a week. Reviews from early readers have been good.

Notice the book says it describes sins, not that it is poetry. The first sin described is “Lying.” Ancient writers referred to the Devil as “the Father of lies.” This theme continues throughout the book, notably in my never revealing the book is poetry.
This is my confession–if you choose to order a copy, you’ve been warned.

  • Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, June 14, 2016

Verse – Making Love at 3:00 a.m.

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I thought the lightening bugs were shooting stars
And woke you up at three in the morning
To see the display. You knew better, but
Were kind, suggesting the more likely fact,
Though my view was the more romantic…

  • Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, June 12, 2016

Verse – 52 Killed

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Mass murder, terror, hate,
Assault rifles, semi-automatic,
Hand guns, gun shows,
Concealed carry,
Congress bought by the NRA.

Victims: LGBTQ,
Children, shoppers,
Movie-goers,
Muslims, Christians,
African-Americans, worshippers,
Anyone.

Shooters: ISIS,
Racists, bigots,
Mentally ill, gangs,
Drug addicts,
Anyone,
No background checks needed
For private gun sales or gun shows.

  • Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, June 13, 2016

Farmer walking through fields in Kumta

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Scroll down for Joshi Daniel’s photograph that inspired this reflection.

Tourists and residents see things differently. Actually, it’s more than that. They see different things, like the farmer walking through the field in Kumta, and this tourist website that introduces would-be visitors to Kumta.

Today we’re tourists in Beynac-et-Cazenac, one of the loveliest places we’ve ever experienced. Well, i,e. experienced as tourists. But even a tourist (we’ve rented a house      for the week (pictures to follow) recognizes the slower pace of this medieval town on the banks of the Dordogne River.

The Experiment in International Living (EIL) offered a deeper way of seeing the world forty years ago. That summer I lived with a host family in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia. Immersed in the daily life of my Slovakian family and students at the university, I was not a tourist. I cared nothing about the sites a tourist might visit. I walked everywhere, paying attention to where I was, looking more deeply, more thoughtfully – being more present, one might say – less disembodied, less virtual, less distracted, not as entertained, but so much happier in my body.

Like the Experiment in International Living, Kosuke Koyama encouraged me to slow down, to walk instead of run by, drive past, or fly over – to see the dailyness and the natural field of the man Joshi’s photograph. God, said Kosuke, is a three-mile-an-hour God who meets us at the pace of human being walking.

Momentarily, we’ll walk very slowly down the steep hill into the village on Sunday morning in this beautiful place. If we go to fast, we’ll fall on our faces.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Beynac-et-Cazenac, June 12, 2016.

Joshi Daniel Photography

A farmer walking through fields in Hegde, Karnataka while holding a basket Farmer walking through the fields | Hegde, Kumta, Karnataka, India

If you would like to buy a print of any of the images, get in touch with me here.

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Uninhibited

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Joshi Daniel took this wonderful picture of a woman who posed for him. The eyes and the wrinkles combine for an invitation to joyful wisdom.  I’m proud to say I knew Joshi when he was a student at The College of Wooster years ago. His photography provides windows into the unseen beyond words.

Joshi Daniel Photography

Black and white portrait of an old lady in Beringharjo market, Yogyakarta, Indonesia An old lady posing | Beringharjo market, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

I met this lovely cute lady on my early morning visit to Beringharjo market in Yogyakarta, Indonesia with Windy. This is how she posed for us.

Thankful to Wonderful Indonesia and the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism for a great opportunity to see Indonesia.

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Verse – Night Vision

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The rotating blades make the red lights
appear to blink atop the windfarm
electrical generators far in the distance, while In the back yard the lightening bugs flash their need for love.
All our chargers need charging, too.
Electronic lives have been drained
by machines powered by dinosaurs.
Coal miners and oil rig workers
die to supply the energy we covet.
Piles of nuclear wastes surround us
glowing unblinking in the dark.

  • Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, June 6, 2016

Impressions of Paris 4

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Six degrees of separation and Holy Ground

When Steve learned that Kay and I are staying in the apartment of  Abdelwahab Meddeb, he wrote that he had interviewed Meddeb’s translator, Jane Kurtz, on his weekly radio interview program, Keepin’ the Faith (WILL-AM at the University of Illinois). Sure enough. Steve contacted Jane. Jane Kurtz emailed me. And voila! Six degrees of separation.

Jane wrote that she translated two of his books into English, including Talismano, and that they corresponded quite a bit during their work. She listened to his weekly radio program, “Cultures d’Islam,” thanks to the internet and Radio France-Culture (one of the most remarkable radio stations in the world). They were supposed to meet in Palo Alto, and teach a class together at Stanford, but that semester corresponded with his onset of the cancer that took his life in a short time.

“His writings can be very esoteric, since his interest in Islam spanned so many continents and cultures (hence the title of his radio program, “cultures” with an “s”.

“…. I almost think it was a good thing he didn’t live to see the terrible violence that struck his beloved Paris these recent years. It would have broken his heart to see the evil done in the name of Islam in the city he so loved.”

Abdalwahab Meddeb practiced his Muslim faith “though he also believed strongly in the secular values of France —he was of that generation—and in the possibility of an Islamic reform coming out of the communities of European Muslims. How sad that exactly the opposite is happening, French Muslims are being radicalized and are filling mosques and prisons.

“Anyway, a few of his books are available in English, if you are not a reader of French (and believe me, many readers of French still don’t understand his writings), so I would recommend starting with The Malady of Islam.
——–

The old saying “wherever you go, there you are,” is worth heeding. The intent of the saying is to remind us that we take ourselves wherever we go. But it occurs to me there’s another dimension to the adage. Wherever you go, be there – really be present to the place and see it for what it is. This apartment in France has turned out to be a kind of holy ground.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Paris, France, June 7, 2016.

Impressions of Paris 3

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From Day 2, Saturday, June 4, 2016

French soldier & GIt’s Saturday morning. We’re standing in front of our apartment complex, waiting for arrival of an Uber car. Twenty feet to our left, two soldiers holding machine guns across their chests stand on either side of the entrance to the building next door. I decide to speak to the nearer soldier.

“Bonjour.”

“Bonjour,” he replies.

“Military, oui?” I ask.

“Oui. Jews,” he says, pointing to the building behind him.

“Synagogue?” I ask. “Jews,” he says.

“Ummm, synagogue?” I try again. He doesn’t understand. I continue: “Eglise pour Jews?”

“Yes, a church for Jews,” he says. “Terrorists.” They’re protecting Jewish worshipers from a potential Islamist extremist attack on the synagogue on Shabbat.

A man walks by talking loudly to the air. He is obviously mentally disturbed and maybe into his cups or on something as well. “Crazy man!” says the soldier says, showing me the taser gun, which he carries in case “the crazy man causes trouble.”

He asks where I am from. “U.S.A.”

“I like U.S.A.,” he says.

I ask whether he has been to the U.S.A. He has not but says, “I like U.S.A. Patriotic.!” I wonder what he means.

What goes through the mind of a 20-something French soldier on a Paris street protecting the Jewish minority from Islamic extremists who have successfully attacked Paris? Why does he think America is patriotic? Is he thinking of an American businessman who has captured the news in Europe by promising to make America great again by closing the borders to Muslims and building a wall against immigrants, returning America to the real Americans?

Anti-immigrant sentiment is not new to France. It has fed the political right in recent years. No one knows what the young soldier thinks. I like him. He seems to like me. Whatever the answer may be to what goes on in his head and heart, we’re dealing with the same world and the same issues. But I do wonder whether he might think that French patriotism would mean taking his country back from those who are not really French?

And who might the really French or the real Americans be?

American Indians?

Wóablakela, Paix, Shalom, Salaam, Peace!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Paris, France.

Impressions of Paris 2

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Walking into the apartment in Paris, we were immediately struck by its beauty. It was obvious that the owner of the  apartment we’d rented through Air B&B was well educated.  The walls of the hallway, living room, and bedrooms are lined with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Though most books are in French, the most beautiful are sets of red leather-bound books with gold Arabic writing on the bindings. Clearly the owner is an Islamic scholar. It belonged to Abdelwahab Meddeb to a well-known poet, novelist, and translator whose weekly radio program “Civilizations of Islam” invited listeners to thoughtful criticism and appreciation of islam by looking historically at the development of Islam over the centuries.

Meddeb 1540-1Abdelwahab Meddeb was born in Tunis in 1946. He died here in Paris November 16, 2014.  Abdelwahabe Meddeb: Le Proche et Le Lointain, written in his honor pays him tribute as “among the greatest Maghrebi poets, scholars, writers and translators of his generation.” — Pierre Joris, poet, translator and essayist, Professor at the University of Albany.

Click Abdelwahab Meddeb to learn more on this amazing Professor who devoted his life after 9/11 countering the extremist misinterpretations of the Koran.

As irony would have it, on Saturday morning two French soldiers stood guard 20 feet to the left of Dr. Meddeb’s apartment building. The soldiers, with machine guns held against their chests, were guarding the synagogue next door against a terrorist attack on Shabbat.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Abdelwahab Meddeb’s apartment, Paris, France, June 6, 2016.

 

 

 

Impressions of Paris 1

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We arrived @ Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) Friday morning @8:30 a.m. Paris time. These are some first impressions.

Unlike the airports in Germany re-built out of the rubble of WWII, CDG is showing wear. It has none of the aesthetic pizzazz one expects from French culture. The driver we’ve hired through a Paris travel agent is nowhere to be found. An hour later we connect. What would we do without Tim’s cellphone and saved phone numbers?

Our driver is very professional, kind, and courteous. He’s dressed in a business suit. Transportation is his business.

Traffic is nuts! Like bumper cars. Motorcycles and scooters zip between the lanes of traffic ignoring the lines between lanes — and it’s legal! Traffic is bumper-to-bumper or slow, except for the motorcycles and motorbikes who speed past us in the small spaces between the cars in the traffic lanes. Good thing we haven’t rented a car in Paris! I can see the headline, “Conducteur de la voiture Américaine stupide tue cycliste Français! Chauffeur parlant non- Français arrêté pour conduite imprudente et d’homicide.”  [Stupid American driver kills French cyclist. Non-French-speaking driver arrested for reckless driving and homicide.]

As we come to a complete stop on a busy highway into Paris, an Arab woman carrying a screaming child approaches our van. She comes to the front passenger window, looks at Sasha, our driver, and begs for money. Sasha gently shakes his head no. The woman persists; the child screams louder. Sasha shakes his head again and looks away from the woman. “Syrian?” I ask. “No,”  he says,“Gypsy, from Romania.”

Liberté, égalité, fraternité

Within the city bicycles go every which way, cutting and turning in front of cars, and cars in front of them. Traffic feels like anarchy. Fraternité is absent on the streets. Liberté is everywhere.

Walking to a restaurant Friday afternoon, soldiers carrying machine guns across their chests patrol the avenue in threes. In the doorways, families sit or lie with bedrolls. Are these gypsies to whom Europe is accustomed or are they newly arrived Syrian refugees?

We enjoy dinner at a small local restaurant known as a non-tourist neighborhood fixture with great food. Wonderful experience in every way – so accommodating to the butchers of the French language, explaining the menu to us as best he can in our native tongue.

Fraternité and égalité fill the the restaurants, cafes, and brasseries. Laughter and easy conversations are shared over wine and food. Faces smile. Joi de vivre lives indoors in Paris.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Paris, France, posted June 6, 2016, D-Day.

 

The Baseball Cap on Memorial Day

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I’m a baseball fan. I love baseball. I  turn on the TV.

It’s Memorial Day. My team, the Minnesota Twins, is wearing visitor’s gray. The Oakland As are wearing white. That’s tradition.

But today something’s different. Both teams are wearing the same baseball cap: military camouflage.

Why?

Memorial Day is not a salute to the military. It’s a day to remember the dead who have fallen in the service to their country. The Twins and the As are not soldiers, sailors, Marines, or special forces. They’re baseball players in different uniforms and different caps with different logos. They throw. They catch. They swing. They hit. They walk. They strike out. Nobody kills. Nobody dies. But Major League Baseball is big business that knows how to strike up the band and confuse civilian and military life. Not good. But it’s become the new normal.

A moment of silence followed by Taps would better fit the occasion – and the removal of all caps.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, May 30, 2016.

 

 

 

The Trinity is about Us!

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Click HERE to listen to Devon Anderson’s Trinity Sunday Sermon at Trinity Episcopal Church in Excelsior, MN. If you think sermons are boring… and you’re willing to consider the thought that sometimes humor is the closest thing to faith, tune in!

  • Gordon

 

Snails

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Faith Ralston is walking the Camino n Spain, a pilgrimage she and her late husband Phil Brown had planned to walk together. When Phil died unexpectedly a year ago, Faith decided to move ahead with the walk by herself. She’s wonderful and her daily reflections along the Camino are worth a read.

My El Camino

An author once said, “Next to crawling, walking is the slowest way to transport our bodies from one place to another.”

Walking allows time to see things I’d otherwise miss. It’s a slow pace. There is time to watch snails crawl by and butterflies play in the flowers, see storks nesting and storm clouds forming.

We see the.busy highways from a distance and sometimes intersect with the modern world. But for the most part we are on snail time, slowly moving along ancient paths traveled by many before.

I relish this pace and the simplicity of life as a pilgrim. Unfortunately it also comes with a cold shower today.


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BREAKING NEWS: TRUMP OUT!

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This morning @7:30 a.m EST on Good Morning, America, Donald Trump announced he would not accept the Republican Party nomination after all.

Taking off his “Make America Great Again” cap, puckering his lips and brushing back his orange hair before putting on his NY Yankees hat,  Mr. Trump declared,

“I’m a businessman! I never wanted to be president. I just wanted to shake things up. I’m a winner! I won! All politicians are liars and Losers! It could have been so great! Have a nice life, everybody!”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, reporting for Views from the Edge: Breaking the Chains that Bind Us, May, 27, 2016

For My Memorial Service Bulletin

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Steve is discussing with his family the following statement to be printed in his Memorial Service bulletin. He’s looking ahead. We hope far ahead, but he is accepting of death.

“The last few months of his life, Steve hired Rev. Rachel Bass-Guenneweg for weekly training in wheelchair Yoga. For the next 5 minutes, Steve’s gift to all present who will receive it, is a sample of this. You will not have to move from your pew, or touch anyone else. Simply follow the directions spoken by Rachel. Enjoy! (If you do not wish to try it, breathe slowly, and offer a silent prayer for others.)”

  • Gordon on behalf of Steve

Click HERE for more about the good Reverend wheelchair trainer, Rachel Bass-Guenneweg.

Verse – Vanity, Cancer & Chemo

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Well yes, I’ve lost weight in a flash,
But I’ve spent all my cash–my skin has a rash,
My Mother won’t feed me,
My wife doesn’t need me,
I’ve lost hair (pubic), beard, and mustache.

  • Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, May 23, 2016

The Blues and a Balm in Gilead

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Otis Moss III, successor to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright as Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Southside Chicago, is a rare national treasure. So is Blue Note Preaching in a Post-Soul World: Finding Hope in an Age of Despair, his latest contribution to the discussion of religion in America.

Steeped in the African-American tradition of Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King, Jr., James Cone, Howard Thurman, Gardner Taylor, his father, and other black preachers, Otis Moss invites his readers to “sing the Blues” as a way of moving through the blues to the beat of the good news of the Gospel of the crucified-risen Jesus. Only when the Blues are sung — named and spoken or sung aloud in the moans of suffering — does the Gospel shout make sense.

In a world where the “prosperity gospel” ( the con-job gospel which promises that, if you just believe, God will make your rich and happy) and the exclusivist myopic forms of religion that blame, train, and maim in the name of God, Blue Note Preaching offers a Balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole.

As one who has preached primarily among the forlorn children of the Mayflower and former slave-owners, I find myself strangely envious of my African-American colleagues and the Blue Note communities among which they minister. Those who serve the congregations whose Christianity was born out of the degradation of slavery inherit something ready-made and ironically precious which the children of the Mayflower and the slave-blicks do not: a shared, conscious history of dehumanization to which the gospel speaks when it turns the blue history into the Blue Note gospel shout of joyful emancipation.

  • GordonC. Stewart, Chaska, MN, May 23, 2016

The Gift and Memory of Snoopy

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For the past two weeks an uninvited memory has surfaced during my sleep and during the early morning hours when I’m unsure whether I’m awake or still asleep, that twilight zone when the brain does whatever the brain does to move the soul toward healing the broken pieces of the past.

The memory is of Snoopy, the pet hamster who brought such joy to everyone in the family. He was a special creature — a lovely white tan, like a palomino horse, who very quickly learned to please us all. At dinner I’d bring Snoopy up from my bedroom in the basement and sit him on my shoulder, or my Dad’s, the way Twinkle the parakeet used to do in an earlier iteration of pets we humans thought we owned. Even my mother, who loved birds but was the first one up on a chair whenever a mouse appeared, fell in love with Snoopy and our love for him.

Until the week I moved from the basement bedroom to the one on the second floor after Jeanine moved out of our home. Snoopy stayed in the basement. I have no idea now why I forgot him — or why the family didn’t miss him — but the next time I saw Snoopy he had starved to death. I’d forgotten to feed him. The picture of Snoopy lying on his back with his mouth open has returned repeatedly, a message, perhaps, about paying attention to when and where I am.

I was maybe 14 at the time. The hormones were raging back then. Not so much anymore at 73, but I easily find distractions from responsibility toward the likes of Snoopy — family who in some way deserve or need the sustenance I’m still in position to provide: Kay, John, Doug, Kristin, Andrew, and Christopher, my brothers Don and Bob, and old dogs hanging on to the pack while the clock runs out on us one by one.

And then there is the need for confession, for repentance, and for forgiveness that will never come from those I’ve hurt, ignored, forgotten, betrayed, denied—and animals I’ve killed, like Snoopy.

Then, during the run-up to the week when six seminary friends will gather in Chicago to focus on the Hebrew prophets, I remember a poem of Yuli Daniel, written from a Soviet labor camp published in Rabbi Jonathan Magonet‘s Returning: Exercises in Repentance in the chapter CHESHBON HANEFESH — Self-Judgment.

When your life is tumbling downhill head over heels,
Thrashing and foaming like an epileptic,
Don’ pray and offer up repentance,
Don’t be afraid of jail or ruin.

Study your past with concentration,
Evaluate your days without self-flattery,
Grind the fag* ends of illusion underfoot,
But open up to all that’s bright and clear.

Don’t surrender to impotence and bitterness,
Don’t give in to disbelief and lies,
Not everyone’s a cringing bastard,
Not everyone’s a bigot who informs.

And while you walk along the alien roads
To lands that do not figure on your maps,
Count out the names of all your friends
As you would do with pearls on prayer-beads.

Be on the look-out, cheerful and ferocious
And you’ll manage to stand up, yes, stand up
Under your many-layered load of misery,
Under the burden of your being right.

*i.e., unwelcome work.

Yuli Markovich Daniel was a heroic figure who bore the burden of being right. I bear the burden of being wrong. Yuri stood up. I sat down, or stayed upstairs, ignoring the basement and the attic where the work needs to be done “without self-flattery” at age 73.

My mind isn’t what it used to be. The synapses are shrinking. The short-term memory is fading. But the longer-term memory of the likes of Snoopy is a call from Beyond to pay attention to and give thanks for this moment within the Eternal Now.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, May 21, 2016

Rising tides threaten to sink all boats

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The New York Times published Austrian Election Is a Warning to the West drawing attention to the rising right-wing tide sweeping across Europe and the U.S.A. It’s chilling, and most of the time we don’t like to be chilled. But sometimes the truth is chilling, and only the truth will set us free from our worst selves.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, May 21, 2016

Verse – May Sunrise

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The sunrise painter’s palette
Today has pink and blue
With touches of white,
And is that purple and orange?

No rhyme, of course,
For that last word,
But also no clash
Of colors in nature.

The white hot sun
Will soon be hidden
By the massing clouds,
But colorful may yet be the day.

  • Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, May 20, 2016

Blue Note Community

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Steve posted this today on his CaringBridge page:

Spent the last 4 days split between hospitals (prepped for chemo, but white blood cells too low, so sent home, echo-cardiogram test for heart irregularities), and being electronically in Chicago (via FaceTime) with 5 Seminary buddies having an emotional reunion. The latter was more fun. Caught up on everyone’s last year, read & discussed a current book on “Blue-Note Preaching” with the author, Rev. Otis Moss III, connected via Skype with Prof. Ted Campbell still sharp in his late 80s, and met Rev. Shannon Kirchner of Fourth Presbyterian Church. Wonderfull conversations!

 

I, Gordon, was among the five physically present in Chicago. Steve stayed with us the whole time by Skype Monday through Thursday.

The Rev. Otis Moss III succeeded Rev. Jeremiah Wright as pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, Southside Chicago, the home church of the Obamas. He’s the real deal in every way. What a privilege to spend these days together! We have a case of the blues but we’re hearing the blue note gospel.

  • Gordon

 

 

 

 

 

Alerting all able sinners!

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Both of us – Steve and Gordon – recently received good news from publishers.

Last month Steve received word that Mayhaven Publishing will publish a collection of poems under the title “A Sin a Week: 52 sins described in loving detail, for those who have the inclination and ability to sin, but have run out of bad ideas”

Sinners can order the Steve’s book @ mayhavenpublishing@mchsi.com.

Yesterday Wipf & Stock Publications notified Gordon of its acceptance of  “Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness” to be published sometime in the next year.

Steve’s work is done. Gordon’s is not, which is the bad news, if work can be called ‘bad’, which both of us think it can’t, except when it becomes obsessive, which, in one of our cases, it often has been – one of the 52 sins described in loving detail perhaps!

We’re glad to report to Views readers that Steve is doing remarkably well with chemo treatments having stabilized or shrunk the tumors that by all early reports were expected to take him by mid-February. To the best of our knowledge, Gordon has no tumors but reports that the few remaining brain cells he still has are shrinking fast with age.

All in all, life is beautiful! Sin boldly, and if you’ve run out of ideas, order Steve’s book!

 

 

Ohio Rhapsody (Dennis Aubrey)

While preoccupied with readying a book for publication, there’s nothing to post, though nothing we might post would surpass Dennis Aubrey’s latest post on Amish country.

Via Lucis Photography

Sitting in a chair in my new home in Ohio, thinking about Via Lucis, I realized that the project is as much about my beloved France as it is about medieval architecture. To me, these churches and places are infused with history and the collective memories of the millions who have passed through the stone portals.

Now PJ and I have moved to rural Ohio, just about 40 miles south of Columbus and every day we are moved by the beauty of the countryside around us.

Borah Hill and Westpoint, photo by Dennis Aubrey Borah Hill and Westpoint, photo by Dennis Aubrey

We are continually reminded of France as we drive in the countryside around. Most of Ohio near us is flat farmland, rich with crops as far as the eye can see. From the town of Lithopolis, with a modest elevation of 945 feet, one gets a clear view of the high-rises of Columbus, 20 miles distant…

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