Barclay and his Big Sister

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Barclay and his Big Sister

Barclay and his big sister pausing on the walking path.

Lonely folks cruise the internet hoping for a good match. Websites pair strangers looking for love. They meet in coffee shops, bars, parks, and restaurants.

On rare occasions the two make for a good match. NEVER are they better matched than Barclay and his big sister.

We should all be so lucky! Forget the internet. Get a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and some pink shoes, and enjoy the mutual admiration on a good walk, healing and heeling at the same time.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Barclay’s Dad, Chaska, MN, April 9, 2017, responding to The Daily Post invitation to share a photograph and commentary on the theme “A Good Match“.

Rover and his Master

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The English language can be very confusing. Some English words are pronounced identically, but their meanings are altogether different.

Take the words ‘heal‘ and ‘heel‘, for instance.

A walk in the parkYou might say, “I sure hope you heal quickly” to someone with an injured heel.” But you might also say to Rover,”I sure wish you’d learn to heel,” which could really confuse Rover; or say to Rover’s master – who’s healing slowly from an injured achilles heel – and to Rover, “Good morning, Sir! Good morning, Rover! So good to see you both he-ling so well,” but it wouldn’t be the same – all because of one little letter that doesn’t get pronounced. Then again, you might call Rover’s master with the healing achilles heel a real heel if he beats Rover with the heel of his hand or heel of his shoe when Rover fails to heel.

Tell me again. Why do we speak English? Wait! Wait! Don’t tell me!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, written this April 8, 2017 when, while healing from PMR, I had nothing better to do than respond to The Daily Post‘s invitation to write a post on the word ‘heal’.

 

 

To all my cheap friends . . .

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display-graeters01With nothing else to say today, I take this anniversary eve (see below) to beg all my cheap friends: “Get out your credit card and spring for Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness, and I’ll buy you a Graeter’s ice cream Sundae next time I’m in a state that has Graeter’s.” Otherwise, I’ll just owe you. I’m as cheap as I am vain.

Be Still! costs $20.98 in paperback or $9.99 on kindle. But if you subtract the cost of a free Graeter’s Sundae ($5.25 + tax), the kindle would only cost you a net $4.74 (even less when including the tax on the Sundae)!

Publishers increasingly depend on their authors’ vanity – the sinful self-promotion that has consumed me since Be Still!‘s release January 6, 2017, three months ago tomorrow.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, begging in vain without apology from Chaska, MN, April 5, 2017.

 

The Con Man: Presidential Bait-and-Switch

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Bill Maher goes right to the heart of the matter – truth spoken clearly with biting humor grounded in the bait-and-switch FACTS of Donald Trump’s own words – campaign promises – compared with reality itself and what he’s doing as President.

Click THIS LINK for Bill Maher’s “New Rules” segment following failure of the American Health Care Act.

Bill Maher often breaks the rules of social propriety. But one rule he never breaks: tell the honest truth as best you’re able.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 30, 2017.

 

When the hearing aid goes dumb

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I have two hearing aids. I need them both.

All of a sudden there was no sound in the left ear. Nada! The hearing aid just quit while listening to a sermon in church. No idea what was said from that point on.

I went home. Changed the battery. Nada. Changed the little white insert at the end of the receiver thinking it might be clogged. Still no sound.

Monday morning, while waiting at the hearing clinic for a verdict on the problem, an older man and his daughter took the seats across from me in the waiting area. They started a conversation. I pointed to my left ear, saying I couldn’t hear. The daughter said something and pointed to her father who also said something I couldn’t understand. Then I said, “I can’t hear,” and smiled. “Sometimes I like the silence. The world is very noisy.” The man laughed. The daughter nodded and smiled knowingly.

It was a momentary communion of glorious shared silence.

The result? The hearing aid has been sent off to the manufacturer for repair of a twisted wire inside the hearing mold. My left ear now wears a loaner, a rental from Herz until my vehicle returns at the cost of $250. I re-imagine the text of the sermon I couldn’t hear:

“Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.” – Proverbs 17:28

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 28, 2017.

The church shoppers

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According to recent polls the “nones” (people who indicate no religious preference) are growing quickly. It’s an interesting phenomenon explainable in many ways. The causes are many.

Protestant Christian churches once considered “mainline” or mainstream (e.g, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Congregational) have fallen on hard times. Their numbers have decreased precipitously as the more conservative evangelical and fundamentalist churches and the nones have increased.

So what is church exactly in the shopping market of consumer capitalism?

This video offers a delightful, humorous look at a young couple looking for a church that fits their needs and tastes.

 

  • Gordon C. Stewart, snobby happily returned preacher with shirt still tucked in believer in women in ministry, lover of Bach, Buxtehude, John Rutter, and traditional liturgy.

 

The Smoke Signaler

Long before Europeans landed on the North American continent, America’s indigenous people often used smoke signals to send up messages understood by those who knew the signals.

Much later other signals came to America. Baseball signals – “signs” – from a third base coach sent to the batter: bunt, take for a strike, hit away, etc. Only members of that team knew what the signs – a right hand twice touches the left ear; the left hand scratches the right shoulder; the head nods in a certain way – mean.

1297937479160_ORIGINALWatching today’s U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence my eye was drawn to a man sitting behind the two witnesses, FBI Director James Comey, and NSA Director Mike Rogers. Like a good baseball coach or intelligence officer, the man in the dark yellow tie and the French cuffs was stone-faced. But it appeared he was giving smoke signals or baseball signs to someone on the Congressional panel asking the questions.

There were times when his head nodded slightly in agreement with a witness’s testimony. There were times when his hand went to his nose, his mouth, an ear, or his eyes moved right or left. As the hearing wore on, I became more curious. Who is he? Why is he in the center of the C-SPAN camera?  Why did his eyes just blink twice? Did he just all for a hit-and-run or a stolen base? Why is he pulling on his cuff? Why are his cuffs French? Is he French foreign Intelligence?

Is he there to alert a team – the Republicans or the Democrats – that the witness had just blown smoke, signaling someone on the panel to follow up with another question? Or was he there as the watchdog if the professional U.S. intelligence community, or the President himself, to remind Comey and Rogers who was over their shoulder them?

The Smoke signaler and RogersToday in America there’s a lot of smoke but the meanings of the signals are known only by a few. And those of us who watch a televised hearing as citizens of a democratic republic are left to watch, listen, and smell our way to what’s real and what’s not.

We do so in the hope that U.S. intelligence agencies, the President of the United States, and the U.S House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence use smoke signals we can all understand to inform us whether a witness or a Congressional Representative is sending a secret message or just blowing smoke. Who knows? Maybe the Poker-faced man with the nice yellow-black tie was just one of us. Maybe a member of the press who arrived early enough to get a great seat!  Hope springs eternal.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 20, 2017.

Pure Joy

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Lucinda is a five year old. Barclay is almost four. But Barclay is much older than Lucinda. In the human equivalent to Lucinda’s age, Barclay will be 28 in May.

Here’s a glimpse into Barclay’s playful spirit from when he was two (i.e., 14).

Last night, around the dinner table at the birthday party for the much older 36 year old and the 31 year old, there was lively conversation. But down on the floor, and sometimes under the table, there was pure joy – a little girl and the favorite dog she lives to visit.

Lucinda is a very active little girl. She never stops. She’s here; she’s there; she’s everywhere. She demands to be the center of attention. But she loses herself and gains it with Barclay whose great blessing is that he knows he’s not the center of the universe. He has to wait for others to play with him – and sometimes, on the best of days, the other is Lucinda, the favorite playmate who brings him pure joy for an hour or two.

The smiles on Barclay’s and Lucinda’s faces were as unmistakable as the light from the candles on the cake.

Sadly, moments after Lucinda’s family left our home last night, her cries and screams pierced the darkness on the sidewalk outside. Barclay was very sad, too. But he’s also the older and wiser of the two playmates. Cocking his head and looking up at me, he said, “Poor Lucinda. She’s still very young. She doesn’t understand yet that ‘Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning’ – Psalm 30, right Dad?”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 20, 2017.

 

 

Amazon review disappears!

Amazon
***** Striking a blow against willful ignorance, March 15, 2017
By Amazon Customer

This review is from: Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness (Paperback)

This is a powerful book, its essays best absorbed in small doses. I used it as a daily meditation, studying no more than two at a time.

The title suggests a turning inward, a journey toward inner harmony, but it is really a clarion call to informed action against the national perils of collective madness and willful ignorance. The book connects us with threads of thought from seminal philosophers, and my favorite is a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Read this book. Talk about it with your friends. It is important. James Robert Kane, author.

The customer review vanished from the Amazon site.

“Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me!” I’m guessing either Amazon followed James Kane’s counsel by willfully providing customers with a very “small dose” of this customer review (as in one short hour on the site before the dose vanished) or Amazon is ignorant of the disappearance of “A striking blow against willful ignorance.”

It’s hardly a matter of life or death. But it’s enough to drive an anxious author mad  when Amazon lists 10 five-star customer reviews of Be Still! but posts 8 instead of 10.  Where, O where, are the other two? Wait! Wait! Don’t tell me! I need to get a grip and be still!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 19, 2017.

 

Antidisestablishmentarianism 2017

It’s a big word with a special history, namely, the 19th century dispute in England between the establishmentarians, their disestablishmentarian opponents, and, finally, the antidisestablishmentarian supporters of the establishmentarians, the opponents of the disestablishmentarians!

Back then the issue was whether the Church of England should be the constitutionally “established” church of England. The conservative establishmentarians had answered yes; the more liberal disestablishmentarians argued against the establishment of religion; the antidisestablishmentarians whiplashed the disestablishmentarians back into line. There was no separation of church and state.

In the United States it is different. Because the founders were disestablishmentarians, there is  no established religion. They enacted what was later described as “a wall of separation” between the state and religious institutions. Yet in 2017 the American version of the English establishmentarians speaks and acts as if there.

The American alt-right is a curious mixture of religious antidisestablishmentarianism and governmental disestablishmentarianism, i.e., the strategic elimination of governmental institutions overseen by alt-right White House Strategic Advisor Steve Bannon.

The White House has announced the “re-organization” of the executive branch of the U.S. Government, one of the three branches of the U.S. Constitution. It’s a curious cocktail of religious establishmentarianism without government – but you can’t have an established religion with a disestablished government. Or can you?

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 18, 2017.