Greetings from Elijah

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Elijah is with Grandma this morning. On the verge of crawling, but not quite getting the hang of it, he’s sending greetings and a smile to Grandpa. Grandpa shares it here with other news-weary gluttons of punishment on Views from the Edge. Families are always a little whacked! Sometimes, to preserve the bonds of affection, we’d all be better off if we couldn’t talk. 🙂

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, December 8, 2017.

Grandpa, I can’t take it anymore!

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Elijah_9146What can’t you take, Elijah?

You-Know-Who!

No, I don’t. You said you can’t take “it” anymore. Not “who”. What are you talking about?

Grandpa, I can’t take “it” anymore because You-Know-Who is making me cry!

I’m sorry, but I still don’t know who “who” is. Who’s “who”?

Grandpa, you’re supposed to know this stuff!!!

Well, communication’s a very tricky thing, Elijah, as you’re finding out. You can”t assume other people know what you mean by “it” and “You-Know-Who”. They don’t unless you spell it out. Clear communication depends on you.

No. Depends are for adults, Grandpa; we discussed this yesterday. Huggies are for us. Your generation wears Depends; my generation wears Huggies. And President You-Know-Who is taking away all the huggies your generation is supposed to give the next generation.

Ah, so now you’re speaking more clearly! You-Know-Who is President You-Know-Who, the president whose name your babysitter refuses to say out loud like all the curse words she’s teaching you not to use. So now I know who “who” is. But I still don’t know what “it” is? What is “it” you can’t take anymore, Elijah?

Grandpa, you know! “Who” and “it” are the same thing. You-Know-Who just made an announcement in Utah — something about cutting bears’ ears and shrinking grand staircases. He thinks they’re too big. How big can bears ears be? He just keeps wrecking stuff. And he’s all in for that guy from Alabama! What’s with that?

Oh, you mean Roy Moore?

Yeah, Roy Moore, the 10 Commandments guy.

Bill Day Moore cartoon

Bill Day cartoon – The 10 Commandments and Roy Moore

He’s not a 10 Commandments guy, Elijah. Neither is You-Know-Who. They only know one commandment and they think it’s about them: “I am the LORD, your God. You shall have no other gods before me.” That’s the First Commandment.

Yeah! “Love yourself only, and feel free to abuse women, teenage girls, and Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Monuments in Utah.”

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Bears Ears National Monument

I’m glad we had this talk, Elijah. You’ve made yourself clear. I can’t take “it” or You-Know-Who anymore either. “It” seems to get worse every day.

But remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy, Elijah. We all need to take a break and remember who’s God.

  • Grandpa Gordon, Chaska, MN, Dec. 5, 2017.

 

 

 

Elijah and President You-Know-Who

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Elijah asks Grandpa about President You-Know-Who

Grandpa, is President You-Know-Who an adult?

Yes, Elijah, he’s 71 years old. You have to be an adult to president. The Constitution says so. You have to be at least 35. Why?

Marissa says he’s a brat. I thought all brats were children.

No, some brats are adults. Some people just never grow up. They think the whole world is centered on them. I don’t want you to grow up thinking that!

Mom told me that last night when I was acting like a brat!

Elijah, I think you must have misunderstood Mom. No six-month old is a brat. You just have needs that sometimes demand a lot of Mom’s attention.

Yeah, like when I need my diapers changed. Does President You-Know-Who’s Mom ever change his diapers, Grandpa? 

No, Elijah. He stopped wearing diapers many years ago.

Hmmm. That’s weird.

00705601_zzz_1Why? Why is it weird? President You-Know-Who’s an adult. Only incontinent adults wear diapers for adults. They’re called Depends.

Maybe he needs to get Depends. Marissa says he’s making a mess of the whole world. Like those videos he put out that Marissa and Theresa May in England said were really childish! He’s making a huge mess, Grandpa!

Yes, he is, Elijah. But, I guess it all depends on . . . . and before he’s impeached, I might need some Depends.

eb64737c-4e82-4dd4-8a1c-537716b6f72f.png.w240Grandpa, don’t do that. I use Huggies. You can depend on me. I’m a child, but I’m not childish. Like Jesus said, “a little child shall lead them.”

It wasn’t Jesus who said that, Elijah. It was Isaiah.

Whatever! I’ll talk to Mom. We’ll lend you some of my Huggies.

  • Grandpa Gordon with Elijah, Chaska, December 3, 2017.

 

 

 

The volume is all the way up

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We’ve never pointed readers to a newspaper Op Ed without comment. Today is different.

See “The volume is all the way up to 11” in today’s Washington Post. Sadly, we’re unable to include the link.

Talents...

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, December 2, 2017.

Elijah and Grandpa

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“Grandpa,” asked six-month-old Elijah yesterday, “who’s George Bush?”

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Elijah and Grandpa

“Which one, Elijah?”

“George!”

“Yes, but there are two Georges. Both were presidents of our country. There’s George H.W. Bush, who is now 94 years old, and there’s his son, George W. Bush. Which one do you mean?”

“The old one. The one like you, Grandpa.”

“Why are you asking about poor old George, Elijah? He’s not doing well. He’s gotten a little feeble.”

“What’s feeble? My baby sitter says George is a dirty old man like Garrison Keillor, Al Franken, President You-Know-Who — Marissa told me never to say the President’s name in her presence or she’s throw me out of day care — or that judge down in Alabama, but NOT like Jimmy Carter! Who’s Jimmy Carter?”

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Former President Jimmy Carter

“Oh, my, Jimmy Carter! I almost forgot. Jimmy was president too. Way back before George H.W. Bush. People made a big deal out of it when jimmy said he’d lusted in his heart. But, so far as we know, he didn’t harass anyone. That was a long time ago! Way before your time. It seems ages ago.”

“We want to be like Jimmy, right Grandpa?”

“Jimmy Carter would be a wonderful person to emulate, Elijah. But remember, even Jimmy’s not perfect. None of us is perfect. I want you to grow up to take responsibility for your own behavior and follow the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’.”

“So Jimmy’s a lot different from President You-Know-Who, right Grandpa?”

“He’s pretty special, Elijah. A professor named Ted Gup wrote about the difference between President You-Know-Who and President Carter last year in New Republic. Here’s what he said, Elijah.

“Unlike Carter’s words, Trump’s suggest a man incapable of looking inward, of feeling shame, humility, or love. That such a purposefully divisive figure could represent the best hopes of tens of millions of Americans, even as he revolts and alienates tens of millions of others, speaks to the yawning chasm that divides the nation politically and culturally. What comes to mind is the question that once brought down another demagogue, Joe McCarthy, more than 60 years ago: ‘Have you no sense of decency, sir?'” [“On the Subject of Lust, Donald Trump Is no Jimmy Carter,” New Republic, Oct. 10, 2016].

“Hmmm. Grandpa, who was Joe?”

  • Grandpa Gordon, Chaska, MN, December 1, 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

A Reckoning for Older Men

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When sin — I call it ‘sin’ but, if you use some other word without a religious ring to it, you know what I mean — becomes the prevailing topic from which we cannot break away, it feels good to take a break from the news, and from ourselves.

So we pass along Lloyd Omdahl’s column “Reckoning has arrived for older men” in the Nov. 27 Grand Forks Herald in hopes it might bring a chuckle at some point, but also knowing that some people think any sort of chuckle on this topic is downright sinful.

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Lloyd Omdahl

94 year-old Lloyd Omdahl, the man with the twinkle in his eyes,  served as Lieutenant Governor of North Dakota and is professor emeritus of  political science at the University of North Dakota. He continues to write a weekly column for The Grand Forks Herald. His former student, Gary Severson, brought this column to our attention today as a comment on Views from the Edge‘s morning post.

In case you missed it the first time, here’s the link: “Reckoning has arrived for older men“. Sexual harassment is not funny. It’s ugly. It’s sinful. Even so, if you can’t find a laugh somewhere in Lloyd’s column, take a nap, take a walk, or see a priest, rabbi, imam, or guru, and, by all means, go back and read Norman Cousins before you’re taken by a stroke.

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

 

Two Birds of the Secret Heart

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“Create in me a clean heart, O God…” is a well-known prayer from the Psalms.  It’s context — its back-story — is not so familiar.

Psalm 51 is a prayer attributed to David. It is not a quiet prayer. It is a wrenching, sobbing prayer, the words tumbling from David’s mouth in halting phrases and stammers with tears that flood his eyes and stream down his face.

“Behold, You seek truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.” (Psalm 51:6)

Is the secret heart the deepest place in us, the place where God is: the equivalent or synonym for “the inward being” – a poetic parallelism of Hebrew poetry? Or is it, perhaps, the secret place where we hide from God: the hiding place where we go off to a different heart than the Divine heart? Or could it be both at the same time?

David’s secret heart is dirty and he knows it. He cannot wash the stain of blood from his hands. “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,” he cries out, “and cleanse from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.” It is a scene from Shakespeare’s Macbeth:

“Out, damn spot! OUT, I say…. all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, oh, oh!”

The Hebrew Psalms are like that. They are not sanitized. They plunge the reader into the conflict between the reader’s own inmost being, the true secret heart, you might say – the heart that pumps life into us – and the secret heart of our own flight from truth and goodness, the heart of deception and self-deception.

Why is David crying out? What has he done? What is the sin that is ever before him, the blood he can’t wash from his own hands?

Psalm 51 comes in response to an accusation that has exposed the bloody behavior his secretive heart has produced. It is Nathan, David’s commander on the battlefront, who confronts David with the truth.

Nathan has just returned from the front to tell David that Uriah, the King’s next door neighbor, a man of impeccable loyalty valor, Bathsheba’s husband, whom David’s scheming heart has sent off to war, is dead! His blood is on David! Nathan has spoken the truth to power.

There is no wisdom in David’s secret heart. There is treachery there.

“Purge me!” cries David. Imagine Richard Burton at his most dramatic. “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow!” (Ps. 51:7)

Hyssop, the foliage of an aromatic plant named in the Passover story (Exodus 12:21-27), was used in the cleansing of a leper (Leviticus 4:51).

The rite of cleansing centers on two small birds. One bird is killed. The other bird is washed in the blood of the other under the flow of water and the sweetness of hyssop. The one bird dies. The second bird lives.

“Thus he (the priest) shall cleanse the house with the blood of the bird, and with the running water, and with the living bird, and with the cedarwood and hyssop and the scarlet stuff; and he shall let the living bird go out of the city into the open field; so he shall make atonement for the house, and it shall be clean.” (Lev. 14:52-53)

“Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation” cries Uriah’s killer curled up in a ball, hoping against all hope, “and my tongue will sing aloud of Your deliverance.” (Ps. 51:14)

David is both birds. He is the one who deserves to die. He is also the one who is living. He lives not because of the secretive heart that had conspired against Uriah, betraying his own inward being – “Against You only have I sinned…” (Ps. 51:4). He lives on because there is more mercy in God (the inward being) than there is sin in him.

“The sacrifice acceptable to God,” he concludes with tears, is “a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” His body quivers as he imagines himself as the bird released into the open field by mercy alone, “according to Your steadfast love; according to Your abundant mercy.” (Ps. 51:1)

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Nov. 27, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving for The Boston Declaration

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This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for The Boston Declarationissued several days ago by 300+ Christian theologians on the state of Christianity in the United States in 2017 and a call for repentance by evangelical Christians.

Susan Thistlethwaite’s Huffington Post article gives the background and more detail on The Boston Declaration. Click Original Signatories for a listing of the original signers of the Declaration.

Boston Declaration original signatories.

I’m thankful for Rev. Dr. Reggie Williams, Associate Professor of Ethics at my alma mater, McCormick Theological Seminary, and author of Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus: Harlem Renaissance Theology and an Ethic of Resistance, one of the original signers. Reggie is the tall one in the center of the photo.

Rev. Dr. Reggie Williams, professor of ethics at McCormick Theological Seminary, talked of the heavy hearts carried by himself and other African-Americans in this current moment. “These are sinister times, but they are not new. As a black person educated in Evangelical Christian institutions, I am familiar with a Christianity that has a history of ignoring my being, and providing theological justification for my non-being.”

But, he emphasized, what is “new in my lifetime to have such an over embrace of it.” How can people say it is Christianity “to proclaim good news to the rich or push the differently embodied person to the margins? Now is the time to follow Jesus the poor Jewish prophet whose teaching of the Kingdom was the inspiration for the Boston Declaration.” – Susan Thistlethwaite, Huffington Post.

The Trump Administration’s 18-month deadline for 60,000 Haitian refugees to leave the U.S. strikes me as the latest confirmation of white supremacy as the nation’s “original sin.” The order makes no sense apart from shoring up a base that sees white supremacy in peril. What’s happening in America today is only secondarily ‘political’. The primary  issue is theological and ethical — how we understand ultimate reality (God) and ourselves. It is what the Boston Declaration says it is.

Grace and Peace to all on this Thanksgiving holiday.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, November 23, 2017.

 

 

DOOM DESTRUCTION AND THE DNC. AGAIN! – BY TOM CURLEY

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Like Tom Curley of SERENDIPITY, I get apocalyptic, or hyped, emails every day that assume I’m a member of a certain club.

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I wrote this on election day 2017. It reminded me of a post I wrote a while back that sadly is still as current as it was back then. And it will be current next year too. And the year after that.

I don’t know about anybody else but I usually spend about five minutes every day deleting the junk email from my account.

I’ve had an AOL account from literally when they first started. I briefly worked for them and got the account for free. Yes you had to pay for an email account back in those dark early days.

I have other email accounts, but I like this one. I’ve had it for over 20 years. I know that if you have an AOL email account millennials think it’s funny and it means you’re old.  And do you know what I say to that? Fuck you, you little…

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HOLLYWOOD SEX AND OTHER DISTASTEFUL STUFF

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I’m afraid there won’t be any men left in Hollywood. The way things are going, they will all be out on sexual assault charges. This is not me saying this stuff didn’t happen. I’m positive it did. I always thought it was going on. Everything I knew about people in show business said that powerful men abused women pretty much all the time and got away with it because … they were powerful men.

Some guy I know suggested he had thought that it was a mutual thing. Sort of humorous.

No, it wasn’t. Not mutual nor humorous. Guys who force women to have sex don’t look like a young Robert Redford. Guys who can have any woman by saying “Hey baby … ” and she faints in his arms, don’t need to force anyone to have sex. Okay, well, there are some pretty weird guys out there, so who…

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