The Unusual Trio – Maher, King, and Thomas – singing in one accord.

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Bill Maher

Bill Maher

Freedom isn’t free. It shouldn’t be a bragging point that ‘Oh, I don’t get involved in politics,’ as if that makes someone cleaner. No, that makes you derelict of duty in a republic. Liars and panderers in government would have a much harder time of it if so many people didn’t insist on their right to remain ignorant and blindly agreeable. – Bill Maher.

“Willful Ignorance” (Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness, p.103-105) begins with an excerpt from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” (April 16, 1963):

Martin Luther King, Jr.“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

The essay concludes with the hope of something better than being blindly agreeable:

aquinas -Botticelli

Thomas Aquinas by Botticelli

“Placed under the scrutiny of a public that refuses to be willfully ignorant, the loud shouts of demagoguery will be swept up by the vacuum of a citizenry schooled in due diligence. And the United States of America, refusing to wallow in the mire of purposeful ignorance, of which Thomas Aquinas, and we ourselves, can be proud.” – Be Still!, p.105.

Wouldn’t Thomas Aquinas and Bill Maher be surprised to be on the same page? Martin Luther King, Jr. is a bridge between the two. Maher, King, and Thomas: a tenor, baritone, and bass in one accord.

Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, April 11, 2017, responding to The Daily Post invitation to write something on today’s Daily Prompt word, “Blindly“.

 

 

“Legitimacy” on Martin Luther King Day – 2017

Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr days before the 2017 inauguration of a new president begs for serious national reflection.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, the civil rights leader some people once hated was “legitimized” after he was no longer a threat—re-fashioned into a single issue  icon. The real Martin, the disturbing prophetic preacher calling for justice and peace, has been muted —reduced to an icon on postage stamps and in editorials of the same newspapers that scolded him for breaking the law in Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma, St. Augustine, and Memphis. The real Martin—the real human treasure worth preserving—and his legacy look on our time and ask how we chose to return to the law-and-order-society.

John Lewis and other survivors whose heads were bloodied on Pettus Bridge by the enforcers of an unjust law-and-order society scratch their heads and wonder. They know that Martin Luther King, Jr’s life and witness exceeded the passage of the Civil Rights Act. He was an early opponent of the War in Vietnam, the military-industrial complex, the White House, Congress, the Pentagon, and the propaganda machine that kept the public befuddled and confused about reality.

By the time Dr. King while was shot standing with the striking sanitation workers in Memphis, he had connected all the dots we have yet to connect: white privilege, excessive wealthy, poverty, capitalism, foreign military interventions, and assassinations.

No one can say whether Martin Dr. King would join his voice to his old friend John Lewis’s, the Civil Rights leader become Congressman who has declared the incoming Presidency “illegitimate”, but imagining King’s dismay at the results of the 2016 election requires no great skill. We know enough to say with certainty that the dream for which Dr. King lived and died is no less at stake today than it was the day a bullet silenced him on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis in 1968.

Martin Luther King Day 2017 just days before the inauguration asks all Americans what kind of nation we want to be — one that chooses to put out the lights of its real luminaries or a nation that, having seen a bright star on a dark night, walks forward with pink knit hats toward a compassionate Dream worth living and dying for.

– Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, January 15, 2017

The Movement Made the Man (MLK)

Martin Luther King, Jr. did not make the civil rights movement. As Elizabeth Myer Boulton reminds us, it was the movement that made the man. Without the movement there would have been no “I Have a Dream Speech”.

Elizabeth (Liz) Myer Boulton’s spouse, Matthew Myer Boulton, President of Christian Theological Seminary, hosted five McCormick Theological Seminary classmates this past week, including Steve Shoemaker and me.

I returned from Indianapolis and found Liz’s powerful sermon. It reminded me of Kay and my month in Saint Augustine.  It was the unsung local heroes who built the movement, paid the price, and drove the buses to the Poor People’s March on Washington. Martin represented them all.

– Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, May 23, 2015.

American Sniper, Selma, and Jesus

Sometimes, as the saying goes, a preacher goes from preaching to “meddling”. The sermon disturbs the listeners. Chaplain Randy Beckum preached a sermon like that in the Chapel of MidAmerica Nazarene University, a conservative evangelical college in Kansas. Focusing on the way of Jesus and American culture’s addiction to violence, Beckum’s sermon included comparison of the exceeding popularity, according to box office receipts, of American Sniper compared with Selma, the story of the Rev.Dr. Martin Luther King and the non-violent way of Jesus.

Views from the Edge had never heard of Randy Beckum or MidAmerica Nazarene University until this sermon went viral after the university president relieved the preacher of his additional role as Vice President of the MNU Foundation. Some sermons are hard to give and, apparently, they’re even harder to hear. That’s when you know a preacher’s worth his/her salt.

 

 

The Road to Civil Rights in America’s Oldest City

INTRODUCTION: Views from the Edges earlier post from 40th ACCORD referred the KKK kidnapping of four civil rights activists in St. Augustine, FL. Yesterday Francis (“Tate”) Floyd said otherwise.

“No,” said Tate,  who was visiting next door, “they weren’t kidnapped. They got caught at a KKK rally downtown and got their asses kicked.”

Below is more complete information posted by The St. Augustine Record on May 17 , 2014 by Matt Soerge. “Views from the Edge” has added the bolded print and photographs to the text.

Civil rights: 50 years later, the memory is still clear

Purcell Maurice Conway

Purcell Maurice Conway

In 1964 St. Augustine, Purcell Conway, a black 15-year-old, held hands with a white nun during a civil-rights demonstration that drew the angry attention of a white mob from the Ancient City and beyond.

The mob surged forward. Conway was attacked, and so was the nun. They tore off her headdress. They dragged her to the ground by her hair. They kicked her.

Fifty years later, the memory is still clear: How can people be so cruel, so petty? he asks, How silly, he says, that there is so much hate over the color of one’s skin.

Conway traveled Wednesday to Tallahassee, where he reunited with other activists from what he calls the “teenage rebellion” — the civil rights demonstrations that rocked St. Augustine from 1963 until the summer of 1964, when the Civil Rights Act became law.

They went to the Capitol building to see Robert B. Hayling inducted into the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame. His portrait will go up there along with those of the other inductees, the late James Weldon Johnson and A. Philip Randolph, both of whom grew up in Jacksonville.

Hayling, 84, still sharp and witty, was a dentist who inspired and led the youthful demonstrators in St. Augustine.

Now in their late 60s and early 70s, most of them grew up together in the largely black neighborhoods of Lincolnville and West Augustine.

Asked to describe the St. Augustine of his youth, Shed Dawson, who was arrested nine times, gave a long pause before speaking.

“Scary. Very challenging. Dangerous. Sad.”

Dr. Robert B. Hayling and Mr. James Jackson

Dr. Robert B. Hayling and Mr. James Jackson

You had to be careful, said James Jackson, who was captured and beaten by the Ku Klux Klan.

“You didn’t want to go and get caught out alone at night, especially outside of your comfort zone, outside of Lincolnville.”

Jackson knew many of the Klansmen by sight. He’d see them going about their business during the day, on the streets downtown.

And as the Civil Rights Act moved through Congress, the Klan rallied, openly, on St. Augustine’s quaint downtown streets, in robes that exposed their faces for all to see.

Houses were firebombed. Grenades were thrown at juke joints. Shots were fired.

One white man, with a loaded shotgun on his lap, was shot and killed as the car he was in cruised through a black neighborhood one night. In his death convulsion, he fired shots of his own through the floor of the car.

Young blacks from St. Augustine picketed outside stores, sat at lunch counters where they could not be served. And they marched through the city’s streets, past churches that would not admit them.

One sign asked: “Are you proud of your 400 yrs history of slavery & segregation.”

Demonstrators were threatened and beaten. They were arrested and jailed for attempting to integrate the beaches, lunch counters, hotels.

Many of the black demonstrators were trained in nonviolent ways of protesting and pledged to never strike back.

Others made it clear that they were armed and would defend themselves, their families and their community if called to do so.

Conway says two things united the young black demonstrators: They were fed up with the status quo, where they were permanent second-class citizens. And they were inspired by the civil-rights struggles elsewhere.

Why not St. Augustine too?

“It gets to a point in your life that you’ve been stepped on, mistreated, seen your family members mistreated,” he said. “Forget about the fear — you will die to see this changed.”

‘A mean lady’

At 12, Conway had a white friend, a fellow paperboy, and when they each ordered milk shakes at the lunch counter at the McCrory’s store, he couldn’t understand why the woman there let his friend eat inside, but insisted he go outside.

His friend joined him on the sidewalk. “She’s a mean lady,” he said.

At 14, Conway was mowing the lawn of a white woman who offered him a sandwich and a drink. She left it for him on her garage floor, next to the dog’s bowl.

As a child, he’d been naive. But now his eyes were open — and he chafed as he saw how his parents had to call white people “Mister” or “Miss,” while they were simply called by their first names, George and Julia.

So he was ready, at 14, to join the Movement. That’s what he and his friends called it.

Conway recalled that black teenagers would go the swimming pool at Florida Memorial College, a black Baptist school that moved to Miami a few years later.

College students would tell the teenagers about the Movement. They’d talk about what was happening around the South, about why action was needed in St. Augustine.

By 1964, the Movement drew Martin Luther King Jr. and other prominent black leaders to the city.

It drew the support of many white college students from elsewhere, who were beaten and threatened alongside the young black demonstrators.

It drew the support of rabbis and priests and nuns and 72-year-old Mary Elizabeth Peabody, mother of the governor of Massachusetts, who was jailed after supporting the demonstrators.

And it drew national and international coverage to a tourist city preparing for its 400th anniversary.

Tourists stayed away. In 1965, a state legislative report on the unpleasantness in St. Augustine would note that the city lost $5 million in tourism, which meant the state lost taxes, too.

“Which means that all citizens of Florida indirectly paid for Martin Luther King’s visitation to America’s oldest city,” the report said, before fretting about the “devastating barrage of unfavorable publicity” from “purported” news accounts.

“Despite massive propaganda to the contrary,” the state report said, “Negroes and whites have lived together amicably in St. Augustine for centuries.”

‘I was afraid’

Maude Burrows Jackso

Maude Burrows Jackso

Maude Burroughs Jackson knew unfairness as she grew up in the small black community of Hill Top in Middleburg. Still, she was relatively sheltered, there in the country.

She came to St. Augustine in 1960 to go to Florida Memorial College. The city, she said, felt hostile. Discrimination was open.

“It seemed like a mean place,” she said. “Things have really changed over the years. But I was afraid many times.”

She got involved in the Movement after going to Hayling’s dental office with a toothache.

She went to wade-ins at segregated beaches, and between classes she sat at lunch counters or picketed. She was jailed three times.

One night, in Hayling’s office, she made dinner for King — steak and toast and salad. “He’d come in late that night, and with the situation being the way it was, you couldn’t just go outside and eat.”

‘All right, that’s enough’

KKK rally, St. Augustine, FL

KKK rally, St. Augustine, FL

James Jackson said he tries to find the humor in every situation. So he laughs, still, about the night the Ku Klux Klan caught him, Hayling and two other black men, James Hauser and Clyde Jenkins.

He said he stayed calm through talk about getting killed, about getting set on fire. But when the Klan got to talking about castration? “I said, ‘I got to get out of here.’”

Jackson and his companions had gone to eavesdrop on a Klan rally that drew hundreds to St. Augustine, and figured they could spy safely from a back road. That was almost a fatal error. They were beaten, severely.

Jackson shows off a scar on his forehead, courtesy of a lug wrench. And the Klansmen paid particular attention, he said, to the hands of Hayling, a dentist: How could he practice his profession with broken hands?

“We were lucky as hell to get out of their with out lives,” Jackson said.

The story he heard later was that a preacher in the crowd sneaked away to alert police. Sometime later, an officer walked up to the rally. “He said, ‘All right, that’s enough,’” Jackson recounted.

He took them to the hospital, and then to the sheriff’s office. There, bloodied and bruised, they were charged with assault.

After the Civil Rights Act was signed, Jackson remembers coming out of a hardware store and running into Halstead “Hoss” Manucy, one of the prominent white segregationists in town. Manucy had hurled many insults at Jackson, but apparently didn’t recognize him when they bumped into each other.

“Now I’m not a tall man, but he was shorter than me, and he looked up at me and said, ‘Excuse me sir.’”

Jackson laughed. “Excuse me sir! The biggest smile came over my face.”

‘Shell shock’

Shed Dawson, St. Augustine Movement

Shed Dawson, St. Augustine Movement

 Dawson graduated from R.J. Murray High School just a few weeks before the Civil Rights Act was passed. But he was already a civil-rights veteran; he was arrested nine times and spent at least 90 days in jail.

So within a day or two of the act’s passage, he and three other black teens went to a barbecue place on U.S. 1 to “test” the bill.

They squeezed their car into a tight space at the front door. As they approached the door, a group of 25 to 30 men and women came from behind the building, almost as if they were waiting for them.

They had bricks and beer bottles and baseball bats — “their own little personal weapons,” Dawson said.

The four friends split up and ran. Dawson made it to some nearby woods. “Because I was 18 and they were half-drunk, they couldn’t catch me.”

Frustrated, the mob returned to their truck. Perhaps 15 minutes later, Dawson came out of the woods and saw the truck approaching, with people crowded into the back of it — still looking for him.

He ran back in the woods, hiding there for more than two hours. Finally, he crept out and saw a highway patrol car parked in front of another restaurant. Now, he thought, he would be safe.

Dawson went into the restaurant, where the manager stopped him brusquely: “What do you want?”

Dawson’s shirt and tie were filthy, his best pants were muddy and his good shoes were caked with mud. He said he needed to talk to the trooper, who sat, just a few feet away, ignoring him.

“He’s eating lunch,” the manager said.

Dawson insisted. Eventually the trooper got up, locked Dawson in his car, and resumed his meal.

As he ate, a crowd of whites assembled around the car, rocking it back and forth, pounding on the windshield, calling Dawson names.

The trooper, frustrated, came out, started the engine, and got on the radio. “I found the n—– y’all are looking for,” he said.

At the station, they took Dawson’s mug shot, took his fingerprints, but eventually didn’t charge him. The trooper then took him to the headquarters of the Movement, where Dawson’s disappearance was big news.

“He (the trooper) was a hero,” Dawson said. “Everybody was cheering — yeah yeah yeah — and shaking his hands. He was soaking it up.”

King spoke that night at a church, and invited Dawson to sit with him at the pulpit. So he did, still in his filthy clothes.

Dawson ended up traveling the world as a civil servant for the Navy, working on aircraft carriers — a life that would have seemed impossible to him as a teenager. Before things changed, he might have been a cook or a yard man. If lucky, he could perhaps have been a brick mason or a plumber’s helper.

The struggle was worth it, he said, although when he returns to his hometown, the past sometimes feels far too close.

“I’ve been all around the world and I’m OK,” he said. “But when I got back to St. Augustine, to a restaurant, I feel fear, like flashbacks, like the soldiers had. Shell shock. I guess it will never go away.”

Views from the Edge Note: Click HERE for hour-long Library of Congress interview with Purcell Conway.

MLK, Dr. Hayling, and Mr. James Jackson

Be where you are. If you stay there, really LIVE there, dig into the place, listen to the voices, watch the faces and people movements, you’re likely to discover the deeper streams of courage and frailty that make a place what it is.

Take yesterday, for example. Kay and I attend the “Hands Up!” educational event at St. Paul’s African Methodist Episcopal Church, around the corner from where we’re living this January. Mr. James Jackson, who seems to know a great deal about the law, citizens’ rights, and how to deal with law enforcement, sits behind us. There’s something different about him, a weathered face and voice that come with experience.

Dr. Robert B. Hayling and Mr. James Jackson

Dr. Robert B. Hayling and Mr. James Jackson

When the opportunity presents itself, we step outside for conversation. James Jackson was  a Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) Field Officer in St. Augustine with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I listen to what he tells me about the tumultuous time in St. Augustine that led to the passage of U.S. Civil Rights Act. “The bill was sitting on Johnson’s desk,” he says, “but he didn’t want to move forward with it. What happened here in St. Augustine [referring to the acts of civil disobedience to de-segregate the public beaches] drew national attention and put pressure on Washington.”

After the “Hands Up!” workshop a google search for James Jackson leads to more information about him, Dr.  Robert B. Hayling, a dentist, and another who were kidnapped by the Ku Klux Klan. Gwendolyn Duncan tells the story.

Dr. Robert HaylingFor [Dr. Hayling’s] continued fight to right the injustices perpetrated upon him and his fellow Black Citizens, his home was shot into, barely missing his wife and killing his dog which was within the home. His wife and children escaped without injury. On another occasion, Dr. Hayling, along with Mr. Clyde Jenkins, Mr. James Hauser, Mr. James Jackson were kidnapped by the Klu Klux Klan.

All of the men, except Mr. James Jackson were beaten unmercifully and left semi-conscious. If not for the compassion of a white minister, Reverend Irvin Cheney, who slipped from the rally and called the State Highway Patrol in Tallahassee, Dr. Hayling and his fellow activists, who were stacked like firewood, would have been burned alive with gasoline. Dr. Hayling received the most serious injuries, suffering hospitalization for fourteen days, losing eleven teeth, and several broken ribs. Scars he is known to have said, “I’ll take to my grave.” He and the others were charged with assault but charges were dropped because the Klan never showed up to court. The Klan was never prosecuted in this case.

— Copyright © 2004, Gwendolyn Duncan, “Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement – Dr. Robert B. Hayling”

Dr. Hayling’s house is three blocks from where Kay and I are staying. Before meeting Mr. Jackson yesterday, we read the Freedom Trail plaque walking by the house around the corner here in Lincolnville.

Be where yo are. If you stay there, really LIVE there, dig into the place, listen to the voices, watch the faces and the people movements, you’re likely to discover the deeper streams of courage and frailty that make a place what it is.

– Gordon C. Stewart, Jan. 18, 2015

 

The House Next Door on the Freedom Trail

We knew nothing about St.Augustine when we rented the house at 96 South Street for the month of January. It turns out that the house next door played an important part in the Civil Rights Movement. 94 South Street is on “The Freedom Trail” tour in St. Augustine in Lincolnville, the district settled by freed slaves in 1866.

94 South Street, St. Augustine, FL

94 South Street, St. Augustine, FL

Newly arrived, we notice that a group  gathers each day outside the house. Our second evening I walk by the house at dusk and greet the gray-bearded man sitting in a chair. He rises with his cane.

“Good evening.”
“Good evening,” he responds.
“You live here?” I ask.
“No, my friend does.”
“My name’s Gordon,” I say, extending my hand.
“Mr. _____” [I cant’ hear what he says]. “So tell me about this house. It’s an historic house, right?”
Freedom trail plaque“Read the sign,” he says, limping to the plaque next to the sidewalk. “Read it.”

I read it out loud.

Home of the White Family – Lincolnville

This has been the home to the Whites, one of the outstanding families active in the 1963-1964 civil rights movement in St. Augustine.  Parents James (a decorated Buffalo Soldier from World War II) and Hattie Lee White both took part in demonstrations and went to jail for freedom in those times.  Their son Samuel was one of the “St. Augustine Four”–teenagers who spent six months in jail and reform school after a July 1963 sit-in at the Woolworth’s lunch counter downtown.  Mrs. White wrote to NAACP leader Roy Wilkins, “I’ve never heard of any child being taken away from their parents for wanting his freedom.  Have you?”  National protests at the injustice by Jackie Robinson and others forced the governor and cabinet of Florida to release the St. Augustine Four in January 1964.

Twin daughters Janice and Jeanette took part in the effort to integrate one of the local white churches.  They are featured in Jeremy Dean’s movie “Dare Not Walk Alone.”

Sons Christopher and Walter Eugene were pioneers in the effort to end racial segregation in St. Augustine’s public schools.  Son James took part in the wade-ins that garnered international attention at St. Augustine Beach in the summer of 1964.

This marker is erected by ACCORD to honor all of the members of the family for their efforts to make St. Augustine, America, and the world a better place.

Christopher still lives in the house.

So here we are vacationing next to history. Look for more posts from conversations with Christopher and the people at St. Paul A.M.E. Church after the “Hands Up” workshop this Saturday.

– Gordon C. Stewart, Thursday, January 15, 2015

 

 

Martin Luther King Day in St. Augustine

The car dealer here in St. Augustine will be open on Martin Luther King Day. No holiday for its workers.

I learn this while waiting for my car to be serviced. I read the local paper, The St. Augustine Record, Wednesday, January 14, 2015. Tucked away page A6 under “News and Notes” is a small headline:

“Commemorative Breakfast Planned”

Commemorative of what? Martin Luther King, Jr., Monday, January 19 at First Coastal Technical College.

I put down the paper and walk through the show room to look at the new models. A white sales manager sees me get into one of the cars and points angrily to a 20-something African-American salesman to get with the program. The young man greets me through the passenger window. I tell him I’m just killing time during a routine oil change and that I’m from Minnesota. We exchange pleasantries.

I get a cup of coffee and go out to look at the used cars – it’s my thing, checking out used cars – and run into the young salesman again. I ask whether Martin Luther King Day is a big deal here in St. Augustine. He smiles. I tell him I’ve just read the newspaper and the small announcement. “Is the dealership closed for Martin Luther King Day?” I ask. “No, Sir. We’re open,” he says. “I’ll be working.”

“Do you know about The St. Augustine Four?” I ask. He doesn’t. I tell him we’re staying next door to the home of James and Hattie White whose 14 year-old son Samuel was sent to reform school in 1963 for sitting in at the Woolworth’s lunch counter, and that the case of the four teenagers was responsible for Dr. King and Jackie Robinson joining the cause in St. Augustine.

Before I leave the dealership, he finds me in the waiting area. “I asked the boss,” he says. “He said I can have the day off if I want it.”

I tell him there’s a “Hands Up!” workshop Saturday morning at the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E.) where MLK and Jackie Robinson joined the local the Civil Rights Movement in St. Augustine. It’s just around the corner from where we’re staying in Lincolnville. “Come if you can!” “Thanks,” he says, “Maybe I’ll see you there.”

 

Idealism and Terror

When one thinks of idealism, Martin Luther King, Jr. or Gandhi comes to mind. Moral and spiritual giants who stand for ideals that make the world a better place. We think of Idealism as good in the face of evil, or of ideals lifting us up from the dirt of reality, purifying life from its toxins. Ah, but there lies the fatal flaw in idealism itself.

George Will’s Washington Post opinion piece “A Murderer’s Warped Idealism” looks afresh at idealism and evil, not just evil masquerading as idealism, but idealism as a source and form of evil itself.

Will’s commentary zooms in on Adolf Eichmann, executed at midnight 1961 for his role in the German State’s systematic extermination of 6,000,000 Jews. During the trial in Jerusalem Eichmann minimized his role in the Holocaust, presenting himself as a thoughtless functionary carrying out the orders of his superiors.

Referring to newly discovered writings by Eichmann which form the backbone of a new book by German philosopher Bettina Stangneth, Will writes:

Before he donned his miniaturizing mask in Jerusalem, Eichmann proclaimed that he did what he did in the service of idealism. This supposedly “thoughtless” man’s devotion to ideas was such that, Stangneth says, he “was still composing his last lines when they came to take him to the gallows.” (Bolding added by Views from the Edge)

Eichmann and Hitler were not without ideas or ideals. They were not thoughtless. Nor were they irrational, as those who believe that reason can sea us believe. They were idealists who sought to lift up a super race, burning away the world’s impurities as their deranged hearts conceived of them.

The late Dom Sebastian Moore, O.S.B. shone a different light on idealism and the remedy for human madness. He put it this way in The Crucified Jesus Is No Stranger:

“We have to think of a God closer to our evil than we ever dare to be. We have to think of [God] not as standing at the end of the we way take when we run away from our evil in the search for good, but as taking hold of us in our evil, at the sore point which the whole idealistic thrust of man is concerned to avoid.”

We are, says Moore, “conscious animals scared of our animality and seeking to ennoble ourselves.”

Eichmann, Himmler, and Hitler were idealists. Nationalist extremists are idealists. Racial and religious extremists are idealists. ISIL is idealist. American exceptionalism is idealist. Whether behind the banner of the State, or of religion, gender, ideology, scientism, or rationalism – idealistic terrorism lives to rid the world of evil as its adherents understand it, projecting evil as “the other” while fleeing “the sore point” that we conscious animals seek to avoid.

Only the God who meets us at the sore point of our shared animality can save us from fantasies. In his last book, Remembered Bliss ((Lapwing Publications: 2014), Dom Sebastian told the reader, “I’m ninety-six, and for most of my life I’ve been a monk. My life as a monk has been, for the most part, the search for God as real.” RIP.

 

 

 

Woke up this morning with my mind

Rainbow over the IL prairie.

Rainbow over the IL prairie.

A song was singing in my head again this morning.

I don’t invite the songs. They come like old friends arriving at the door without explanation.

This morning the old friend was a Civil Rights Movement song, but I wasn’t marching.

“Woke up this morning with my mind stayed on freedom.”

The marching song my generation sang with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has a different feel this morning. It feels personal. Soothing. Joyful.  Like relief. Not so much aspirational as descriptive of the less ambitious, less burdened, less anxious state that sometimes comes with age. I still pray for the greater freedom, but my step feels lighter this morning. No marching boots. No climbing boots. Just a pair of slippers to go with the freedom of retirement where aspiration for mountain-climbing surrenders to appreciation of the rainbow on the sun-lit plain.

Woke up this morning with my mind
Stayed on freedom
Woke up this morning with my mind
Stayed on freedom
Woke up this morning with my mind
Stayed on freedom
Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelujah.

I’m walking and talking with my mind
stayed on freedom
I’m walking and talking with my mind
stayed on freedom
I’m walking and talking with my mind
stayed on freedom
Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelujah.

Ain’t nothing wrong with my mind
Stayed on freedom
Oh, there ain’t nothing wrong with keeping my mind
Stayed on freedom
There ain’t nothing wrong with keeping your mind
Stayed on freedom
Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelujah.

I’m singing and praying with my mind
Stayed on freedom
Yeah, I’m singing and praying with my mind
Stayed on freedom
Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelujah.