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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Powerpoint Slides for Everyone - 2013 - Week 28

Each week I create a new background image for powerpoint presentations.  I use them at my little church - but I also make them available here on my blog.  These images are free for you to download and to use in your own projects at home, work, school, church or wherever.  Use them where and how you will.  I only ask that you share them freely and that you tell others that you found them here.

For those who may be interested in knowing such details - this picture is of a piece of mining equipment on display at the Homestake Mine in Lead, South Dakota. (But the more I look at it, the more it looks like a screaming robot...)

Week 28 photo Week28_zps9592a467.jpg

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Be Advised

Be advised:
Language is a powerful force.
The moment Bernard realized
that disintegration is literally
the loss of integrity
he dissolved into a heap of dust
and a rapidly dissipating wisp of smoke.

Thatjeffcarter - Biblioblogger

I count it as a significant honor to be included in this list of bibliobloggers "which lists every blog whose primary interest is academic biblical studies."

I'm only an armchair academic, without credentials, without title.  I've not published any books.  I'm not on the lecture circuit.

But I do like studying the bible.   So, thank you to the keepers of the list.  And thank you to those of you who come by here every now and again.

Friday, June 28, 2013

I Don't Even Know What Kind of Flowers They Are

If I continue to post these pictures of flowers growing in my backyard, you'll cease to believe me when I say that I really don't do well with plants.  But I don't. The few times that I have attempted to garden have not gone well.

But these are growing in the backyard without my intervention.  I don't even know what kind of flowers they are.

white flowers photo IMG_3546_zpse3037540.jpg

I have been informed that it is a hostas plant. Thanks, Aj.

The Wanderings of the Iceman

It was forty years ago today
that the iceman disappeared;
he stepped out of the cold,
and left his family.

He went down to Egypt
where he learned to read the cartouche
and he spent many sleepless nights
in conversation with the Sphinx.

And when he grew restless
he went on to Japan
where he took a job sweeping up after Kaiju
to earn enough yen for bread.

Then it was off to Australia
and from there further south;
to the frozen wastes of the Antarctic
and he’s not been seen ever since.

Come back, iceman, come back;
we need you.
Come back, frozen wanderer;
come back and warm us again.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Prophet Dreams

A prophet dream of justice, of bread, of space.  The night rises around him but he is not sleeping.  When the morning comes the world will be changed.

In addition to the material that I recorded, I used one sample from the Freesound Project: Propthet Sel 29

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Tricky, Difficult Miktam

Just about everything in Psalm 16 is problematic.  Go ahead and read it in any translation and, even after the translators best work it still doesn’t scan well.  It is difficult to make sense of many of the individual lines, and as a whole it hangs together only barely…

To begin…

It is described as a “Miktam of David.”  What is a miktam?  Exactly.  We don’t know.  Only 6 of the Psalms are described as Miktams  (psalms 16 and 56 – 60). Some have suggested that the word has something to do with the theme of these 6 psalms – in which case it may mean something like lament.  Others connect it to inscriptions in stone.  Another suggestion links Miktam to the word ketem which means “gold”  - making these “golden psalms”  but that isn’t really clear either.

And each of these is linked to King David – but don’t be fooled by that preposition “of.”  This doesn’t necessarily mean that David wrote them.  In Hebrew this preposition can mean of, or about, or for, or to… There is nothing in Psalm 16 that connects specifically to any of the events of David’s life.  This isn’t to say that he didn’t write it or that he couldn’t have – but there’s nothing in it that clearly connects it to David’s hand.

Verse 2 is difficult.  Check out the variety of ways it’s been translated.   My good (or welfare) is not beyond (or additional to) you.  Well, that’s very well and good, but what does it mean? 

And while we’re being difficult, verse 3 is tricky as well.  Who are the holy ones in view here?  Are they Canaanite deities?  Or are they Israelite saints?  Opinion is divided.

Is the “multiplied sorrows” of verse 4 intended as an echo of the curse placed upon the woman in Genesis 3? 

In verse 7 it is literally the psalmist’s “kidneys” that is instructing him, but this is only a difference of idiom. We don’t literally believe that our “heart” is the center of our thinking and deliberation.

But it is verse 10 that will probably give us the most difficulty.  Ever since Peter and Paul used this chapter in their apologies recorded in The Acts of the Apostles it has been the Christian understanding that this is prophecy – a prediction of Jesus’ resurrection.  But that wouldn’t have been the Psalmists first intent.  In fact, resurrection probably wasn’t even in his mind.

It comes down to the question Is this verse about being preserved from death or being preserved out of death – two similar but very different propositions. 

Peter and Paul interpreted it to mean that God would not allow his faithful one (that is, Jesus) to stay dead after being crucified – that he would be preserved out of death.    But the resurrection of the dead wasn’t a feature of Judaism until long after King David’s time (assuming that David wrote it, after all).

What seems more likely is that the Psalmist is thanking God for preserving him from death – that is, protecting him from an untimely death.

Mitchell Dahood, in his Anchor Bible Commentary on the Psalms, suggests that the Psalmist believed that he would be taken up to God’s presence without having suffered death – like the heroes Enoch and Elijah.  But this, too, is very different than the traditional Christian interpretation of resurrection of the body.

From start to finish it’s a tricky, difficult Miktam.

(and even though it may be problematic, that doesn't mean we can't sing it...)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

1929 – The Salvation Army in Crisis – Hagiography Fails Us

These are a few of my thoughts as I’ve been reading former General John Larrson’s book -1929: A
Crisis that Shaped The Salvation Army’s Future [i]  (chapter 14)

The story of the 1929 crisis within the Salvation Army (the deposition of General Bramwell Booth and efforts to reform the leadership structure of the Army) is, for The Salvation Army, a slightly embarrassing story; some of our saints and heroes don’t come out so well.  Our hagiography fails us because the individuals in this story and participants of this struggle were fallible humans.  And this is not something we like to admit about our heroes and founders.    We (in whatever organization we belong) want to remember them as being heroic and brave and always advancing in righteousness and holy zeal.  But we know- if we will allow ourselves to admit it- that this isn’t really the case.

When the High Council of The Salvation Army voted to adjudicate Bramwell Booth as unfit to hold the office of the General, it was not with rancor or ill will; it was not a matter of personal resentments (at least, overall it was not.  Some of that may have played into their actions as well – they were, as we’ve said, fallible.)  They had pleaded with him to resign of his own free will so as to not force them into this last dramatic and painful step.  But Bramwell clung to the position even when it was clear to most everyone else that he should let it go.  Call it pride, call it fear, call it selfishness, Bramwell would not relinquish the command of The Salvation Army that had been bequeathed to him by his father, the Founder and first General. 

After receiving the news that the High Council had voted (55 to 8) to pass the ‘resolution relating to the adjudication and removal of General William Bramwell Booth’[ii]  Bramwell and his family announced that they were filing a legal injunction prohibiting the High Council from electing a new general – on the grounds that the 1904 Deed Poll (which gave the High Council the necessary legitimation) was never legally valid and, as such, the High Council had no authority to adjudicate the General’s fitness to hold office and that Bramwell was still the sole authority.

This was duplicitous and bare hypocrisy on the part of the General and his family. 

The 1904 Deed Poll (which augmented without changing the 1878 Constitution of The Salvation Army) had been enacted by William Booth and Bramwell was not only one of the driving forces behind its drafting, but had received his own generalship under its provisions.  Bramwell had long resisted the challenges of the High Council toward change arguing that he felt compelled to honor the wishes and intent of his father, the founder.  But as desperation often drives us to sacrifice our principles, Bramwell stood ready to throw out a quarter of a century’s worth of organization in order to retain his position.

Bramwell and the other members of his family (namely his wife, Flora, and his daughter, Commissioner Catherine Booth) had repeatedly assured the High Council,  the Salvation Army at large and the fascinated public (who were following the story in the newspapers and tabloids) that they would not stoop to taking legal action.  But now that the tide had turned against them, they had announced a legal injunction against the High Council.  This sudden reversal felt like a betrayal to four of those eight members of the High Council who had, to this point, refused to side against Bramwell, and they disassociated themselves from any further support of the Booth family.

Many were also quick to point out that the General’s action directly violated the Orders and Regulations of the Salvation Army: “In no case may Salvation soldiers go to law in the ordinary way with respect to differences which may exist between them.  This is positively prohibited by the Holy Spirit and must never be practiced – 1 Corinthians, Chapter 6, Verse 1.”[iii]

Our hagiography fails us – not because these were terrible, wicked people involved in nefarious plots and maliciousness – but because hagiographies always fail. They’re inherently problematic.  We humans are prone to failure, even the best of us will, when faced by pressure and anxiety, succumb to fear and pride and selfishness.

If we can remember this about our saints and heroes, we’ll be a lot better off. 

[i] Larrson, John 1929: A Crisis that Shaped The Salvation Army’s Future Salvation Books, London England, 2009.
[ii] Page 220
[iii] Orders and Regulations, 1927 edition, quoted on page 233

Psalm 16 - A New Hymn

One of the things I have been challenging myself to do this year is to write new hymns - or at least new words for old hymn tunes. I'm certainly no Charles Wesley, but I have enjoyed the challenge of translating scripture texts into metered phrases for singing.

I sort of fell out of the practice for a few weeks, but I'm back now with Psalm 16 - sung to the hymn tune Vox Dilecti ("Beloved Voice" - usually the tune for Horatius Bonar's text "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say")

Protect and keep me safe, O God,
for you are my refuge;
my soul has said, “You are my God
without you there’s no good.”
As for the saints around me, Lord,
they are majestic ones,
but those who seek another god
shall multiply sorrows.

Yahweh is my inheritance
and I will choose his cup;
the boundary lines are safely drawn
and I have all I need.
I will continually praise
the Lord who counsels me,
even at night my heart instructs
me and I will not fall.

Therefore my heart and tongue rejoice;
my body rests secure
for he will not abandon me
to death’s final decay.
O God, you will make known to me
the path of life to tread.
Your presence is the fullest joy
that I could ever know.

Strike the Phrase IN GOD WE TRUST From Our Currency

The other night I heard a friend of mine comment that he is worried that it may not be too long before “IN GOD WE TRUST” is removed from our currency.  For him this would be further evidence of the decline of our country.  For me this would be a refreshing breath of honesty.

Because, honestly, as a nation we don’t trust God. If we did we wouldn’t spend such an ungodly amount on militarization and weapons of war. 

Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed;
    he will answer him from his holy heaven
    with the saving might of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They collapse and fall,
    but we rise and stand upright.
Psalm 20: 6 – 8

The “chariots and horses” of this Psalm were the ancient battle vehicles – the armored attack weapons.  They were built and used by kings to demonstrate their power and to ensure their victory.  But the psalmist dismissed them.  They collapse and fall.  They are worthless.

I say, strike the words IN GOD WE TRUST from our currency. (It’s only been the national motto since 1956 – and that was only to spite those ‘godless atheists’ during the cold war… ) They’re evidently not true, so erase them. 

Or - what would be even better-

Let’s make them true.  Let’s get rid of our Attack Drones, our M1 Abrams Tanks, and our M16 rifles.  Let’s put away our mortars and missiles. Let’s ground the F-16s and the helicopter gunships.  Then we could say with honesty “In God We Trust.”

Monday, June 24, 2013

Unknown Facts About the Anglerfish

The guys in this band (from Hamburg, Germany) wrote me to ask if they could use my drawing of an anglerfish on their newest album.  What else could I say, but 'of course.'  The music is great and they said 'please.'

Going to Heaven Shouldn’t Feel Like Going Through Hell

I remember being a young teenage boy and being terrified – terrified because I was afraid of going to hell, but at the same time recognizing that I didn't really love God.  (This was about the same time that I told God to “stay the hell out of my life…”  I really didn't want to end up roasting in the fires of hell for eternity, but I felt like I couldn't get to heaven because I knew that I didn't really love God or Jesus the way that the others at church seemed to do.  I didn't want to lie – and realized that it would only make things worse…

I wanted to explain this my parents, but when your parents are the pastors of the congregation, they're not especially keen to hear from their firstborn son that he doesn't know how to love God, so I didn't say anything about it to them.  I tried to explain my fears to a college student in our congregation who had befriended me, but he didn't seem to understand what I was attempting to say.  He gave me the old stand-by advice, “pray about it.”

That didn't help much.

Years later I discovered the song “Slatherage” by the band Dig Hay Zoose which included the lyric: “Motivation of fear, motivation of love, one of these is hell but it gets the job done,” and I knew exactly what that meant.    I didn't understand love for God, but was driven by that fear toward and away from God at the same time.  For me, in those early teenage years, going to heaven felt a bit like going through hell.

I had to realize that a relationship with God was something more than just going to heaven or hell after death.  I knew even then that loving God had to be about something more than afterlife fire insurance, but it wasn't until later that I realized that loving God wasn't even about going to heaven when I die. 

What I came to see is that it’s not about going to heaven at all – it’s about heaven coming down to me.  God loved me even with my doubt, and fear, and anger…  When I could finally get beyond that fear of hell, I found the love of God – which is heaven in itself.

Raheim's Bird

Raheim's Bird photo RaheimsBird_zps3bfffb11.jpg
I have a new little buddy.  He likes to draw.  In fact, he helped me finish the drawing that became the inspiration for this painting.

This is Raheim's Bird.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Red Lilies at Night

Red Lilies at Night photo RedLilliesatNight_zps29c05670.jpgI've never had very much luck with gardening.  Seriously, I kill plants.  But these lilies seem to be growing just fine without me.

Powerpoint Slides for Everyone - 2013 - Week 27

Here it is, once again, this thing I do every week - a free background image for Powerpoint (or similar presentation program).  I make them to use at my little church, but you are free to use it in your own projects - at home, work, school, or church.  Use them as you will.  I only ask that you share them freely and that you tell others that you found them here.

-For those who are interested in that sort of thing - this is a picture of the flashing colored lights at a skating rink in Omaha, NE.

Week 27 photo Week27_zps143f6dfe.jpg

Saturday, June 22, 2013

My Son Reviews "Man of Steel"

My 12 year old son wrote a review of Man of Steel for the Music Camp newspaper (The Register):

My Opinion of "Man of Steel"
by D. Carter

After viewing the film "Man of Steel," many people expressed their opinion of the film.  Now I will give mine.

The special effects in the movie were well done and added a lot to the movie as a whole.  The costumes were put together very well and were, for lack of a better word, cool.

The music was good, but not amazing.  The plot itself varied from the original comic series, but was still exciting.  It included many Christian elements and themes, which made it all the better.

Overall, I give this movie a rating of 8.5 out of 10

Friday, June 21, 2013

Poorly Written Lyrics are Disturbing

 photo IMG_3328_zps3bf10c77.jpgI've been out at music camp all this week - as part of the faculty, helping to teach the kids to play their instruments and to sing more euphoniously. I've also been playing in the faculty band, and singing with the faculty chorus.

One of the songs we've been practicing is "How beautiful" by Twila Paris and it includes this disturbing line:

" beautiful the hands that served 
the wine and the bread
and the children of earth..."

Didn't think that one out too well, did she?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

There's Music in there Somewhere...

I have been at music camp for the past several days.  It is my privilege to lead the beginner's band class.  It's a bit of a struggle, yes.  We practice outside in the heat and humidity and bugs.  And when the airplanes aren't landing at the air-base just down the road, the maintenance crews are mowing the field next to us with the tractor...But there's music in there somewhere, I'm sure of it.

When we started this week, we could barely manage to eke out a middle C.  Now we're able to (mostly) play the C scale and we've got three songs nearly ready to play for Saturday's final concert.

There are actually two more boys in the band - but they were late getting to class the morning we took this picture... it pays to be on time.

 photo BandCamp_zpsc8f9d68a.jpg

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

1929 – The Salvation Army in Crisis – Here Comes Your Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown

These are a few of my thoughts as I’ve been reading former General John Larrson’s book -1929: A Crisis that Shaped The Salvation Army’s Future [i]  (chapter 8)

As the movement to reform the leadership of The Salvation Army (in the issue of succession to the office of the General) gained momentum, General Bramwell Booth collapsed.  He had a nervous breakdown[ii] - the pressures of leadership piled upon his human frailties and rendered him incapacitated, unable to face the necessary changes and unable to think about anything else. This collapse broke his stride and he never fully recovered.

He was instructed by his doctors to take an extended break in order to rest and to recuperate his strength. There was nothing physically wrong with him. He just needed a healthy way to deal with stress of leading an international organization through a difficult period of transition.

But relax is exactly what Bramwell Booth could never do.

In her biography of her father, Catherin Bramwell Booth wrote of her father’s service during the years 1878 - 1928, “Fifty years of continuous work intervened.  He had furloughs, so called.  They never again included one work-free day.”[iii]

He worked when he was sick.  He worked on his days off.  He had no hobbies, no pass-times.  He worked and worked and worked.  But he could never rest.

We in the Salvation Army often celebrate the unflagging zeal of the early Salvationists.  We look back in awe at the work they accomplished in such a short time.  But at what cost?  Bramwell Booth, as an example of this ceaselessness, ruined his health and left the international Army in a dangerous lurch.  And, what is more, it demonstrates a poor understanding on the Scriptural concept of rest – of Sabbath.

We are instructed by God – commanded even – to rest.  God rested himself. God who created and preserves and governs the universe rested.  Should we presume that God needs us to work without rest?

In a way, it’s also a behavior of arrogance.  The work of God, the spread of the gospel, the expansion of the Kingdom does not hang solely upon the work of any one individual.  God works in many varied ways his will to unfold.  To presume that we cannot stop to rest, that our work is that necessary sets us above God himself. 

You better stop, look around
Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes, here it comes
Here comes your nineteenth nervous breakdown.
-The Rolling Stones -

[i] Larrson, John 1929: A Crisis that Shaped The Salvation Army’s Future Salvation Books, London England, 2009.
[ii] Page 120
[iii] Quoted on pate 120.

Monday, June 17, 2013

1929 – The Salvation Army in Crisis –Bigger than the General

These are a few of my thoughts as I’ve been reading former General John Larrson’s book -1929: A Crisis that Shaped The Salvation Army’s Future [i]

People change.  The pressures and joys of life are constantly affecting us – changing our attitudes and our responses.  Sometimes for the better.  Sometimes for the worse.   And organizations (which are made up of changeable people) change over time as well. 

Bramwell Booth – son of The Salvation Army’s founder, William Booth, was beloved by Salvationists around the world.  When he became the Army’s second General after the death of his father, the Army cheered.  He’d been with them from the beginning, serving at his father’s side.  They knew and respected him.  And though he may not have had the same impetuous imagination as his father, he shared the same zeal for the Army’s mission and purpose.

And yet, in the years after he became the head of the Army in all its functions and responsibilities, Bramwell changed.  He became increasingly controlling and overly sensitive to perceived slights; he interpreted dissenting opinions as disloyalty, and sent officers who displeased him to “the freezer.”  He further alienated officers and soldiers by promoting members of his own immediate family.
Bramwell was much like his father, and led the Army in much the same way – but, like people, organizations change.

William Booth was a towering individual, full of zealous fire and intensity.   He believed that he and his fledgling organization would bring about the jubilee, millennial reign of Christ on earth.  And while the Salvation Army was a relatively small force, he could act as the single ruling authority in every regard.   But the Army was growing and expanding, increasing its work and influence.  The Salvation Army became bigger than the General, bigger than even William Booth himself.

And while Booth may have been a controlling autocrat – there were times that he could recognize the fact that the Army was bigger than he was.  His daughter, Evangeline Booth, recalled how her father once said to his children, “The Army is not mine! It is not yours!  The Army is God’s and it is the world’s!”[ii]

The Army was bigger than the General.  And the officers and soldiers began to grow uncomfortable with idea that the General would be entrusted solely with the power and authority to appoint his (or her) successor – especially a General who seemed intent on promoting his own children. 

Bramwell  was approached by many Salvation Army officers (including his sister, Evangeline Booth, who was the Commander of the Salvation Army forces in the United States) to consider making changes to the Salvation Army’s constitutional documents – to limit the power of the General in this regard, and to establish a system by which a High Council would appoint the new General  (both in rank and in laudatory articles in Salvation Army publications.  .

Bramwell was reluctant  - no… Bramwell was unwilling to make any changes to the constitutional deeds (despite the fact that his father had changed them several times himself…).  And concerning a High Council to determine the General, he wrote,  that potential appointees would be in danger of having to rely on currying favour with the council in order to obtain or retain their positions.[iii]   Which was a rather ironic statement coming from the General who sidelined officers who expressed disagreements or dissatisfaction with his leadership.

But the Army was bigger than William, and it was bigger than Bramwell and it would change…

[i] Larrson, John 1929: A Crisis that Shaped The Salvation Army’s Future Salvation Books, London England, 2009.
[ii] Quoted on page 113
[iii] Page 86

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Powerpoint Slides for Everyone - 2013 - Week 26

Each week I produce a new background image for powerpoint (or similar presentation program).  I use them with my little church - but you are free to use them in your own projects at home, at work, at school, or at church - use them however you like.  I only ask that you share them freely and that you tell others that you found them here.

 photo Week26_zpsdaa77134.jpg

1929 – The Salvation Army in Crisis –Hereditary or Not?

(These are a few of my thoughts as I've been reading former General John Larrson’s book -1929: A Crisis that Shaped The Salvation Army’s Future [i])

The issue of succession is difficult and dangerous to negotiate; organizations have collapsed in chaos and nations have been engulfed in war because of competing claims for the seat of power. For William Booth’s fledgling organization, The Salvation Army, the issue had been settled with its 1878 constitution and augmented by the 1904 addendum.  The General retained the authority to appoint his (or her) successor by placing the name in a sealed envelope to be opened after death or retirement.

Bramwell Booth became the second General of The Salvation Army following his father’s death in 1912.   William left a letter for his son filled with words of a father’s advice and counsel to his son now taking over his role as General of The Salvation Army.  In particular he left some words of “general direction as to the selection of a successor.”[ii]

He encouraged his son to seek God’s will in prayer in this most serious task and to seriously consider the importance of this decision.  He also listed a number of qualifications to look for.  His successor should be “an officer in good standing… an enthusiastic Salvationist…healthy and vigorous…” and etc. etc.

But, he went on, it would be best if these attributes could be found in a direct descendent.  “Now it will be good if these qualities, or any considerable number of them, meet in the direct heir of the General for the time being.  That is if the best man for the position happens to be the son or daughter of the General himself, or should they meet in any prominent member of the family”[iii]

And, William Booth – who was a controlling autocrat in life – continued from the grave to try to control the course of his organization.  He wrote to his son, “You will follow the general directions just given as to the selection of your successor.  So far as I at present know the Army, I think in the first instance your choice should fall upon Herbert…”[iv]

That is, Herbert Booth, one of Bramwell’s younger brothers. Keep it in the family.

This wasn't, necessarily, the stated policy of The Salvation Army.  As early as 1910, the Salvation Army Yearbook had affirmed that, “The succession to the position of the General is not in any shape or form, hereditary, nor is it intended to ever to be so.”[v]

Publically – the policy was that the best qualified individual (man or woman (and this was always an important point for William Booth)) was to be appointed.  Privately – Booth maintained the same – but that it would be better if this individual were part of the immediate family…

Ambiguous?  Yes.  But I see this as another example of Booth’s autocratic (and maybe even tyrannical, at times) control of his organization.  I keep writing the phrase “his organization,” and it very much was HIS organization.  He ruled.  He decided. He ordered and the soldiers obeyed. 

I think that this emphasis on keeping it in the family (as much as possible) is an example of Booth straining to control his beloved Salvation Army – to keep it  as close to himself as he could, even in death.

[i] Larrson, John 1929: A Crisis that Shaped The Salvation Army’s Future Salvation Books, London England, 2009.
[ii] Page 44
[iii] Page 45
[iv] Page 45
[v] Quoted on page 48

Friday, June 14, 2013

1929 – The Salvation Army in Crisis – Power and Control (some thoughts on chapters 1 and 2)

In the wake of the announcement of the retirement of General Linda Bond –international leader of The Salvation Army – I have decided to re-read the book 1929: A Crisis that Shaped The Salvation Army’s Future [i]by former General John Larrson.  It deals with one of those ‘dirty linen’ aspects of our history – specifically the deposing by the High Council of General Bramwell Booth.[ii]

This was an awkward moment in our organization’s history – to remove from office its duly appointed international leader, the son of its founder. 

In Chapter One (Laying the Foundation) Larrson outlines the sources  of this conflict – and that may, ultimately be found the apparent struggle of founder and first General, William Booth (and that of his son / successor, Bramwell, to accept anything but his own personal autocratic control over the organization he had founded.

Before it was known as The Salvation Army, it was The Christian Mission, and it’s original constitution, written in 1875 (actually it’s 2nd constitution, but 1st to have binding legal authority), stipulated that it would be lead by two authorities – the General Superintendent (William Booth) and an Annual Conference of members who would vote on executive and legislative issue s– but Booth held on to the power to override any resolutions of the Annual Conference.

However this proved too cumbersome and time consuming for the fiery young organization and for William Booth who was impatient with the long hours of discussion and debate, and for the members as well -one of whom came to William Booth and said, “You tell us what to do, and we’ll do it.  I can’t see the good of a lot of talk, with one wanting one thing and another another.”[iii] 

So in 1877 Booth announced that the Annual Conference would function more as a “Council of War” to advise the General Superintendent. However, legally, there were still the two authorities.  This was rectified with another new constitution in 1878 – one that directed that the Christian Mission will “…always be under the oversight, direction, and control of some one person, called the General Superintendent…” who would be the sole legal trustee of the organizations property and funds – that William Booth would be the General Superintendent until he died (or resigned) - and that Booth and his successors would have the power to appoint his own successor.  [iv]

Mr Cozens-Hardy, the solicitor (lawyer) who was tasked to draft this new legal document, said to Booth, “Mr. Booth, you want me to make you a pope, and I do not think it can be done.”  To which Booth replied “Well, M. Cozens-Hardy, I am sure that you will get as near to it as you suitably can.”[v]  General Larrson describes Booth’s retort as humorous, and it may have been so – but it was true too.  William Booth (and his son Bramwell, later) had a reputation for being an autocrat, who micromanaged his organization and who would brook no dissent.

Cozens-Hardy warned Booth that as written, the new constitution could not be changed except by an act of the British Parliament.  This was now the third constitution in eight years, but Booth would not move on this point.  He knew what he wanted and that was all he wanted.  He seems to have felt that it was divinely inspired as it was and didn’t want tinkering with it after he was gone.  [vi]

On August 7, 1878 William Booth became the sole trustee and single authority of The Christian Mission with the sole prerogative to declare his successor.

But he had doubts – what if the General died without having named a successor? What if the successor refused to accept the office?  What if the General and his named successor were to die at the same time (a possibility that nearly became a reality when a bomb exploded near Booth and his son[vii])?
Any of these would leave the organization in chaos without a duly appointed leader.

But Booth was stymied by his own obduracy.  He often liked to say “what I have done, I can undo,” but this time he couldn’t.  The constitution of 1878 could not be changed without an act of Parliament, and Booth was reluctant to entrust his organization to that body – that would be allowing others to meddle and would be admitting a mistake.

So he sought legal council from some of the best lawyers of the time.  Their recommendation came back that the constitution, indeed, could not be changed without an act of parliament, but that a supplement to the constitution could be added, provided that it only amplified or supplemented the original deed and did not make any changes.

Booth had the supplementary deed written by late 1897[viii] but hesitated to sign it.  He hesitated for seven years.

It seems that he was worried 1) that it would prove to be legally invalid.  Indeed, some very fine hair-splitting went into making sure that this supplementary constitution did not make any changes to the 1878 constitution.  And he was worried 2) that the new provisions for removing a General from office (one of the not-quite-changes to the constitution) might be misused.  Was he afraid that someone would try to wrest control of his organization away from him?

Booth wanted to keep absolute control of his organization.  "Give us a King" cried the people, but they didn't really know what they were asking for.  

I’ll write more about this book and my thoughts in the next several days…

[i] Larrson, John  1929: A Crisis that Shaped The Salvation Army’s Future Salvation Books, London England, 2009.
[ii] For the Record – I do not know, nor do I claim that General Linda Bond has been deposed.  Her retirement was announced by the Chief of the Staff yesterday without any explanation.  Any speculation or questions that may have risen to the surface is the result of this lack of transparency and forthrightness.
[iii]  William Ridsdel, later a Commissioner of The Salvation Army, quoted on page 12
[iv] Page 17
[v] Page 11
[vi] Page 20
[vii] Page 29
[viii] Page 31

Thursday, June 13, 2013

General Bond Retires, Questions Rise

It was announced today Linda Bond, 19th General (international leader) of The Salvation Army is retiring effective June 13th - today. Though it isn't likely to create the same buzz among the blogosphere that retirement of Pope Benedict created back in February, it has caused a fair bit of consternation among Salvationists around the world (and especially among those of us who just saw her speak in St. Louis, Missouri last weekend.)

The announcement of her retirement came in the form of a terse (and uninformative)  letter from the Chief of the Staff, André Cox:

I write to inform you that General Linda Bond is entering into retirement.

Following a period of personal reflection and prayer, General Bond has decided that she should relinquish the Office of the General with effect from 13 June 2013. The General’s decision to step down comes after 44 years of ministry.

As is required by our constitution, contained in the Salvation Army Act 1980, the Chief of the Staff will perform the functions of the General pending the election of a new General.

With no real explanation coming from the International Headquarters, it's difficult for many of us to understand.  The temptation to speculate is compelling.  And, at the very least, many are asking why?  We'd rather not have to speculate, and we don't want to get into gossip or slander.  We'd just like to know what's going on. We're not tryin gto be nosy, or busybodies.  If it's a matter of health, we'd like to be able to pray about it.  If there are other family issues, we can accept that - without getting into personal details.

Some of us wonder (and without information, all we have are questions) if it's something more 'political.'  The 2nd General of the Salvation army, General Bramwell Booth (son of the founders, William and Catherine Booth) was effecitvely desposed by the Salvation Army's High Council (The Salvation Army equivalent of the Papal Conclave) - in fact, that's pretty much why the first High Council was convened.  In the case of Bramwell Booth it was the result of his ill health (both mental and physical) and his refusal to willingly retire.

Is that the case with General Bond?  I cannot say that it is - but I cannot say that it isn't.  In fact I can't say much at all about it beacuse we just don't know.  I don't want to speculate.  I don't want to have to speculate. I'm hoping that we'll be given some more information soon.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Music of Thatjeffcarter Was Here

I like to create. I like to paint and draw and photograph. I like to make music.  But I'm not really very good at self promotion.  So think of this as a reminder, rather than as crass, narcissistic egoism.


Into the Unknown - These songs began as an experiment, exploring what can be done with the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) that I use.  I created this instrument which I dubbed the "Bird Drone"   It's a $4 download. That's not so much.
Artifacts - These 2 songs fell from space and landed in my little home studio.  I recorded them as I found them.  Name your price for the download (of course that could even be Zero dollars if you want.)

Theories of Imagination - This 24 song album began as a soundtrack for a documentary.  The film has, at least for now, lost its way. But I didn't want to waste the music.  It's $10 to download this one, (but that's like .41 per song...)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Powerpoint Slides for Everyone - 2013 - Week 25

Here again is another free powerpoint (or similar presentation program) background image.  I make them every week for my little church and share them here.  You are free to download them for your own projects at home, work, school, or church or wherever.  Use them as you will.  I only ask that you share them freely and that you tell others that you found them here.

For those who may be interested in those kinds of details, the pic includes some of the details from the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis, Missouri.

Week 25 photo Week25_zpse1f1069e.jpg

An Introvert, Malcontent, Troublemaker’s Impressions of the Salvation Army, Central Territory’s Congress 2013

I have, only just moments ago, returned from the Salvation Army Central Territory (USA)’s Congress – this is our big annual gathering for meetings and for the ordination and commissioning of new officers (clergy).  This year’s event was an especially big to-do because our international leader, General Linda Bond, was there with us.

Here are some of my many and varied impressions of this event.

1)      I don't like crowds.  Never have.  Can't imagine that I ever will.  Getting together with 3,000+ people is not a pleasurable event for me.  It’s something akin to torture.  After a full day of meetings on Friday and then another morning and afternoon of events on Saturday – I decided that I would play hooky for the Saturday evening program, in order to preserve my sanity and to maintain peace within my family. I do not feel guilty for this at all.

2)      I don't particularly like pep rallies.  And I guess I need to lower my expectations a little bit.  These meetings are always going to veer toward the ‘rah, rah, rah, sis boom bah’.  They're intended to be inspirational and motivational, to stir us up to do better and more.  But that doesn't mean that I'm not hoping for something a little meatier.

3)      This year’s congress was more than a little bittersweet for me.  This is our 15th year of service – which in the Salvation Army means a promotion to the rank of Major (not that it means a lot, it’s just a title) but because I was expelled from the training college (seminary) just weeks before graduation and ordination, my wife and I did not get to have our ordination ceremony in front of the cheering crowd of friend and families.  (even as an introvert, I can appreciate that to some degree).   We were eventually (after the training college principal retired) quietly ordained and commissioned in a private ceremony, but it’s just not the same. The others in my session have received their new rank – but I'll have to wait until January for mine.[i]  I have avoided these Congress events as much as possible in these last 15 years because it’s difficult to be a part of them when I wasn't a part of mine.  Even after all this time, I was surprised by how close to the surface those emotions were. 

4)      But, lest you begin to think that I absolutely hated the event… I did enjoy seeing my mentee receiving his new Lieutenant stars and his first appointment.  3 years ago I was asked if I’d be willing to be a mentor to the then candidate for training. I was surprised to be asked – surely someone remembered that I had been thrown out of the training college.  Yes, I am “Thatjeffcarter.”  So I've played mentor to him, and it must have worked out okay.  It was good – really good to see him receiving all the pomp and circumstance that I missed.  Hurrah and Huzzah!  (And part of me takes this as a sort of ‘revenge' – a little comeuppance to those who threw me out.  Is that wrong?)

5)      It was good to see some very dear friends – even if by the nature of these awful events you can’t see them for more than a few minutes over the course of the weekend.  And it was good to see the many ‘other’ friends and acquaintances from all across the central USA and even from other parts of the globe.  The Salvation Army is good like that.  We get to know many, many, many people from all over.   And there were a lot of people to see … maybe too many (see point #1) but it was good.

6)      I was floored when an officer that I have long admired – from even before I was an officer – told me that I am his hero, and that he hoped the Salvation Army leadership would station us closer together so that we could get together and do something ‘dangerous.’  I’m pretty sure that he meant that metaphorically.  (but even if he didn’t, I’m game.)

There were other things I didn’t like, and other things I did appreciate, but it was a 6 hour drive home, and I’m sorta’ beat.   I’m glad – honestly – glad that we went, but I am Very glad that next year’s event won’t be a mandatory one.

[i] Perhaps I'll tell a bit of this story some other time…
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