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Friday, July 31, 2015

Biblical Limericks: Use Snopes

If you would avoid looking like dopes,
let me help you – I’ll show you the ropes:
ranting before hearing
the facts ain’t endearing;
it is shameful and foolish. Use Snopes.

Proverbs 18:13

Two Biblical Approaches to Dealing with Disagreement within the Ranks

Recent online discussions with members of my religious denomination (The Salvation Army) have become more inflammatory than I like. I would prefer reasoned discussion. I would prefer to begin from the starting point that those with whom I may disagree are still followers of the same risen savior – even if we disagree.

But this isn’t generally how things go. I’m told (directly and indirectly) that I am a blight on our organization; I am accused of being duplicitous, and twisting scripture to fit my own sin or worldly interests. And, what is more, the suggestion is made that I should just resign from my position within this organization. (And all of this also directed towards others within our community who share similar viewpoints and interpretations with me.)

I don’t think this is a very good way to go. Might I suggest two different lines of approach? (Both of which, by the way, are drawn from those scriptures that I’m told I don’t follow.)

Peter and the other apostles, following what they believed to be the guidance of the Holy Spirit, began preaching a message that challenged long held traditions and accepted truths. This infuriated some of his coreligionists to the point that they wanted to put Peter and the apostles to death. But one member of the ruling council urged caution and restraint. “If this enterprise, this movement of theirs, is of human origin,” argued the well-respected Rabbi Gamliel, “it will break up of its own accord; but if it does in fact come from God you will be unable to destroy them. Take care not to find yourself finding against God.”  (Acts of the Apostles 5: 21 – 39 New Jerusalem Bible)

Gamliel allows for some uncertainty – a measure of doubt, a question mark. Gamliel allows for the word “maybe.” Maybe they’re right. Maybe we’re wrong.  But “maybe” is a dangerous word for those who desire certitude. Many are unwilling to concede that their opponent may be following the leading of the Holy Spirit. 

The other scriptural approach I’d point to is for those who don’t have any time or use for “maybe” and it comes from Jesus in one of his parables: “the kingdom of Heaven," he said, "may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everybody was asleep his enemy came, sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off. When the new wheat sprouted and ripened, then the darnel appeared as well. The owner’s laborers went to him and said, ‘Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? If so, where does this darnel come from?’ He said to them, ‘Some enemy has done this.’ And the laborers said, ‘Do you want us to go and weed it out?’ But he said, ‘No, because when you weed out the darnel you might pull up the wheat with it. Let them both grow till the harvest; and at harvest time I shall say to the reapers: First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burnt, then gather the wheat into my barn.’” (Matthew 13: 24 – 30 New Jerusalem Bible)

Even IF (and that’s a very large IF – one that Gamliel wasn’t willing to gamble) you could conclusively, with exacting certitude demonstrate that the person with whom you are disagreeing is an absolute ungodly heretic with nothing of the light of the Holy Spirit guiding them, rip-roaring through the field to uproot them – to demand their immediate resignation and/or termination – is still not the best course of action; you’re likely to do as much (or more) damage that way.

So 1- allow for “maybe.”  And 2 – wait. 

This Accursed Melody - Soundtrack

A couple of years ago I, along with my brother and a large number of my friends and coworkers, put together a short zombie movie.  We had a lot of fun with it.  I've shared the movie here on the blog before but, for whatever reason, I never shared the music separately from the film.

So - here is the music - three songs.  And all this, of course, gives me opportunity to repost the film.

This Accursed Melody from Brad Carter on Vimeo.

Click here if you'd like to check out the script / storyboards/ and production notes.

Stained Glass Window

This window can be seen in the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Dr. Tarrec and Michael Scot

I received another letter from my friend Dr. Tarrec today. His letters never fail to amuse me.

My dear Jefrey,

You know that I do not often watch the televised programs broadcast on television. I much prefer the study of books, and, in any case, I am usually far too busy with my alchemical experiments to waste time watching game shows or situational comedies or programs of the incredibly misnamed “reality” variety.

However, I have recently discovered a television program from several years ago that goes by the name of The Office. I do not know if you are aware of it. Perhaps you have seen it? It is an engaging and really quite humorous. But I was caught up into the program, not because of its laughter inducing antics, but because I know – or knew, rather – Michael Scot.

What must have been a lifetime or two ago, he and I travelled together through the Nomansland region of Italy, collecting material for his treatise on alchemy –De Sole et Luna. He was, in those days, the very tooth of wisdom. Together we turned a coven of witches into stone. There was not a doctor in all the realm who knew more about the urine of the Equus africanus asinus. We were imprisoned together, for a time, in a sweaty dungeon by Baron Ffouljakes. It was locked and forgotten in that oubliette that we worked out the details of what would become eventually become his Super Auctorem Spherae

I do not know how the Wizard of Balwearie escaped from the fourth Malebolge of the eighth circle of Hell, that pocket of the Inferno reserved for fraudulent practitioners of magic, wherein the damned have their heads twisted around backwards on their bodies. Master Durante degli Alighieri saw him there during his visionary travel. But that Scottish born mathematician, philosopher, necromancer, and astrologer was always incredibly clever. If anyone could have found a way to escape, it would have been Michael Scotus. Perhaps he stole a trick from those Italian mummers who would dress as the devil during the Gioco de Veglio, “the game of the old man,”  and slipped surreptitiously through the gates of hell.

I did not immediately recognize my old compatriot in the show, and do I understand why he pretends now to be this Steve Carrell figure. His disguise is consummate, portraying himself as the bumbler clown, but knowing him as I do, I can see through his dissimulation. There are flashes when his chemystical genius pierces through the veil of buffoonery. He once wrote that “every astrologer is worthy of praise and honor, since by such a doctrine he knows many of the secrets of God and things which few know,” and that is, my friend, what she said…

P.L. Tarrec

Biblical Limericks: Interesting

‘Scripture is good,’ we loudly intone,
except this one, this one we disown,
for our economy
is structured so, you see,
that we must charge interest on loans.

Psalm 15: 5 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Butt Trumpet of the Lord

One Jeremiah Johnson, writing for Charisma Magazine - that much lauded publication of intelligence and quality journalism (snicker) - has delivered a word of prophecy from the Lord... ehem... declaring that, and I quote:

"[Donald] Trump shall become My trumpet to the American people, for he possesses qualities that are even hard to find in My people these days. Trump does not fear man nor will he allow deception and lies to go unnoticed. I am going to use him to expose darkness and perversion in America like never before, but you must understand that he is like a bull in a china closet. Many will want to throw him away because he will disturb their sense of peace and tranquility, but you must listen through the bantering to discover the truth that I will speak through him. I will use the wealth that I have given him to expose and launch investigations searching for the truth. Just as I raised up Cyrus to fulfill My purposes and plans, so have I raised up Trump to fulfill my purposes and plans prior to the 2016 election. You must listen to the trumpet very closely for he will sound the alarm and many will be blessed because of his compassion and mercy. Though many see the outward pride and arrogance, I have given him the tender heart of a father that wants to lend a helping hand to the poor and the needy, to the foreigner and the stranger."

Biblical Limericks: Any Translation with Sea Monsters in It Is a Good Translation

I suppose it is time I confessed -
seldom do I like KJV best,
but how could I resist
a supernat’ral twist:
“even sea monsters draw out the breast…”

Lamentations 4:3 

What Does the Eagle See?

What does the Eagle see? Ask the question: What does the Eagle see?

With orël eyes the apocalyptic eagle sees a vision of the future. Something here lies hidden; what however is said by the orël, we will not allow to pass in silence. It is a nuclear prophecy and it must be declared over the whole Earth. The Eagle (from its powerful orbital jet) sees two she-bears strengthened to defeat and to eat Mako-ar-Abba.

Ar-Abba and all his followers horrify me, fill my mind with terror, knowing what Marko-ar-Abba will do before it is devoured. Ar-Abba speaks movingly about the end of America and the Crash of the moons, spreading lies to my people, people who can only experience piracy and civil ends.

The former Soviet Union seems willing to adopt new techniques in seeking warrants for spying. Very suddenly, surveillance devices and paint-by-number Kandinskys appear on the walls. There might be a terrorist hiding there, but you must listen to what the hidden voice of the Eagle is saying. It is because tracking apparatuses like this have penetrated deep into the Soviet Union, sneaky and dangerous, like a home-lobotomy kit, that the Eagle’s words have not been abolished. Domestic surveillance is here and not one word changes. 

The sharp-eyed Eagle sees the two she-bears mauling the youth of the world. The big story here is not that ar-Abba’s psyche is responsible for training ursine terrorists to conduct global affairs, but that it is also creating an intense heat all over the planet. This is a warming and a warning: There will be burning brimstone forest fires.

The Eagle sees genetic degeneration and open doors to luxury and excess. Leviathan, like the she-bears, is weak; they must be strengthened by devouring ar-Abba spies. This is the Western Epoch of crime; the American Era. Mako-ar-Abba will worship his strange foreign god, Maozim; Mako-ar-Abba will worship Maozim in hidden nuclear fortresses. And where is that evil spirit now? It is declining, and reclining in luxury.

The only thing that can defeat the number six is the number five. The eagle is not restored to immortality.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Basilica of Saint Mary (Minneapolis)

Our family is taking a few days away from home.  We're in Minneapolis to visit some family and old friends.  While here, we visited the Basilica of Saint Mary - "America's First Basilica."  Work began on the cathedral in 1907. The exterior was completed in 1914. Interior work was delayed by World War I, but finally completed in 1926.

Biblical Limericks: Well That’s Depressing

Some scriptures seem designed to depress,
reading the gospel that they express
is occasionally
as dark as Death’s valley
and everything is meaningless.

Ecclesiastes 1: 2

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Sky Explodes

Every now and again - if you're watching - the sky explodes right in front of you.

Biblical Limericks: Call It What It Is

Some people would the story reshape,
but should we let King David escape?
His sin’s not just murder,
but what he did to her -
what he did to Bathsheba was rape.

2 Samuel 11: 1 - 5

Dr. Tarrec’s Free Weekly Horoscope #25

Aries – Puzzled by the laboratory analysis, the Doctor will make an emergency visit. You will have to pay the house call service charge.

Taurus – Who or what is landing here? The cosmic circle closes.

Gemini – The delicate interlocking of fates determine life and/or death. There are no ifs. If you can’t find ‘em, grind ‘em.

Cancer – Though a dog barks in the distance, there is nothing in the darkness. Go back to sleep.

Leo – Any moment now: Unspeakable horror, fugitive criminals and rampaging robots in empty urban centers.

Virgo – German aviators (speaking in riddles) will attempt an illegal landing. 

Libra – The blood turns to powder as a result of the regimen of injections he’s been given. 100cc. 200cc for added protection. He will absorb great quantities of radiation.

Scorpio – Embrace the epithet.

Sagittarius – Oh, save it for the supernovae. One nervous soldier starts a panic.

Capricorn – Listen:William Palmer has come loose from temporal constraints, but that book has already been written.

Aquarius – Think of one terrifying word. Hold it in the center of your mind. This is not action.

Pisces – Yes. I have seen it.  It is a petty insurrection of dissidents and puppets – marooned malcontents who consider themselves idealists and comics. I wouldn’t  worry about it.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Two from the Backyard (Closeups and Explosions)

Two photos from the backyard this afternoon.  The first is a macro shot of one of my sunflowers - I held a lens that I cannibalized from a broken slide projector in front of the camera for this one.  The second is a long exposure shot of the Crimson Beebalm in my neighbor's yard.  During the one full second that that shutter was open I rotated the camera in my hand.

Background Images for Everyone - 2015 - Week 31

Here it is. Are you ready?  This week's free background image.  It's yours, if you want it.  Download it and use it any of your projects at home, work, school, church, wherever.  Use it however you like - I only ask that 1) you share it freely and 2) that you tell others that you found it here.

 photo Week 31_zpsw3ie8wkc.jpg

Biblical Limericks: The Marks of Jesus

I’ve something to ask, I just gotta’
should the marks be desiderata?
Did Paul, on his body,
have wounds for all to see?
What exactly were these stigmata?

Galatians 6:17

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Wasp and Bee

Two photos of insects today - a Blue Mud Dauber Wasp (don't worry. they're generally not very aggressive) and a large humblebee.

Biblical Limericks: That’s not in Genesis…

The tower in chapter eleven
was built for the storming of heaven -
so say those who’d enlarge
the story without charge,
but that’s not in Genesis, Rev'rend…

Genesis 11: 1 – 9
3 Baruch 3: 7 – 8

The Tower

Friday, July 24, 2015

Setting Sunflowers on Fire

This one's for Kyle - who may or may not appreciate all the sunflower photos...

Nyx or Nox, Come Find me Now

Nyx or Nox, come find me now;
send owls from shadows
and let me drink the wild honey.
I’ll sleep in oracle caves
on Venusian mountains
or distant frozen moons,
perchance I’ll dream
perfumed dreams.

Sunflower Fire

I've begun using long exposures and zoom lenses to set sunflowers on fire...

Thursday, July 23, 2015

3 X 3 Leftovers

I take many more pictures than I post. Here are nine that, for one reason or another, were never shared individually.

Cowardice in The Salvation Army

I am often dumfounded by my denomination, confounded by my co-religionists. I am surprised that in this organization, this movement, this church–which was born in a moment of defiance–seems now to be unable to handle anything but unquestioning obedience and seeks to stifle any voice of dissent within its ranks.

By 1861 William Booth, then an evangelist for the Methodist New Connexion Church, was becoming something of a nuisance to the leadership. William (and his wife, Catherine) felt especially drawn to the work of an evangelist–to preaching the gospel, especially in the poorer quarters. Both of them.  Catherine’s preaching was a source of contention; women were not widely accepted as appropriate ministers of the gospel. But William (and Catherine) insisted that they could best serve the church as evangelists, rather than as circuit-ministers.

 “The question now presented itself forcibly to their consciences, as to whether they were justified in submitting any longer to the jurisdiction of a handful of persons, who were obviously influenced by unworthy motives in denying them a position of greater usefulness” (Booth-Tucker 391).

In May of 1861 the Methodist annual conference met in Liverpool, England. Booth’s case was addressed, and his request to be assigned as an evangelist was met with much opposition–much of which seemed motivated by personal animus and by a dislike for Catherine’s aggressive preaching. When Booth’s request was denied, one of their friends proposed a sort of weak compromise, but…

“This was more than Mrs. Booth could endure. She had been sitting at a point in the gallery from which she and her husband could interchange glances. It had been with difficulty that she had restrained her feelings hitherto while listening to the debate. But at this stage she was overcome with indignation. She felt that Dr. Cooke had sacrificed their cause in the interests of peace rather than righteousness. But for his suggested compromise she believed that they would have carried the day with a triumphant majority.

“Rising from her seat and bending over the gallery, Mrs. Booth's clear voice rang through the Conference, as she said to her husband, “Never!"

“There was a pause of bewilderment and dismay. Every eye was turned towards the speaker in the gallery. The idea of a woman daring to utter her protest or to make her voice heard in the Conference produced little short of consternation. It was a sublime scene, as, with flushed face and flashing eye, she stood before that audience. Decision, irrevocable and eternal, was written upon every feature of that powerful and animated countenance. Her "Never!" seemed to penetrate like an electric flash through every heart” (Booth-Tucker 412).

In that act of defiance the Salvation Army was born. How much did the Methodist New Connexion lose in failing to hear and to accept the voices of William and Catherine?

Years later, Catherine Booth describing this event wrote: “I believe that cowardice is one of the most prevailing and subtle sins of the day. People are so pusillanimous that they dare not say 'No,' and are afraid to go contrary to the opinions of others, or to find themselves in a minority” (Booth-Tucker 409).  Today, the sin of The Salvation Army is still that–cowardice- an unwillingness to face contrary opinions, an unwillingness to hear dissenting opinions without knee-jerk condemnation.

And this is not really a new problem for us. It has been with us all along. In a letter to the second General (and son of the founders) Bramwell Booth, George Carpenter (who would later himself become the leader of the international Salvation Army) wrote:

“The Army is perhaps the last great public body to remain under autocratic government. In most civilized lands a man may speak openly as he feels concerning public affairs and rulers-from King, President, Prime Minister down. And so long as he avoids libel no one may penalize him for so doing. Within the Army there is a settled belief that one may be a Salvationist of unimpeachable devotion, of ability and godliness. But should he or she express views out of accord with the General…he or she is accounted disloyal and is in consequence discredited. This has a most unwholesome influence and produces an evil of secret disaffection much more to be feared in its present and ultimate effects than outward disloyalty” (Carpenter 160).

And how did General Bramwell Booth respond to (then) Colonel Carpenter’s letter? 

“My Dear Carpenter,
Your letter, which is a bomb! needs consideration before I see you. But let me say at once that your difficulties (if that is the right word) are really moonshine” (Carpenter 161).

Colonel Carpenter was then transferred from his appointment at International headquarters to Australia. Even though a memo went out instructing officers that no one was to attend Carpenter’s departure several Commissioners, senior officers, and employees gathered to bid him farewell. (163)

How many valuable voices are we losing when differences of interpretation are treated as expressions of heresy and when those officers and soldiers who have differing interpretations of scripture are told that they should leave the Salvation Army?  Are we unable or unwilling to learn from our own history?

Booth-Tucker, Frederick, The Life of Catherine Booth. Fleming H. Revell Company, New York. 1892.
Carpenter, Stella.  A Man of Peace in a World at War. Australia. Privately published. 1993.

Condone -vs- Condemn

It happened twice in an online discussion last night: someone used the word "condone" when what they intended (based on the context of the rest of their post) was "condemn." I realize that the words are very similar in spelling and sound, but they're wildly different in meaning.  Use them appropriately to avoid making a muddled mess of your arguments.

Sunflower (Eye of Sauron)

A few weeks ago I planted some sunflower seeds. I've never (until recently) been much of a gardener.  I kill plants.  I'm good at that.  But the sunflowers have survived my lack of skill and have come up and blossomed.  I have nine blooms now, and few more that may (if I don't do anything drastic) still open up.

I can't put my finger on it, but there's something...unsettling about these sunflowers.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mark 10: 45 (Texas Trooper Translation)

“For the Son of Man came to serve and to protect, so respect my authority and do as I say or I’ll light you up!”

Mark 10: 45 (Texas Trooper Translation)

Zoom and Bee (Sunflowers)

This afternoon I have two very different pictures of the sunflowers in my backyard. The first is a long exposure (1 second - which is a relatively long exposure for a sunny afternoon) during which I zoomed in on the sunflower's head. I've used this technique before - with lilies. The second is a large, fuzzy bee that joined me for this photography session. I'm glad to see the bees in my yard.

Reflections of Light and Shadow

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Polite Thing To Say

When you get what you've asked for, the polite thing to say is, "thank you," - not - "it took you long enough."

Imaginary Pirate Radio Broadcast from KDFS (Space Music)

Every now and again I pretend to be the DJ of an imaginary pirate radio station - KDFS (You're listening to KDFS and that's oKay DoFuS!).  I do it to amuse and/or annoy my friends.  KDFS only plays the best (or worst, depending on your taste - we have none) in weird, obscure... terrible music. This week's broadcast is sponsored by the TMA-1, makers of quality Monoliths and Starchildren since 1968.

First up is a favorite around here, Space Lady, singing the classic Ghost Riders in the Sky.

We could do an entire week's worth of programming based on our next artist, but one song will have to suffice for today. Here's Klaus Nomi and his Rubber-band Laser.

The next song, Waltz in Orbit, was recorded by Ray Cathode - otherwise known as Maddalena Fagandini, pioneering female electronic musician.

Today's playlist has been space themed, in honor of our fine sponsors.  We include the following song because we assume that she is a "space" robot.

And the final song in today's broadcast goes out to Doctor Tarrec, wherever he's hiding.  This is one of his favorites.

Remove those Books from the Library! Remove those Books from the Bible!

Several parents in Duval County, Florida have submitted a petition to the Public School System to have children’s books set in Iraq and Afghanistan removed from school libraries. The two books, The Librarian of Basra and Nasreen’s Secret School, written by Jeanette Wilder are both based on true stories.

But why should we stop with the purging of elementary school libraries?  If it’s dangerous to allow our precious, innocent, impressionable children to be exposed to stories set in these dangerous (and Muslim!) locations, how much more treacherous is it have these kind of horror is our bibles, in our treasured scriptures?! I say we follow the example of these fearful parents and excise the following stories from our bibles as they contain “subject matter too heavy for children” and may expose them to the horrors of the world, and because they’re set in non-Christian countries like Iraq and Iran.  

Genesis chapter 1 – 11, 29 – 31,

These books are far too dangerous for our children.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Epidemic Outbreak Ipecac

Just a bit of nonsense. Sorry.

Biblical Limericks: Behemoth!

Job, the Behemoth should be your sign
to indicate how power’s defined -
just one glance divulges
with vigor he bulges;
his penis stiffens just like the pine.

Job 40:17

Stephen Mitchel translated verse 17 as: "Look: the power in his thighs, the pulsing sinews of his belly. His penis stiffens like a pine; his testicles bulge with vigor.”

Sunflowers in the Backyard

I have four sunflower blooms (of various sizes and heights) now - and several more about to open.

Dr. Tarrec’s Free Weekly Horoscope #24

Aries – Open the Book of Prevarications to any page at random; you will find an honest answer there.  Look, also, for hidden messages embedded in the text.

Taurus – Is this good policy? Sensible and judicious under the circumstance? Is it good judgement, especially in dealing with other people? Then why do you mock and deride it so? You infuriate others and make yourself look foolish and calloused.

Gemini – Let laughter come up from the spleen; it has to be good for something eventually…

Cancer – Look again. You have secret plague-sores and inflamed carbuncles. Treat your chilblains with a mixture of eggs, wine, and fennel root. Times have changed. Make arrangements to begin school in the fall.

Leo – Under no circumstance should you speak to the voices in your head; be they spirits of the hearth or goblins damned, you are not prepared to begin that conversation.

Virgo – Make the triangle sign. Heed the Oracle of the Cosmos and conjure up from Hel the prince and power of darkness. Learn the incantations of mystical bedlam.

Libra – Interrogate the world with wind and words; apply quadratic equations as necessary.

Scorpio – Now is the time for roasting Sulfur. Wash it all in the steep-down gulfs of liquid fire. Ignore the screams coming from the mid-way.

Sagittarius – Are you finally going to do as I instructed? Shut up your doors against the vermin of the night.

Capricorn – Take smoked meats, oysters, and periwinkle. All these foods are yours, except long-pork. Attempt no nourishment there.

Aquarius – Instead of using traditional police methods, for a felon catch a fox, strike off from him, while quick, the tusk. Incarceration will follow hard upon.

Pisces Oh! Pinion him like a thief. Pluck at his beard; take his leg and gouge out his eye. You’ll be doing me a huge favor.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Biblical Limericks : Laying on of Hands

Here is a scripture that's never bland,
stirring up both my loins and my glands.
I know it can't be wrong
for the Song of all Songs
encourages our 'laying on of hands.'

Photography Lesson

This is what was left on the whiteboard at the end of a brief class on the basics of photography.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Background Images for Everyone - 2015 - Week 30

Here it is again - the weekly free background image.  You can download it and use it as your very own.  I only ask that you share it freely and that you tell others that you found it here.

This week's image is of the flag of The Salvation Army - a symbol of The Salvation Army's war against sin and social evil.

 photo Week 30_zps1r04jmp3.jpg

Biblical Limericks: God Loves Artists Best (or at least first...)

Of course we know that our God imparts
his spirit to fill up human hearts,
but the first to be filled
was a man who was skilled
in creating great works of fine art.

Exodus 31: 1 - 6

Hotel Room Planet

I am away from home, in Omaha, Nebraska for the weekend - attending a series of meetings.  Last night I was just a bit bored so I located and photographed a planetary body inside my hotel room.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Different Liar - Different War - Same Lie

Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee is telling the same lie that we've heard over and over and over again.  We've heard it before, but they keep repeating it.  Apparently they know we'll believe it.

Here it is again.

"America has to have the most formidable, fierce, military in the history of mankind. So when we have a threat, whether it is ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Iranians, whatever it is, we make it very clear that we plan to push back and destroy that threat to us. And we won’t take 10 years doing it, we hopefully won’t even take 10 months, it will be like a 10 day exercise, because the fierceness of our forces would mean that we can absolutely guarantee the outcome of this film.”


Earlier this year it was Senator Tom Cotton saying that a war with Iran would only take "several days."  We'll go in, drop a few bombs, ba-da-boom, ba-da-bing, and the American boys (and girls) will be home by Christmas.


That was the same lie that Donald Rumsfeld and the Bush 2.0 administration sold us back in 2002. Rumsfeld told us it would be over in "five days, five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn't going tolast any longer than that."


The Kaiser told German troops that they would be "...home before the leaves have fallen from the trees."


Every war. Every time. It's the same damn lie.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Terrible Story – A Parable of Sorts

I gave blood today. I do this as often as I can. It’s an easy thing to do, to share what I have with others. As usually happens the nurse who pricked my finger to test the iron content of my blood, and pumped the sphygmomanometer to take my blood pressure made polite small talk. Our conversation dwelt on my church, The Salvation Army.

“I love the Salvation Army,” she said. “They do such good work. How long have you been with them?”

“40 years,” I told her without hesitation. She looked puzzled, trying to apply that number against the relative youthfulness of my appearance. “My parents are also Salvation Army officers,” I appended.  “I was born into it.”

“Ah. I see,” she said. “You must love it.”

I nodded. “And hate it.” She looked puzzled again.

“I’ve been around long enough to know of the public glories of my denomination and its darker private failures. I’ve seen the good and I’ve seen the bad and the ugly.”

“But you do so much to help people.”

“Let me tell you a story that was told me by a wise old Sergeant Major (which is something like a Deacon in other denominations). He told me of a faithful soldier (that is, a member, in the curious and idiosyncratic jargon of the Salvation Army) by the name of John Chevigny, who became concerned for the soul of man he worked with, an atheist by the name of Abraham.  John knew Abraham to be an honest man, trustworthy and worthy of respect, but feared that this good man and good friend would some day die without knowing the blessings of the Kingdom of God. John began to patiently urge his friend Abraham to find the peace of Christ, and to join with him in worship at The Salvation Army.

“Abraham replied that he felt the issue to be determined, he didn’t believe in God and felt no need to change. But John persisted (without making himself obnoxious about it) and continued to try to persuade his friend. And after some months, Abraham began to be moved, if not by John’s persuasions, by his persistence.

“One day he said to John, ‘Listen. You would like me become a soldier in your army of salvation, and I am prepared to do so on one condition: first of all, I shall go to your Territorial Headquarters to observe and interview the officers I see there. I will examine their lives and conduct, together with their ministry, and if they seem to me such that, added to all that you have told me, they lead me to faith, I will do as I have promised and join your band. If I remain unconvinced, I will stay as I am.’

“When John heard this be was very distressed, and said to himself, ‘I’ve made a hash of it all. If he goes to the territorial headquarters and meets the Commissioner and other officers there, and sees what foul and wicked lives they lead, he will never become a Christian, let alone join The Salvation Army.’

“And John tried to dissuade Abraham from such a course.  Come now, my friend, why should you make such a journey? You’ll have to take time off work and think of the expense…  Surely I can answer whatever questions you might have.’

“But Abraham was resolute, and set off to visit the Salvation Army’s headquarters. There he toured the building, and made appointments to meet many of the officers. He spoke to them privately and asked them many questions. He also met with many clients of Salvation Army programs and who opportunity to interact with the officers. Being a very perceptive person, Abraham discovered that many of them from the highest to the lowest officer were vain, and given over to various vices. They broke vows, they gossiped, they treated others with back-biting malice. He saw among them embezzlers and thieves.  He discovered improprieties and failures of many kinds.

“All this, and many other things that I could describe except that prudence bids me keep them silent, Abraham discovered during his investigations. And so, feeling that he had seen enough, returned home.  When John heard that Abraham was back, he went to him with much anxiety.

“’Well, having completed your research, what sort of impression did the officers at headquarters make on you?’

“’A very bad one,’ said Abraham. ‘I am surprised that God doesn’t strike down the whole lot of them. I saw lust, and greed, and fraud, and envy, and pride – oh so very much pride. I came to regard the whole place as a hotbed of wickedness rather than holy devotion.’

“’It is as I feared,’ said John with a sigh.  ‘I am sorry to have wasted your time.’

“But Abraham was not finished. He said, ‘As I drove home it occurred to me that The Salvation Army continues to do good work, here and around the world, despite the depravity of its leadership. I can only conclude that it must have the Holy Spirit moving within it. How else could one explain its continued preservation in face of all that your officers seem to be doing to destroy it from within? If I once refused to listen to your arguments, I am now fully persuaded. Sign me up, and fit me for a uniform, for I wish to become a soldier in your army.’”

“Is that true?” the nurse asked me.

“It’s the story I was told,” I said to her. “But the sergeant-major who told me that story was the most honest man I’ve ever known. He’d been around long enough to know a thing or two, and my own experience cannot contradict his story.”

“That’s a terrible story,” she said.

“I know.”

(Confession time – I’ve adapted this story from one of the stories told in Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron – but tell me that it doesn’t ring true, even in this free adaption.)

Biblical Limericks: That's a Bit of a Downer

Even in laughter the heart sorrows,
and that mirth is mirth that it borrows,
for the day speeds away
and the darkness will stay;
there's heaviness for all tomorrows.

Proverbs 14: 13

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Classified Memo from Dr. Zorka

CLASSIFIED MEMO: 243 – 2 – 6151 – 84
From: Dr. Zorka (Alchemical Civil Defense)
Subject: The Death of Dr. Tarrec and ROCKET ATTACK USA


Our friends in Europe report that Dr. Tarrec [REDACTED] is dead – broadcasting with code interruptions - and that exercise 47 is a failure. ROCKET ATTACK USA is no Sputnik. We must continue research and development. But, as reliable as our operatives have been in the past, we must discount this report. This is not a case of deliberate prevarication on their part. They probably believe that they saw the plane crash and explode. They probably believe that they themselves sifted through the bones and ashes and that they made identification of Tarrec’s remains from the carbonized fragments of his femur, but Tarrec has proven himself again and again capable of deceiving the world’s greatest forensic experts. His much vaunted alchemy skills really are magnificent.

I have squared off against Tarrec at least a dozen times in the last century. You would do well to trust my misgivings in this case.

A scream in the dark indicates an infestation of oversized arthropods, crawling up from the basement.  Use pistols and smoke grenades. Fire at them until they cease to struggle, until they cease to make jokes about Nixon and Reagan. Conventional sprays will be of no effect. Crashing timbers may result if left untreated.

The New Cold War is good business for our exporters of paranausea and jingo based beverages. Children will drink it down with their after school snacks. You can’t believe all those stories printed in the paper. Why are you even reading the newspaper? Sputnik is no ROCKET ATTACK USA. CIA operatives are masturbating near the Caspian Sea. The NSA is listening on two different (uncoded) channels. And we have propaganda prepared for just such an occasion, ready to move. We will launch a thousand angry blog posts with bitter recrimination based on faulty information (not to say, outright lies.) We’re ready to fire a thousand amateur videos and our talk show hosts are standing by to cycle through their prepared rants on each of the talking points.

The Dead One (Tarrec) was (is) not in favor of this course of action. This, in itself, should be ample justification for our adoption of this plan – enemy of my enemy and other assorted half-assed aphorisms that pass for foreign policy around her. The house band plays louder to hide their lack of talent. And it should go without saying (but it won’t) that we also have agents ready to vociferously disagree on every point in this memo. We cannot afford to be anything other than predictably opaque.

Incoming satellite data is incomplete, but our scientists maintain that they will be able to complete the ROCKET ATTACK USA missiles on schedule. They say that, or we beat them. Budget cuts have slowed down production. It is regrettable. But our Joint Chiefs assure us that congressional budgets will be reevaluated very soon, and in our favor. Strontium 90 will be applied liberally against those who refuse to sign the line.

The Civil Defense program is a beautiful thing; I dream of it often. I am naked in a backyard bomb shelter. Diplomacy is for pussies. DUCK AND COVER is preferable in any scenario to any soft-shoed floor routine. Boots on the ground and drones in the sky never fail to stiffen my resolve. We must, we must, we must go all the way.

The giant arthropods are the mutated result of our own depleted uranium shells – the ones we explicitly are not using and do not even admit to having.

I shake my head at what we are seeing here; any attempt to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons – through diplomacy and not the actual use of nuclear weapons – is a despicable, un-American tactic. Shameful. We tell lies about weapons of mass destruction. How dare you attempt to prevent their use!

We do, however, commend the increased use of ROCKET ATTACK USA Missile Drones. We gladly ignore any violation of international law that results from their use.

Dr. Zorka


A Sunflower Brightens up that Dark Sky

Yesterday's sunflower was nice, too.

Walls Walls Walls

I'm thinking a lot about walls recently. They're appearing in my news feed, my entertainment and my sermon preparation. Walls, walls, walls - and not many of them are as endearing as the one portrayed by Snout,one of Shakespeare's noble fools, in  A Midsummer Night's Dream.

In this same interlude it doth befall
That I, one Snout by name, present a wall;
And such a wall, as I would have you think,
That had in it a crannied hole or chink,
Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisby,
Did whisper often very secretly.
This loam, this rough-cast and this stone doth show
That I am that same wall; the truth is so:
And this the cranny is, right and sinister,
Through which the fearful lovers are to whisper.
(A Midsummer Night's Dream V.i.)

In the news we have a less noble fool raving about building a wall between the United States and Mexico so that we can keep out all those undesirable rapists and thieves. Sounding like a candidate from the 1840s Know Nothing Party, presidential hopeful, Donald Trump has promised to build a wall between us and them - and to make them pay for it.

It wouldn't surprise me at all if Trump's wall were built with the following warning displayed prominently every 100 yards:
"No man of another race is to proceed within the partition and enclosing wall about the United States and anyone arrested there will have himself to blame for the penalty of death that will be imposed as consequence." 

If you replace "United States" with "the Sanctuary"what you have there is actually the warning inscribed on the wall around the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Gentiles (foreigners) were forbidden to enter the sacred courts of the temple.  The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus described this warning:"When you go through these [first] cloisters, unto the second [court of the] temple, there was a partition made of stone, all round; whose height was three cubits, its construction was very elegant. Upon it stood pillars, at equal distances from one another; declaring the law of purity, some in Greek and some in Roman letters; that no foreigner should go within that sanctuary." (The Jewish War 5. 5. 2)

Examples of this Temple Warning were discovered by archaeologist Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau in 1871. And this prohibition of is at the heart of the ruckus raised by Paul's opponents, described in Acts 21: When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, who had seen him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd. They seized him, shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against our people, our law, and this place; more than that, he has actually brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.”  For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. Then all the city was aroused, and the people rushed together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the doors were shut. (Acts 21: 27 - 30 NRSV)

But this sort of divisive wall building - rooted in hostility, anger, and pride - should not be part of the Christian program.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. (Ephesians 2: 13 - 14 NRSV)

A hostile and divisive, us-vs-them attitude is not Christlike. But, even so, many American Christians seem keen to embrace this sort of alienating demeanor. Muslims? Don't like 'em. Mexicans? Don't like 'em. Gays? Don't like 'em. Immigrants? Don't like 'em. Let's get rid of them, build up that great, great wall and put everyone in their proper place... Except that, according to the Apostle Paul, the appropriate place is all together. Or else we'll be singing this song that I wrote a few years back:

Let’s build a wall to keep them out
all those folks we could just do without.

The abortionist doctor with blood on his hands,
drug abusing guitarists and their hard rock bands,
inarticulate plumbers whose pants don’t fit,
and pit-bull hockey moms with their bright red lipstick.

Migrant workers who don’t speak American,
the clumsy and oafish appliance repairman,
the angry punk rocker with a tattooed lip,
the single mother with a baby on each hip.

Opera devotees who support PBS,
expensive German Freudian psychiatrists,
coalminers and their beautiful young daughters,
and all crooked slime-ball Illinois governors.

all those folks we could just do without.

(There are several more verses. Click through to read the rest.)

The (American Conservative Christian) Apostle Paul Writes to the Ephesians

So then, remember that at one time (and still today) you Liberals, called “the radicals” by those called “the conservatives,” remember that you were at that time (and still are today) without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Christianity, and strangers to the Constitution of the United States, having no hope or change, and without God in your world.  But now in Christ Jesus, you who are far off, are rejected and despised.

Ephesians 2: 11 – 13 (Radically Misunderstood Version)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Biblical Limericks: Inerrancy

If we’re going to be coherent,
it should be readily apparent
with the contradictions,
edits, and additions,
that the Bible is not inerrant. 

First Sunflower

Back, way back on May 5th,I planted some seeds in a little plot in the backyard - sunflowers, and milkweed.  Today, the first of my sunflowers opened its head.

Biblical Limericks: Historical Impasse

Gamaliel mentions one Theudas,
who claimed to be somebody – an ass -
but he was killed, and then
Judas the Gal'lean
led his revolt during the census.

But, and here’s where it becomes a mess,
in the history of Josephus
this order is reversed;
he says Judas came first.
We have an historical impasse.

Acts 5: 36 – 38

Dead Sticks

One more photograph of those burnt leftover remains of Fourth of July sparklers.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Frontier Press

The publisher of my book, Muted Hosannas,- Frontier Press -has a sparkling new Facebook page. You should check it out; "like" it even.

"Frontier Press publishes titles promoting topics of both societal and spiritual transformation reflected through the mission of The Salvation Army."

Frontier Press is interested in your shelfie! Take a picture of yourself with your shelfie - in other words a shelfie-selfie and post your pic to the Frontier Press Facebook page. Between now and August 31, 2015 - everyone who posts a shelfie-selfie on the Frontier Press Facebook page will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Amazon Gift Card. So share your shelfie-selfie and share the Frontier Press facebook page with your friends.

Genesis 15:5 -6 (GOP 2015 Version)

The LORD brought the GOP outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to the GOP, “So shall your candidates be this year,” and the GOP believed him.

Dr. Tarrec’s Free Weekly Horoscope #23

Aries - This is the excellent foppery of the world: that deaths and dissolutions have divided the weary from their wealth.  Divide the heavens into twelve houses, but one will rule.

Taurus – Are you sick in fortune? Are you now wont to be so full of songs, Sirrah? You are too much, of late, in the frown.

Gemini – This guilt goes back to your school days-there were giants upon the land in those days and the guilt of disasters in the sun, moon, and stars is theirs – the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light. 

Cancer – Do you question the translation? You should. Question also those who are fools by heavenly compulsion and the very pregnant and potential spirits.

Leo – Beware of knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical dominance (and rotund girth); they will campaign for your vote and prevaricate for your dollar.

Virgo – How did life begin on Earth? How did the dry land separate from the water? Ask the atom and the Adam.

Libra – You have made an admirable evasion of difficult duty; but what have you gained from that? 

Scorpio – Put off your goatish disposition for the charge of a star. The seven sisters are no more.

Sagittarius – If you insist upon lingering beneath the Dragon’s tail, you may find your skull perforated by his scaly trepan; all that matters is the dura mater, but you will not long endure beneath those spines.

Capricorn –   Fut! You are like the catastrophe of the old comedies, more hideous than the sea monster.  Darkness and Devils!  Blasts and Fogs upon thee!

Aquarius – Though the Hebrew calendar (just as the Sumerian calendar) is unexpected, the Earth and Moone’s late and horrible obscurations were not unpredicted -strange and fearful news was recorded in soft clay with a stylus.  These (like the earth) are dried in fire to be a permanent record.

Pisces  Villainous melancholy will not still be readable in six thousand years.  Sing, “Fa, Sol, La, Mi,” and leave it unresolved.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Bloodless Battle

Agincourt and Crispin’s day,
when played upon the stage,
is all rousing speeches for the soldier’s
honor and emboldened glory,

But this is bloodless battle
with simulated swords,
neither slopped with mud
nor stench of sweat
and the noisome rot
of perforated guts.

Those that outlive this day,
returning home after the play,
can boast that they did thump upon the boards
but in the field that day
real men spilled honest blood
and there is no glory in that.

If we are not frighted by false fire
neither will we be moved to violence
upon the field, to slaughter and to gore,
by rhetoric, no matter how well spoken.

Background Images for Everyone - 2015 - Week 29

Here is this week's free background image.  It's yours if you want it.  I only ask that you share it freely and that you tell others that you found it here.

 photo Week 29_zpsvl3kr0lp.jpg

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A Limerick for John Hagee

For the love of God, ignore Hagee
preaching Blood Moon eschatology.
His teaching’s asinine;
he’d destroy Palestine
with his brand of Christianity.

A Dim-Remembered Story

“Dude, what are we watching?”

“It’s a…”

“It’s weird, man.”

“…French film from the 1980s, setting an Edgar Allan Poe story in space… I think.”

“You think?  Which one?”

“I’m not sure. The sound quality is pretty bad, and it’s hard to tell what they’re saying without the subtitles.”

“Can you…”



“You said, ‘Can you…’ and then you stopped.  Can I, what?”

“I dunno, man. Can you?”

“Oh shut up and watch the movie.”

"Okay, okay, man. You don’t have to be so testy. What are we watching?”

“It might be The Fall of the House of Usher. I think the space station is supposed to be Roderick’s castle.”

“And it’s going to fall, like … like…  … like Skylab or something?”

“Yeah. At least I think, maybe."

“Cool. Who are those guys in the rainbow colored jumpsuits and motorcycle helmets?”


“RED Angel, Uriel, Power of light, regent of the sun. Ready!”

“ORANGE Angel, Raphael, Power of health, binder of the desert demon. Ready!”

“YELLOW Angel, Raguel, Bringer of Fire and harmony. Ready!”

“GREEN Angel, Samael, Angel of venom and poison. Ready to kick some ass!”

“Watch yourself, Samael. You’re a good angel on a short leash. BLUE Angel, Michael, the Great Prince. Ready!”

“PURPLE Angel, Gabriel, Power of strength and player of cool jazz. Ready!”

“VIOLET Angel, Phanuel, the Face of God, sustainer of hope. Ready!”

(IN UNISON) “Gathered together, the forces of heaven, numbering seven, angels forever! Huh!”


“Dude, that Edgar Allan Poe was trippin’…”

“Quiet. Let me watch this.”

Alors! Ethelred leva sa massue et frappe sur la tete du dragon qui tomba devant lui et rendit son soufflé empeste avec...”

“Dude, this is really weird. Tell me that doesn’t look like a giant Charles Manson.”

“Shut up. You’re high and you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Seriously, dude! Those power-ranger angels are fighting Gigantor Charlie Manson. Look! There’s the swastika carved on his forehead!”

“You’re crazy… that’s not… it’s… You may be right.”


“Gabriel, proceed against the bastard and the reprobate; advance against that child of fornication.  Destroy the Watcher’s evil son!”

“I hear, and I obey, Oh Michael!”

“Phanuel, Angel of exorcisms, expel this Satan. I can no longer bear to look upon him.”

“I hear, and I obey, Oh prince!”


No sooner had these syllables passed my lips, than – as if a shield of brass had indeed, at the moment, fallen heavily upon a floor of silver – I became aware of a distinct, hollow, metallic, and clangorous, yet apparently muffled reverberation. The band began to sing: “Every time I think about it I want to cry, With the bombs and the devils, And the kids keep coming, Nowhere to breathe…”

While they gazed, this fissure rapidly widened – there came the fierce breath of whirlwind, of the dragon who was thrown down – the entire orb of the satellite burst into flames and began its final fiery descent to the earth.  There was a long tumultuous shout, like the voice of a thousand waters, and then silence.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Jesus Insane

If you read this blog with any degree of regularity, you may have already noticed that I have a tendency toward the weird–and the weird for weird’s sake. I like the obscure, the odd-ball, the lunatic, and the crank. I like the horrific and the terrible. I like dreams…usually.

But I swear that what follows is not just another case of me being strange just for strange’s sake.

When I was seven years old I had the following dream. I do not know what it “means.” I do not know why I would dream such a thing as such a young boy. My parents did not let me watch scary movies, and certainly not the kind that would inspire the images I saw as I slept.

I watched in my dream as a green sedan pulled up and parked in front of what looked like a government building of some sort, with lots of concrete steps and tall white columns. Two women dressed in professional suits exited the car; they were laughing and conversing with each other. Together they approached the trunk of the car and opened it so they could retrieve their briefcases.

But when they’d removed their bags they were surprised to discover a shiny piece of blue fabric, shimmering, blue–something like a sash made of silk. They saw that words were written on it in a strange foreign language, but they could not read it. The women agreed that this was very strange and that they should take it to their friend and co-worker, a doctor-a scientist, who could determine what it was, and what the writing said. They closed the trunk and carried the strange piece of cloth with them up the stairs and into the building.

As the women walked away from the car, a man-wrapped like a mummy, except for his face, in the same shimmery blue fabric-crawled out from underneath the vehicle. He was laughing.

Inside, the women delivered the mysterious material to the doctor and he began his inspection of it. He stretched it out flat on his examination of it, turned on the overhead lights and laid out his tools. Using a magnifying glass he looked closely at the weave, then made a careful transcription of the foreign words into his notebook. Behind him, on a shelf, were a number of thick dictionaries bound in leather covers.  He poured through the pages until he found the reference he wanted. 

“No.” he said in gasp, and then began to translate the words on the fabric. “J-E-S-U-S-I-N-S-A-N-E.”  He checked and doubled checked. “My God!” he said. “Jesus insane.” He looked up just then to see the blue-wrapped mummy man coming into his study, wielding a long hunter’s knife.  He started to scream, but was stopped when the mummy-man stabbed him in the throat.

And that’s when I woke up, terrified, too afraid to move, too afraid to even call out for my parents to come comfort me.

Biblical Limericks – King David was Loathsome

Look at me God, and see how I hate;
see how my anger will not abate.
You can examine me-
test my heart and you’ll see
how loathsome is my natural state.

Psalm 139: 21 - 23

125 Years in Jasper County, Iowa

We're having a bit of a celebration around here today; it's our anniversary.  The Salvation Army has been in Jasper County, Iowa for 125 years. 25 short years after The Salvation Army began in the lower east end of London, it found its way to central Iowa. And we've been here, helping to meet human needs ever since.

To celebrate we're having an open house - tours of our building, hot dogs, cupcakes, and special sales in our thrift store.  The members of the chamber of commerce were here and gave us a plaque and we posed for about a thousand grinning photos - even staged a "ribbon cutting" (never mind that it's 125 years after the fact...).

Here's to another 125 (though I doubt I'll be around long enough to see them all.)

Biblical Limericks: Assassins and Harlots

See her dressed in robes of rich scarlet,
once full of justice; she’s a varlet.
The city of Zion’s
become an assassin,
the faithful city, now a harlot.

Isaiah 1:21

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Midsummer Night’s Fool

Earlier this week I took my family to a Shakespeare event. My 16 year old daughter went with minimal eye rolling in part, I think, because she has some growing appreciation for the Bard.  My wife went because it was something to do – something she could endure. She really doesn’t like Shakespeare.  (Our son is out of town this week, so he did not go with us.  His loss.)  The event turned out to be rather disappointing.  It was very mediocre. And I felt sorta’ bad about inflicting it upon my wife. 

So we snuck out during the intermission.

When we got home, to make up for it, my daughter and I watched Joss Whedon’s version of Much Ado About Nothing (2011).  And we liked it very much.  And, still being in a Shakespearian sort of mood, she and I this evening watched the 1999 film version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by Michael Hoffman and with an ensemble cast featuring Kevin Kline as Bottom, Michelle Pfeiffer and Rupert Everett as Titania and Oberon, Stanley Tucci as Puck, and Calista Flockhart, Anna Friel, Christian Bale, and Dominic West as the four lovers. This version of Shakespeare’s comedy is not my absolute favorite but I do like it very much.

I like it because of the sensitive way it treats the “clowns” Nick Bottom, Peter Quince, Francis Flute, Robin Starveling, Tom Snout, and Snug the Joiner.  They are the “rude mechanicals” as Shakespeare wrote them – over the top and silly (though not quite to the scenery chewing level of Michael Keaton as Dogberry in Kenneth Branagh’s film Much Ado About Nothing (1993)). They are commoners hoping to impress the king on his wedding day with their amateur stage production about Pyramis and Thisbe.  They are fools, yes, but they rise far above their common, low place and are given a great dignity.

Bottom the Weaver (Kevin Kline) is an ass (in more ways than one) but he is given a marvelous vision – beyond his ken or comprehension. And it isn’t played (just for) laughs.  Bottom is changed (somewhat) by this dream.

I have had a most rare  
vision. I have had a dream, past the wit of man to
 say what dream it was: man is but an ass, if he go           
 about to expound this dream. Methought I was--there               
 is no man can tell what. Methought I was,--and               
 methought I had,--but man is but a patched fool, if       
 he will offer to say what methought I had. The eye        
 of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not              
 seen, man's hand is not able to taste, his tongue            
 to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream     
 was. I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of 
 this dream: it shall be called Bottom's Dream,
 because it hath no bottom; and I will sing it in the           
 latter end of a play, before the duke:   
 peradventure, to make it the more gracious, I shall        
 sing it at her death.

And the other mechanicals prove themselves more than mere rustics in their performance during the wedding celebrations.  Though the scene is comic – and drawn for laughs – these simpletons become brave and noble.  Snug the Joiner becomes a brave and sensitive lion and wins the hearts of the dainty ladies. When their production threatens to fall apart, they react with quick wit, improvising, and demonstrating the keenness of their minds. When Sam Rockwell (in drag as Thisbe) begins his final speech in a high-pitched falsetto, I chortle because it IS funny, but by the end of his speech I am moved nearly to tears.  The laughter is swallowed up in pathos.

As I said, it’s not my favorite Shakespearian film, it feels a little slow, a little sleepy.  But I love those clowns, those fools.

'That, of course, is the great secret of the successful fool – that he is no fool at all.'

Isaac Asimov, Guide to Shakespeare

I Have not Lived Long Enough

There once was a man, a very rich man, who lived long with his wealth upon the land, sustaining himself with vitamin regimens and supplements.  But these could not give him the length of days he desired, so he began whole blood transfers, gene therapy, and ingested a mélange of pharmaceutical troches.  He was injected by his private doctors with Razal Gel and altered carbon cortical stacks. 

And still he thought, “What am I to do? I have not lived long enough.”  Then he said, “This is what I will do, I will begin the viral blast treatments and buy black market to replace my worn out parts.  RNA resourcing, applied Phlebotinum routines, and Nano-filament rejuvenation are not enough.  I will drink the lachrymose essence of the grimalkin youngling and I will live.  And I will say to my soul: ‘Soul, you have plenty of life for days and weeks and months and years to come.’”

But Death, who comes to all, stood near and said, “Fool!  This very night I come for you.  What will you do then?”

A Limerick for Romeo and Juliet

O Romeo, Romeo, you fool,
Juliet too, you are not so cool.
Star-crossed lovers? Rubbish!
Dumb kids with a death wish...
I'd rather Tybalt have won that duel.

Biblical Limericks: There's a Cream for That...

This is bad, and oh! this is dire,
my sins, if stacked, they would be higher;
I've stinking, rotting sores
all the way to my core,
and my loins! my loins are on fire!

Psalm 38: 4-7

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Biblical Limericks: Peace and Righteousness are Well Met

Salvation’s close, not something to miss,
God glories in a land such as this.
Where love and faithfulness
can meet without distress,
peace and righteousness each other kiss.

Psalm 85: 9 - 10

Prairie Fleabane

Erigeron strigosus - otherwise known as "Prairie Fleabane" is a member of the widely diverse Daisy family and is good for butterflies and bees.

Sorry D’Souza, That’s Not Evidence of God’s Blessing

Recently Dinesh D’Souza shared this question on the Twitter machine:

“If America is not a providential nation, then how has this young country become the #1 superpower in the world?”

The answer he wants to hear is: “God has blessed us.”

The answer is actually: the same way that Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, etc… became superpowers in their day. By conquest and subjugation. Being a wealthy nation with a powerful military is not evidence of God’s providential blessing.

And, we should remember what happened to each of those superpowers.
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