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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Setting Sunflowers on Fire - Again

Using a long exposure and motion to set sunflowers on fire...again

Burning Sunflowers by Jeff Carter on

Friday, July 29, 2016

Salvation Army Officers Attitudes towards Same Sex Relationships – Survey Results

Back in May I had a conversation online with several of my co-religionists, fellow members of The Salvation Army. In that conversation it was suggested that as many as 10% of Salvation Army officers would be supportive of same sex marriage. Some friends were shocked, and even outraged, that that high of a number was bandied about. For my part, I suggested that if we are in line with other Evangelical Protestant denominations, that the percentage is likely higher, around 36%. 

However, no one I spoke to could recall an official survey of Salvation Army officers on the issue. And my curiosity was piqued. So put together a very brief survey that I hoped would help provide something like a realistic description of the number of Salvation Army officers who are supportive of same sex relationships.

Below are the statistical results of my survey, as well as the comments I received within the survey itself, on my blog where it posted, and on Facebook where it was shared.

I received 187 responses. The only question in the survey that could not be skipped / left blank was #6

As it turns out, the percentage of Salvation Army Officers (at least of those who took this survey) is a fair bit higher than that 10% that was bandied about in our conversation. This isn’t to say that this survey is a full and complete picture. I realize that it is limited and in some ways flawed. But I think that it does point us toward the fact that there is a greater support for LGBTQI relationship within the Salvation Army than is generally recognized.

I should also say that some of the comments I received were a little bit hurtful. Read them below.

A couple of important qualifiers:

This was not an official survey; it was not sponsored by any territory or division. It is personal research only.

For the purposes of this survey I only solicited responses from active / retired Salvation Army officers and cadets. This is not because I'm uninterested in the opinions of our many fine soldiers, adherents, former officers, clients, and etc. It was only to keep this initial fact-finding survey simple, clear, and easily defined. This also why I limited the survey to one substantive question. I considered adding more questions about the reasons why people side for or against but, again, I wanted to keep this initial survey as simple and uncluttered as possible.

The survey was anonymous. Names were not requested and those that were supplied will not be shared.

Question 1 – What Is Your Age?

18 – 20                  0.54%                    1
21 - 29                   9.68%                    18
30 – 39                  23.12%                  43
40 – 49                  24.73%                  46
50 – 59                  25.27%                  47
60+                         16.67                     31

Question 2 – Are You Male or Female?

Male                      58.92%                  109
Female                 50.54%                  75
Other                    0.54%                    1

Question 3 – In What Territory Do You Currently Serve / Reside?

United States Central – 44
Australia – 40
United States Southern – 17
United States East – 16
United States West – 16
UK - 13
Canada / Bermuda 10
New Zealand / Fiji - 8
Norway – 2
Germany – 2
South Africa – 1
France / Belgium – 1
Italy / Greece – 1
Sweden – 1
Finland / Estonia – 1

Question 4 – What Is Your Rank?

Cadet                    3.85%                    7
Lieutenant            17.58%                  32
Envoy / Sgt.         1.10%                    2
Aux. Capt.            0.55%                    1
Captain                 31.87%                  58
Major                    43.96%                  80
Col. / Lt. Col.        1.10%                    2
Commissioner       0%                         0
General                  0%                         0

Question 5 – Do You Believe Same Sex Intercourse within the Bounds of a Monogamous and Loving Marital Relationship To Be Sinful?

Yes                         53.47%                  100
No                          42.25%                  79
I Don’t Know         4.28%                    8             

Survey Comments (All comments are cut and past exactly as I received them.)

I personally have no issue with monogamous homosexuality, and struggle with the seeming biblical condemnation of this practice.

Certainly think we must be accepting and gracious and loving to those struggling with this issue

No matter how many times you try to say you have a new interpretation of scripture t doesn't change what scripture says. Very clear one man one women.

God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman. Monogamous unmarried heterosexual relationships are just as sinful.

I believe that the Bible answers this question. No holds barred.

Just one question? I was ready for a marathon of question answering.

The Army needs to move into the 21st century. I feel a sense of frustration and shame when I am with my gay friends, many of whom are clergy and chaplains.

I was brought up to believe that is is a sin, however the more I read and look into this myself the more I am convinced that within marriage it is not a sin

This survey is flawed since it is from an officer of a liberal / progressive officer is sending it out on his blog. A blog that is followed by the minority of officers of the same persuasion. Hence a small minority, already bent towards this idea, and doing all they can to make it seem like many others support it. Why not post it on traditional, conservative, evangelical Salvationists Primitive Salvationists and see what the results would be

You need to leave the Army.

I do not believe that same sex intercourse can not exist within the context of a marital relationship, since I don't believe that same sex marriages have God's blessing. So, if they aren't actually married, than any sexual activity is sinful

I think the last question should exclude the word "marital" since acceptance of that status within homosexusl relationships is what you're trying to survey.

I would assume if someone is 'married' they would be having sex.

Read your Bible, God is against it! What does what we think matter.

There has to be a way of expressing one's sexuality and of developing intimacy without crossing that line. Jesus and several of His close friends were single and celibate and lived rich and fulfilling lives.

There is no question about this. The 10% needs to get in line with the scriptures.

Do we no longer reverence a holy God? Isn't His Word, the Bible, clear on such matters? OR are we shaping scripture to our will rather than being transformed by It to God's will?
Bit of a loaded survey, you would get a better insight of peoples view if you included things around relationship, marriage and the like

While I believe there is a biblical structure to marriage, we hurt our christian message when we spot out our hateful speech. America is a country based on freedom. We need to allow for those outside our viewpoint. Just because I may not agree with gay marriage doesnt mean I dont believe they dont deserve rights. Dont we all ha inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our job as Christians is to love and share Christ's love.

Thank you!

I would welcome a biblical debate to enrich the conversation

I have told my gay son that as long as he loves Jesus with all his heart mind and soul, then God will be his judge, not us.

Interesting wording of the last question, almost like there is an agenda. Only God can sanction marriage and He did, between Adam and Eve. No where in Scripture is a same sex marriage ever endorsed. Not one mention of a loving same sex marriage, not a hint. There are however plenty of references prohibiting same sex relationships, even to the point of calling them an abomination and declaring that those who practice them will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Jeff, why are you so bent on trying to send people to hell? Why would you do anything but lovingly warn them about what Scripture says? Is it a family member? A friend? Or even a personal struggle? Total depravity means we're all born broken in some way, including our sexuality but this is exactly why we need to be reborn. God heals, Jesus saves, and the Holy Spirit empowers and convicts. Please, please, please, stop playing with people's eternity.

For me the issue is faithfulness, whatever your sexuality

I am still working my way through all of this. One of the hardest things about trying to figure it all out is to watch people who have an opinion being hateful to others who have a differing opinion. This is not a safe topic to discuss and I think many people just avoid it all together.

The attempts to push this in the Army is apostasy within the ranks by people who need to get saved.

I have an aunt who is in a same sex civil union. And friends who are single officers who are gay.

All same sex relationships are sinful and go against God's word.

Marriage is for one man and one woman. All same sex intercrorse is a sin. All sexual relationships outside marriage is sinful. The bible is very clear about both.

I believe in marriage equality for all.

The bible is clear on leviticus,,,god does not sway on this and nor should we...if we do then we are saying gods word is flawed

I believe strongly in God's pattern and design for marriage and human sexuality. I also take our first doctrine seriously and hold to the "Scriptures of the Old and New Testament" as "the divine rule of Christian faith and practice." This belief is in the context of 'grace and truth' as demonstrated by Jesus.

I would like the Salvation Army to carry out same sex marriage in my Territory (it is legal in civil society). We cannot support same sex relationships and then refuse to bless them.

1Tim 1:10

Marriage is between a man and woman only.

Scripture is clear and unwavering on this matter. The "new,ma curate" interpretations are both incorrect and misleading. To approve marriage equality in relation to same sexual activity would be an abomination.

I believe Marriage is the Union of one man and one woman. But I do not see their sin any different from unmarried hetero sex

You're freaking awesome and I'm glad you put this together. 


It is about time for change to happen!

I also believe that same-sex couples should be able to marry, also that they should be able be part of the church in leadership and officership.

Blog Comments

Apparently Soldier is not a rank or position whose opinion you respect. Should an Officer come to our Corps and preach same sex marriage they would be frog marched off the pulpit, out the front door, with a swift kick to the seat of their pants as a farewell.

Amen! Any officer that preaches a false gospel will be cast out in our corps.


I suppose there is no way to verify whether those that fill out this poll are actually officers. At best the evidence it pulls will be conceptual, and at worst completely false information.

The survey is timely and needed but I believe the substantive question focuses too much on the physical behaviour than the bigger issue of acceptance and inclusion. There is as much diversity in the LGBT community about sexual practices as there is in hetero-normative relationships. The issue for many LGBT is not about what they do in the bedroom, but how they live their lives and are accepted by society and the church. I know a number of Christian gay men who choose not engage in penetrative sex. This includes a number of salvationists and officers who identify as gay who are no longer part of our fellowship because they have been told they are welcome.
This is what you do with your time?

Facebook Comments

The survey is merely an invitation to entertain the idea of compromise with evil. That is probably why our leaders have not considered it.

Thanks, I'm really interested to see the response.

My Bible is very clear on the issue of sex. The only sexual orientation God approves is that between a MARRIED MAN AND WOMAN! Sorry if this offends anyone. Thank goodness I have never been asked to perform a wedding for a same sex couple, but on the basis of my own understanding, I would have to refuse.

NOTE - this post has be edited since it was first posted. One line of data in question 3 was omitted and has been corrected. -TJC.

Obscure and Forgotten Superheroes

These Superheroes and Super Villains have been forgotten, and rightfully so.

1) Zygodactyl Man – he has the head and torso of a man, the feet of a bird.
2) Nitrous-Oxide Man – with the healing power of laughter.
3) The Dust Bunny – lurking under your bed.
4) Gregory Speck – like the famous actor, only much smaller.
5) The Phlegmanator – calmly hocking up a viscous substance to stop crime
6) Captain Apathy and the Lethargic Legion – meh…
7) Peaked in High School Man – forever reliving former glory.
8) Gulliboy – believes everything he reads.
9) Uncle Albert – stretching his hands across the water.
10) Miss Direction – confounding the world with propaganda and doublespeak.
11) Saint Helveticus – prophet of the chemystical sciences.
12) The Satanic Sartorialist – Hail Satin!
13 The Grimwald Warrior – his father will never forgive him.
14) Apophatic Woman – following the negative way toward God.
15) The Indeterminate Time Twins – they’ll be arriving soon…
16) Doctor Zorka – of the Alchemical Civil Defense program.
17) Jump Cut Girl – making abrupt transitions to the next scene.
18) The Law-Bender – never actually breaks the law…
19) Mistress Heliotrope – dressed in black and purple leather, ready to spread the perfume of justice.
20) Teenage Crimewave – rebelling against the parents who buy her everything.
21) The Statistician – compiling data to influence the future.
22)  Mr. Oblivious – Now where was I?
23) Captain Goiter – providing iodine for everyone.
24) Superannuated Man – using old slang: Twenty-three-skidoo!
25) Hypotension Gal – 90/60 and falling.
26) The Defenestrator – throwing criminals through the windows of Prague.
27) The One that Got Away – you should have seen him.
28) Mister Dullard – hasn’t got a single intelligent thing to say.
29) The Spanx Manx – well if you’re going to fight crime in your underwear, it should be slimming…
30) Conformator – yields to social pressure.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Sunflower Droplets

These sunflowers that I have in my backyard garden are blood-red when they first open, but turn yellow after a few days.

Sunflower Droplets by Jeff Carter on

The Abject History of Sternodogs and their Creator, Doctor Zorka

It was the Tarkus Experimental Energy Laboratories that first developed The Right Government ™ Sternodogs. Doctor Zorka, head of the Alchemical Civil Defense project, poured liquid blue hellfire in to the veins of grim-faced canines and brought forth these Gwyllgi, the cruel canines that hunt and burn us in the streets. Pinschers, Wolfhounds, and Mastiffs were his favored source of genetic material. He modified their DNA, by removing the myostatin gene to increase their muscle mass, and this altered genetic material was carefully mixed with Zorka’s secret formula of Cadet’s fuming liquid, methanol, water, and an amphoteric oxide gelling agent.The Sternodogs were then placed into aluminum storage jars with a blue, flammable, amniotic fluid. Thousands of these jars are kept in the vaults of Tarkus labs.

The first generations of Zorka’s Sternodogs were all fang, and claws, and throaty growls. They melted into puddles of ooze that burned through the floor. Zorka quickly corrected his mistakes, but the memory of those grotesque mutations, the echo of their howls in the T.E.E.L basement corridors lingered for many years, like ghosts. Like guilt and shame.They were the ethical nightmares of unrestrained hubris and malice.

Modern Sternodogs grow quickly after birth, developing meaty, overgrown, muscular thighs, making them excellent runners, perfect for the military police/ hunters of The Leader’s Polizeistaat. Deathstalkers in the secret streets of the city, patrolling littered alleys in the dark and the dank, their own pungent smell masked by the stench of urine and industrial run-off. Their partially exposed skulls glow faintly, blue beneath matted clumps of fur. Their eyes are cold and sharp as a winter wind.

They are kept on carbon fiber leashes and mark of the beast RFID shock collars, unleased by their handlers to attack and to kill children with death. They snarl and growl, mocking and shredding advocates of now obsolete (and forbidden) politically correct speech patterns. God may be on the side of the oppressed, but The Leader’s Sternodogs will attack and kill. And we are afraid. We hide, or we run but we cannot escape.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Donald Trump’s Road to Hell

General William Tecumseh Sherman famously said, “War is hell,” and we all agree – at least to one degree or another. Some of us believe that “war is hell” and should be avoided at all costs, that any recourse to war is a failure. Others of us believe that war may be hell, but it is sometimes the lesser of two evils, that it may be sometimes necessary in order to achieve a greater good. Either way we all – to one degree or another – will agree that war is hell. That it is cruel, and ugly, and destructive; it ruins and destroys. War is nasty, and brutal; brutish and never short enough.

The Geneva Conventions were negotiated in the aftermath of World War II to define the rights and protections of prisoners of war, wounded combatants and civilians in war zones. They are an implicit recognition by the signatory nations that “war is hell,” indeed, and should be limited; that the evil of war cannot be unleashed without constraint. Once the dogs of war are slipped from their leashes, cry havoc! because there is no way to control them, to bring them back.

But Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, believes that the Geneva conventions are“out of date,” and in need of renegotiating. More specifically, Trump has said that we must do “the unthinkable.” Bring back torture. Bring back waterboarding.  He has said that “we should do a lot more…”

Trump ignores the fact that, no how refined the euphemism, “enhanced interrogation” does not work. It is ineffective in gathering intelligence (what is gained is either inaccurate or already known), it is brutal (it is hell…), and it is illegal. Torture is an outrage against human dignity.

If the Geneva conventions are going to be renegotiated, they should be made stronger, more stringent – less torture, not more – less barbarism, less outrage and abuse, not more.

The road to hell is paved with renegotiations of the sort Trump favors.

photo by: Gage Skidmore

Oil and Water and Filter

Oil and Water and Filter by Jeff Carter on

Tarkus Experimental Energy Laboratories

I grew up in the forgettable town of G. (population 1,642), just down the road from Tarkus Experimental Energy Laboratories. It must have been a Right Government™  funded, secret operation – black-ops, skunkworks, CIA crap – but no one in G. ever spoke about it; no one ever said one word about the strange things that went on there in the dark. The police always had new, top-of-the-line prowlers. The school library always had copies of the latest books, and many first edition classics, and the school computer lab was equipped with the latest technology -like the Urmx-7 computing system, complete with ENCOM end of line MCP transmitters.We had the Urmx-7 system years before anyone else. But the city fathers and mothers never said word one about Tarkus Labs. 

Old Waters, Wilson Waters, was painted as a drunken paranoiac when he tried to convince the G. Daily Clarion to publish an article about the strange lights seen flashing over the Tarkus gated compound. He even gave them the photos he took of the lights as they buzzed back and forth above the town. I know for a fact that Wilson wasn’t a drinking man. I knew him for 30 years and never, never, knew him to drink so much as a single beer. All of his friends knew this about him, but Tarkus would not be mentioned. Wilson Waters was drowned in their lies, under the influence their money could buy. "Space Paranoids," indeed!

When Tarkus Experimental Energy Labs accidentally set fire to the mountain during one of their laser weapon trials, it was completely ignored. Smoke billowed into the sky, blotting out the sun; four or five houses were engulfed in the blaze, but no one said boo. The town completely refused to acknowledge the conflagration.

The Cold Sleep Temporal Displacement project perpetually anticipated the tragicomic arrival of a stranger. We were born mad. Some of us are still waiting.

“Jesus will give you air-conditioning and cookies, will shower you with ice-cream.” I never believed these campaign promises. Not from the John Birch Society. Not from Tarkus Experimental Energy Laboratories.

I had, for many years, a constellation of spider bites above my ankle, fiery red stars that itched and burned my leg all through the night. The spider bites on my neck caused nightmares, bad dreams about exotic dancers and the collapse of the sun. To this day I cannot extend out my right leg, or roll my neck without a series of cracks and pops.

I do not understand how they did it, but cats and rattlesnakes sleep at my feet. This is, undoubtedly, the work of Tarkus labs. Why would they develop automaton phlebotomists, armed with large-bore needles?  Dress it up as quantum venipunctures if you like, but this was nothing but scientific sadism.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Reflected Sunflowers

These are my backyard garden sunflowers - as reflected in a glass door.

Reflected Sunflowers by Jeff Carter on

Luke 12: 13 – 21 Modern American Version

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be judge or arbitrator over you? Get a job and earn your own money.” And he said to them, “Take care! Be prepared for all kinds of greed; for there are many who will exploit class warfare to take your abundant possessions from you.”

Then he told them a parable: The land and investments of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, “What shall I do, for I have no place to store all my crops?” Then he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones in off-shore tax shelters, and there I will store all my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods, enough to live comfortably for many, many years. Relax. Consume. Eat, drink, and be merry.” But God said to him, “You fool! You failed to consider the estate tax, and tonight your life is demanded of you.  And all the wealth that you have accumulated, whose will it be? The federal government! So it is with those who store up treasures without the advice of a good tax lawyer. 

Evening Sunflower

A Haiku – July 25, 2016

the garden’s bright
even as golden sun falls
behind the flowers

Evening Sunflower by Jeff Carter on

One Final Limerick for Tim LaHaye

I don’t wish to be rude, cruel, or snide
but his eschatology was fried;
despite his frequent claim
the rapture never came
and now “Left Behind” LaHaye has died.

Tim LaHaye – evangelical, “prophecy expert,” died at the age of 90.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Shadowed Sunflower

I give up. Maybe it is becoming the all sunflower photography blog. At least for a while...

Shadowed Sunflower by Jeff Carter on

Midnight Black-Eyed Susans II

Apparently the question, "what are the plants doing while we sleep?" remains unanswered. I went out again last night in search of some resolution and found this:

Midnight Blackeyed Susans by Jeff Carter on

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Two Different Sunflowers

At the risk of your thinking that this has become the all sunflower photography blog, here are two more photos of the sunflowers that have bloomed in my backyard garden.

Wet Sunflower by Jeff Carter on

Sunflower Launch by Jeff Carter on

Midnight Black-Eyed Susans

On Friday I asked the question, "what do the plants in the backyard do while everyone is sleeping?" I went out again last night to ask that question.

Midnight Blackeyed Susans by Jeff Carter on

Saturday, July 23, 2016

July Sunflower

Pretty soon they'll be August sunflowers, but for now...

July Sunflower by Jeff Carter on

Friday, July 22, 2016

Sunflower at Night

What do the plants in the backyard garden do while everyone is sleeping? What are they doing at one o'clock in the morning? This -

Sunflower at Night by Jeff Carter on

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Some Notes on Psalm 138

Though Psalm 138 is described as a psalm “of David” we cannot be certain that he wrote it. The Hebrew preposition translated here as “of” could also mean “for” or “in the style of.” Biblical scholars are uncertain when the psalm was written. Some suggest an early date, others place its composition in the post-exilic years. Some copies of the Greek Septuagint (LXX) translation add the inscription “a psalm of Haggai and Zechariah,” which would seem to fit with tradition that the prophet had written it for use during the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem after the exile in Babylon. (Taylor 709).

If it was, in fact, a psalm of David, the reference in verse 2 to the “holy temple” is a little strange. There was no permanent temple during the time of David.

The psalm can be divided into 3 parts: I – An Expression of Thanks and Praise (vs. 1 – 3) II – The Reaction of Heathen Kings (vs. 4 – 6) and III – A Reflection on God’s Help in the Past and a Plea for Help in the Future (vs. 7 – 8). 

Nancy deClaissé-Walford, alternately, divides it as psalm of thanks before three different audiences: before the gods (vs. 1 – 3), before the kings of the earth (vs. 4 – 6), and before the psalmist’s enemies (vs. 7 -8).

The psalmist begins by declaring that he will sing a song of praise and thanksgiving to God with all his heart in the presence of “the gods.” This is another example of that fancy, college word: Henotheism. We spoke a little bit about this in our sermon on Psalm 82; in the Old Testament /Hebrew Bible, especially the older parts of it, there is the idea that there are, in fact, a great many gods.  The Israelites chose from among all these gods to worship only Yahweh.

But the Hebrew word “the gods” (elohim) is translated in a variety of ways in the many different translations and commentaries.

It is “angels” in the Greek LXX, the Latin Vulgate, and in St. Augustine’s commentary, as well as in the Contemporary English Version (CEV) and Eugene Peterson’s The Message.

It is translated as “heavenly beings” in the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) , and as“the heavenly assembly” in the New English Translation (NET) 

Other translations seem to recognize that it means “gods” but want to be careful to distinguish these “gods” from the one God, Yahweh. The International Children’s Bible (ICB) and the God’s Word Translation (GW)  translate it as “the false gods” –adding an English word that isn't in the Hebrew text to their translation to give clarity to their particular interpretation. 

The New International Version (NIV) also seems hesitant about translating it simply as “the gods” and so includes scare quotes around the word: I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise. 

Some recognize the word as a reference to other (lesser) gods but still dismiss it as a bit of poetic fancy:“The gods, in our psalmist’s flight of imagination, form an entourage of the Lord, and so must listen to the Psalmist’s words” (Taylor 710).

Verse 3 is interesting. The sense of it seems to be that the psalmist is thanking God for emboldening him, giving him courage. But the various ways that this expression is rendered is what grabs my attention. I especially like Mitchell Dahood’s translation for the Anchor Bible series: “When I called you granted me triumph, you helped me storm with my ardor strong” and the translation found in the footnote of the New Revised Standard version, “you made me arrogant in my soul with strength.” 

The idea of arrogance comes back again in verse 6 though here it is not the psalmist's soul that is arrogant, but  the kings of the earth: “For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly; but the haughty he perceives from far away.” (NRSV) While most translations seem to follow this track, Mitchell Dahood and the Jewish Publication Society take a slightly different approach. Instead of applying the adjective gaboah (translated as “haughty” in the NRSV) “as the antithesis of sepal, ‘the lowly one,'" they take it as “synonymous with ram, “the exalted” – that is, as another epithet for Yahweh (Dahood 279). Dahood’s translation reads: “Though Yahweh is the Exalted, he regards the lowly one, and though the Lofty, he heeds even from a distance.” Similarly the JPS reads: “High though the LORD is, he sees the lowly; lofty, he perceives from afar.”

The French medieval rabbi, Rashi, translated the verse as “For the Lord is high but He sees the lowly, and He chastises the haughty from afar.” 

Dahood, Mitchell. Psalms III 101 – 150: Introduction, Translation and Notes with an Appendix: the Grammar of the Psalter. Garden City: NY, Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1970. Print.

deClassé-Walford, Nancy. "Commentary on Psalm 138: 1 - 8." Weblog post. Working Preacher. N.p., 24 Aug. 2014. Web. 20 July 2016.

Taylor, William R. “Psalms: Exegesis” The Interpreters Bible Volume IV. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press. 1955. Print.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Red Sunflower

Red Sunflower by Jeff Carter on

There Was Fun for All

Over the weekend, I took photos at an outdoor summer carnival. There were games, and prizes, and candy, and popcorn, and inflatable amusements, and water balloons. There was fun for all.

Fairy Floss by Jeff Carter on

Duck Pond by Jeff Carter on

I Didn’t Understand a Word of It

His conception of time was, perhaps, the strangest thing about him, and that’s saying something when you consider the fact that he invented a sodium pentothal podium for use by preachers and professors, and that he worked as a part time Charles Starkweather impersonator.

“Time,” he said in that distinctive high nasal wheeze rattle voice, “is like a bell: tubular.  It coils ever upward.” He went on and on at length about the curvilinear nature of a space bounded within a supra-dimensional coil.

“Like strings?” I suggested, throwing out the one sliver of scientific jargon I’d picked up from somewhere sometime. “String theory? Eleven dimensions? All that?”

He looked at me accusingly, as if I’d insulted his mother and her famous recipe for chipped-beef gravy on toast, as if I’d sold his dog to a Korean meat market. “Don’t speak if you haven’t anything intelligent to say,” he snapped at me, then finger snapped an inch from my nose to punctuate his words.

“Time rings; it sings, but you can’t travel back in time by pushing backwards through it. Imagine water in a hose – you can’t swim backward through it toward the spigot because the stream is too powerful. And you can’t propel yourself forward in time because the time stream hasn’t gone there yet.”

Stand-by all vertical gravitators! Activate photon rotoscoping! I didn’t understand a word of it.

“But time travel is possible,” he winked. “You just have to puncture the coil.”

Monday, July 18, 2016

Self Righteousness and Kung Fu - Good Words from Stephen King

So... I'm reading Stephen King's novel, The Stand, again (for something like the tenth time, I think).  Some friends question why I would read such trash, others would question why I'd read it more than once. And the answer is, "it's a great story" and because "there's really good stuff in there."  Seriously.

Take this bit of great advice (found on page 799 in my 1991, "complete and uncut" paperback version):

"And your choice is made?"
"For good?"
"Yes, it is."
"Then live with it," the Judge said with great relish. "For God's sake, Larry, grow up. Develop a little self-righteousness. A lot of that is an ugly thing, God knows, but a little applied over all your scruples is an absolute necessity! It is to the soul what a good sun-block is to the skin during the heat of the summer. You can only captain your own soul, and from time to time some smart-ass psychologist will question your ability to do even that."

Good advice there.

Take, also, this paraphrased version of Psalm 23 (on page 1003); it's just fun:

"The Lord is my shepherd...I shall not want for nothing. He makes me lie down in the green pastures. He greases up my head with oil. He gives me kung-fu in the face of my enemies. Amen."

Kung-fu in the face of my enemies! Praise God.

The Moon Nestled in a Bed of Clouds

Moon on the Clouds by Jeff Carter on

Biblical Limericks: Strange Friendship

Here’s friendship of a very strange brand -
a relationship based on demand:
said Jesus at the end
to those he would call friend,
“you’re friends if you do what I command.”

John 15:14

Friday, July 15, 2016

Dr. Tarrec’s Free Weekly Horoscope 38

Aries – A mortal prophet speaks lovely, a lonely theologian, high voiced with impenetrable power. Go home. Do not seek him.

Taurus – There is a letter that you must write, and soon. You know the one. You have not forgotten, not yet. Death documents must be signed an notarized.

Gemini –The slow leak is still a secret part of life. Start something new. One step at a time; start now before all the air is gone, now-before you go to bed.

Cancer Are you intrigued by the future? You should be. But you already know where it begins. Start in the present with a radical prayer and a good theology.

Leo – Ultimately nobody, nobody alone. So who is playing the harmonica? Don’t tell me you don’t hear it. Send new dreams; we need them.

Virgo – The only difficulty you will have in September is the devil. Distortion and deception. Evil. Evil things.

Libra – You were formed from dust. Fragile Body. Soul. Spirit. But you are fine. You are free. One. Two. Three.

Scorpio – As a corpse lacks a mind and a damaged brain sags in decay, this may only be temporary.

Sagittarius – The surface of the earth and the complete sky – this is knowing.

Capricorn – Beware of all Negative motion. Cherubim waving flaming swords die alone. Crazy love.

Aquarius – Naked depression and aggression. Rejection desires to have you.

Pisces – Gone. All gone. Do you understand, citizen? Gone. Absolutely. Who did this?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Wild Sunflower Dance

The first of my sunflowers has bloomed for this year. I took this photo today as it was dancing in the wind.

Wild Sunflower Dance by Jeff Carter on

Happy Birthday, Woody!

Today, July 14th is the anniversary of the birth of Woody Guthrie.  Celebrate with some of the greatest music ever recorded.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Blame the Officers

In the Salvation Army we like to praise God for his many blessings, and it is right that we should. We are thankful and acknowledge that if our corps (local congregations) are growing, if our soldiers (church members) are on fire for Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit – that it is the work of God, his gift and blessing to us.


If the corps attendance is not increasing, it is (obviously) the fault and failure of the officers (pastors).

It could be that God is working out some vast eternal plan that does not include numerical growth at this time. But no. Just ignore those pesky verses (like Job 1. 21) that suggest that the Lord gives and takes away.

It could be that churches everywhere, of almost all Christian denominations are struggling with declining attendance, and despite the prayers and efforts of the officers, numerical growth remains elusive…

But yeah, let’s just blame the officers. That’s easier.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Hey! Don't Cause any Trouble - New Music

Here's another gem from the QuotableBecca

"Hey! Don't cause any trouble while I'm peeing... Okay?"

Unguarded Early Death Inside

Paul on BLM

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Let the Old Gods Fall (Psalm 82 sermon)

Psalm 82 is a difficult psalm to place contextually; we don’t know when it was written. Though it is included in the “Psalms of Asaph” – which seem to mostly fit during the Babylonian exile – some have suggested that Psalm 82 is much, much older, perhaps even predating the monarchical period of Israel’s history (Dahood 269)

It begins in the heavens, in the space beyond space; it begins in in the throne room of eternity where the gods and the sons of the gods have assembled to be judged. “God takes his stand in the divine assembly, surrounded by the gods he gives judgment” Psalm 82: 1 (New Jerusalem Bible).  The word there is “Elohim” – gods – though some translations read this as human ruler sand leaders. This is an acceptable translation – there are instances where “Elohim” is used to refer to human judges (Exodus 21:6 for instance) but let’s stick with the divine assembly idea for now – these are “the gods” that are being judged.

We’ve been taught that the Israelites were monotheists, that they believed in one and only one God. But this is only partly true. By the time that we get to the New Testament they were what we would think of as monotheists, believing that there is only one God and that all other so-called gods were only evil spirits masquerading as gods. But in the Old Testament /Hebrew Bible, especially the older parts of it, there is the idea that there are, in fact, a great many gods.  The Israelites chose from among all these gods to worship only Yahweh. This is, to use one of those fancy college words, henotheism. The commandment “you shall have no other gods before me” doesn’t make much sense in terms of monotheism, you can’t have other gods before Yahweh if there are no other gods… But if we start from henotheism, there are other (lesser, inferior) gods.

And in Psalm 82 we have all those lesser, inferior, little g gods gathered together for a divine assembly. I particularly like the way Mitchell Dahood (in the Anchor Bible series) translates this first verse:

God presides in the divine council
in the midst of the gods adjudicates (Dahood, 268).

I like the formal verbs there: “presides” and “adjudicates.” This is serious and official business. This is a formal legal procedure. The gods are assembled for judgment and the charge is that they have not been defending the poor and the weak. Instead, they have been siding with the rich, and the powerful, and the wicked.

How much longer will you give unjust judgments
and uphold the prestige of the wicked?
Let the weak and the orphan have justice,
be fair to the wretched and the destitute (Psalm 82: 2 – 3 NJB).

God delivers the accusation and there is silence. Selah. (that is, assuming for the moment, Selah means something like “stop and listen,” or “pause and think on that.” We don’t know exactly what the word Selah means. But “silence” seems to make a certain sort of sense. It heightens the tension as we wait for someone to respond.)

No one speaks. No one can answer the charge.
After the awkward silence, God reiterates the charge, challenging them to do what is right:

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked (Psalm 82: 3 – 4 New Revised Standard Version).

These lesser, inferior, little g gods are ignorant and walking around in darkness. Because of their failures the very foundations of the earth are shaken. (Psalm 82: 5).

In verse 6 the psalmist gives his/her voice (whoever he/she might have been).:

I had thought, “You are gods
all of you sons of the Most High,
yet you shall die as men do
and fall like any prince” Psalm 82: 6 -7 (Dahood 268).

The psalmist had at one point thought these gods were something to be feared, entities to be respected because of their power and their position. But no longer. They are not gods. They are nothing. They are nothing because they are unable or unwilling to help the poor.  And so, they are ejected from divine realm, no longer immortal, they’ll die like any man and fall into the grave like any prince. But as they fall from glory, the psalmist calls for God to rise up in their place. I like the movement here; the no-gods fall as God rises to assume direct rule over all the nations. No more middle management gods.

Now we can also read this psalm as pertaining to human rulers and judges, to human leaders and kings and officials, leaders who have failed in their divinely appointed duty to protect and defend the poor and the powerless. It is a prophetic liturgy of judgment on pagan gods/human leaders who have failed to be agents of justice.

And there is no justice if there is no justice for the poor. There is no justice if there is no justice for the weak, for the orphan, for the widow, for the immigrant, the refugee, the minority. If justice is sold to special interest groups or powerful lobbyist, it is not justice. If we give up on justice. If we give up on peace, the foundations of the earth are shaken; all is darkness and ignorance and death without justice.

And we have been shaken in recent days, by news report after news report of violence death and murder in the streets. We live in darkness. We have a problem in our country: our gods have failed us. They have not been agents of justice, of righteousness, of peace. And we are shaken.

So we cry out with the psalmist and demand:

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless,
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute
rescue the weak and the needy
deliver them – deliver us – from the hands of the wicked.

In the words of the hymn writer, Fanny Crosby: “Rescue the perishing, care for the dying.”

Let God arise.
Let God arise within us.
Let the old gods fall, die like any mortal man or woman
and let God rise up.

They are nothing – if they will not work for the right.
They are nothing – if they will not promote justice, and justice for all – the immigrant, the minority, the woman, the black, the Latino, the Asian, the Native American, the homosexual, the transgendered.
They are nothing, nothing at all - if they will not make peace.

We may have thought of them as people of power and prestige because of their political positions, because of their wealth, because of their dynastic families, but they are nothing, no-gods if they prove incapable of or unwilling to defend the poor and rescue the perishing.

They are nothing.

Arise God, arise within us, and judge the earth, for all the nations, including this one, are your possession.

Dahood, Mitchel, Psalms II: 51 – 100 – Introduction, Translation and Notes, Doubleday & Company, Inc, Garden City, New York, 1968.  

Friday, July 8, 2016

Some Jumped, Some Were Pushed

My beloved wife wrote this recently. I have her permission to share it here.


Some jumped, or fell, or were pushed. I’m not really sure. It’s hard to know what caused their flight –their own decision or others-but it’s not hard to see that they are no longer here. I can’t say if they landed safely. Some before them did. Some did not.

I’m here, near the ledge, sometimes about to go over-slipping mostly reluctantly down. I did not run to the ledge, not this time. I was dragged. Pulled by those who think they know me. They think they know me yet what they know is a perception of me. A figment of some cobbled together claims.

They don’t know how the troubles around the place keep me up at night. They don’t know the times I chose them over rest, sanity, and the best good of a few dear ones. They don’t know of the ones who trust me, confide in me, need me to be as Jesus to them when they can’t find Jesus themselves in the mess of living. They don’t know their dragging/pushing has led to me pushing even God away at times. The One Who Knows can be hard to know at the ledge. It’s hard to know if there is more of God behind me or more of God before me.

They don’t know what worries me or what distresses me or what disturbs me. They don’t know that I stubbed my toe and broke my heart on the way this time. They don’t know how long it took those to heal last time.

They don’t know the number of times I limped myself to the ledge to wait and wonder. They don’t know, not really, the other time or two or more someone dragged me to the ledge and pushed me a bit waiting for me to fall off. Likely they don’t know the number of times I stepped or hobbled back and suited up anyway. Or that I kept writing the reports and answering the phones and the emails and shepherding the people because those were the things that needed done.

I kept doing the thing that I had to do because I am me.

Yet, they’ve pulled or pushed me to the ledge and left me here. I turn back to look at them but I can barely see them for how far back from me they’ve retreated. I can barely make them out and I’m sure they can’t hear me asking if they intend for me to jump. I agree with their retreat, the ledge is a scary place to be—uncertainties abound.

There are days I’m closer to the ledge, the ground around me skittering off down into who knows where or maybe to Who Knows What.

It’s not the pushy ones who pull me back. A few of them seem to be causing a wind that would send me over the ledge. 

It’s not the uncertainty after the ledge that keeps me from going over. Even at the ledge I’m convinced that is my place. Yet my conviction gets smaller with each bit that goes over or gets pushed or blown over.

I’ve heard some insist that the ledge does not exist. That there is only here and not here. I question their vision. Disavowing the ledge does us no good. I’m certain there’s a ledge. I’ve been on it. Others have been to the ledge. Some for a moment, then they slip/jump/tumble/leap/fall over. Some for a moment, then they run back to the stable ground too terrified of what might be. Some stay longer at the ledge, waiting to be called back or for their tight grip to be pried off the ledge one finger at a time. Some work days and nights over there but are still at the ledge in spirit.

It can be lonely at the ledge. It can be lonely even on the stable ground. I imagine it’s lonely even after the ledge.

If you’ve run to the ledge or if you’ve been dragged to the ledge or if you’ve limped to the ledge, look around. I’m there too. I’ll sit with you if you want, looking either behind or beyond. I’ll probably be near for a while. I can listen to your story, but I can’t tell you whether to go over or go back.

You Are Gods

Scripture cannot be set aside
so it must be true:
You are gods, each of you

Grasping, gross, gaping numena,
trigger bullet idols,
strong willed, bull-necked, bastard gods
killing fathers to devour their sons

Naked divinities of violence,
demonic demi-gods, tarnished
eagles - carrion consuming
cannibal gods

Lords of flies,
shit-eating, vomit licking,
grotesque spirits
undeserving of glory

If the word of God cannot be laid aside,
then you are, indeed,
gods -
each of you, gods!

Rescue the weak
Defend the needy
Save them

Or accuse me of blasphemy
and, though you are indeed gods,
you will die
and fall to the ground as any son of Adam.

(Psalm 82)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

And then My Head Exploded

Imagine a moment - skin, salivary glands, taste buds, sex-drive, heart, kidneys, liver, lungs. No. Naked, depressed, and angry. Dramatic change, and then...

And then My Head Exploded by Jeff Carter on

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The City after Midnight

Please, welcome to the city after midnight, the city filled with drums. Please, excuse. Things get loud here and no one sleeps but everyone pretends, posing in front of disco mirrors like drunken children. It is a city in the rain, artificial rain, yes, falling from wispy clouds of cigarette smoke. True. The rain will continue to fall, many days, long nights. Give it time.

Now comes the Doctor, a good man, but sad. The Doctor in the Dark. I see him by flashes of screaming lightning. A good man, but he carries a gun, looking for ghosts. He has strange dreams and bad coffee. He says little because there is no good news in hospital hallways.

He remembers red lipstick flashbacks, broken neon exposure, and all the non-sequitur posturing in the dressing room. Outside, in the parking lot, blood on the pavement and broken glass. Who was here? What was her name? The Doctor does not say. But I say she will return, inevitable like the rain, but until then the Doctor is distressed, crawling out of his skin and into hers.

Strange strangulations here. Stay away from the dead. Let the police work their disinterested routine investigations. You stay away from the dead. Stolen phone number stalkers and psycho club dealers are near. It does not matter; it was not a robbery. It was something worse.

“Have Gun. Will Stumble.” I clipped the advertisement from the paper. This one and the one about fist fights in the parking lot. Was the Doctor there? I hear many private words secretly spoken, but ask me no more questions. Trust me or trust your dollar. Your choice. Choose. The gun seen in the first act must go off in the third. And it does. Yes. Complicated people always die, but never the right ones.

There is blood, always blood. So much blood. Yes. Action camera news arrive before the police. “Help me,” are the fainting last words of the Doctor. Shooting at shadows, shattering windows. A shout. A woman’s scream and night.

Rain for many days now, yes. Many days and long nights. Maybe you do not come back to the city? Yes?

Monday, July 4, 2016

Momma, Can You Help Me? - New Music

Here is another short little song based on the things my friends' children say: Momma, Can You Help Me?  This one goes out to my little pal, Sammy.

Elephant in the Garden

My daughter returned from a trip to Spain with a porcelain reproduction of one of Salvador Dali's stork-legged elephants. I posed it in the backyard garden.

Elephant in the Garden by Jeff Carter on

Biblical Limericks: Mixed Metaphor

“The harvest’s plentiful,” said the Lor’,
“but the workers are few; we need more,
now go like little sheep
among the wolves that creep…”
Say, Jesus, that’s a mixed metaphor!

Luke 10: 2 - 3
Jeff Carter's books on Goodreads
Muted Hosannas Muted Hosannas
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