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Friday, September 30, 2016

September Waves Farewell

Biblical Limericks: Thankless

If the stories of Jesus were ranked,
perhaps we’d say this parable’s tanked;
‘less there’s some caveat,
Jesus seems to say that
the good slave can’t expect to be thanked.

Luke 17: 7 - 10

Is This the End?

Is This the End by Jeff Carter on

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Words from My Son: Kaiju

Sunflowered Abstraction

An abstract image created by photographing a sunflower with filters and a reverse mounted lens.

Sunflowered abstraction by Jeff Carter on

The End of the Season

The End of the Season by Jeff Carter on

Sunday, September 25, 2016

September Fire

This shot uses my homemade DIY blur filter (made from plastic wrap...)

September Fire by Jeff Carter on

Saturday, September 24, 2016

September Memories of Summer Sunflowers

A couple more photos of the sunflowers in my backyard garden - probably the last of them for this year. Although I've said that before. I was surprised by these blooms after the rest of them had died and dried away.

These photos were taken with a homemade DIY filter made from clear plastic wrap.

September Sunflower Memory II by Jeff Carter on

September Sunflower Memory by Jeff Carter on

Roadside Sunset Flowers

Roadside Sunset Flowers by Jeff Carter on

Friday, September 23, 2016

Wild Daisies

Wild daisies at the roadside - they're not weeds if you like them...

Wild Daisies by Jeff Carter on

Grasshopper in the Sun

Grasshopper Sunflower by Jeff Carter on

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Biblical Limericks: “A Christmas Carol” Is All Wrong

It’s clear that Luke’s gospel was absent
as Dickens penned his Christmas pageant:
spectral emanations
and ghost visitations
won’t be enough to make Scrooge repent.

Luke 16: 31

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Sunflower and Bee at Night

Bees that don't make it back to the hive when it gets dark will just hunker down where they are and wait for morning.

Sunflower and Bee at Night by Jeff Carter on

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Surprise Sunflower

I thought my backyard garden sunflowers were all done and dead for the season - then, surprise! - I get a few more blooms.

Surprise Sunflower by Jeff Carter on

Monday, September 19, 2016

Wasps in the Ground

We have a couple of different types of buzzing insects living in the ground around our house. In the back yard are the big, hairy, bumbly, zeppelin bees.  At the side of the house, living in an old ant bait trap are these Yellow Jackets.

They'll all die off (except for the queen) in a few weeks when the temperatures start to drop. The queen will find a good spot to hibernate for the winter, and come spring she'll start a new nest elsewhere.

Biblical Limericks: Lazarus the Beggar

Lazarus, the beggar, was so poor
that he lay at the gate on the floor
begging for scraps to eat
while the dogs of the street
came and licked pus from his oozing sores.

Luke 16: 20 - 21

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A Haiku – September 17, 2016

the orange cat
on a pink blanket melts
like summer sherbet

Friday, September 16, 2016

One Never Knows

“Jesus, it’s time to get up,” Nurse Billings said as she rapped firmly upon the door of a resident room in the Jennings County Care Facility. After a minute, she rapped again, louder. “Jesus. It is time for all good residents to be up and moving.”

Nurse Billings, Jenny, turned to me. “He’s cranky in the mornings.”  Then she rapped on the door again, even louder and firmer now. “Jesus, I’m coming in if you don’t open the door.” 

Behind the closed door a muffled voice grumbled, “I’m up. I’m up ya’ dang…” The rest was lost.
I was there to follow and observe Nurse Billings, as part of a project for my Human Relations class at the local community college. The assignment was to learn about one aspect of care giving and to write a 2,000 word essay. With permission from the County Care facility and a signed waiver, I had three mornings with Nurse Billings. She showed me how the residents lived, where they ate, how the meals were prepared with care for their varied specialized diets. She explained to me how the medications were dispensed. And she let me follow her daily routine – her rounds, I guess.

“Jesus,” she said again after a period of silence, “Are you up?”

The door flung open. “Yes. Yes. I’m up” the man inside was in his mid-50s, his thinning, grey hair slicked back against his scalp, except for a band of hair that flared up above his right ear. He was dressed in plaid boxer shorts, black socks and scuffed white tennis shoes. A distended gut, and the strangest outie-navel I’ve ever seen, hung over the elastic waistband of his undershorts. His saggy pectorals were pale and ring of thin, curly hairs ringed his neck. “I’m up. I’m going out for a smoke,” Jesus said as he started to push past Nurse Billings and me.

“Not like that you aren’t Jesus.” Nurse Billings stood at the door effectively blocking his way out. “You’re going to put on some pants, or a robe at least.”

“But,” Jesus said, his voice rising in pitch and volume, “You don’t understand. I didn’t sleep well. And the television didn’t work all night. Don’t you understand anything?”

“Yes, Jesus, I do understand. But you can’t go out in your underthings. If I leave you alone for a minute or two, will you be dressed?”

“No,” he said sullenly. “I didn’t sleep well.”

“If I give you five minutes will you be dressed?” Nurse Billings tried again.

“NO!” It wasn’t a scream, but nearly so.

“There’s no need for that, Jesus. I’ll give you five minutes to either put on pants or a robe. Your choice.” Nurse Billings pulled the door almost closed, leaving it open enough that it didn’t latch.  Then she motioned me back a few steps. “We’ll give him five minutes, then I’ll go back in and help him put on his robe. It’s usually like this.”

“Why,” I asked curiously, “why do you call him He-soos? He doesn’t appear to be Hispanic.”
Nurse Billings smiled and laughed a short one syllable laugh that was almost a sigh. “Actually, we don’t really know his name. I call him, Jesus – not He-soos – some of the other nurses call him Mr. Man. He came in as a vagrant, a homeless transient. He was picked up by the police department and taken to the hospital. He was discharged from the hospital and brought here.”

“But why, ‘Jesus’?”

Nurse Billings said, “Because, one never knows where that carpenter will show up.”

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Maybe Church Growth Isn’t the Point

Those of us involved in church leadership, ministry, and interested in church grown often talk about how to make it easy for those who are not yet a part of a church family. We plan events and services and outreach programs designed to ease new folks into our communities. We do all that we can to eliminate obstacles and barriers.


In Luke 14: 25 – 33 Jesus seems to be taking the opposite approach. Instead of trying to make it easier for people to join his group, he is making it harder. “Great crowds” were already following him at that point and, in what seems a deliberate attempt to drive them away, Jesus gives the following directions:

“Anyone who comes to me without hating father, mother, children, brothers, sisters, yes, and his own life too, cannot be my disciple. No one who does not carry his cross and come after me can be my disciple…None of you can be my disciple without giving up all that he owns.”

This is not easy church growth. This is not removing barriers. This is a program designed for church decline; this is putting up barriers. This is driving people away.

Maybe church growth and numerical attendance statistics isn’t the point.

Trapped in the Basement

It's me  - in a horror film. Don't go into the basement!

Trapped in the Basement by Jeff Carter on

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Almost Gone

Almost Gone by Jeff Carter on

Getting the Come On from the Whores on Seventh Avenue

Not long ago I caught my teenage son in something unexpected, something that startled me, shocked me, even, a little. “Oh dear!” you may already have gasped. “What could it be? Drugs? Was he smoking the marijuana?”

But no. It was nothing like that.

He was in the basement, as he often is after his homework is finished, playing Star Wars: Battlefront on the Playstation. Now, there’s nothing incredibly odd about that. He enjoys video games, and I enjoy them with him sometimes – though he usually wastes me. I’ve never been very good with video games.

But what was odd about this was that he’d turned off the game’s soundtrack and was running and gunning down rebel scum with laser blasters while listening to the music of Simon and Garfunkel. I smiled at this and stepped into my little at home office in the next room. I left the door open so I could listen to him – unobservedly – as he was singing along.

I smiled again – at the odd juxtaposition of futuristic, science fiction violence and introspective, folk music of the 1960s, and smiling with pride for my son.

I smiled until he came to the line about getting the “come on from the whores on seventh avenue…” My smile faltered a bit there.

He’s fifteen. And while I know that he’s a long way from the little boy who used to dress up as a pirate every afternoon – a pirate wearing cowboy boots and not one, but three vests – he can’t be old enough for that line, can he?

And then I remembered that I was about fifteen myself, when I found my father’s vinyl copy of Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits (that was the best of the records in my dad’s small collection. Second best might have been Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass  - yes – the one with that  cover…) I copied that Simon and Garfunkel album to a cassette tape and wore it out.

I thought about my boy, and about myself, and about my father and my smile came back. It never really left, I suppose.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Apocalypsing - Introducing a Brand New Word to the English Language

In the English language we can talk about an apocalypse (noun - a revelation), and something that is apocalyptic (adjective - revelatory) but we cannot apocalypse (verb - reveal) something.

Sad really...

So, to correct this long neglected lapse in the English language, I am formally introducing the word Apocalypse (as a verb) to our collective vocabularies.

The elevator doors open to apocalypse a pair of strangely dressed clowns.

Jimmy unwraps his birthday present, apocalypsing a brand new pair of wool socks. 

You can thank me now. 

I'm Always Right Sometimes - New Music for the Four Year Olds

Here is another new song- "I'm Always Right Sometimes" for my gradually growing I am Four Years Old  collection of silly songs inspired by my friends' children. This one comes from a little lugnut down in Texas.

Biblical Limericks: Business School with Jesus

The master said to his sly purser,
“I demand a report from you, sir!”
So he fixed the accounts,
changed all the owed amounts -
bought friends before his life got worser.

Luke 16:  1 - 8

Friday, September 9, 2016

His Kingdom Endures - A New Hymn for an Old Tune

I've written a new hymn for an old tune. The tune is the old English folk / drinking song "I'll Fathom the Bowl" 

Night Weeds

Night Weeds by Jeff Carter on

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

I Can Knit a Reindeer Blanket - New 4 Year Old Music

Here is the latest song - "I Can Knit a Reindeer Blanket" on my gradually growing "I Am Four Years Old" collection of songs. Thanks again to my lyricist: the ever quotable Becca.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Colored Lights Can Hypnotize

This photo used the same cannibalized bits of colored and beveled glass from an old video projector as yesterday's post.  

Colored Lights Can Hypnotize by Jeff Carter on

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Tower of Light

I disassembled an old, broken video-projector the other day, a real dinosaur. It was the size of a suitcase and weighed about the same as a suitcase packed with Stephen King novels. Some of the parts I saved to build a model spaceship. Some of the parts, like the circuit boards I saved to photograph later.

But what I was most interested to retrieve from the inside of this obsolete projector were the lens and the glass and mirror reflectors.

These bits of colored, beveled, glass and mirrors I piled up on my little work table and photographed. The result reminds me of the background of a Marc Chagall painting. If I added a floating, green, crucified Christ, a cow, a candle and a fiddler in a purple coat, it would be complete.

Tower of Light by Jeff Carter on

Friday, September 2, 2016

September Sunflowers

The last of my backyard garden sunflowers are hanging on, but just barely. They won't last much longer. Until then, I'll keep taking pictures of them. Several friends have said that they really appreciate them, so...

September Sunflowers by Jeff Carter on

Saint Francis and Brother Fire

"Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten the night. He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong."  - Saint Francis

St Francis and Brother Fire by Jeff Carter on

Thursday, September 1, 2016

We Must Hate Our Country

There’s been a fair amount of hullabaloo about patriotism in the interweb chatter in recent weeks – vigorous, passionate discussion that often veers towards inflammatory argument and angry name calling. Presidential candidate, Donald Trump, has pledged to promote, “pride and patriotism” in schools and to teach respect for the US flag and the pledge of allegiance. Some are vilifying San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for his choice to not stand during the national anthem, while others are defending his first amendment right to do so. Similarly, some have flamed Olympian Gabby Douglas for not putting her hand over her heart during the national anthem along with her teammates.

One of the lectionary texts for this coming Sunday (September 4, 2016) is relevant and applicable to this discussion. In Luke 14: 25 – 33 Jesus, speaking to the crowds that are following him, gives a series qualifications for those who would be his disciples – or rather, disqualifiers. 

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple.” (14: 26 NIV)

“Hate” is a strong word, stringent and inflexible. And, while it should be understood as a form of hyperbolic speaking (Jesus does not want us to HATE our family, but to love them less than we love him. Compare this passage to its parallel in Matthew 10: 37-39 for the same intent, without the over-the-top hyperbole) we cannot soften it so much as to miss the point: every other allegiance should be held lower than our allegiance to him.

You might say, this verse says nothing about patriotism, or pride in our country, or respect for those who have served in the military. But to read this verse (and the verses that immediately follow it) in such a narrow and restrictive way is to soften the hyperbole and to miss the point.

And, I would contend, this verse does apply directly to the issue of patriotism. That word “patriotism” is derived from the Latin word pater – “father.” Patriotism is an emotional attachment, a bond, an allegiance to our father-land.

Those who cannot hate their country cannot be disciples of Jesus.

Biblical Limericks: Hate Family

Now we read from Luke in the Bible
of Jesus, the rabbi archetypal,
who said, ‘to follow me
you must hate family,
or you cannot be my disciple.’

Luke 14:26
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