Sunday, February 24, 2008


With all due respect, what is Nader doing?

He gave us Bush rather than Gore, and once again, his candidacy can only serve the interests of the Republican Party, and if this is his desired legacy, he'll have it in spades.

Only an incredibly inflated ego would dismiss all the candidates and suggest that he, and he alone, has what's necessary to renew the nation.

As a consumer advocate, a man of great value. As a candidate for the presidency, no value at all, except in the role of spoiler.

If anyone voted for him in the past, I hope they realize they might as well have cast their vote for Bush, and any vote for him again will give us McCain and endless war.

Mr. Nader, please go away!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Connect the Dots

The economy is in shambles.

Ethanol is a joke, requiring more energy to make a gallon than its worth, and if every cob of corn in America were made into ethanol, it would only be 7% of our oil consumption. Meanwhile this boondoggle funnels billions into the midwest corn belt, raising the price of corn, and raising the price of just about everything else related to the food chain.

We borrow billions from China to buy oil from the Saudis.

Low taxes have bankrupted the government.

Programs of mercy and hope are slashed, but breaks for the wealthy remain - check out the "yacht tax" for a small example.

What's wrong with this picture?

The same thing that was wrong during the Harding Administration - unregulated capitalism -wherein the voice or profit and greed dominates government policy.

This kind of capitalism reared its ugly head with a vengeance during the Reagan Administration and has been roaring ever since, yet headed for the same debacle it always creates - the collapse of the bubble. Greed is it's own poison; tragically, the middle class pays the price, and the poor die.

Such capitalism has nothing in common with Traditional Capitalism, a economic partnership between business and government underpinning the middle class.

Unrestrained capitalism - a profound evil - destroys the middle class, leaving only a slight percentage of super-wealthy and their minions, leaving the rest struggling, with millions struggling at the lowest levels. Check out the Middle ages - when church and king were in collusion with the wealthy, and the rest of society in serfdom.

Connect the dots.

Bush and his cronies have shamed us before the world, committed crimes against our character and our people, talked nonsense while beguiling us with talk about defense and terrorism, and robbing us blind.

Connect the dots!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Rock 'n Roll and the Gospel

Dear Blog Readers,

A good friend, the Rev. Toby Jones, First Presbyterian Church, Harbor Springs, Michigan, is a talented musician who has turned his considerable energy to discovering the gospel in rock 'n roll.

His new book is a great read, his website informative, and if you want a one-man show for a youth gathering, contact Toby.

Check out his great website:

Monday, February 18, 2008


I never heard of until five minutes ago when reading that a Bush-appointed federal judge, working in conjunction with Swiss and Cayman Island banks, ordered its shut-down.

The site, a place for posting "leaked" documents, revealed how these banks were laundering tons of money - dirty stuff on every hand, and with their dirty money, they hired attorneys without conscience or heart (and there are plenty of them these days, churned out of our law schools like sausage out of a grinder, eager to make big bucks, join prestigious country clubs and drive hot cars - enough said), they "persuaded" this Bush-League judge (imagine that) to shut the site down, though it's still up and running in Belgium and Christmas Island.

I just finished reading Upton Sinclair's novel, "Oil," about the corrupt oil industry, President Harding, the Republicans, and gushing greed. We're reliving those days right now.

The Bush admin will go down in history as the most corrupt presidency ever, and this little shut-down of a website is the tip of the iceberg - we have become a nation told to spend mindlessly so that we have no minds left to ponder the media control now imposed upon this once great republic. On every side, fear-mongering and mad consumerism.

I like to have fun like the next guy, but this is like the Roman Circus - entertain us to death, and like the proverbial frog in the water pot, turn the heat up gradually, and the frog won't even know he's being killed.

Pay attention - the water is boiling right now!

Lambeth Conference

The Ugandan Anglican Church will not attend this year's Lambeth Conference, held once every ten years, a world-wide gathering of Anglicans, because of the homosexual crisis.


Is it really?

I'm a Presbyterian pastor, and I have watched my own group rip itself to shreds over this issue - "fundamentalists" on both sides, yet I lay the greater responsibility at the feet of the so-call "evangelicals" - those who claim the high moral ground and lift up the name of Jesus at every turn of the road, yet behave with malice and back-room tactics.

I made my decision, biblically and theologically, a long time ago. Of course, there are always questions, as there should be in any large decision we make. Yet that's the problem - for the conservative wing of the church, there are no questions, no doubts, no second thoughts, and I'll say, "no thoughts at all."

They claim homosexuality to be the ultimate biblical test, just like states' rights and slavery for the South of the 1840s, and absolute submission to the church for the Inquisitors of the 1400s.

Religious fanatics always draw lines in the sand, but time, like an ever-changing tide, sweeps such lines away, but only later generations can see the folly. At the moment, they feel good, helping folks to "feel in" by determining those those who are "out."

This, too, shall pass, but not soon enough to prevent the shame the church before the world and deny welcome to a segment of our human family.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

National Health Care

Why the FEMA trailer mess?

Why the lack of housing in New Orleans?

Why are refugees from that poor city still living under bridges in Dallas?

Why do American manufactures sell chemical-laden computers in America that have been banned by the European Union?

Because we lack a national health care system?

And you ask, "What does that have to do with anything?"


If the government were funding our nation's health care, as European nations do for their people, there would be a whole lot more care about people's health, as there is in Europe!

Frankly, my dear, the wealthy oligarchy ruling this nation doesn't give a damn. Why should they?

All they know is money, and if they were paying for the nation's health, they'd suddenly begin to show interest in the 40 million uninsured.

But there's something more than that.

It's also an idea. Right now, we all pay for the uninsured - billions for emergency-room care, lost work hours, and a whole tier of children growing up with poor health. It's already one of the most long-run cost factors in our failing economy.

But it's easy to bury this statistic, so the old ideas of "everyone for themselves " prevail.

It's all about money ... and all about compassion ... and one of these days, we may discover that compassion is profitable!

Imagine that.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Rowan Williams

The current flap about Rowan Williams, head of the world-wide Anglican Church, over his remarks about Sharia Law in Britain, has rightly brought a loud cry of debate, but I'm struck by one of the voices consistently heard when a clergy makes a suggestion that runs counter to accepted practice - "he's naive."

I chuckle when I hear it. And I counter: "Who's naive?"

Rowan Williams isn't naive; he may be wrong, he's likely bold and brave, but naive? Never!

I think politicians and bureaucrats, corporate and government attorneys, and all the machine functionaries are naive, surprised when someone counters their take of things, when someone dares to offer a alternative scenario.

I suspect the bigwigs of Jerusalem said of Jesus, "He's naive" as they patted one another on the back, had another martini and checked their portfolio.

But history amply proves the point: they were tragically naive - they couldn't see the handwriting on the wall, they couldn't add up the realities cascading in upon them, they were blinded by the narrow boundaries of their own power and temporary success.

Pilot was disgraced and banished. Jerusalem fell under the iron fist of Rome, and Rome went the way of all empires.

Who's naive?

Certainly not Rowan Williams!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

National Cemetery - Los Angeles

One of the good things about moving to a new area is doing tourist stuff ... and though I've lived in LA now for six months, I'm still exploring the area with a tourist's eye.

Having driven by it any number of time on the 405, its ranks of white stones, like soldiers on a drill field waiting the arrival of their commander, I finally planned a photo trip there.

After shooting for a few moments, a cemetery worker told me that I needed a shooting permit, and he gave me a ride to the office. Having explained my interests as purely personal, I was given permission to proceed.

It was a beautiful day ... and I was humbled by all the stories held by each grave - from the Indian Wars, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, WW 1 and 2, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq.
I don't like war, and I'm mostly a pacifist, but the men and women in that hallowed ground deserve my respect, and I'll work all the harder to promote peace so that millions of young women and men around this blood-soaked world of ours will have a chance to live out their days.

I saw several Medal of Honor graves - every living recipient of that highest honor says much the same thing: "I was only doing what had to be done. Anyone could have done it." I stood before those simple stones, engraved with the Medal, their name and the war - a stark reminder of exploding shells and clouds of smoke, and a split-second decision to risk everything.

A Civil Warm monument - a soldier standing with his arms folded and resting on his rifle - weary and wary are his eyes - arresting imagery.

I wondered: how is that we glorify war? Is there some deeply embedded shame in our soul about such things, so sad and dark, that rather than admit the carnage we create and the souls we destroy, we dress it up in glory and honor?

Never condemn the solider, that I know, but we humans have a strange attraction to war. Even the jerk behind the wheel, madly honking his horn and shaking his head, is at war with his world.

It was a beautiful day.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Presbyterian Layman

Dear Elders,

Some of you likely receive The Layman as I do.

I have read it for years, carefully noting their work since the early 70s, sometimes agreeing with their theology but always saddened by their rhetoric and their deep-seated desire to leave the Presbyterian Church and form their own group.

In spite of their repeated protests about staying in the denomination and changing it from within, I always felt a deeper current heading toward disassociation.

With the formation now of the non-geographical New Wine Skins Presbytery affiliated with the EPC (Evangelical Presbyterian Church), their long-standing wish is being realized. They’ve come out of the closet!

I’m writing to you after carefully reading the latest issue of the Layman. I could hardly manage it; such is my disappointment and sadness.

As I read, I had the feeling I was eavesdropping on a terrorist conclave exulting in its latest suicide bombing. On every page, delight in our woes and a sense of self-righteousness that I find disturbingly inconsistent with the Christ they claim to know so much better than I do.

Their claims to know Christ better, their claims to have a clearer grasp of Scripture, their claims to have the theological high ground on homosexuality, marriage and issues of choice, leave little room for conversation. Like radical terrorists, they have labeled folks like me apostate, thus negating the need and the possibility of conversation. After all, why waste time chatting with a servant of Satan?

I write with a heavy heart, encouraging you as Elders to be all the more thoughtful about your faith, and deeply grateful for our Presbyterian Church (USA) identity. This is the church of my ordination; I signed on the dotted line, and so did the pastors and elders who have left to form their own group in affiliation with the EPC. My loyalties run deep and my commitment remains.

I wish my angry friends could take a deep breath and see how graciously our LORD is at work in our fields, and I wish they could find in their hearts the gospel truths of fellowship and love.

I pray for them and wish them well, though I suspect what history amply reveals will be their story: schismatic groups carry a soul-wound that never heals – the need to justify an action condemned by their own conscience.

The volume of their rhetoric leads me to think: “thou dost protest too much,” as if repeating the same arguments and declaring them all the more loudly could make them right.

Just some thoughts on a Saturday morning.

Blessings and Joy, and all the Grace you can use, and then some.

February 2, 2008