Sunday, November 12, 2017

Free Too

I hear what you're saying
I see what you mean
I know what you're doing
But I want to be free

I stood there when she said it
She came straight up to me
So filled with His spirit
So gentle and free

I hear what you're saying
I see what you mean
I know what you're doing
But I need to be free

I was there when she said it
She came straight up to me
So filled with His love
So beautiful and free

I hear what you're saying
I see what you mean
I know what you're doing
But I must be free

Monday, October 30, 2017

I want to be free

I hear what you're saying
I see what you mean
I know what you're doing
But I want to be free.

Love's not an excuse
It isn't a lie
It doesn't come in youth
But only when we die.

When we die to self,
Die so we can live,
Die to receive
Receive life as a gift.

Love's not an excuse
It isn't a lie
It doesn't come in youth
But only when we die.

I hear what you're saying
I see what you mean
I know what you're doing
But I want to be free.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Addendum to On Freedom

And my Kids. Praise God for them. They had lost all the trappings of wealth that they were born into: the private school, big house, beach cottage, winter skiing. But they never complained or blamed me. The only thing they said when then came back from their first week of public school was  "the kids here are nicer". My daughter would frequently ask me to help her with school projects and for a couple of hours I would lose myself with her. One day I offered to drive her home - it was cold and snowy - but I ran out of gas right in the underpass of a rush hour freeway. I shouted with frustration and and cursed myself and she broke into tears. But my son was there to help us within minutes. He was always there when I needed him. Their steadfast love and refusal to judge or complain was the greatest gift anyone has ever given me.

Monday, October 16, 2017

On Freedom

Four years ago I moved into a minivan. I handed my house keys to my Son and told him to sell everything and give the proceeds to his mother. With my business bankrupt, my marriage gone, my self respect and confidence in tatters, I moved into the van to die. I was in despair, everything that I had built my life on was in ruins.

I spent nine months there. I overnighted in strange places - one was an auto body shop amongst the wrecks. I went days without speaking to anyone. I experienced 100 degree heat all the way down to minus 15f - not windchill - temperature. My toes still tell the tale. I kept clean by bathing in men's rooms and occasionally strolling brazenly into the local College's faculty locker room as if I were a Professor of Indigence, the Hobo Sage.

No one from my Church came looking for me. A couple times old colleagues came by and gave me money - claiming that they had forgotten to pay me for work I'd done.

I was angry at myself and at God. I acknowledged that I had wrecked my life but insisted I didn't do it alone. I was an active Christian: tither, promise keeper, BSFer, sunday school teacher, Deacon:  the full Yaweh. From where I stood it seemed that God had let me run off the rails. I told Him "you let me do this to myself". His answer was: "Yes, I did. Now pay attention."

Spoiler alert: I didn't die. Which was a problem: what exactly was I supposed to do? I couldn't sit still so I started walking which led to thinking then to ideas and ultimately writing. Early on I wrote angry polemics against God. I would send them to my pastor friends. They were hot stuff, I'm sure I could get a gig writing for the Atheists if I still believed any of it. The irony was that I had announced  that I was 'done' with God yet He had never dominated my thoughts so much as in that van.

And then slowly, at first almost imperceptibly I began to see people differently. I started really looking at them, looking into their eyes. I began going up to complete strangers, trying to understand them. It made them really, nervous. I became friends with the disabled woman who worked at McDonalds. I had always avoided her  because her small twisted body made her slow. But I had become slow too and it allowed me to see what I had missed. It was a revelation: up until that point I had looked upon most people as "tools" to be used or obstacles to be gotten around. But there, at the bottom I began to see people for what they truly are: God breathed miracles, on their journeys to eternity.

Then Mom called: Dad had cancer and needed my help. So I became my father's primary caregiver for the last 18 months of his life. The truth is I never really knew my father until then. And then as if by plan, the week Dad died an old friend called asking me to join his new west coast software venture.

It was shortly after that I strolled into this building on a Sunday morning and someone said 'Hi'.

God brought me full circle. From failure and despair to renewal and purpose.  So how did I change? First of all I am so much more holy than I used to be (snort guffaw)...No, that's a lie. I am the same knucklehead I've always been.

What God did with that time was teach me what it meant to be free.

Free to fail. And being free to fail, free in Christ to truly try.
Free to see myself and to see others for what we truly are.
Free to be honest, to confess sin openly, and ask forgiveness.
And Free to really love, to love God and to love you.

John 8:32 "and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

But I'm still that knucklehead, ask anyone: "Is he really?" "Oh, yes, without a doubt".

Most of you are young, talented and industrious and you will go far. But I'll let you in on a secret: Someday you're going to fail. And I pray that when you do, you'll find the freedom that comes from knowing that you can't possibly live up to God's Standard - the only one that matters. That's the edge we street veterans have. We know that there's nothing we can do by ourselves.

So during this time of feasting and plenty remember that crucial truth that street people know better than anyone else. And take a moment to stop, listen and learn from them, it will bless you. I say this  not because "There but for the Grace of God go I" no, I say it because "There with the Grace of God went I".

One more point: One of the reasons people on the street look so defeated is that they are often so very alone. There is really nothing quite like 'street alone', people everywhere ignoring you. There's a song that expresses that loneliness well. It's not particularly pretty but it is True. The Song is The Wrestler by Bruce Springsteen.

Have you ever seen a one trick pony in the Field so Fancy and Free?
If you've ever seen a one-trick pony then you've seen me.
Have you ever seen a three legged dog making his way across the street?
If you've ever seen a three legged dog then you've seen me.

Then you've seen me, I come and stand at every door.
Then you've seen me, I always leave with less than I have before.
Then you've seen me, when my blood it hits the floor.

Tell me friend can you ask for anything more?
Tell me can you ask for anything more?

Have you ever seen a scarecrow filled with nothing but dust and weeds?
If you've ever seen a scarecrow then you've seen me.
Have you ever seen a one armed man punching at nothing but the breeze?
If you've ever seen a one armed man, then you've seen me.

Then you've seen me, I come and stand at every door.
Then you've seen me, I always leave with less than I have before.
Then you've seen me, when my blood it hits the floor.

Tell me friend can you ask for anything more?
Tell me can you ask for anything more?

These things that comfort me I drive away.
This place that is my home I cannot stay.
The only faith I have is in the bruises I display.

Tell me friend can you ask for anything more?
Tell me can you ask for anything more?

Have you ever seen a one legged man trying to dance his way free?
If you've ever seen a one legged man, then you've seen........me.

 Thank you.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

All that's left is love

I heard about another slaughter
And that people don't have  homes
But in the end none of that matters
Rich or poor, black or white
We're all losers in this game of Life
Not one of us gets out alive

Love brought us here
Love will take us home.
All we get to keep is love.
For love never dies.

So many people are shouting
Hating on each other every day
But no one will win the argument
Right or left, my country or yours
We're all lifers here,
There are no eleventh hour reprieves

Yes Love brought us here
Love will take us home.
All we get to keep is love.
For love never dies.

We can't eat it or sell it,
We can't wear it or steal it
Love can't be bought,
It's not for sale.

But we can accept it
Accept it from it's only source
And we can share it
For love never runs out
Love multiplies again and again
Until it covers every sorrow, every sin.

Because don't you know that:

Love brought us here
Love will take us home.
All we get to keep is love.
For love never dies.

Look at all the souls
on their journey to eternity
All beautiful, all loved
I love you.

Words of encouragement to a friend

We are all constantly in a process of becoming. Once in a while we suddenly discover what we've become. It's never quite what we set out for. But if we're fortunate and true to ourselves it will be where we are meant to be. Here's to you becoming an ever wiser, more joyful and creative version of yourself.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A striking bloom



I spied a flower, a striking bloom
It shocked my soul and pierced my gloom.

But I can't keep her, nor make her mine.
Only love her grace, her beauty, her life.


Photo by author: Texas Hill Country Wildflowers

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Hitting things...Hard

So Hurricane Harvey landed on Houston with a terrible squelch, temporarily returning neighborhood after neighborhood to the swamp from whence they came. While this was going on I was home spending what seemed like an eternity with my paranoid 'refugee' friend barricaded in his room convinced that I was conspiring with persons unknown to...well, do unknown things to him. By the time he finally escaped my evil clutches (also known as 'when I drove him back to his homeless shelter when it became safe to do so') I was ready to hit something. Hard. Over and over again.

And Harvey obliged, wrecking something like 100,000 homes to one degree or another. Technically I only hit three of them, taking a crowbar to soggy walls and wrecked floors. It was quite cathartic. I did my hitting with friends from church. Like most everyone in Houston who wasn't a victim, we were doing what we could to help or if we couldn't really help, at least demonstrate that we gave a damn. The therapy I got from all the hitting was just an extra, probably not shared by very many others.

It was at my third house-hitting that I had a bit of an epiphany. There were two women there that I was friends with from church (or if not friends at least they never visibly blanched when I came their way). I could tell that this wasn't their usual line of work from their soft shoes that screamed 'nail wounds' and from the fact that during that entire day they didn't smash a single thing (they did the essential but IMHO less fun work of clearing up our smashing). But there they were, covered in dust and sweat, dodging flying boards and falling cabinets, the detritus of disaster. And inexplicably, there was joy - in doing hard work for people we would likely never see again for nothing but a thank you.

I noticed that their attitude was radically different than my paranoid friend's. Paranoia is a bit like cancer: it spreads in a person's mind until it consumes everything: every person is suspect, every event a portent, the whole world a threat. I realized that this is what terminal narcissism looks like....the total focus on self, so extreme that its victims can't even function. There is no joy there - nothing but terror and chaos. And I recognize that in my life: the times when I was most focused on myself were often miserable while when I chose (or was forced) to focus on things greater than myself and on others I was happier.

At this point you're probably thinking "that's what Jesus told us 2000 years ago, knucklehead", "Love your God with all your heart and soul and mind (aka: 'the Greater') and Love your neighbor as yourself' (aka 'the others')" and you would be right.

I think this overfocus on ourselves, this 'cultural narcissism' is what has been happening to all of us. We've become more and more focused on our private entertainments, on our own petty concerns and on our status as victims. And it is making us miserable.  Perhaps Harvey was sent to remind us of this central truth:

"Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will keep it."

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Moments

Moments come and then they go.
We think they're true and full of hope.
Then we find they aren't meant to be.
And never were.

Faces come with hopeful gaze.
We place our hopes and dream of days.
But we don't really know them.
And never will.

We tell ourselves that it's fine.
There's always more wine.
But we know the bottle's near empty.
And there are no more.

So we search and hope and pray.
With voices that fade more each day.
And we learn our fate face by face.
Until there are no more.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Your mother

Your mother:
Suffered pain, sweat, blood, tears
Endured hopes, terrors, fears.
Wears scars inside and out.
Overcame bouts of longing and doubt.

She gave you your first gift.
The one from which all others flow.
She was your beginning.
The rock to which you clung.

You can't pay her back for all she's endured.
Only be grateful that she did endure.
And love her for that.
And much more besides.

I know these things for
I saw them with my own eyes
and heard them with my own ears.
And I am grateful too.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Birthday Elegy

We spend fifty years chasing, grasping, clawing.
Then we spend thirty - if we're lucky - forty if we're not,
Releasing those things for which we fought so hard.
If wise, we know to lay them down gracefully.
If not, we fight and rage but lay them down all the same.
For it's God's world and it's God's way.
We're all just players in his play.

So how have you found my playing thus far?
Have I said my lines and toed my marks well?
Will you stay and watch my show to the very end?
Or will you lose interest, shuffling out for brighter fare?
I will play the play so long as I have breath.
And the last thing I will lay down dear friend,
Is you.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Too sad to laugh

Sitting at a party, too sad to laugh
and too drunk to go home. 

Parties bring out the best in you,
they bring out your worst.

At a party i'm everyone's friend
And i'm no one's.

Everyone looks to see what you'll do
but you're waitin' for them too.

We're all looking for something,
it could be good or bad .

Don't matter to me,
so long as I can feel. Cause I'm....

...sitting at a party, too sad to laugh
and too drunk to go home. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Real Men Hunt Real Beasts


I would like to point out that shooting a Deer or an Elephant or a Blue Whale is pathetically easy. After all they're ginormous. A real hunting challenge is plugging a common Field Mouse at 100 paces. Particularly if it's a duel and the little nipper is firing back.  I've set out to hunt, kill and mount every single type of vermin that vex my property today. Mice, voles, crows, cockroaches, fire ants, you name it, I'm going to take them down and mount their heads on my wall.

That'll teach 'em to screw with me.

On Monocles


I really think Monocles are going to come back into style.

You know the Monocle: that one eyed wonder of vision correction beloved by Terrifyingly Taut Teutons in all those old war movies. I think they went out of style because they reminded us of Nazis or some other equally prissy category of bad guys. But it could also have been because the "classic" monocle wasn't particularly versatile, having only "in" and "out" settings. In today's hip, "with it" world the humble monocle becomes a whole range of monocle-based technologies. There is of course the Monocle "Classic" for daily domination but there's also the "reading" monocle and the "sun" monocle with the exciting possibility of having a bi-monocle that goes darker in the sun making you a dreaded monocle triple-threat.

Then there are different fashion choices:  I particularly am fond of the cheap "Wrap-around" Sun-Monocle styling that I'm sure will sweep the nether regions of California and Florida before long.

Some days when I'm feeling particularly sinister I put in just one of my contact lenses which is just like having a monocle although it's hard to peer down at someone with studied contempt while holding your contact lens over your eye. This is because when trying to get your contact/monocle you end up poking yourself in the eye, causing it to water which makes it look like half of you is crying which isn't a particularly sinister look no matter what your sycophantic henchmen say.

You heard it here first: the Monocle is back. Bigger, brighter and more intimidating than ever.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The lover

I'm not something different than you
I'm just like you, and I hurt too

I heard you cry
as you fell from the sky

I felt your tears,
they became my fears

But you're in the joker's palace
The jokers strong, he has me too

But if you'll just take a shot
Take a shot with me

Then we can get out of here
and get free.

So just take a shot
please take that shot
take that shot with me

Look for the lover,
He'll love us free

So just take a shot
take this shot with me

He's been waiting forever
Free to you and me

So we'll take our shot,
just take our shot,
take our shot and be free.

I'm not something different than you
I'm just like you, and I want to be free too.



Thursday, April 20, 2017

Let's go out dancing tonight

You're a woman that everyone should know in this place.
Know that your beauty goes way deeper than just your face.
Everyone looks at you and asks what you'll do.
But they don't know you the way I do.

Cause you don't know what you'll do and that's OK,
no you don't know what  you'll do and that's OK
Everyone thinks they know you but they don't have a clue,
so baby let's go out dancing tonight.

I'm the kind of man that don't make sense today,
The kind your head tells you stay away.
Everybody looks at me and knows that I'm not for you
But they don't know me the way you do.

Cause I don't know what I'll do and that's OK,
no I don't know what I'll do and that's OK.
Everybody thinks they know me but they don't have a clue,
so baby let's go out dancing tonight.

Everyone says that you can't change how you feel
that you have to play the cards in the deal.
Well they don't know you and they don't know me,
hell, we don't even know what we'll be.

It may be love but it may not be,
yes it may be love but it may not be.
Everyone thinks they know what we'll do but they have no clue,
so baby lets go out dancing tonight.

But if you don't want to play then get up and walk away.
We'll leave the cards face down and go our separate ways
Remembering what this felt like,
what it meant to be this way.

But I'll always miss you and that's OK,
yeah I'll always miss you and that's OK.
'cause no one knows how it felt to be with you this way.
And I'll always remember when we went out dancing that day.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Look up

Look up,
Let your gaze rise.
Look up,
See with His eyes.

It's so dark when our eyes are closed.
We always lose our way.
We get lost gazing at ourselves
and forget our faith.

Look up,
Let your gaze rise.
Look up,
See with His eyes.

When we can't see we think we're alone.
Even with angels there.
Looking down we keep stepping on toes.
People don't think we care.

Look up,
Let your gaze rise.
Look up,
See with His eyes.

See all the beautiful souls,
headed to eternity.
See all the God breathed miracles,
yearning to be free.

Look up,
Let your gaze rise.
Look up,
See with His eyes.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

"There is no adventure I would trade them for"

I read this today:

The juxtaposition of...(her subject)...sounds remote and a little absurd as she reflects on how her dying son pushed himself out of her body like an "unholy storm," moving his tiny arms and legs, alive, and as "pretty as a seashell." She shared only his brief whispers of a life, but "there is no adventure I would trade them for."

I never got to see my third child "push himself out" late in his term. By the time I got home, his "brief whispers of life" were over. But I do know that "neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" and that I don't need to trade anything for my child's life because He already did. And I know His promise extends to my whole family, even little Will.

That doesn't mean I don't feel his loss or remember that dark afternoon with sorrow. It just means that the loss and sorrow have been redeemed and that one day my memories of his passing will be shorn of their horror and misery.

I miss him.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Look and See

After church yesterday I positioned myself near the exit as I often do.  People I know will come up and we'll talk for a few minutes. It's a great way to see people that I normally don't run into.  Only yesterday no one came up and talked to me. Not one. Oh a few people gave me an absent minded wave or 'hiya' but no one stopped.

I was about to take it personally when I saw other people that I'd never seen before, some talking, some alone, some smiling, some pensive. There were a few harried parents trying to herd their kids to the door. I saw all kinds of people from many places in this world, all heading out to their own, personal Sunday afternoons.

Then my eyes landed on a young woman walking in the distance. She was doing some cleanup chore for the church while avoiding everyone's gaze. I remembered seeing her earlier when I was walking outside and noticed that as she walked past us going the other way she moved closer to the wall, farther away from us. And I don't know why. But I want to. So I made a mental note to introduce myself the next time I saw her. I want to know her story - if she'll share it with me.

And I think I get what God was doing by rushing everyone by me: Yesterday I wasn't supposed to schmooze with the people I like and who like me because when I'm busy talking I don't notice anyone or anything else. I think God wants me to be quiet and pay more attention the way that He pays attention: to everyone regardless of how interesting I find them to be. Indeed I think he wants us pay attention to the people who don't get noticed.

Try it sometime. Just stand and watch all of the people around you. All of the beautiful souls on their journeys to eternity. See their expressions, how they walk, how they use their eyes. Imagine what it would be like to be in their shoes, living their dreams, carrying their burdens. And recognize them for the God breathed miracles that they are.

They're all around us, miracles every one.  It's the greatest show in the Universe and all we have to do to take it in is just be quiet and look and see.




Saturday, March 18, 2017

I Believe

I believe in truth and love.
I believe in God above.
I believe we were made for this.
And I believe in you.

Got here by the crooked path.
So many stripes on my back.
But God's given me some things to do.
And one of them is loving you.

I don't get what you see in me.
You're so much better free.
But you ignore me when I say go.
I guess there's something we both know.

So I'll love you with heart and soul.
Love you till I'm grey and old.
Then I'll cross over when I'm done.
And wait there until you come.

I believe in truth and love.
I believe in God above.
I believe we were made for this.
And I believe in you.
Yes, I believe in you.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

An email to a friend

I have a friend that's far to the left of me politically. We got to talking about gay rights, 'homophobia' and other such controversial topics. He finally asked me just what I believed (not theologically, but in terms of social interactions). I'm saving it here so the next time I get flack for being a "homophobe" or some other kind of "phobe" I won't have to redo it.  Sorry about the typos. I'm a lazy writer.

Hey no fair responding to emails from last October. That's BT (before Trump).
​​
A coupl​e of contextual data points on me and mine:
When I was a teen my family had a live in houseboy
​ named Endang​
. He also 
​moonlighted as ​
a Banci - a gay transvestite prostitute. We'd see him in his heels and mini skirt at
​ the​
 Blok P  
​whor​
e market about 
​a kilometer away
. We used to wrestle for fun. And yes we knew. My right wing
​, then Southern Baptist ​
parents said live and let live
​ for three years​
. Until he began stealing and wearing mom's lingerie. Then he was toast.

​My sophomore year ​
​lived in a Dorm "Pod" of six men, four of whom were gay in the stereotyped style. Including my roommate
​I got some
 collateral flack
​ but it motivated me to date girls​
​And​
 after the trannie hooker
​,​
 a mild mannered 
​moderate Republican ​
queer from Lawton seemed tame. He never wanted to wrestle.
​ One of them was Arturo Herrera - he's now a rather successful artist who has had solo exhibits at the Whitney among others.​ There's a PBS vignette about him at the link. He used to be much more flamboyant. I bought several of his pieces when he needed money. Somehow they got lost in the fog of divorce and collapse. Damn, damn, damn.

Yet today I'm a "homophobe".
My ideology and religious commitments back then were more conservative than they are today - I was in the  Baptist Youth Groups both in HS and this period in College for Crissakes (really, I did it for His sake).​ I am called a homophobe by people that when I knew them would never have done something like befriend or live with a 'homo'. They are conformists, doing only what they think the people around them will approve of. But that's a common refrain of my life.

I have always been prepared to take people as I find them. What I am not prepared to do is to let people define what is 'right', what is 'moral', whether they are 'victims' or choose who the victimizers are based some arbitrary definition of their 'identity'.  There are now 50 Facebook identity options each presumably with it's own list of microagressions and political manifestos. I reject the notion that simply by clicking a different FB box you are allowed to define whether my behavior is 'acceptable' or what you get to do to me.

As I said: I take people as I find them. I expect people to take me as I am found. I expect to find conflicts with people that I meet. Conflicts of values, beliefs, politics, the definition of life, the universe and everything. Whether they're Muslim Trannie Whores or Venezuelan Artists. I expect them to respect my views and values even when they conflict with theirs. I expect them to respect my speech rights and not call me names just because I disagree with them because I have shown through my life that I will respect theirs.

It used to be called the "Liberal" position. But I don't they exist anymore, do you?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Whoah! Settle down little scientists! A tale of Ptolemaic, Copernican, Newtonian and Einsteinian Denialism

Wrote this in my snow cave phase.

There has been a lot of loose talk thrown around about people being 'deniers' of this or that - but principally of the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming.  Whatever your view on that subject it seems to me we should have some humility about what we think we know given how often and far our understanding of reality changes not to mention all those who have been persecuted for holding the 'wrong' views. This tongue in cheek review of celestial mechanics and physics hopefully helps remind how temporary and contingent certainty and settle science really are.  Or at least makes some of you smile.

Bow wow Ow!
Before Ptolemy came along with his really stupid name, the dominant theory of celestial mechanics was that stars were God's 'daisy chain' and every time an Angel shed a wee tear, another one was 'born'. Indeed the science had been 'settled' on this "Wodehousian construct" for millennia. But Ptolemy disagreed and for his insolence was branded a Daisy Chain 'denier' by the leading scientific bodies of ancient Egypt - dogs. Or technically Mann-Dogs. Usually in such a 'progressive' age the denier of scientific orthodoxy would have disappeared from the debate without a trace, presumably into some Pharoah's tomb despite the fact that unlike the Pharoah in question the denier was not technically 'dead'. But Ptolemy was fortunate to be born in Greek Alexandria when the Romans ran the show and the Romans, not being particularly fond of traditional Egyptian religion, sent some of their legionnaires wielding rolled up Sunday Papyri to persuade the pooch priests of their error thereby establishing new 'settled' science.

This science stayed nice and settled for a long time with only the occasional Ancient Academy of Sorcerers and Scientists beheading or crucifixion to see off the odd denier. The theory even survived the rise and fall of the bacchanalian 'party hearty' theories of the Romans when so many established truths became a bit fuzzy and unstable, particularly in the morning. Even the Huns bought the Ptolemaic line although they couldn't pronounce, much less spell it, however, as was typical, the Ostragoths were ostracized

Oh poop!  I'm Passe.
And then a nearsighted priest named Copernicus, a Pole who was so blind that he spent all his time looking through spyglasses up at the sky rather than where the heck he was going - comes up with this crazy idea that 'Earth you know, is just this planet' upon which the scientific, priestly establishment blew hot steaming chunks of anathema. Because the 'wee' earth theory was clearly even crazier the old 'wee' angel tear model of the universe. The Ptolemaic establishment was able to see off such ridiculous denialism with only the occasional singed denier so long as the theory was presented in Polish or in Copernicus' execrable and oh so declasse Polack-Latin. But once the Italians - who believe it or not were the 'go-to' hepcats of high tech back then - could decipher for the Pope the Pole's priestly patter Ptolemy's period of planetery preeminnce was...passe.

Tetherballs.  It's all tetherballs these days.
A chappie named Galileo Galilei was instrumental in unsettling the Ptolemaic consensus. It seems at that time a lot of your hipper, more dialed in priests and laymen in Italy surreptitiously bought Copernicus' theory. Particularly after Galileo illustrated the theory in tetherball terms to a Curia that was mad for the sport. But the times being what they were and Polacks being, you know, Polish they were reluctant to risk their 'street cred' and A list status just because someone from Cracow was right about reality. They needed a sign from above that the Copernican construct was 'cool'. Particularly from the Pope who for various obscure reasons like having signing authority for all of God's money for the entire Earth was important to the very hip. But the Pope being very Right Wing (after all, he works for God) was reluctant to accept the new idea and risk his awesome Pope-gig. So Galileo 'took the fall' for ‘team tetherball’ so to speak, getting brought up on charges of Ptolemaic denialism and a prejudicial preference for polish pronunciation and for his effrontery was exiled to Siena. Siena. The second city of Tuscany. The same Tuscany where the Tuscan state fair was held every year and instead of Hog Husbandry the Future Farmers of Tuscany held competitions in vintage wine and cheese making. Awesome wine and cheese that goes great with a mushroom risotto. Apparently exiling Galileo to Tuscany was like sentencing him to six months hard leisure at the Santa Barbara Biltmore Spa and Resort. In effect the Pope was saying - without saying so out loud - 'two thumbs up, way up'.

Oh Gally!
So Copernicus' new theory won. But all of the credit and resulting equity upside was captured by his Italian VC the heretofore obscure firm of Galileo, Borgia & Pope. So Galileo had it made: the top new scientific theory in the world, Papal sponsorship for his fund and its rather 'sharp' dealing, the Borgia's on your side which made mealtime so much less fraught and all the time in the world to work on, I mean paint this hot, I mean intriguing new subject nicknamed “Mona” Lisa and boy was Galileo going to try. And all because he knew his tetherball.

And then the protestants blew it all to hell.

I don't care a fig about Newton or his stupid theory
Specifically one protestant: Isaac Newton was an Englishman who taught Lord knows what (honest! - he taught theology) at Cambridge while he was rethinking the foundations of the universe, inventing his own new branch of mathematics and dodging falling apples. The Cambridge establishment didn't really know what to make of this fruit fleeing wunderkund who supposedly discovered that 'apples fall from trees' which any bloody fool could have figured out with out calling it a sodding "Principia".  But an English win is an English win no matter how obscure the sport so "jolly good shows" all around!

Watch out! Apples!
But imagine the reaction of GB&P (GG having died while - reportedly - trying to help Lisa live up to her nickname) when they got the news that Newton had discovered the secret to celestial mechanics and in doing so had just happened to invent both classical physics and the calculus thereby wrecking their CoperniCo copyrights. I imagine that they had the same reaction that college freshmen do when they come face to face with The Calculus for the first time: "What the fuck? I mean what the fucking fuck?” Which is of course the classic Anglo Saxon reaction to being asked to undertake any intellectual exercise: beery prose filled to brim with all the nuance and subtlety of an English Football hooligan.

But GB&P being more Romano-Parmesan than Anglo-Saxon responded with a more nuanced, Machiavellian manner:  Che cazzo? Voglio dire che il cazzo cazzo?  (Everything sounds sexier in Italian).  After the Romano-Parmesanisms were done they began working the 'effing protestant' angle.  Which was the novel theory that protestants weren't just hell bent sinners but in fact hell bent thinkers and they pointed to the calculus with all of its inexplicable sigmas and functions and integrals and differentials as just the sort of incomprehensible gobbledygook that Satan would produce if he wanted to confuse the faithful.  After all, counting on those Anglican bastards to pass you in calculus could lead to a serious priest shortage.

So they worked the ad-anglican angle hard while feverishly casting about for their own Newtonian or more accurately, Salamandraeian champion - someone "of the faith" who could do the voodoo that only Newton could doodoo so well.  And try as they might they kept coming up snake eyes - for a while they thought that Tycho Brahe - the noseless Nostradamus of the north and his loopy Tychonic system (honest, it was based on geometric loops) was going to save them but in the end they had to admit that all of the cazzo calculus crap made perfect celestial predictions and that the ingelese interloper had it right.  What really threw them was that Leibnitz - another protestant had also invented the calculus at the same time and all of a sudden it seemed like protestant inventors of new branches of mathematics and physics were becoming as common as fleas on a Pope and they needed to change the subject pronto.  So they relaunched that perennial favorite the Inquisition and a good time was had by all.

Nobody expects a relaunch of the
inquisition.
So anyway, Isaac Newton became Sir Isaac Newton and went on to make exciting discoveries in optics and fig filled biscuits and died a happy Cambridge Don as opposed to a Cambridge Ike as one would have reasonably expected. And Cambridge really dug their Distinguished Don and lorded him over Oxford who at the time was trying to present Tycho Brahe's fake nose as a major biomedical innovation and not having much luck. And so things went on like this for a couple centuries - Cambridge on top, then Oxford, and so on and so forth until the Swiss Patent Service inexplicably butted into a game heretofore reserved for tweedy chaps with tenure at snotty English universities.  

But Albert Einstein was a clerk of a different...patent classification, I guess.  Einstein had the odd bit of trouble differentiating the German umlaut from the English colon which made him a lousy patent clerk - second class.  But that patent weakness happened to be the very same psycho-spacio inversion that allowed him to visualize the space-time continuum.  And as a result of his disability he came up with a couple theories that to be frank, were seriously bent.  For example according to Einstein when you are standing still and I pop you one right in the kisser your kisser is moving relative to my hand even as I am moving my hand to hit your kisser which is ridiculous since you're the one who falls like a sack of potatoes, not me.  Or the idea that the faster I run, the heavier I get - I mean you could go into any Bernese bar and grill and see guys sitting on their ass getting more massive by the minute.  And then there are all these examples with sliced bread in them, what in the hell does sliced bread have to do with the space time continuum?  Yet the calculus and all of these physics Poindexters say that I shouldn't trust my lyin' eyes and if I do then I've become the science denier.

Ja, I'm bent!
Well in their defense Einstein made some very specific predictions about what would happen to sunlight when it whipped around the moon during an eclipse - and the Cambridge Dons (presumably named after the renamed Newton) verified that yes, the Jew postman is right while still cutting him socially and excluding him from their clubs and daughters.  Even Oxford didn't want him so he had to go to Berlin to get a real college job and there were Nazis there and everyone knows that Nazis were serious Jew deniers.

You meant the only way I can
win this war is to use Jew Science?
  Well then I just won't win it.
So there.
You didn't have to be an Einstein to figure out that doing the Jew Genius gig in downtown Hitlerville was not going to work out so he sent away for a job to this little Correspondence College that did a lot of IQ testing of high school students in Princeton, New Jersey.  Now Princeton, being out of the mainstream of, well, practically everything had a hard time fitting Einstein into their evaluation framework which principally relied on two aptitude tests that they had developed:  the DIG (Dad is graduate) and DIM (Dad is millionaire) tests.  However they were trying increase their reputation with crazy intellectuals and there was absolutely no one who said 'crazy intellectual' louder when you looked at him than Einstein so they bunged him into a building with all the other big name has beens.

I say 'has been' because almost as soon as Einstein got settled, Nils Bohr began to bore right into the old boy with his Quantum reality routine which was packing them in throughout non-Nazi Europe.  Typically he'd wait until his laureateness had just woken up from a nap and would run in and show him the little 'quanta circus' in his hand - it was like a flea circus only much smaller.  So he'd stand there claiming that there were at least 50,000 quantum lions standing on photons in his hand and didn't herr Doktor see them?  Right there.  "I  understand that as you get older you can't visualize new concepts or see Quantum circuses anymore but look - did you see that!  That photon went through both the north and south entrance gates at the same time.  Isn't that incredible!!!"

And what was Einstein going to say?  That the greatest physicist of all time didn't 'get' quantum mechanics?  "Vell, ja......I.....guess"  So Einstein, swallowed Bohr's boring line of quantum hooey and set out to come up with a universal theory of everything.  Which was a mistake.  As Timothy Leary showed much later at Harvard a universal theory of everything is only achievable through the use of very powerful illegal drugs and only lasts for a few minutes until the nice men in the white suits come to take you to the place that will make all of those nasty spiders go away.

I guess it was just as well that Einstein didn't go the Timothy Leary route because what with Hitler cutting up in Europe and the Japanese becoming loud deniers of western civilization much less science, it was more important for him to persuade the Americans to figure out how to build this nuclear bomb thingy before Hitler got one.  Or as Einstein would say:  "Ve must build ze big Boom!"  Only Einstein kind of slow rolled the whole program for a while because he realized that if the Americans got the 'boom' they'd just drop it on Berlin and Einstein and the missus still had a great little cottage in Wannasee that was actually on a lake rather than a see and they didn't want it incinerated.  As it turned out the Nazi's collapsed on their own accord so the cottage didn't need to be nuked after all but after the Cossacks who billeted there got through with it it might as well have been.

Ze big boom! 
But that just meant that the western civilization and science denying Japanese were going to get nuked.  Which taught them a thing or two.  Nagasaki on that, you bloody deniers.

OK, I'll admit that last sentence is in rather bad taste, I don't think that people should die simply because they disagree with my choices or that I should gloat at their discomfort (well, death really).  But given the rhetoric being bandied about today one could infer that the advocates of the catastrophic AGW line are a lot closer to 'nuke-em and gloat' territory than we'd like to believe.  They seem to be straying to a 'utilitarian' 'logic', which argues that 'deniers' are destroying the world and must be shut up - for the greater 'good' you see.  Aside from that ridiculous totally unsupported assertion of "fact", the willingness of the Enviro left to dehumanize those that disagree with them is frightening.  They're trying to turn us into Mann-Dogs.

I guess so that they can thwack us with their rolled up but oh so recycled Sunday papyri. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The "Optimal Prank Nexus"

News reports say that West Virginia U has become so vexed with couch burning incidents that it has banned outdoor sofaing altogether.

So why didn't we think of this? The burning, not the ban. I mean we had lots of cheap couches and most of them did need to be burned for aesthetic if not sanitary reasons. Yet we never put "a want and a need into the deed" so to speak. I suppose it was a failure to achieve the critical "Optimal Prank Nexus". The OPN was a theory of fraternal living that I developed to explain why a group of relatively intelligent young men/older boys would some times come up with absolutely brilliant forms of mischief (such as creating a giant water balloon slingshot out of a soccer goal the better to shell sorority sisters sunbathing behind their privacy fences) while at other times we - I mean they - did the most dumbass things.

Your common variety collegiate prank is trivially easy to produce. All you need to do is throw a few kegs and some high decibel Weezer in the midst of a bunch of college kids. Within minutes the combination will begin emitting a "Seemed Like A Good Idea" field from which all prank mayhem originates.

But the optimal prank only emerges from the fog of a common SLAGI field if several conditions occur at exactly the same time. For example, to come up with the brilliant, high concept prank of couch burning one must have a certain level of excitement underway - say a party or sports victory or even an abortive narcotics sweep by the local gendarmes. Then you need someone with a weak moral sense but a strong eye for fun to be sober enough to generate "the idea". Thirdly, everyone else needs to be sufficiently inebriated so that something like "hey let's burn the furniture!" seems like a swell idea rather than arson but not so pickled that they keep trying to get the couch out the door sideways and failing that decide to "light her where she lies" in the hall.

As you can see it is these minor variations at the nexus of the deed that can turn the "brilliant" into the "dumbass" in the ten minutes it takes the fire trucks to arrive. Although I suppose West Virginia has a higher concentration of the essential nexus variables than most - which makes them particularly fiery prank innovators. Burn Mountaineers Burn

I still hear the tears

My friend is going to Haiti. She told me she's  going without the inoculations and prophylaxis that protect against Cholera and Malaria. I know I should mind my own business because she's a healthcare professional who's been there many times and knows what she's doing. But I can't help the remembering.

I remember my friend's servant returning after an absence asking for funeral money for a child taken by Cholera. I remember the sound of her tears. And I remember my friend's mother crying to us with red rimmed eyes "why didn't she come sooner?".

I remember walking in the kampung seeing the poor bathe their children downstream from the privies on stilts and shaking our heads. I remember the man who lost a knife fight slumped against the wall, bleeding out, everyone watching him die. And the sounds and smells of the electricity thief who touched the wrong wire....bacon. And the ragdoll acrobatics of a man struck by a speeding car, flopping broken to the ground. So much death, so random, so pointless.

So I can understand why she would ask "why should I be protected when all those around me live so exposed? Why should I be privileged?"

I don't know. I have no answers. All I can hear are a mother's tears. And it is the worst sound that I've ever heard.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Smiling Eyes

From time to time I get my breakfast at McDonalds. I am particularly partial to McGriddles - that classically American concoction with the bun filled with faux maple syrup - I mean who comes up with this stuff? Almost every time I come in a small latina serves me. Her face and arms are horribly disfigured - I have this image of her as a child pulling a large vat of boiling water on top of herself. When I first started coming Marta - for that's her name - wouldn't look me in the eye no matter what I did - she'd look anywhere but at my face.

I first experienced this reluctance to look directly at me among the lepers that hung out around the marketplace in Jakarta when I was a boy: I guess they found that 'whole' people wouldn't look them in the eye or if they did, their 'look' would be filled with shock and horror. So the disfigured go through life avoiding visual connection with other people lest it once again remind them that to the world they are "hideous". Of course to them, they're not. Just as when I look in the mirror I don't think I'm old - but the disfigured have learned that looking 'wholes' in the eye is a painful experience best to be avoided. It must be a strange, lonely world - so much of what is essential about us is communicated through our gaze. As Shakespeare wrote: "the eyes are the window to your soul"

Despite never looking directly at me, Marta came to recognize me - I suppose by my voice and my typically "just got out of bed" appearance. Early on I tried a number of different stratagems to 'trick' her into looking me in the eye, including introducing myself "hi, I'm Bill, what's your name?" "Marta" she said, never raising her eyes above my chest. After a while I gave up - Marta had spent her whole life dealing with her appearance - who was I to try to manipulate her just to see if I could catch her eye? This went on for the longest time - we'd talk and joke (for I am terribly perky in the morning, it's quite a burden for others) and do all the other things that familiar strangers do in an open culture like Texas, but no eye contact.

Until one day when I was so preoccupied with my own problems that I didn't even really notice her serving me. When she asked me if I wanted my "re-goo-lar" as she puts it, I didn't even hear her. Then snapping back to the real world I looked over and there they were: her eyes - gazing steadily into mine. Her smiling eyes. I felt like I'd been given a great gift - a view into a soul more closely guarded than a fortress. And it was beautiful. Because she is beautiful - much more beautiful than I'll ever be.

We're friends now - and I'm eating a lot more McDonalds breakfasts than I probably should but I can't resist those eyes. Marta's smiling eyes.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Walk in the rain - Lyrics

Do you want to walk in the rain?
Not everyone likes the wet.
But that's when I fell in love.
Fell in love with you.

Oh oh I I'm falling in love.
Oh oh I don't know what to do.
Do you?

Can't help how I feel about you.
It's all so very new.
I can't help that I love you
What do you want me to do?

Oh oh I I'm falling in love.
Oh oh I don't know what to do.
Do you?

Do you want to walk in the rain?
Not everyone likes the wet.
But that's when I fell in love.
Fell in love with you.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Haiti Bound

For Caroline

Most people spend their lives running away from trouble,
others getting into it.
Only a few choose to run towards other people's trouble,
fewer still seek it out for His sake.

Those few are the rescuers -
 the remnant who go when no one else will.
Whose faithfulness testifies to God's mercy and love -
written in the story of their lives.

Sometimes it's hard to see them - they are so few -
obscured by everyone running the other way.
But I can.
For they are beautiful.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Texas is Weird

I had a classic Houston moment last night. I ate dinner at the bar at Oportos in midtown between a Dutchman who liquifies natural gas on a first date with a Waloon journalist who just moved from Luanda and an off duty Cuban chef by way of Buffalo out with a Guadaloupian (opian? ipian?) engineer. We were served by a Parisian bartender who just moved here from New Orleans and a second bartender who swore he was Mexican but I think he was just a Tejano embarrassed by his lack of exotic street cred. The shrimp piripiri were very good but they inexplicably put mint and those stupid juniper berries in their Gin and Tonics. Which were pink. I kid you not. I told them about my high school locker trauma with tall dutch girls, and that my mostest favoritest Waloon of all time was Tintin. Texas is weird.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

On politics

When people ask me what my politics are, I say Christian.  When they persist I either say I'm an avant garde conservative or a reactionary liberal depending on which answer I judge will make them most nervous.  I believe in timeless truth and infinite love. I believe that truth and love are not opposites.  Indeed in the person of Christ they become one and the same.

That means the only source of true love is Christ. That the only source of the love we give others is Him who first loved us.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Everything Everywhere

Lord, I'm never alone,
wherever I go, you're there.
It's a double edged truth,
but truth all the same.
You're everywhere I go
and everything to me.

I went home the other day.
Been years since I left.
But Mom talked of You
like You'd never gone.
But how can that be?
Because you were always with me.

With me in my tears and
with me in my fears 
With me when I was wrong
and headed way down.
You're everywhere I go
and everything to me.

I don't see You but
I feel You everywhere.
Filling everything
with life and hope.
Even when I can't see.
Even when I can't believe.

With me in my tears and
With me in my fears 
With me when I'm wrong
and headed way down.
Lord, You're everywhere I go
and everything to me.

Lord, I'm never alone,
wherever I go, you're there.
It's a double edged truth,
but truth all the same.
You're everywhere I go
and everything to me.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

You woke me up


You came and woke me up
To say you'd  had enough.
Enough of the loneliness and the fear.
Too much of the road and not enough of here.

But the hole in your soul is too big to fill.
And mine is bigger still.
I don't have the love you need.
And I never will.

We can't fill our souls with us.
Tossing holes into holes.
My empty can't fill you full.
And we both feel so alone.

I've heard there's a man with love to spare
who died and rose again.
Maybe if I can get his love.
Then I can share it with you.

He came and woke us up.
To tell us He was enough.
To banish our loneliness and fear.
And to make our pathways clear.

And my hole is still too big to fill.
But he filled it all the same.
For he died to fill us up with love.
And he forever will.

Yes he rose to save our souls for love.
And he forever will.

.

Look at me.

Look at me. Can you see me?
The real me?
Every day I trade my honor 
for nothing but dross.

I say I'm free
but I enslave me.
See that bird she's free.
I want to be like her. 

See my soul through all the dust?
See how I treat myself?
How can you believe in me?
When I'm not even free?

I want to to be free.
I want to be free from me.
He said that to save my life
I must give it up.

Look at me.
Really look at me.
I want to be free.
Lord, set me free.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Lovetruth

Like most of my love poems this is theoretical at the moment.  But here's to hoping.

Is my love true?
They're not the same, you know.
Love stands on truth's shoulders
And truth without love is dead.

So do I have something to say?
Something I want to say to you?
Because without truth my love doesn't reach.
And right now it's killing you.

Is your truth love?
One's not the other,  you know.
Without love truth is buried and dead.
And without truth love's a song in your head

So do you have something to say?
Something you want to say to me?
Because without love your truth is dead.
And right now this is killing me.

So if there's anything left of us.
Some small measure of truth,
a tiny trace of love.
Could we try again?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Dying

This is two poems in one.  An inner poem which is addressed to a mortal lover.  When the first and last stanzas are added it becomes a poem addressed to my immortal Lover. I am quite proud of its classic biblical structure which I attribute to Robbie Griggs teaching on Dan Dorian's book on hermeneutics. Guys this is all your fault.


Lord, I've known dying and I've been alone.
And I'd rather die in You than live for me.

My heart can stop but once, my soul to fly away.
But being without you is to die every single day.

I've known dying and I've been alone.
And I'd rather die with you than be alone with me.

I've clung to cliffs in hailing wind and I've choked till I turned blue.
But I've never hurt so much as when I was without You.

I've slammed bloody on a reef, fearing sharks would eat me through.
But I've never been so frightened as when I couldn't find You.

I've wavered with my handgun, pointing it straight at my face.
Because I've never been so hopeless as when I was without Your grace.

So my Love whatever you do don't leave me here.
Because it's losing you I fear.

Cause I've known dying and I've been alone.
And I'd rather die with you than be alone with me.

Lord, I've known dying and I've been alone.
And I'd rather die in You than live for me.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Lie to Me

This is also a song posted at Billkelele

I came to see you, don't know why.
Now that I see that look in your eyes.
I thought you loved me like I love you.
But now I don't think you really do.

So If you don't love me, lie to me.
If you don't want me, tell me you do.
Until it's time for me to go       
And to forget about loving you.

Not long ago our love was a fact
No force on earth could hold us back.
But something's happened in months apart.
Something's that's turned your loving heart.

So If you don't love me, lie to me.
If you don't want me, tell me you do.
Until it's time for me to go
And to forget about loving  you.

Was it wrong to fall in love with you?
It was the only thing I could do.
I wish I hadn't fallen in love with you
It was the only thing I knew how to do.

So If you don't love me, lie to me.
If you don't want me, tell me you do.
Until it's time for me to go
And to forget about  loving you.

So If you don't love me, lie to me.
If you don't want me, tell me you do.
Until it's time for me to go
And to forget about loving you.

Supergirl

There ain't no Supergirls
and there ain't no Superboys.
We're all just holding on,
'til salvation comes along.

We fixed all your faults
before you even saw them.
Made straight your crooked ways                    
so you 'd never trip on em.

We made you think you're perfect
when all you are is lost.
We stole from you the stumbles
that teach you the true cost.

Of trying to make a Supergirl
out of a lost and broken soul.
Thinking you have saved yourself
when you're not even whole.

There ain't no Supergirls
and there ain't no Superboys.
We're all just holding on,
'til salvation comes along.

You can't be a super hero
there's only ever been one.
And we're all just holding on
until Jesus comes along.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

On being True rather than Right

I confess that I spend too much time trying to "win"  arguments for my own pride.  To lord my superior..... what? Intellect?  loquaciousness? Bloody mindedness? - over others.  I realized what I was doing wrong after reading this:
You know, the older I get, the less I care about being right. I remember when being right was everything. You wanted to win every debate, to brutalize your opponents in any kind of argument, to force them to acknowledge your superior knowledge and experience. It was, in essence, a matter of narcissistic supply, of the confirmation of self-worth through demonstrating superior intellect..... 
Something changed over time. Call it maturity, or wisdom, or understanding of self. Or call it, as I do, a certain intellectual exhaustion. Whatever it is, I just stopped caring about appearances. I didn’t care to prove myself right, or to prove the other wrong.
I wanted to learn. I wanted to understand. I wanted to know truth — regardless of whether or not anyone believed me. It came to the point that I wanted to be proven wrong, in fact, for that would mean I would have discovered a new truth. My own knowledge would have been expanded. I was still emotionally invested in the outcome, per se, but not in the same manner. If the debate granted me no new knowledge, no new perspectives, it was useless. It was a waste of time. It didn’t matter if I had demolished my opponent’s argument. It was still a nothing....... 
I’m much too old for that sort of thing anymore. It is exhausting, chasing after perceived rightness. It is a path to madness. All I want to know is what’s true, and what’s false, so that I might live my own life by those truths, and share them with those I can reach
Me too. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The End

The end comes quickly.
It always does.
He's gone.
It's over.
I'm sorry.

Sundering once strong bonds
- as if tissue.
Of life,
friendship, 
love.

But death cannot erase
the fact of life.
Once there,
the memory
lives on.

And what once was,
always shall be.
Ever shining,
evergreen.
In our souls.

"I will always remember you"
"I will always miss you"
"I will always love you"

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Breathe

Repentance is exhaling. We breathe in God's gifts, which give us hope and life. But broken souls produce waste -  hatred, lies, betrayal. Allowed to linger, they accumulate  in deep pits of despair. So we must breathe our sin out every day.

So if a man should cry out to you from the depths, heed his call. If someone gasping for breath asks your forgiveness, grant it.

For they're just trying to breathe.

I want to breathe.