Aug 31, 2005

Worthy of Emulation

1 Corinthians 9:16-23

16If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! 17For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. 18What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.

19 For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. 20To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. 21To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. 22To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. 23I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.

Or in other words (the same text from The Message)...

16If I proclaim the Message, it's not to get something out of it for myself. I'm compelled to do it, and doomed if I don't! 17If this was my own idea of just another way to make a living, I'd expect some pay. But since it's not my idea but something solemnly entrusted to me, why would I expect to get paid? 18So am I getting anything out of it? Yes, as a matter of fact: the pleasure of proclaiming the Message at no cost to you. You don't even have to pay my expenses!

19Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: 20religious, nonreligious, 21meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, 22the defeated, the demoralized--whoever. I didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ--but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. 23I did all this because of the Message. I didn't just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!

Aug 27, 2005

Happy Birthday LBJ!

Lyndon Johnson would have been 97 today, Saturday, August 27, 2005.

The Texas Values in Action Coalition remembers some of the wit and wisdom of President Johnson:

"The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men."

"We have talked long enough in this country about equal rights. It is time now to write the next chapter - and to write it in the books of law."
– First State of the Union Address, January 8, 1964

"We can draw lessons from the past, but we cannot live in it."
December 13, 1963

"If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read 'President Can't Swim'."

"There are no favorites in my office. I treat them all with the same general inconsideration."

"Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men's skins, emancipation will be a proclamation but not a fact."

"The guns and bombs, the rockets and the warships, all are symbols of human failure."

"In the land of great wealth, families must not live in hopeless poverty. In a land of healing miracles, neighbors must not suffer and die unattended. In a land of learning and scholars, young people must be taught to read and write."
– State of the Union Address

"Nor is it the habit of Texans to look back. We have a tradition of looking forward and not looking back to see where we have been or who is following us."

Aug 26, 2005

Just do it.

To me, there seem to be two approaches to most of life's necessary projects. I move between these two positions, based upon my degree of enthusiam and commitment to the particular job at hand.

Just do whatever it takes.


Do just whatever will do.

Aug 25, 2005

The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbin

The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins is a children's book by Dr. Seuss. Unusually for a Seuss book, The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins is written in prose instead of rhyming and strictly metered verse.

Set in feudal times, the story begins in the Kingdom of Didd, when King Derwin is riding through a street past Bartholomew Cubbins, the main character. According to royal rule all citizens must remove their hats as the king passes by. Bartholomew, who has a red hat with a white feather in it, does so. However the Captain of the Guards approaches him, and Bartholomew finds that another hat has mysteriously appeared atop his head. He attempts to remove this, and finds that there is another identical red hat still on top of his head.

He is whisked off to the royal palace, where the King Derwin attempts several methods to remove Bartholomew's hat. Manual removal, Archery, and even witchcraft fail. Bartholomew continues to remove hats, and the official scribe keeps a running tally of all the hats that have been removed. The king's mean-spirited nephew suggests that he be beheaded, and so the king reluctantly sends him down into the dungeon. However the executioner explains that he is forbidden from executing somebody with their hat on, which provides a Catch 22 —he can't be executed for failing to remove his hat until his hat is removed, making his beheading impossible. He returns to the royal chamber, where it is decided he must be pushed off the highest tower.

As Bartholomew is climbing the stairs to the tower, however, he continues to remove hats. As he ascends, the royal scribe, who has kept count of all the hats he has removed so far, notices that the hats have become more elaborate, with more feathers and other decorations. At the top Bartholomew has an immense hat, with huge feathers and a large gemstone in the center. Instead of allowing his nephew to push Bartholomew off the tower, the king has a change of heart, and offers to buy the hat, which according to the royal scribe is the 500th hat. After this hat is removed no hat reappears, and Bartholomew is finally bare-headed. The king pays him 500 pieces of gold, and keeps the other hundreds of hats in a chest to remind him of his foolishness.

The story overall expresses confidence that leaders--even non-elected leaders--will do the right thing.


This was a book, record, and animated movie in the 1940's. I remember it from the first grade in 1956 at Hexter Elementary. As precocious as I was at that age, I doubt I read it. This was also a time before TVs in the classroom, so I don't think I saw the movie then (besides, I remember the illustrations too well). My guess is that I listened to the recording while following along in the book as a reading development exercise.

Yesterday was the Feast of St. Bartholomew (Nathanial). One of the Twelve, he was martyred in Armenia... flayed alive and then beheaded. Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling shows Bartholomew in Heaven, holding his own skin and the knife that was used to flay him.

On Wednesdays, I lead a small group of Christians in a prayer service (Matins) at Thanks-Giving Square in downtown Dallas. We use the Lectionary of the Anglican Church, and we honor the Martyrs of the Church at these services.

As I was preparing my simple teaching on St. Bartholomew, I kept thinking about The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. I looked it up, and much to my surprise discovered an allegory of Christian theology; of Law, Grace, and Atonement.

  • The Law stated Bartholomew must remove his hat to honour the King.
  • No matter how hard Bartholomew tried to obey the Law, no matter how often he removed his hat, there was always another hat on his head. He continued to break the Law, even though he tried to obey it. Bartholomew was unable to obey the Law, inspite of his will to obey.
  • Brought before the King, Bartholomew was condemned to death by the King's nephew (think of Satan accusing Job in the court of God). But the executioner refused to chop his head off, because the Law clearly stated that you must remove a person's hat before cuttingoff his head. So the Law is Righteous, and we are protected by the Law even as we are condemned by it. God's nature is Righteousness, and he can not deviate from his own Law.
  • Bartholomew is brought back to the King's Court, the the King's nephew decides to take him to the highest tower of the castle, and there push him to his death (Satan's taking Jesus to the Temple tower, and Satan's "pushing" of Adam and Eve into the Fall both come to mind here).
  • But on the ascent to the tower, Bartholomew keeps removing his hats in the vain attempt to save his life by obeying the Law.
  • When he reaches hat number 500, the King admires it, and offers him 500 pieces of gold for it. Bartholomew sells the King the hat, removes it from his head, and discovers the breeze (Ruach of the Spirit?) blowing through his hair. That was the final hat.
  • Bartholomew is pardoned, and the King keeps all 500 hats.

Simul justus et peccator.

Aug 23, 2005


The Rev. Pat Robertson
Founder, The Christian Coalition

Who Would Jesus Kill? And why?

Seriously, this man is the Face of Christianity to millions of people, and he is no more a Christian than a certain Austrian now long deceased. But as a "Face of Christianity", he perverts the radical Gospel of Jesus Christ into a hate-filled invective against the VERY PEOPLE that Jesus came to save.

It is impossible for a man to be a Christian without
having Christ;
and if he has Christ he has at the same time all that is in Christ.
    ... Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Aug 18, 2005

The GOP speaks about the war.

"You can support the troops but not the president."
--Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

"Well, I just think it's a bad idea. What's going to happen is they're going to be over there for 10, 15, maybe 20 years."
--Joe Scarborough (R-FL)

"Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?"
--Sean Hannity, Fox News,

"[The] President . . . is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost. And he has not informed our nation's armed forces about how long they will be away from home. These strikes do not make for a sound foreign policy."
--Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)

"If we are going to commit American troops, we must be certain they have a clear mission, an achievable goal and an exit strategy."
--Karen Hughes, speaking on behalf of George W Bush

"I had doubts about the bombing campaign from the beginning . . I didn't think we had done enough in the diplomatic area."
--Senator Trent Lott (R-MS)

"I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now. The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions. A month later, these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our over-extended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today"
--Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

"Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is."
--Governor George W. Bush (R-TX)

Of course, these were said about the war in Bosnia when Bill Clinton was President. That was then, and this is now.

The First Theologian.

Now the serpent was the shrewdest of all the creatures the LORD God had made. "Really?" he asked the woman. "Did God really say you must not eat any of the fruit in the garden?"

"Of course we may eat it," the woman told him. "It's only the fruit from the tree at the center of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God says we must not eat it or even touch it, or we will die."

"You won't die!" the serpent hissed. "God knows that your eyes will be opened when you eat it. You will become just like God, knowing everything, both good and evil."

The woman was convinced.

Genesis 3:1-6a New Living Translation


I have been convinced for some time now that what we call "theology" is a subtle tool of Satan.

Most of Western theology is centered on figuring out (or explaining away) what God has said, both in revealed scripture and natural law. "God did not really say..." could almost be the opening lines of every book of theology I have read (it's admittedly not a very long list). Theologians seem intent on telling us what God really meant, as if the plain truth wasn't right before our eyes (to quote a black pastor from Cleveland, "God said it. That settles it. It doesn't matter what I believe or think.").

The True Revelation of God wasn't given to the Scribes, Priests, and Pharisees. It was given fishermen, thieves, and prostitutes...people who were quick to recognize the Kingdom of God being presented to them. Western theologians are usually either slow to recognize the Kingdom of God, or they are blind to it. They pile on laws to replace Grace, or they introduce independence when servanthood (slavery) is called for. They perform plastic surgery on God in the vain effort to make Him conform to OUR wills, not the other way around.

Interestingly, in Eastern Christianity, theology is seen as prayer, and a theologian is seen as one who prays (not one who thinks). We discern knowledge of God in fervent yet quiet prayer, not in fervent intellectual activity. In prayer, we seek surrender to the Mind of God. In study, we seek to master the mind of God.

It ain't a happening thing.

Aug 16, 2005

Self Referential Live Blogging.

I hate the "Old Man", and I wish (and pray) that his death was complete.

It isn't. So I post from the Gingerman's beer garden to prove he still lives and thrives.

The Paulaner 1634 was less than fresh (I came here this afternoon because I thought it was Paulaner Glass isn't, they changed their mind). The Real Ale Fireman's #4 had a strong resemblance to the water flowing down the Rio Blanco River near it's source...cold, refreshing, water-like.

The Real Ale Rio Blanco Pale Ale hit the spot. The rebuses under Pearl Beer bottle caps got remarkably harder starting at number three, too.

Aug 4, 2005


My first cousin, twice removed (he and my grandfather shared the same namesake), made a monumentous decision in 1945. Harry Truman authorized the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Following the horrors of island hopping towards Japan, especially on Okinawa (and the high loss of life on both sides), it was believed probably correctly that an invasion of Japan's mainland would result in unprecedented slaughter. Dropping the Atomic Bomb on Japan was seen as a way to bring the war to an end quickly, and thereby save millions of American and Japanese lives. I do not argue the decision.

It was also undoubtably seen as a way to warn the Soviet Union.

On August 6th, 1945, the Feast of the Transfiguration, the Enola Gay dropped "Little Man" on an unsuspecting Hiroshima. The shodows of people were permanently etched onto walls.


Aug 3, 2005

God Help US.

"Three quarters of Americans believe the Bible teaches that 'God helps those who help themselves.' That is, three out of four Americans believe that this uber-American idea, a notion at the core of our current individualist politics and culture, which was in fact uttered by Ben Franklin, actually appears in Holy Scripture. The thing is, not only is Franklin's wisdom not biblical; it's counter-biblical. Few ideas could be further from the gospel message, with its radical summons to love of neighbor."

- Bill McKibben, in his Harper's magazine essay, "The Christian Paradox"