Salient…July 9th, 2018

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There are matters that are too important to ignore or leave to chance. These are salient moments.

Strolling down any thoroughfare in 1975, it was highly unlikely that you would see a person dressed in a military uniform unless it was an aging hippie who was donning the garments to protest the whole concept of war.

Soldiering just wasn’t popular. It was not contemptuous, but it was contentious.

In other words, it created so much conflict because of the Vietnam War that people tried to avoid any discussion about army men, marines or sailors.

This continued for many years. Matter of fact, may I say that for most of you reading this, if you encountered a guidance counselor in high school, you were offered many choices on college, technical institutions and even mechanic schools. Then, at the tail end of such a conversation, you might have been given the option of military service.

A last resort.

“He is so screwed up he needs to go into the army.”

“Maybe the marines will straighten him out.”

The military was never considered a fast track to success and was often riddled with guys–and maybe even a gal or two–who “just never found themselves.”

It was a volunteer army for those who volunteered because volunteering for anything else seemed pointless.

These are hard, cold, historical facts, and have nothing to do with the sentiments of this author or even the lasting emotions of the American people. It was just felt that being grateful to a warrior seemed to be promoting the war.

Then there was a change–a needful one.

At first, it was politicians who wanted to pander to their more conservative base.

Then it was ministers in churches, welcoming the fighting men home to their families and friends.

Gradually, a phrase emerged from the lips of the American populace: “Support the troops.”

Then it evolved from this generic form, it has become: “We want to thank you for your service.”

It doesn’t make any difference if it’s President Trump, a game show host, a first grade class or Bernie Sanders–it is now universally executed. Whenever a person in uniform is standing before us, we must pipe up with, “Thank you for your service.”

We have learned to do it. Sometimes it doesn’t even sound sincere. It doesn’t matter. It is the respectful piece of etiquette, which has been inserted into our common, everyday lingo, to express a positive position.

So why can’t we do the same thing over race? Why can’t we start looking at the color of people’s skin, and honor them for surviving their struggles, battles and the ups and downs in being American citizens?

It might take a while–but perhaps we could start off by making eye contact with someone of a different race, and tenderly, through that gaze, communicate that we understand that their journey is more difficult than ours.

After all, we don’t give a nod to the troops because they’re changing light bulbs in the kitchen. That’s what we do. We give appreciation to them because they do and have done what we can’t or won’t do.

They serve. They survive. They use their intellect to protect our freedom.

Why can’t we do this with the black man?

“I want to thank your ancestors for their service to America, even though it has gone unnoticed and unheralded.”

To the Hispanic population:

“Thank you for your industrious nature, which continues to work despite all the criticism you receive.”

To the Native Americans:

“Thank you for allowing us to live on this land which was originally yours–and even though we stole it, you stopped fighting and decided to coexist with us.”

And to those from Asia:

“Thank you for coming to this country and bringing your energy, heart and family values, which we have incorporated into our own lifestyle.”

So here is your salient moment:

Support the troops. Yes, let us rally around those who are prepared to fight for our country.

But perhaps we could take the next two decades, applying the same principle we did to bring necessary respect to the armed services, to learn, once and for all, how to support the groups.

 

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Reverend Meningsbee (Part 39) Indian Giver… January 29th, 2017

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Reverend Meningsbee

During the swelling sweetness of satisfaction that settled into the souls of the Garsonville citizens, some surprising news came to the forefront.

USBN went bankrupt. (Well, at least some sort of business conclusion that’s too difficult to understand.)

The network had suffered severe financial losses due to litigation from civil suits, and was sold to another company which planned on dividing up office supplies and disbanding the whole idea.

The people of the town believed it was the hand of God–or at least the Almighty giving a finger.

They all felt redeemed, relieved and relaxed. There was a realization that reaching for the stars only makes you fall off the step-ladder.

It was about a month later that the Garsonville Church had visitors–two, to be exact–Buford Thomas Baxter and his wife, Harriet, both certainly in their mid-to-late seventies. They arrived dressed as televangelists, creatures roaming the Earth many decades ago.

Buford didn’t waste any time.

He asked for a private moment with Reverend Meningsbee and when that was acquired, he launched into his story. He explained that he had been teaching a Sunday School Class down at the Southern Baptist Church, and because the people did not want “the full Gospel,” and wanted to “hide their sins in secret places,” the pastor had requested that he leave and find other sheep to tend. So he had looked all over town to find the greatest need.

Buford hugged Reverend Meningsbee and said, “Even though I know you have a heart to do right, you have a wrong to achieve it. So I am here as your servant–to be used any way you see fit–to turn this congregation around in the direction of heaven’s portals.”

Meningsbee didn’t know what to say.

Deep in his heart he knew this was not a good fit, especially considering that during the coffee time after Sunday School, Buford and Harriet tag-teamed their way through the congregants, explaining how prayer was “more than talking to God.” It was “negotiating the deal through fasting, consecration and long bouts of seclusion.”

Buford was particularly intent on letting everybody know that he had once appeared on Gordon Gaines’ Gospel Gala during the season when the show had millions of viewers. (The ministry of Gordon Gaines had been terminated many years ago, when it was discovered that he was romantically linked to a large number of his staff. For a time, the scandal made for great TV, and brought sadness to those who believed in a simpler approach.)

By the end of the morning service, Buford and Harriet had succeeded in annoying nearly everybody, with many of the faithful whispering to Meningsbee that he needed to get them out of there as quickly as possible.

To do so, the pastor had to promise that he would meet with Buford on Tuesday for lunch.

So on Monday morning, Meningsbee prayed–probably not right, like Buford would have him do, but the best he knew how.

He came up with an idea. He rather liked it.

So at the Tuesday luncheon, he said to Buford (and Harriet, who came along for the chicken salad and tomato soup) that there was really no room in the Sunday schedule for anyone else to participate, since the congregation was already fanning out and covering a multitude of activities, but there was a lovely clearing of land just beyond the parking lot of the church, where he believed that Buford and Harriet should have the chance to set up some sort of tent, hold some meetings and see if God might bring them a gathering of souls.

Meningsbee finished his proposal and watched the wheels turn inside the mind of the aging man. There was a brief silence, when suddenly Harriet stepped in and gave her vote of confidence. She believed it was a tremendous opportunity, thanking Meningsbee for his openness.

So three weeks later, Buford and Harriet launched a tent revival on the far side of the Garsonville Church property, which ran for exactly four nights.

The first night there were seven people.

The second night, six.

The third night, five, if you counted the baby.

And the fourth night…one.

Yes, a Native American of the Pawnee tribe. He sat on a hard, wooden chair as Buford preached for a good, solid hour. Or at least, that’s how Meningsbee heard it.

The next morning, the Native American, a descendent of the chief, came to the church to talk to Reverend Meningsbee. He asked the parson if it would be all right to invite the Baxters to come and pastor a small congregation of four Native American families about thirty miles away.

Meningsbee wasn’t quite sure why he was asking permission, but he gave it freely.

So Buford and Harriet Baxter packed up all their belongings and went down the road to become the pastors of the Pawnee People’s Fellowship.

Meningsbee lost contact with Buford after that, but he never heard anything negative–or of a new uprising from the Pawnee Nation.

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G-Poppers…May 8th, 2015

 

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G-Popper

 

For a very brief season, G-Pop taught a college class.

On opening day, he asked his students to take a quiz. Needless to say, the room was filled with quizzical expressions.

He presented them with 10 questions. He told them that in determining their answers they could take into consideration wealth, poverty, male, female, gay, straight, black, brown, Native American, statistics, history, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, Hispanic and white.

This was the test:

Who is more likely…

  1. …to steal something from you?
  2. …to commit violent murder?
  3. …to molest a small child?
  4. …to open a casino in Nebraska?
  5. …to take their children to Disney World?
  6. …to graduate with honors in mathematics from MIT?
  7. …to be in the military?
  8. …to be a billionaire?
  9. …to be a genius?
  10. …to believe in God?

Even though there were a few mumbles and grumbles from the student body, all completed the test and turned it in to G-Pop.

The next day when they arrived, he passed the tests back to them unmarked.

Then he said, “All of you completed the test. All of you, in some way, shape or form, decided to take into consideration the factors I mentioned in determining your answers. I’m going to allow you to grade your own papers and give yourself a score. I will tell my answers and you can evaluate how well you did.

Let’s start with #1.

Who is more likely to steal something? The answer is a thief.

Commit a violent murder? A murderer.

How about molest a small child? A pedophile.

Who will be opening that casino in Nebraska? A venture capitalist.

And of course, the person who would take their children to Disney World is a good parent.

Who’s the math whiz? An excellent student.

Who would join the military? A patriot.

A billionaire? A budding successful entrepreneur.

How about a genius? I would say a hard worker.

Is there some type of individual who’s more likely to believe in God? Yes. A person of faith.

G-Pop paused. All the students had their eyes glued to their papers, reviewing their answers. A point had been made.

For after all, social justice does not begin when we recognize blatant bigotry in the world.

It starts when we acknowledge the prejudice in our own hearts.

 

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Jesonian: He Was… November 2, 2014

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jesus knocks

He was not a traditional Jew, though he loved his mother, father, sisters and brothers who were.

He was not an Arab, even though he spent his formative years in Egypt.

He was not a Greek, though like many of their philosophers, he had great “ideas,” which when applied, improved the human condition.

He was not a Roman, though he told his disciples to “render unto Caesar the things that were Caesar’s.”

He was not an African, though his goal was to make the whole earth a common tribe.

Nor was he Chinese, though in the tradition of Confucius, Jesus say: “What shall it profit man if gain world and lose soul?”

He wasn’t German, but instead, tried to envision a world that was “all the Father’s Land.”

Not French, but turned water into wine.

Was he British? No, but to this day, the sun never sets on his kingdom.

He was not Spanish, though he taught us all to explore the world within and to go into all the world around us.

He was not Native-American, though he introduced us to the “Comfort of the Great Spirit.”

And he was not American, though he certainly believed that all humans were created equally.

Isn’t it fascinating that perhaps in being none of these individually, he had room in his being to become all of them?

Jesus was the “Great Physician Without Borders,” who healed the heart, saved the soul, refreshed the mind and energized the body.

 

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Freeland … September 4, 2013

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FreelandGlancing at my calendar, I realized that I am heading off tonight to Freeland.

I was struck by the name. The two most overused words in the English language, in my opinion, have to be love and free. “Love” because we feel that we express greater devotion by inserting it to display our favor, and “free” simply because it sounds very American and establishes our autonomy. Facts are, love is not an emotion without a commitment and free is not a decision to stubbornly express your desires.

To be free is to know the truth, which then has the ability to make and form you into a vessel that is uncomplicated.

I giggle sometimes when I realize how difficult it is for movie makers to portray the English as the villains in the American Revolution. After all, the British weren’t raping women, spraying poisonous gas or burning down cities in their conquest of the Americas. They over-taxed, put soldiers in people’s homes when they probably shouldn’t have and took for granted that these new colonists were loyal to the crown.

But they wanted freedom–all thirteen colonies of ’em. What they got was a release from British control … left to themselves.

This is why the American experiment continues today. We’re still trying to get the truth to make us free. We have made some horrible transitions:

  • Although we wanted freedom to make our own choices, we didn’t give it to the Native Americans.
  • We insisted on states’ rights to continue slavery, without considering God-given grace for the black man and woman.
  • Segregation continued in this country up until 1964 and we still evaluate one another based on so many different criteria that granting universal freedom to all the populace at any given moment is a perpetually angry, if not bloody, discourse.

So as I head off to Freeland tonight, I want to communicate a very simple principle: to be free is to embrace the truth and not be afraid of what it reveals.

Because even though the information may be startling at first, it WILL always have its day–and it is better to have welcomed it instead of barring the door.

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The Waxahachie Project… May 18, 2013

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WaxahachieWaxahachie, Texas.

The name “Waxahachie” comes from the Native American tongue, meaning “Buffalo Creek” or “Cow Creek.” Honestly, I have nothing to say about that. Sometimes it’s better to leave things like that alone, and certainly resist any temptation to be clever or draw deeper meaning from the context.

Here is what Waxahachie means to me: I have three-and-a-half hours to spend with a few hundred people, to communicate my heart and soul, and to leave hopefully having edified them and encouraged them in the better parts of themselves. If you didn’t know, that’s two hundred and ten minutes. It’s not very long. There certainly is no time to waste being picky, fussy, careful, suspicious or opinionated.

I have decided that there are five things I would like to accomplish during my brief stay with these delightful human examples of why God loves the world and hopes the best for it.

1. I’d like these folks to know that we have more in common than we in difference. We are killing each other with the religion of “uniqueness,” which is only giving us license to murder attempts at commonality.

2. The gospel is earth friendly because God is people loving. I guess you can feel free to focus on the parts of spirituality that have nothing to do with human beings, but rather, deal with angels, demons, heaven and hell. But considering the fact that we ARE not yet in the realm of the supernatural, it is perhaps wise to make sure that we focus more on natural pursuits.

3. Good cheer is our best offense in reaching the world. Matter of fact, if you want to act worldly, the most obvious way to achieve that goal is to establish a grumpy disposition. It is rather unlikely that we will be able to help people if we suffer from the same disease of disappointment that infests their entire beings.

4. Meanness gets meanness. I don’t know where we got the idea that we could actually “out-muscle” our competition, or find a way to be nastier than the nasty.  Once you establish the fact that you are trying to get what you want and are willing to do anything to do it, you create the kind of enemies who never forget how you attacked them and lie in the weeds, waiting for a chance to wreak their vengeance. I cannot promise you that you will always get “nice” back from being nice, but I can guarantee that you will always get “mean” back for being mean.

5. And finally, I will share with the dear folks in Waxahachie that every buffalo crosses the creek at the same place. I phrase it this way: NoOne is better than anyone else. As I travel, it amazes me how many people give a nod of assent to this idea, only to later resist the notion because it fails to grant them the supremacy they desire. It doesn’t make any difference. The minute you try to be better than somebody else, there is someone standing in the wings, ready to dash your hopes because they have evidence of presumed superiority.

Well, that’s about it for me. Oh, and by the way–one last thing I will impart to these folks: I love you. Because anything less is too hard to explain.

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telePATHy … June 3, 2012

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“A Christian nation.”

That phrase is often thrown around–especially in political seasons–as evidence of the good intentions and mission of the United States of America. Actually, it would be valuable to the world if there were a country which followed the principles and heart’s desire of Jesus of Nazareth. It would help to create a better world view and with the dialogue between nations. But in the history of the USA are Puritans, slavery and settlers. It infiltrates our thinking with concepts of judgmentalism, feeling superior to others and settling for less than our very best.

I’m not trying to connote that these three blemishes on our record comprise the spirit that inhabits our country. But they linger. In our historical photo album there are snapshots of these notorious cousins and illegitimate children.

If we want to gain true spirituality and a world view which will place us in a position of true power, granted because of wisdom, we must counteract the Puritan part of our history by initiating good apathy. “Don’t judge or you will be judged–and the measure you put on other people will be put back on you.” That’s good apathy.

And if we want to overcome the stain of slavery, it would be of great benefit to pursue empathy. “NoOne is better than anyone else.” Feeling superior is the best way to start a fight and feeling inferior is the best way to lose one.

If we want to sidestep a tendency to be merely settlers, it will be necessary for us to have sympathy. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” It is just an understanding that before we snatch something away from another person or force our will into any given situation, we must have a burst of conscience which projects our own feelings into the dilemma so that we understand how the other person will surely respond.

Can I tell you this? If you don’t judge other people, remaining apathetic to their choices, and you refuse to believe you’re better than the folks around you and you show mercy, knowing that it’s the only way to obtain it for yourself, you could live successfully in any country of the world. There are no laws against such choices. On the other hand, if you’re a Puritan who has an opinion on everything, with a history of owning slaves in your own family (which you deny) and you tend to settle for things without considering other people’s feelings, you will quickly become an enemy in any culture.

Now, there is a final gift imparted to those souls who actually develop the apathy to stop judging, the empathy to never feel superior and the sympathy to show mercy to others. Once you allow those three things into your life you are bestowed telepathy. The definition? “Communication from one mind to another.” We usually tie it to extra-sensory perception, but it really isn’t. Once you free your mind of the time-absorbing activities of judging others, establishing your superiority and figuring out how you’re going to settle in and take someone else’s portion, your brain has the capacity to feel and sense what’s needed next.

Jesus referred to it as “going the second mile.” There are some people who not only do what is required of them but have the sensibility to know that a little extra added on for excellence will guarantee that the work doesn’t have to be done again and again. When you’re not judging other people it’s so much easier to notice what they really need or want. When you’re not thinking you’re better than another race or group of human beings, you can pause to consider what next lies on their path and how you can help. And when you’ve decided not to settle for what is available but instead, produce your own, your talents are heightened and you are prepared to do more without grumbling and complaining.

Yes, it is possible to communicate from one mind to another if those minds are not clouded by Puritan ideas, notions of slavery and settling for taking what isn’t yours.

This is the PATH:

  • Apathy: “I will not judge anyone else because I don’t want to be judged. I will not participate in gossip and criticism.”
  • Empathy:NoOne is better than anyone else.” To believe any other philosophy is an edict of war against the people we contend are our lessers.
  • Sympathy: “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.” Before I assume I have the right to take something, I should try those emotions on myself like a suit of clothing and see how they fit. And finally:
  • The gift of telepathy: Since our thinking is freed from the constriction of being an enemy of others, we can therefore be granted insight into their minds, which allows us to go the second mile and do more than expected instead of less.

The greatest gift you can give to your country as a patriot is to take on the true spirituality of Jesus and in the process, acquire a world view. If not, you will find yourself at the mercy of the ghosts of our past, which made us believe that women were witches, black men were monkeys and Native Americans were savages.

Find the PATH. Adhere to the PATH. Walk the PATH. Trust the PATH to take you to a sense of true spirituality and the great gift of emulating your Heavenly Father, who loved the whole world so much that He gave us the PATH.

 

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