The Cathedral Bells Toll For A More Equitable World

During this very month of August, back in 1619, two slave ships transported more than 30 African women and men from the area now known as Angola. Once they arrived in North America, they were promptly sold into servitude when bereft of conscience, English colonists paid for them with food and supplies.

On this very Sunday at 3:00 p.m. EDT, Washington National Cathedral’s Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith plans to ring their 12-ton Bourdon Funeral Bell. Said he…

“400 years after the first slaves were brought to this continent against their will, we ring it to both honor and recognize their strength in the face of injustice and dehumanization, and to work toward a better, more just and more equitable world moving forward.”

From my perspective, I deem it necessary to expand this memorial… to honor… to never forget… the estimated 600,000 more slaves who followed them… as well as the the 37+ Million African-Americans who, even today, in ways both subtle and flagrant, have never been, truly, fully liberated… have never, actually, achieved racial parity.

Other American houses of worship, nationwide, also plan to ring their bells today… and as my local NPR radio affiliate reports… some of them plan to extend Rev. Hollerith’s duration from one minute to four. In other words…

1 minute = 100 years / 4 minutes = 400 years

On a technical note: The above video’s total time = 19:28. That breaks down in this manner…

0:00 thru 4:02 = bells / 4:02 to 15:25 = songs / 15:25 thru 19:28 = more bells (4 more minutes)

How long you choose to listen and meditate is a decision I totally leave up to you. I am posting this video some two hours earlier than the 3:00 p.m. designated start time because I know it will take time for folks to find my site.

My parting sentiment…

The denial of human dignity, freedom and equality was… still is… and shall forever be a crime against humanity.

 

 

 

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My Brother’s Keeper

 

FULL DISCLOSURE: My being only a casual reader of the Bible, I’ve never deemed it a page turner worthy of a cover to cover read. Admittedly, my interpretations of scripture can stray unto paths less “traveled” by the major league, professional theologians.

Nevertheless… hopefully… you and I can still lace up our athletic footwear and… upon tying all of the required double knots… go for a walk through life. I think you’ll find our journey enjoyable be the road you’re upon secular, devout or somewhere in the middle. So… are you with me?

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” is rooted to the Biblical Story of two brothers… Cain and Abel… that very question attributable to the fratricidal sociopath, Cain, who uttered those words to God with a haughtiness and hostility that… well…

Let’s just say that had this involved a vengeful, small “g” god… such a deplorable attitude would’ve invited… at the very least… one hurled lightning bolt. Indeed, could we not envision such a PO’d deity gleefully training his glowering, evil eye’s “crosshairs” on “home plate”, winding up his throwing arm and delivering the perfect, strike-three-and-your out “pitch”? ZAP! Cain’s miserable hide reduced to a pile of smoldering ashes?

To help bring this “brother’s keeper” issue into better focus, let’s apply it to a more contemporary setting. It’s regrettable, but true, that we are facing down what has become our “What’s in it for me” society, where we’re discovering way too many individuals who… either unwittingly or willfully… are unleashing Cain’s arrogance and aggression.

Whatever happened to that sense of obligation to humanity? That eagerness to look out for the well-being of one another? That desire to keep each other out of harm’s way?

When we really think about it, aren’t nearly all of us living examples of how humanity’s very survival depends upon these vital to life, unifying attitudes? I know I’ve benefited from them. Indeed, when I had least expected it, one selfless soul had rushed to my rescue.

This all gets backdated to my early childhood, when I first met Danny. His being one year older hadn’t gotten in the way of our becoming best friends. Being next door neighbors, too, meant we could spend countless hours of quality playtime together. In essence, he had become my big brother, I, his little brother.

Of course, once my family had moved out of the neighborhood, everything changed… and not always for the better. You see, in the meantime… or maybe I should rephrase that to say… IN THE MEAN TIME… a handful of my public school system’s bullies were having a grand old time sadistically and mercilessly targeting me with their verbal abuse and physical assaults. They had totally demolished my sense of self-esteem… had literally driven me into abject, social isolation… demoralized me to the point where my already infrequent returns to my (one mile distant) old stomping grounds (to visit Danny) soon became non-existent. Had these bullies severed our brotherly bond, too? Only time would tell…

As one would expect, the passage of time didn’t diminish my tormentors “visits” with me. One day, with my streaming tears further fueling their viciousness and uproarious laughter… just as I was feeling that I could not possibly take it any longer… a raised authoritative, familiar voice began sternly ordering them all to stand down. Nope, it wasn’t the school principal or even a teacher taking charge.

It was none other than Danny!

Factoring in my distraught state of mind and my blurred with tears vision, I had almost deemed him a too-good-to-be-true apparition. I don’t know where he had found such bravery. His being outnumbered FOUR to ONE, I seriously doubt he could’ve stood his / my ground, had this actually come down to physical blows. Indeed, mere moments later, both Danny and I were saved by the bell… the ringing school bell… that had sent us all hurriedly scurrying off to our designated classrooms.

My biggest regret has always been how I had neglected to thank Danny, my big brother on two levels. For his [1] I’ve got your six schoolhouse corridor intervention and [2] imparting upon his little brother… by example, not by intent… his “I’m my brother’s keeper” sensibilities.

To keep all of this real… I do know there’s very little chance that Danny will ever read these words. In fact, he may no longer even be amongst the living. Even so, I’ll say this anyway…

My eternal gratitude to you, Daniel H.
Last known locale: Bremerton, Washington

 

 

 

 

Be sure to read beyond the first sentence…

Thank God I’m a straight man who is trapped in a male body.

I say that NOT to lord it over the LGBTQIA community.
I say that NOT to boast.
I say that NOT out of pride.

I say that to avoid the wrath of the Religiously Intolerant People of my homeland / of our world.

Religiously Intolerant People has just become my newly coined phrase (seeing how it forms the apt acronym RIP). Apt, because RIP tend to rip to shreds the lives of anyone who does not conform to their provincial notions about femininity, masculinity and sexual behavior.

Yet, even though I am able to conform, I still have to worry about RIP jumping to the wrong conclusions re my lifestyle. I mean, how would the judgmental judge this old man in his mid-sixties, who has never been married / who has never fathered any children? Could they even find it conceivable that a heterosexual, who had never gotten over the heartbreak of unrequited teenage love, had simply given up in his search for Ms. Right?

I know my valid excuse sounds pathetic, but I am living proof that being a lifelong loser in love can happen.

And I do have living proof that the RIP’s ‘tude, as I’ve described it, really does exist.

Many summers ago, my Mom’s friend, M, paid us a midmorning visit. They’d first met in the hospital back in 1951 (when both were recovering from childbirth). While the three of us all sat down at the dining room table to sip on freshly brewed coffee and munch on yummy doughnuts, M, now the doting grandma, got to talking, glowingly, about her grandchildren. It was when she had asked Mom how it felt to have no grandchildren that our chat took a sudden turn for the worse. You see, I made the fatal error of making what I had deemed to be a harmless, ecologically valid remark, “Not to worry, considering our world’s overpopulation problem, who’d even miss the kids I never fathered.” WOW! You should’ve seen the instantaneous fury in her glowering eyes as she turned to face me… to sternly lecture me… to tear into me… “THAT’S NOT HOW GOD HAD INTENDED IT TO BE!” Her implication was that I’ll someday burn up in Hell because I was thumbing my nose at God’s “Be fruitful and multiply” edict… as chronicled in Genesis 1:28.

My point is that even a straight man is not immune from RIP’s harsh judgment and shaming tactics. And if I can experience that resultant sinking feeling that goes all the way down to my DNA, just imagine how much worse the RIP’s outrage intensifies when they rip into a person who does identify with any of the letters of that LGBTQIA acronym! Just imagine how much worse the RIP’s targeted victims feel!

In essence, the RIP’s Unholy War involves their viciously ridiculing, ostracizing, harassing and demeaning anyone who doesn’t buy into the concept of prolific procreation within the framework of traditional marriage. To be clear, it’s NOT my intent to disparage such convention. If it works for you, fine. However, we must also be willing to accept anyone who does not march in lockstep.

Let’s now focus a bit more on my moments ago usage of the word demeaning.

To demean even one human being… especially anyone of a differing gender identity / sexual orientation… demeans us all.

One would think that the Religiously Intolerant People… of all people… would [1] readily agree that our Creator has made us ALL in His own image and [2] realize that to vent their hatred toward anyone who identifies as LGBTQIA is to also spit such hatred right back at the face of God.

 

 

 

The Ill-Mannered Man ~ A Parable

 

Once upon a time… in the Land of Reality… there lived an ill-mannered man who was oblivious to the obvious… namely… that his overbearing, obnoxious, mean demeanor… the very boorish characteristics, which had impressed his equally boorish boss… were impressing nobody else!

Indeed… such dubious qualities were not even qualities at all. As such, his (so-called) profession’s service to society could only prove to be a disservice. Worse yet, he could not even begin to fathom how he had become his own worst enemy. Beyond a shadow of a doubt… his deplorable behavior was precisely the reason why few, if any, respectable folks ever wanted to do biz with him… why virtually nobody ever wanted to even welcome him into their lives.

He was the classic, textbook example of the peddling shoddy wares, door-to-door, high-pressure salesman. And… whenever he came a knockin’… that’s when the “fit” really hit the “shan”!

Anyone who had made the fatal error of ever opening their doors… even slightly… soon learned… the hard way… that he’d jam in his foot. Even when folks applied sufficient pressure to make him take one step backwards… long enough to moan out his, “OUCH!”… his role as a bad actor was far from over. He’d come back again and Again and AGAIN to camp out on their doorsteps for days, weeks… even months.

While the victimized folks could’ve… indeed should’ve… summoned the constable… well… since it was too easy to simply close their doors’ curtains… well… that’s as far as everything usually went. They figured this pest would eventually go away… after all… nobody could possibly be so dense… so insensitive… as to not realize that NO means NO!

Right?
Wrong!

One day… as a parade just happened to be marching down the street… with the flash of a thick wad of cash… the ill-mannered man managed to spirit away the living-on-a-shoestring, big bass drum player. At that point, both proceeded to shout inward to the tenants… in unison, repetitiously and at the top of their lungs… WE WON’T LEAVE! LET US INSIDE! He even pounded his clenched fist on the door to keep time with the banging away drummer… all of this attaining a decibel level that could’ve raised the dead.

Human nature being what it is… the ill-mannered man’s ill-conceived plot… his orchestrated, socially unacceptable taunts could only make this duo’s presence all the more unwelcome.

Soon the constant, cumulative vibrations began to severely rattle both the tenants’ nerves and their entire domicile… to the point where their heads exploded and their no longer happy home came crashing down. They could not possibly survive. And… not being able to step back in time… even the ill-mannered man met a similar fate.

However… the news wasn’t all bad. The big bass drum player wound up the sole survivor. And in a flash… he did feel remorse over his having ever become a party to such an ugly scene. In the days to come… having learned his lesson well… he even managed to track down and rejoin his marching band… to re-enter the parade of life… to once again… play joyous sounding music to the masses.

And with the ill-mannered man having been hoisted by his own petard… everybody within the Land of Reality lived happily ever after.

 

The morals to our story…

If you’re strapped for cash, don’t be tempted by the fast buck’s lure.

If you’re ill-mannered, don’t ever expect principled, civilized persons to cozy up to you.

 

 

 

 

Everyday Will Be Sunday (Sunday Song Series)

With Passover and Easter both being observed at this time, I figured a spiritual selection would be an apropos addition to our Sunday Song Series… an ongoing mix tape of sorts that we’ve been experiencing for… counting today… 32 weeks.

The dictionary defines Gospel music as…

“A fervent style of black American evangelical religious singing, developed
from spirituals sung in Southern Baptist and Pentecostal churches.”

Dorothy Love Coates and the Gospel Harmonettes not only live up to those above words but also amply prove that the soundtrack to organized religion does not, necessarily, need to be subdued and somber to be uplifting.

Even though I believe that religion primarily, truly, dwells within one’s head and heart… i.e., sans any real need for attending services within a brick and mortar church, synagogue, mosque, temple, etc.… well hell… just knowing songs such as Everyday Will Be Sunday are getting sung each sabbath, I could become sufficiently motivated to join such a flock.

And speaking of joining… our Sunday Song Series will be meeting back here seven days from now. I cordially invite you to be part of our ongoing adventure where the phrase… musical diversity… rules supreme.

 

The Power of Positive Thinking / The Power of Prayer

 

Have you ever had an experience where the power of positive thinking and/or the power of prayer significantly and unexpectedly bettered some aspect of your life?

In my case, this involved my 30 year career in retail management / sales… 20 of those with company “A” and 10 with company “B”. Throughout that entire epoch my ability to cope with difficult to please superiors had been repeatedly put to the test. But one case, in particular, proved to be a Herculean task.

Part One

Her very initials, L.A.W., accurately summed up her laying down the law stance. While intrinsically, there’s nothing wrong with that, it was her poisoned with suspicion, management “style” that bordered on paranoia… her bad ‘tude, which made for a toxic work environment. It was her belief that no employee could possibly resist the temptation to ripoff both cash and merchandise from our company.

Her treating me like a criminal didn’t sit well. I had never stolen anything… not even a pen or paper clip. In addition to my personal integrity, I could take great pride in my qualities of courtesy, dependability, punctuality, efficiency and accuracy. Hell, I would’ve turned in an honest day’s work even if no manager had shown up. Ironically, my being a model worker only made her suspect me more. From her POV, that had to be an act, right? WRONG!

Well, soon after her arrival she rolled out her extreme internal security measures. Rather than allowing her to rummage through my brown paper lunch bag prior to my going out into the mall, I found it best to eat my lunch in the stock room. As for visits to the restroom? She had that locked up tight. Whenever anyone needed “to go” we’d have to ask her to escort us right up to the door!

My coworkers were feeling just as demeaned as I. One day while we were commiserating, clear out of the blue (and out of her earshot), I referred to LAW as “the can opener” and that nickname stuck. I could go on but I’m sure, by now, you’ve “breathed in” enough of her atmosphere of distrust.

Needless to say she was negatively impacting store morale. Even our District Manager could easily sense the undesirable undercurrents. Eventually, LAW got reassigned to another store and, soon after, put in her two weeks notice. I felt so relieved just knowing that our paths would never cross again?

By 1999, some big shot executive decided that the approaching new millennium meant time was ripe for a corporate shakeup. That restructuring took the wrecking ball to my low level management position… limiting my options to two. Either be demoted or take a hike. I chose the latter.

Part Two

My transitioning to a new workplace turned out to be a lot easier than I’d expected. Company “B’s” store was in the very same mall… catercorner to Company “A”! Even better, I’d already worked for their store manager who, btw, had always wanted to add me to her staff. Alas, less than three years later, my old/new boss had moved on to greener pastures.

An even bigger ALAS… three years after that… guess who had come back to haunt me? Yep, none other than LAW!

Gossip being a big part of retail world, my colleagues soon discovered I had worked for her, before, and so I became the go-to guy to answer all their worried, “what’s she like” queries. Opting to remain professional, I’d refrain from any badmouthing. After all, I hadn’t seen LAW in years… maybe she had changed? Ergo, my noncommittal reply went something like this, “I can get along with almost anyone. If you can, too, there’ll be no problem.” But, hell, even I wasn’t totally buying into my pep talk.

Since I had accrued over two weeks worth of vacation time, I decided to go on a safari… a job hunting safari. It was following one particularly, exhausting day of interviews, when I opted for an early bedtime. Just as I was drifting off to sleep I went to my own go-to guy to ask…

“God, considering the dozens of retailers LAW had to choose from, why mine?”

The next morning, I awoke to a rapidly fading dream. Upon concentrating deeply, all the sudden my memory clicked. I had dreamt about a long ago conversation with my mother. We were trying to figure out how best to stop schoolyard bullies from making my life miserable. Since my principal was of the gruff, insensitive, “Just man up and take it, sonny!” mindset, there could be no help from him. That’s when Mom suggested I turn to a higher authority… the highest authority. She mentioned Matthew 5:44.

“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…”

I now realized my problems with bully LAW could be dealt with similarly. I could even tap into my own submission of applications and resumes routine. This had to be quite similar to what LAW had just experienced! I began beaming my prayers upward, throughout all my remaining vacation days… especially between job interviews.

“God, won’t you please help my new boss LAW. There must be at least one other personnel manager who could make her a job offer she can’t refuse. Lavish her with better pay… a primo benefits package… a better 401K… the works! Nothing is too good for LAW!”

Well, I soon found myself glumly heading back to work… expecting the worst… yet… upon punching the time clock on my first day back… my grinning, assistant manager told me that, in my absence, there’d been a sudden shake up of the status quo.

Part Three

Within mere days of hiring on, LAW had put in her two week’s notice! Seems, somehow (?), some way (?) she had gotten a much better job offer. Go figure, huh? Even better… since our four assistant managers were fully capable of running the store without her… our District Manager had decided to cut her free much sooner.

Bottom line, I never had to even cross paths with her… not even once… not so much as even a fleeting glance at each other… or in her case… her stock-in-trade, suspicious, “if looks could kill” glower.

Even my “failure” at finding a new job had to have been God’s way of preventing me from leaving Company “B”… something I had never really wanted to do.

While some might chalk up my experience to mere co-incidence, I’d say there’s much to be said for the power of positive thinking… the power of prayer.

Hmmm… all the sudden I find myself in an especially positive mood. So… uh… please excuse me while I head off to find a place of solitude… uh… to begin praying that a certain fake prez will get a much better job offer… preferably within the private sector.

 

 

Hush Money & Blank Checks

Neither Donald Trump’s (alleged*) extramarital hookup with porn star Stormy Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford) nor the (allegedly*) $130,000 political hush money coughed up to silence her seems to faze the run-of-the-mill, Evangelical Christian who has lost his / her moral compass. Nope, not as much as an ounce of outrage… as one would expect from any holy roller worth his / her salt.

I mean… where the hell is the litany of fire and brimstone sermons heavily referencing Biblical passages… oh… say… Sodom and Gomorrah… pillars of salt… etc.?

Well, it would seem that, in contemporary times, Evangelicals are not looking back… not looking down their noses… not looking anywhere else but up to their bad boy Donny. These… uh… well… let’s just refer to them as lowercase “c” christians… harbor an atypical, attitudinal mashup… an unorthodox mix of laissez-faire and beating around the bush.

To better illustrate how they’ve been rationalizing and equivocating about something that’s unambiguously wrong, check out this FOX “News” softball interview where Pastor Robert Jeffress tiptoed through the theological and political minefield, thusly…

“Evangelicals still believe in the commandment: Thou shalt not have sex with a porn star. However, whether this president violated that commandment or not is totally irrelevant to our support of him. Evangelicals knew they weren’t voting for an altar boy when they voted for Donald Trump. We supported him because of his policies and his strong leadership.”

Hmmm… I’ll refrain from digressing, extensively, by setting aside the pastor’s whopper about “strong leadership”.

Since it’s been more than half a century since the last time I counted myself among the devout, churchgoing Catholics, forgive me if I’m a bit rusty, here, but… oh… what the hell… I’ll give it a go anyway.

While Alex Pope’s “To err is human to forgive divine” is a core tenet of many a religion… I do seem to recall that any granting of absolution is provisional. The prerequisite, here, is that the sinner, with all his heart, must desire to mend his wicked ways, vow to never sin like that again and, working towards those goals, be actively seeking spiritual guidance.

Yet, to my knowledge, Pastor Jeffress has neither mentioned that Trump is remorseful and ISO such advice nor has that holy roller (who must have a hole in his head) ever mentioned he is currently (or soon will be) helping to extricate and elevate the so-called prez from his dens of iniquity / amoral abysses.

To sum everything up… I am not a father, either theological or biological, but, nevertheless, I will still offer some fatherly advice to Pastor Jeffress.

1. Never forget that your BFF, the thrice wed, twice divorced so-called prez, neither respects womankind nor views marriage to be the sacrament it is. Marital infidelity is his MO. And, if he cannot remain faithful to poor Melania, there will come a day where he will not remain a faithful servant to Evangelicals.

2. It is also conceivable… and staying totally within his vast range of character flaws… for that misogynist to selfishly think only about his own pleasure. Consequently he would abdicate and delegate all responsibility for birth control usage to his conquests.

3. Remaining mindful of all the above… any cad who’d think nothing about hauling out his checkbook to cover up his tawdry affair… will someday… if he hasn’t already done so… also think nothing about cutting a check to foot the bill for an abortion… perhaps more than one.

Hmmm… considering how you Evangelicals have a zero tolerance for all abortion… were it ever proven your bad boy Donny was ever a party to that…

Would you still cut that bad ass a blank check?

 

 

* Just to stay in CYA mode