Meditations of a christizen (christian-citizen)upon today's topics.
|I, Brother James, cultivated through my imagination and birthed via writing instruments (pen, laptop, etc) 'The Word Courier's Journal'. It is one of several literary efforts so conceived to include the "word", the mind altering, eye opening, life saving gospel of Jesus Christ into the every day conversation on those things deemed relevant to those readers who stumble upon this column. I and all other followers of the Lord are called to witness this message across the globe or at the very least to those around us. Jesus did say "Go therefore and teach all nations..." (see Matthew 28:19 KJV Holy Bible) Here lies a modest attempt to introduce the unknowing people to the Lord and immerse they who know Him in discussion with respect to His outlook on all that matters.|
|The Covid -19 plague has directly taken the heretofore unthinkable 200,000 American lives. Death has garnered more than its typical share of the news lately. This is saying something given that death is a familiar daily announcement. Still, the Lord revealed rays of hope from the lives of three non covid related who passed on in the last few days.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice from 1993-2020,Chicago Bears legend Gale Sayers and lesser known Rev. Robert Graetz have departed within this time.
Mini and mighty could be their epithets. The Notorious RBG as she was known in popular culture was a 5'2 court dynamo who made perhaps her most lasting impact with a dissenting i.e. minority court opinion. Her dissent in the equal pay based Ledbetter v Goodyear Tire and Rubber decision (550 U.S. 618, 2007) provided the gist for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Gale Sayers put together a hall of fame resume in a seven year career shortened by injuries. Yet, it's Rev. Graetz story that inspires 'Word Courier' awe.
The good reverend, a white southerner native to West Virginia, helped to organize the Montgomery bus boycott of which Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr are known. He and his family faced stiff opposition as a result. Threats, vandalism to his personal property and two fire bomb attacks upon their home followed due to the dominant culture's resistance to change.
Recently, via the Word courier, I've spoken out against the hypocrisy typically displayed by dominant Caucasian Bible Belt culture. To profess faith in the God of the Holy Bible along with the hatred historically displayed towards their black brothers and sisters is inconsistent at best and simply shameful. However, it's heartening to know the Lord has a faithful few among the bible belters.
The Lord has always provided for this faithful few. He told Elijah as much. The great prophet hid in terror from the wrath of Jezebel, Israel's queen and devotee of the Canaanite deity Baal. Furthermore, he was convinced that he was all alone in worship of the true God of Israel. To this the Lord said "...I have left seven thousand in Israel which have not bowed unto Baal.." 1 Kings 19:18 KJV Holy Bible The apostle Paul some 900 years later referred to these few as a remnant. Romans 11:4,5
The South's remnant provided safe houses for the famed Underground Railroad that freed as many as 100,000 people from slavery. Southern faithful few such as Rev. Graetz challenged post civil war "Jim Crow" society. Today, they live out the true meaning of faith in and living according to the God of the Scriptures. The remnants in the South and elsewhere prove the truth to Aristotle's quote "The antidote for fifty enemies is one friend."
|The N.F.L.'s (National Football League) delayed season is formally upon us. Benjamin Watson, recently retired Super Bowl XXXIX champion and tight end who played with four league franchises made the news last week. But, it wasn't about football. It was about life. To be precise, it was about lives.
He shared a press conference stage with Tulsi Gabbard, congresswomen (D-HI) and former presidential candidate, to urge American advocates for racial justice to speak up on behalf of persecuted Nigerian Christians. Life and lives are a familiar talking topic for him. He has repeatedly spoken up with regard to abortion and penned a legendary response to the Ferguson, MO police killing of Michael Brown and its aftermath. Then, he remarked that racism wasn't a skin problem but rather a sin problem.
This time he spoke for Nigerian Christians. He as one of the faithful is concerned with all lives. Undoubtedly, the fact that its fellow people of faith is of concern to him. The United Nations estimate that roughly 2.4 million people dispersed between African nations Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger have been displaced by the theoretically Islamic group Boko Haram and ethnic Fulani militants
A website, silentslaughternigeria.com, tallies deaths and abductions* sustained by the Christian communal farming groups typically targeted. Jubilee Campaign , an organization dedicated to protecting religious and ethnic minorities, maintains that this activity amounts to genocide. Terror led by Boko Haram multiplied the Christian death rates. The numbers are higher from 2015-2020 then the longer time span of 2000-2014.
Mr. Watson seeks to bring this to our attention. He express concerns about lives regardless of stage of lives, location of lives or color of lives. This is a sincere meaning to the phrase "all lives matter."
* See Word Courier Journal entry Nigerian Nightmare, May 7 2014
|I don't hear it. Upon holding my hand on my ears and stretching my neck out, I still don't hear it. Perhaps the sound that I'm listening for isn't there. Where is the outcry from the president's rabid pro life evangelical supporters about alleged government obstruction into multiple womens ability to bear children? A government agency, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) is partnered with a contractor accused of doing nonconsensual hysterectomies on immigrant women. Still, not a word from them.
It wasn't that long ago Donald Trump trotted out former college football coach Lou Holtz among others at his Republican party convention. Coach Holtz led several football teams, notably the universities of Arkansas and South Carolina. He won his lone national championship at Notre Dame with its storied and very Roman Catholic tradition. He's not only catholic , he is so catholic that its his prerogative to determine who the legit Catholics are. He renounced Sen. Joe Biden as catholic in name only due to his political stance on abortion.
Yet, this alleged government interference with life doesn't seem to bother coach. He hasn't spoken up about government collusion who may have conducted 17 coerced hysterectomies. The president's evangelical prayer partner, Rev. Franklin Graham is also silent on the issue. And, herein lies the problem.
It seems some are pro life only when it suits them. The trumpettes readily play the conservative abortion card when it's time to chase votes. They're against government interference to the right to life come election time. This is as witnessed in their Republican convention. Government sponsored obstruction of lives and the possibility of lives seems like something a true conservative i.e. limited government, respect for rule of law and personal freedom devotee would be against. But, not in this case.
However, it's Democrats that are raising their voices about this. Congressional leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives, Speaker Nancy Pelosi,(D-Ca) Bennie Thompson (D-MS) Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) have raised concerns about this. In fact, the House Speaker has indicated the complaint lodged over this behavior will be investigated. All this is in response to a complaint filed by Project South an organization not affiliated with conservatism.
Apparently, Trumpian pro life crowd values some lives over others. The lives of and potential lives from the women affected by Georgia's Irwin Cy Detention Center don't factor in their definition of life. A more disturbing reality rears its ugly head. The accused actions actually is a form of mankind taking on the role of our Lord with regard to choosing who will and will not reproduce. Such a thing is a the most extreme act of heresy. The irony that this would come from an administration whose supporters think of themselves as faith based.
|" Evangelicals of all people, should not be silent about Donald Trump's blatant immorality" Christianity Today October 2016
"The world is watching and when church leaders hold Trump up as a representative of our faith; the damage to the gospel is immense" Jerushah Duford, leader in the Lincoln Women a component of the Lincoln Project
It's heartening to see that other people of faith in the God of the Holy Bible share the same concerns about "evangelical" support for Donald Trump that the Word Courier Journal has expressed. The publishers of Christianity Today warned us of this false prophet back in 2016. Recently, Jerushah Duford, a granddaughter of the late great Billy Graham, sounds the alarm concerning the price to pay for support of this most un Christ like among leaders. She has mentioned the world sees this hypocrisy and the result is turning further away from the gospel.
The enemies to the gospel have and in the future will use Bible belt, evangelical and Caucasian i.e. white Roman Catholics support of Donald Trump as a means to dismiss Christians. And, when gospel enemies point towards this, they don't and won't bother to distinguish these sub groups from all other believers. They do and will paint church support to this anti Christ like figure as something universal among "Christians." Meaning, that all his foolishness, vileness and complete failure as a leader and its attending devastating results will be lumped together with people of faith and our faith.
This is what happens when the spirit of idolatry takes over among the flock. Something, political power in this case, has super ceded believers call to live out the gospel. So, blindly following a severely un Christ like man as this and anointing him leader, excusing his heretical ways is a natural outcome of putting Supreme Court appointments, policy changes and party above God.
The commandment that "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" is the first such commandment given for a reason. History has repeatedly shown that once something comes before God nothing that follows will be of any good. When the G.O.P. i.e. Republican symbolic elephant is valued above the cross (or anything for that matter) disaster happens.
|Today marks the 19th anniversary of 9-11, a day so infamous it's known by the abbreviation of its date. And, with good reason. For it was today's date in 2001 that Al-Qaeda, a nominally Islamic terrorist group, unleashed a devastating attack upon American soil. Locations in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Manhattan were affected. Planes crashed into two towers of the World Trade Center killing multitudes including workers and first responders. It was the most fatal singular foreign invasion ever to hit the United States of America.
This happened on a Tuesday morning. I remember because 9-11 is one of those infamous incidents whereby people remember what they were doing when it took place. I have older siblings who can recount their personal experiences surrounding the assassinations of President John .F Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And, they were school age children at the time. I was already a grown man when 9-11 took place.
The 'Word Courier' referred to some of these memories in a 2012 entry posted the day after 9-11's 11th anniversary.(see WCJ entry "The Blessed Homeland" Sept 12, 2012) I said the following in that entry " I like so many of us remember where I was when the events that defined 9-11 took place. I arrived at my cubicle farm work environs around 8:00 in the morning for a job that would begin approximately one hour later."
I mention this because my early arrival enabled me to watch a televised replay of a plane crashing into a World Trade Tower at our security guard's station. I couldn't believe my eyes but there it was. An airplane flew straight into a building like it was aiming for it. And, in fact the jet was aiming for that building. I first witnessed this sometime between 8:15-8:30 CST in the morning. I saw what happened nearly as soon as it took place.
Things have changed since, We are used to today's airline travelling practices. The inspections and a minimum hour long buffer between arriving at the airport and our flights are now routine. But, I recall my last pre 9-11 flight. This happened in 1999. I don't remember if I left Houston on a Friday or Saturday. However, if it was Saturday, then it would've been September 11, 1999, two years to the date of 9-11.
I recall my brother and niece walking with me up to the draped tunnel where myself and other passengers boarded our flight at Houston's Hobby Airport. That's unheard of now. Today, people who aren't boarding a flight can only travel so far within an airport. Few if any non airport employees are getting that close to a plane they're not flying on.
This is the way it is and we accept it as we should. It's inconvenience for our safety. However, in todays pandemic stricken world we have people protesting wearing mask that can save them from an air borne virus that is highly contagious and lethal. The terrorist from 9-11 killed nearly 3000 people and injured another 25,000 on that day. Today's international plague has taken out almost 200,000 lives in this nation alone. Yet, we have nonsense where some believe it's a hoax.
It makes me wonder what's happened to us in this great country. In past times disaster and atrocities brought out the better in us not the bitter in us. Now, instead of making lemonade out of the lemons life delivers, we're just turning as sour as the lemons themselves. Much of this has to do with leadership or lack thereof. But that's another blog.
|Donald J trump, the most character challenged individual to become POTUS (President of the United States) has his staunchest support among white evangelical Protestants. A recent pew research poll indicates that roughly 7 out of 10, more precisely 72% of such people approve of the President’s job performance. They hold that view despite his fumbling of the Corona Virus pandemic, jailing the children of refugees seeking asylum by legal means, stoking racial tensions and overall bringing out the worst in us. Apparently, his photo op in which he held the Bible upside down impressed them.
America’s so called Bible Belt is typically believed to consist of states located in the deep south, the entirety of nearby states i.e. Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma and parts of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. A number of U.S. Bible Belt maps online generally follow this pattern. I would also include Nebraska in this conversation although most such maps don’t include it. The region is referred to as such due to its large protestant evangelical cultural presence. I’ve mentioned in previous ‘Word Courier’ entries that this region has often exhibited behavior at odds with Scriptural standards. (see Word Courier entries “Cultrural Contamination of the Christ Covenant” July 31, 2012 and “Out of Egypt” October 30, 2012)
A cursory look at varied 2020 election projection maps indicate that 9 of 13 deep south Bible belt states along with nearby belters previously referred to support the president’s reelection bid. To be fair, three such states, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina are considered swing states because they may vote either way. Virginia is the lone belt state widely expected to support his opponent Sen. Joe Biden.
Now, as a disciple first and a democrat second, I understand voting differences among people of faith. I admit to disagreeing with our conservative faithful’s prior support of Sen. John McCain, Presidents Reagan and the Bush dynasty. However, I understand how a biblical value view point could influence people to support these individuals. However, Donald Trump is a different animal.
He is a cruel, corrupt, incompetent sociopath with the unyielding backing from a certain group of professing Christians. We as Gospel believing disciples of Jesus Christ must understand this affects our witness. People many of whom do not profess our faith see his litany of misdeeds and complete absence of decency and notice that its bible thumpers backing him. Furthermore, I can envision a future in which people unfriendly to the faith use the belters dogged support against all Gospel believers and what we speak.
How then do we explain this now and into the future? I know how I’ll explain it. I refer again to the cultural Christian, they who can’t tell the difference between their culture and Christ likeness. People often take a sliver of biblical teachings and tie these into their perverse culture. How else does on explain the Bible belt’s comfortable coexistence with Jim Crow and its attendant lynching, Klan raids and oppression with worship of the God of the Holy Scriptures? They culture the Christ rather than Christen the culture. And, you see what that gets us.
|I look upon these last five years in my life as a time spent dwelling in a spiritual wilderness. (The wilderness comparison also applies to finances, social life and basically all else) I, like the children of Israel, wander about not lost but unable to determine my location.(reference ‘Jimism: Lost and Found Aug 27,2014) The Hebrews grumbled like ungrateful children. They displayed disobedience before the Lord. And, as a result, a less than 40 day journey somehow turned into a 40 year mishap. I let disappointments cloud my judgment, harden my heart and nurture growth of a bitter root with which I struggle. Thus we, the gypsying Hebrews and I have detoured from our eventual destinations for the same reasons.
It is recorded that God released manna from heaven. (see Exodus 16:4)The newly free Israelites ate of this bread thus avoiding starvation although they were in a place that was barely arable and surrounded by hostile foes, some of whom were also descendants of Abraham. God released unprecedented imagination and inspiration from the buried crevices within my heart. I, for my part have written more while in this wilderness than at any other five year span in my life. Teaching and reaching via the pen is at least in some part the work for which I am called. The Lord blessed us (the Hebrews and I) even while out of place despite our states of disgrace.
The inspiration for this realization came about via news of the postponement of an income earning opportunity. It was actually good news that the employer did not want me to work tonight. I considered calling to cancel. However, thankfully they beat me to it. The drive to the work site would have been undesirable. Also, the prospect of having to walk no telling how many blocks back to my vehicle in that area (Humboldt Park-Chicago) at 2 AM was to say the least unappealing. The Lord provided the proverbial ram in the bush. (see Genesis 22:13)
Jesus said God “…maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. “ (Matthew 5:45 Holy Bible KJV)) Here, the sun shined onto a neglected garden plot that is my present state and bore the fruit of wheat rather than tares. (see ref’ce Parable Wheats and Tares Matthew 13:24-30) Here, the rain drenched the desert of my own making and fortune bloomed throughout. Today, the other party did what I didn’t have the nerve to do myself. Furthermore, I can’t say claim vibrant prayer or vigilant fasting about the matter brought forth this break. I dare not even say that He heard my cry, for I did not make any such request. However, he looked past my faults and saw my need and delivered just the same. Hallelujah!
I advise the limited ‘Word Courier’ audience (particularly the faithful) blessings from the Lord do not necessarily denote approval of our actions. When we are not up to snuff and God still bless us that doesn't mean He is giving us a pass, particularly for the more outrageous behavior. We serve a Lord whose grace paints broader strokes than the best efforts of our canvass can command.
|The collision of last night’s exit with this morning’s arrival gave rise to two markers of my life’s journey that occur on the same date. Today’s date, September 3, 2014, emerged into its 24 hour life cycle bringing with it my 52nd birthday and the 35th anniversary of my no at fault accident perfect driving record.
To be fair, I must admit the 35 year period has included years in which the opportunity for driving mishaps was minimized. The combination of my first three years still at home with more drivers than cars, school years in Iowa City, IA with their excellent “cambus” system and city living in Chicago over the course of a decade with its “L” trains and widely available buses reduced the need for driving and likelihood for accidents.Also, the failed plan to save enough money to purchase a relatively new car (no more than three years old) cash full sans a note did not pan out and thus kept me from behind my own wheels.
Driven to Perfection
I turned 16 years of age in 1978. However, I was closer to my 17th birthday when the elusive driver’s license finally became mine. Twice my neighbor brother (referred to in ‘Word Courier’ entry Birthday Fast b4 the Birthday Bash:Fast Story July 31,2012) accompanied me to get the license in December of that year. Twice it snowed and we changed our minds.
The summer of 1979 arrived following an unforgiving winter and a not much nicer spring. I then go out to take the license test with my oldest brother. I pass the test on that day the date of which is beyond my recall. I don't remember that date. Given that the license expiration is my birth date, I simply employ my 17th birthday as the initial licensing date.
Yet, I still have put in my share of road time. I have worked at driving related employment and self-employment ventures. The driving has also included numerable commutes that range from 15 mile round trips to 40 miles one way. Furthermore, I have put foot to pedal and hands to wheel driving in 11 of our nation’s 50 states.*
Credit Where Due
Yes, I am a good driver. Yes, I have driven good cars except for when driving one employers rear wheel drive limos in a snowy setting. (Not a good ideal) These facts are true. However, the blessing to drive 35 years without an at fault accident or serious injury (or non-serious injury) is sheer good fortune no matter how good me or my vehicles are. A particular biblical verse puts them in perspective: “Every good gift and perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (Holy Bible James 1:17 KJV)
* The 11 states are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.
|Labor Day is very personal to me as holidays go. I was born on Labor Day and the labor movement played no small part in my idyllic childhood. (see Word Courier entries Born in the U.S.A., Born on Labor Day 9/3/13 and Labor Day Weekend Testimony 9/1/13) As such, it should come as no surprise to the small allotment of ‘Word Courier’ followers that this entry also concerns the events of Labor Day.
President Obama visited Milwaukee while Vice President Biden stopped by Detroit to stump to supporters. The two labor history rich, blue collar enclaves happen to hold a spot in my heart also. I canvassed in Milwaukee last year on behalf of the President and the party. I have not been to Detroit in five years, but I documented its contributions to America while arguing for support for an auto industry bailout. http://justthemessenger.hubpages.com/hub/The-American-47-The-Entititled-Detroit-...
The President addressed expanding the minimum wage to an enthusiastic crowd. I spoke of the the Teapublicans (tea party-republicans) shameful behavior when they slammed the door shut on raising the minimum to at least $10 per hour earlier this year. (see Word Courier entry Morally Broke 5/2/14) And, as long as they hold court in Congress the Federal minimum wage will not rise by one penny. However, hope still abounds.
The elected leaders in ten states* have chosen to increase their state minimum wages taking or haven already taken affect this year. Furthermore, several municipalities are on the forefront in this arena. The Bay area leads the way here. Oakland will introduce a ballot initiative to increase its minimum to $12.25 per hour. San Francisco too is going up. The proposed raise will take their minimum to $15 per hour. However, let’s not get crazy. The $15 per hour would not be effective until the year 2018. The wage will gradually increase until that time. States such as Oregon and Washington have long been ahead of the rest when it comes to promoting a livable wage.
The private sector holds more good news. Ikea, earlier this year announced plans to hike workers’ wages. The Gap too is on the bandwagon. Subway, a big player in the notoriously low wage fast food industry, reversed its long held opposition to raising the minimum wage.
All these efforts between several municipalities, different states and elements of the private business sector have become an effectual “ram in the bush”** with regard to garnering just wages for those who are struggling to get by.
*Connecticut, Deleware, Hawaii, Maryland,Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Vermont raised wages for 2014. NCSL web site
**This is the ‘Word Courier’ blog. You must know a biblical reference was going to be put in somewhere.