Friday, May 17, 2019

I'm beginning to despair.

I'm confused! 

Am I really to believe that the conceiving of a child by rape or incest is really God's desire?

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Two local issues of national importance

I continue to be amazed at how little attention we give to "minor issues" until they become major national concerns. In today's Metro section of Washington Post,  two of these are written up as a D. C. concern. The first is front page and relates to the death of the cyclist on a busy thoroughfare. The second is more hidden on the third page and is entitled "In a rare move, teachers at a charter school try to form a union."

1. Were we a country truly attuned to solving problems, we would've long ago realized that there are a variety of vehicles that have neither been accommodated well on either the sidewalk or the roadway. I've only recently discovered this since I am now in a motorized scooter for the physically impaired. Even in privileged Cleveland Park sidewalks do not accommodate me, bicycle riders who are afraid of street traffic and motorized scooters whizz by while potholes fully distract us all.  Perhaps the bike lanes should be expanded to also accommodate this type of electrical vehicle.

2. I was involved in public school education in almost every conceivable job from kindergarten to higher education for over 30 years and I've been retired for an equal amount of time. Since retiring my interest in young people caused me to volunteer in a Charter School. I was both heartened and perplexed by what I saw in this new educational venture. Heartened by the fact that a large segment of our inner city youth in the District of Columbia had an opportunity for educational choice to meet their needs. But, among other things, I was most concerned by the toll taken on the teachers by the demands placed upon them. I wondered, how long this might last, until forces brought something to light that I saw evolve many years ago.

We saw the problem coming long ago. In 1951 as a young (age 25) high school principal in Michigan, I knew that the success of our school in helping students depended upon our teamwork as a instructional team. Within a few years the labor/management model was one of the major factors in destroying that team approach. Principals were perceived as a part of management and often forced into an adversarial relationship with teachers. What actually was needed was a new model, an approach that insightful educational leaders advocated at that time.

Like many, I offer no solution. But it 93 I would like to know that my country is honestly facing the problems that are present in a modern changing society. And I think the first step is looking at them fully and honestly. Thus I continue to have my say as long as I am able.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Methodists take heed,

Methodists take heed
when church creeds,
again ignore human needs.

It's happened before! The formal doctrines of many/most/all churches, developed by the hierarchy, fail to take into consideration the changing dynamics of their members who seek to live a life of commitment to the welfare of ALL humanity. At 93 years of age I distinctly recall a previous example that occurred in the Methodist Church just over 200 years ago. Obviously I wasn't living then, but I know well the stories of the schism – one far less dramatic than the present one. It well illustrates the present dilemma and trauma of religious institutions.

Jacob Albright, born in 1759 was the son of German immigrants. As a devout Lutheran, he failed to find solace in the teachings of that church in the death of all but three of his ten children. But he was so inspired by Circuit Riders of the Methodist Church that he wanted to share his "Good News" with fellow Germans of his community. In 1793 he was accepted as an itinerant preacher in the Methodist Church. However he soon discovered that his limited ability to use the English language, coupled by the inability of his listeners to understand English, made it obvious that this preaching would be more effective using the German language. However that was contrary to the ruling of the hierarchy of the church, English must be used! Thus he struck out on his own in 1800 by going from house to house, from community to community to console and bring the moral teaching of Jesus to communities. In seven years the first steps were taken to form a new Protestant denomination, The Evangelical Church. I know because in 1925 I was baptized into that denomination and remained in it until it reunited with The United Methodist Church in 1968.
Methodists take heed
when church creeds,
again ignore human needs.

It's happened before! The formal doctrines of many/most/all churches, developed by the hierarchy, fail to take into consideration the changing dynamics of their members who seek to live a life of commitment to the welfare of ALL humanity. At 93 years of age I distinctly recall a previous example that occurred in the Methodist Church just over 200 years ago. Obviously I wasn't living then, but I know well the stories of the schism – one far less dramatic than the present one. It well illustrates the present dilemma and trauma of religious institutions.

Jacob Albright, born in 1759 was the son of German immigrants. As a devout Lutheran, he failed to find solace in the teachings of that church in the death of all but three of his ten children. But he was so inspired by Circuit Riders of the Methodist Church that he wanted to share his "Good News" with fellow Germans of his community. In 1793 he was accepted as an itinerant preacher in the Methodist Church. However he soon discovered that his limited ability to use the English language, coupled by the inability of his listeners to understand English, made it obvious that this preaching would be more effective using the German language. However that was contrary to the ruling of the hierarchy of the church, English must be used! Thus he struck out on his own in 1800 by going from house to house, from community to community to console and bring the moral teaching of Jesus to communities. In seven years the first steps were taken to form a new Protestant denomination, The Evangelical Church. I know because in 1925 I was baptized into that denomination and remained in it until it reunited with The United Methodist Church in 1968.

The last thing young pe
The last thing young people want
from someone 93 years of age
is a sermon.

However, my years of experience as an educator have proven to me that young people are eager, yea yearning, to see dramatic societal changes in the American lifestyle. As a historian respecting the knowledge of the world and life that science has brought over the past 500 or so years, I would compare the need for change today to that wrought by Martin Luther 500 years ago when a religious world was shaken by the Protestant Reformation. And I as a layman see it as a question of Faith vs. Works.

What is needed today
is another Reformation of the church!

And for me this begins with a realization that, "like all religions, Christianity is man-made."

I realize that this "sermonizing" is a far cry from my usual "ranting and raving." Yet I find it necessary to be perfectly honest and admit that it is a topic that has long held my interest. However in reading the last chapter of Warren L Hickman's book, "Can Religion Survive Worship" I was mesmerized by that statement, "like all religions, Christianity is man-made.

Unfortunately I found the first 26 chapters of the book quite tedious, soI can't recommend its purchase.  But the last chapter blew me away.  It succinctly drives the message home to the non-– theological reader. From checking Amazon's assessment of reader interest in books, it might appear that I'm the only reader of the book. But because I am so struck by its relevance I'll have more to say about it in the next few of my Raves. Perhaps this blurb from Amazon might even whet your interest so there will be a surge on the market.

"Will main line churches disappear within twenty five to forty years as religious authorities now predict? What is behind this crisis so suddenly facing religious communities? Why does the chance of survival of religion decline as a nation becomes more highly developed? The book Can Religion Survive Worship clarifies the difference between worshiping the messenger and studying the message. If rituals, processes, and procedures are put aside, what is to become of churches and clergy that have existed primarily to preside over those rituals, processes, and procedures? What, if any, will then be the vehicle carrying the message? Warren Hickman has thrown down the gauntlet. It needs to be picked up.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Darn it! i'm with Joe

I'm 93 and ever since I turn 65 I've hugged every person who looked liked they wanted to be or needed a friend.  And what about all those Europeans who touch both "cheeks"?

Thursday, March 21, 2019

It must not be lost - Jazz, that is


It will take me longer than a week to react to the response (and non-responses) I received to my two assertions:
  1. That all religions are”man” (human) made, and
  2. That all religions reflect their social milieu and that Christianity specifically needs another Reformation if it is to survive as a positive force for good.
In retrospect, I must admit that is quite a grandiose expectation. But do it, I MUST! But I will do it as an educator and not as a theologian.

But first another topic that has attracted me since the early days of the Lucky Strike, Hit Parade, a radio show of the '40's and 50's.

With the over abundance of music available today, I fear that some lesser known sources will eventually atrophy because of disuse. Here are three things, I'd like my children – and all G_d's children to know about.

Tippin' In - Erskine Hawkins

Wildroot – Woody Herman and Neal Hefti

While those two are little known and appreciated numbers from the 40's, I, as an inveterate Jazz lover, am concerned that most young jazz aficionados have not had the opportunity to hear the little known small Jazz group The Jim Cullum Jazz Band.

Stanford University has archived the music of this group which performed from 1948 – 2007. This includes the almost 400 National Public Radio one hour programs recorded by the band at the San Antonio River Walk. (What a privilege for me to grow up in that city and hear him through the years.) The programs are hosted by many jazz greats from Jack Teagarden to Joe Williams and pay tribute to most all the outstanding musicians from Louie to Fatha. If you love small groups or want to know more about jazz,you will be ecstatic with:

http://riverwalkjazz.stanford.edu/

Sunday, March 3, 2019

.I'd be the #1 R***skins fan if..............................................

Snyder would do two things:
1. Change the name, and
2. Give Kaepernick a chance.
At 93 I'd change my loyalty from the Lions to ?????????????, and buy my first ticket to see his/our team play.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

My educaton at Uber University

Beyond enjoying the ride with Uber or Lyft, I have appreciated the education I have received sitting next to drivers who hail primarily from Africa and Central and South America. Ignoring conventional practices of cell-phoning, I attempt to engage them in conversation about each of our heritages so  I can learn about other cultures. Recently two of my favorite topics "just happened" to be worked into the conversation.

The aging process:
I was taken somewhat aback when my driver from Mozambique did not respond in the usual way when I "just happened" to mention that I was 93! "My grandfather lived until he was 117," was his response. I was delighted that he was loquacious enough and the ride expensive enough so I could learn what he perceived as the reason for such longevity. "Every day he would get up at dawn and walk 30 minutes East to see the sunrise. There he would express gratitude for the fullness of his life. He would then slowly return home taking an hour and a half to greet friends and family. He had no stress!

Religion:
It didn't take long for my lifelong infatuation with religion to be rekindled when my driver said that he grew up and lived much of his life in Sierra Leone. OMG thought I.   I haven't thought about Sierra Leone since my childhood days as a member of  the Mission Band and Little Heralds in my San Antonio church. "Tell me," said I, "Did the pennies and nickels we saved and gave the missionaries so they could bring Christianity to your country do good or cause problems?" Taking his right hand off the wheel, he made a downward motion with his thumb, and said, "In a country 80% Muslim it has resulted in nothing but endless conflict."

I find it fascinating that while religion has played a major role in providing me to my life personally,there are two conclusions that haunt me.

1. Throughout  human experience, religion his played a major role in bringing conflict and war, but it is only through a proper understanding of religion the world's problems can be managed.

2. All religions are creations and expressions of human design and an differ in evolving social milieu. It is in the tenants and practices of all religions that are grounded in love and kindness that life can be given maximum meaning.