The chronicle of a dark and dangerous journey through a world gone mad.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Facing Southern Demons

Part of the challenge of being an intellectual southerner is learning to face your demons for what they are and then having confronted them retain the best of your culture without revising your history or burning it down. The famous author Forrest Carter wrote poignantly about the complex relationship between Cherokees and the larger culture in his award winning novel "The Education of Little Tree." In earlier years, this book reached near scriptural authority with liberals. Carter also wrote the novellas upon which arguably the best western movie ever filmed was based, "The Outlaw Josey Wales." Again, he put a human face on violent and marginalized people whose side of the story was never told.
Carter was a brilliant student of southern culture and his analysis of the Celtic influence on Southern Hill Culture deserves a place on your bookshelf. (If you can find a copy of his work that hasn't been ceremonially trashed by a PC librarian.) LINK TO ARTICLE

But, there was another side to Forest Carter. Before he became the darling of the liberals for his sensitive writing about the state of Native Americans he went by anther name, Asa Earl Carter. Asa Earl Carter was a hard core segregationist, a major figure in the "League of the South" movement, a Klansman and the speech writer for George Wallace. It was Carter who penned the words, "Segregation now. Segregation forever."

So how do you reconcile the bitter racist bigot Carter with the man who wrote so sensitively about Cherokee culture? How do you come to grips with the brilliant novelist who also had a terrible past? In some cases you don't. He was what he was. But, his work also is what it is.

So, you take his work on face value, read it critically in light of his background and learn what you can from it. You don't burn the books and the movies and you don't dig up his bones and scatter them on a trash heap. You praise him for what he did well and reject what he did wrong.

Carter died in a drunken bar fight in Southern Texas, perhaps a fitting end for such a talented, complicated and sometimes violent man.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Colwell, Iowa .... Who are you and what do you want?

For the past several days, I have been subjected to continual data scrutiny from a web address in, of all places, Colwell, Iowa. Colwell, Iowa is a tiny place near the Wisconsin border with a population of about seventy people distributed in thirty or so households. There are five numbered streets and two avenues.

Regional law enforcement authorities tell me that there is just not much up there. There's a bar, a Church of Christ and a grain elevator. They were amazed that somebody in Colwell could be running a web bot. 

This is a message to the person in Colwell, Iowa who is running the web bot. Instead of cyber stalking, why don't you just contact me? You can contact me by personal message on Facebook.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Holding Back The Darkness

I seldom read the Cherokee Phoenix.  But yesterday, I saw a copy in the Catoosa tribal tag office and the headline drew me in.  By executive fiat alone, the Cherokee  Nation has approved homosexual marriage.

I have a bit of an interest in that headline.  A dozen or so years ago, the Cherokee Nation's pastors rose up and told tribal leadership that should they approve homosexual marriage, they would oppose them.  The church is a powerful force in the real Cherokee Nation.  Many pastors threatened the nuclear option of refusing to perform tribal marriages.  As the matter progressed, native pastors from all over the Cherokee Nation met in churches and promised to oppose tribal leadership.  Feelings ran high and there was no doubt that tribal leaders were going to pay a high political price for ignoring the will of their constituents if they went ahead.

I have intimate knowledge of these events and issue because I was there.  I was those pastor's attorney.  But, like most things involving Native American issues, this project was a neglected step child of the splashier gay marriage cases in big cities.  Our battle was fought and won in the sanctuaries and fellowship halls of Cherokee churches deep in the Cookson Hills not a courtroom.  And when it was over, the national Christian civil rights law firm I was working for did not approve most of my expenses or bills for my time.  

It is hard to describe the commitment of those Cherokee pastors who stopped gay marriage in its tracks.  When you get away from the politicians, gambling operators and left wing opportunist, the Cherokee Nation is really a pretty Christian place.  The local church is often the social center of the small villages and townships in Eastern Oklahoma.  The hymns are often still sung in Cherokee and the theology is usually both sound and conservative.  Very conservative.  They don't follow the surrounding communities practice of preaching one thing and then doing something else. In the hills of Eastern Oklahoma, if you don't keep your word you're not welcome.  Their "yea"is "yea" and their "nay" is "nay."  The pastors and church leaders I met during that project made me truly proud to be a member of the tribe.  If I had to do it all over, I would be there again in a heartbeat and pay for it out of my pocket again.

But now, by what amounts to executive fiat, homosexual marriage is legal in the Cherokee Nation.  As the story in the Cherokee Phoenix said, "times change and people change."  But, that change is not always for the better.  The only thing certain about this decision is that the winds of political change have shifted.

If I could talk to those brave pastors now I would say, "Brothers, do not be discouraged.  We fought a good fight and won our battle.  We held back the darkness for over ten years.  The fight is not over it has only changed battlegrounds.  It is time to exercise your "nuclear option" by not recognizing or performing these so called marriages. You still have your pulpits and you are still the strongest grass roots political force in the Nation.   Use those tools to tell your tribal leadership to go back to their politics, casinos and high flying business deals and stay out of marriage and the church."

Gurahiyi my brothers.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Navigator, what's the course?

Many of my friends are urging me to shut up, hold my nose and support Donald Trump because, even though he is a thoroughly despicable, dishonest and dishonorable human being, we must support the "course" the GOP represents.  Well, as an ex (short time) navigator's helper on a sea going vessel, I have examined the GOP's course and that is the problem.

In navigation, there are two separate terms for the direction you are steering the pointy end of the ship.  One is heading, that is the direction that the bow is pointed at that particular moment.  The other is the course, or to make it clearer the "base course."  That is the direction you want to go.  Your heading may change constantly while maintaining your base course.  You may ease off a few points one way or another to ease the motion of the ship.  You steer one direction off the base course for a while and then make it up by steering the same amount the other direction, all the while maintaining the same base course.  Or, you may be facing strong winds and have to steer a few points off the base course to "crab" along sideways on the base course.  This happens more often in aircraft than ships.

So, let's take a look at the base course of the GOP.  Every president since Ronald Reagan has steered the GOP on a leftward course.  When it was necessary, they would change headings a bit to make the ride a little easier, but the base course always remained the same, just a few points to the right of the Democrats.  So, given that, no matter which party was in power and which distasteful candidate the GOP tried to foist upon the electorate, the Democrats have actually been steering the ship the entire time.  The destination is Europe. (literally European style socialism)  The course changes demanded by either party will only determine whether you make landfall at Rotterdam or Antwerp.

The GOP claims to be the pro life party but in decades of  controlling both houses and the White House, Roe v. Wade remains stronger than ever. The GOP claims to be the party of traditional family values but with control of both houses and the White House the gay rights movement has completely won the culture war.  The GOP claims to be the part of fiscal conservatism and yet, even before Obama, the GOP House, Senate and White House had no stomach for fiscal reform.  And finally, while the GOP claims to be the party of conservative judicial nominees, if you check the record, our worst Supreme Court decisions were decided by majority GOP appointed courts.  And that doesn't even take Justice Roberts and the Obama Care betrayal into account.  The bottom line is that the GOP has lied to the voters and continues lying.  If you continue to believe a known liar you are deluding yourself and will get what you deserve.

Donald Trump does not represent a major course change.  Until he decided to run for president he was a sharp dealing, Hillary supporting, gun grabbing, mobbed up, philandering, crooked New York real estate speculator.  Once elected, he will revert to his natural inclinations.

If you don't like the direction a ship is taking and the officers in charge are constantly engaged in vicious arguments, NOT ABOUT A COURSE CHANGE BUT A HEADING CHANGE, then you are on the wrong ship.  If you don't want to go to Europe, it is time to jump ship because your leaders are just arguing at best about which port in Europe you are going to wind up in. And at worst, they are arguing about the arrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

My Shrinking World

Most afternoons, I allow myself an hour at a local coffee shop.  I sip a tall iced coffee, eat a small cookie, glance at the headlines on the overhead television screen and then settle in to spend a quiet hour or so in the company of my Kindle. Sometimes, this is the high point of my day.  It is my daily indulgence if you will, my non spiritual quiet time.

The employees all know me.  I guess I am the "Norm" of this little "Cheers."  When the employees see me coming, they often change the satellite radio station to the Sinatra Channel or doo wop because they know I like it. I am usually the only person in the room except for employees.  It is normally quiet, friendly and peaceful. 

However, of late, there have been problems in my sanctuary.  For one thing, a Muslim intellectual
from a nearby university has taken to hanging around about the same time that I usually show up.  Americans would call him a lay missionary for his zeal in engaging unwitting passersby in conversations about the wisdom of Islam and the popular misconceptions concerning the "religion of peace." If you let him go long, he will quickly lead you into the five pillars of Islam in all of their glory and do it all with his face six inches from yours, his hot breath wafting over your face.  I have had to cut my respite short  twice in the past week to avoid him.

Today, I decided to show up half an hour early to avoid him.  Moments after I arrived, an inspector with the Tulsa County Health Department came in.  She was an attractive, very well dressed middle aged lady.  After a brief inspection she sat down at the table next to me to write her report. We exchanged a few pleasantries.  I apologized for appearing to stare at her and explained that the television set was directly over her head and I was following the news story being shown.

A few moments later, a loud young Millenial drove up on a motorcyle with a casually well dressed black girl on the b*tch seat.  He had the typical man bun/ponytail sexually androgenous look of his ilk and she looked for all the world like an up and coming feminist studies or black studies professor in the making.  She definitely looked like she was the alpha (insert gender appropriate non-offensive gender choice pronoun here) in that relationship.

First, the male appearing Millenial tried to engage the Health Department worker in conversation.  She brushed him off.  The couple then sat down on a sofa a few feet away and he said loudly to me, "I see you are wearing a gun.  What kind is it?'  I replied that I did not want to discuss it.  He then said, "Oh, I guess you just like to brandish it."

What is itabout this generation that forces them to make an issue out of things they don't understand?  Make no mistake, the question the Millenial asked was not designed to get gun info.  The words "Glock 43 Gen 4 with a 25 cent trigger job in a Blade Tech Kydex IWB holster" would not have satisfied him. I doubt that he would have really understood them. His body language, eyes and speech patterns all indicated a liberal troll on the make to start an argument or create a scene that could not end well for me no matter what happened. 

To say that I was angry does not begin to describe my feelings.  I wanted to say a lot of things like, "You're an idiot if you think my sitting here in the corner quietly reading my Kindle with two inches of gun butt sticking out of my waistband under the table is brandishing a weapon."  I really wanted to say, "Bud, open carry is legal in Oklahoma especially and while I don't do it often, I am licensed to carry this weapon just about any way any time I choose to."

But, I didn't say anything.  Talking to jerks like that usually only escalate an already degrading situation. I just began pulling my shirt tail out over my weapon.  However, as I did that I asked myself, "Why are you accommodating this jerk?" The peace of my quiet time had been broken.  There was no need for me share space with that type of jerk.  I simply packed up and and walked away, muttering under my breath.

But sadly, my world gets smaller and more annoying all of the time.

Monday, August 1, 2016

America's Silent Pulpits

I am amazed and shocked at the silence of American pulpits concerning the misrepresentation and evil being presented by both sides in the American presidential race.  While it is perhaps understandable, the question of whether or not it will be found excusable by history and God’s judgement remains to be seen.

In their defense, Pastors often live an insulated life.  On Monday morning, their best client isn’t going ask them to hide a piece of evidence in discovery that makes them look bad. Nobody is going to threaten the pastor’s livelihood and reputation for questioning a crooked judge.   In most churches, nobody is going to try to impose a “gay friendly” disciplinary code upon the pastor as the bar association has upon Oklahoma lawyers.  Nobody is going to try to force the pastor to attend a pagan religious service dressed up as “diversity training.”

Nobody is going to tell the pastor install cheap knockoff or even used parts in a car and then charge full price for them as may happen to the mechanic in the congregation.  Nobody is going to order the pastor to bait and switch customers to get sales numbers up as may happen to the salesman in the back pew.  Nobody is going to tell the pastor to stock the checkout stands with filthy magazines as may happen to the retail clerk in row 6 left.   And nobody is going to order the pastor to deliver surgical tools to an abortion clinic as may happen to the medical rep in row 14 right.

 But, these are decisions that the pastor’s flock must face and both they and their pastor will be accountable to God for their response.  Unfortunately, if you believe Barna and Gallup there is really very little difference between the ethical and moral behavior of self identified Christians and the rest of the world on key moral issues.   This is a damning indictment of the American church. 

This is not a Martin Luther quote  ( ) even though it is often attributed to him.  But, it is an accurate summary of Luther’s teachings;  “If I profess, with the loudest voice and the clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity. Where the battle rages the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle-field besides is mere flight and disgrace to him if he flinches at that one point.”

We have been taught by our pulpits to be politically blind and na├»ve, to read the scriptures with a political filter that removes the historical context of the historical accounts.  For example, John the Baptist wasn’t executed because of a theological dispute.  He was executed because he publicly rebuked the sexual immorality of the ruling family.   I ask you, did Salome’s private dance and perhaps incest in the palace come anywhere close to the exposure of Mrs. Trump’s fully nude and sometimes lesbian pictures literally being transmitted to the world?  The picture shown at right was published in a magazine for the whole world to see and was on the cover of this weekend's New York Post.  Only a few people in the palace saw Salome. Yet, the world is seeing the wife of many Christians pick to be the next American president and America’s pulpits are silent?

Jesus wasn’t executed over a theological difference.  He was convicted of sedition, a political crime.  The Sanhedrin could have cared less what he preached until he threatened their political and economic power.  Pretender Messiahs had come and gone before without incident.  And, when the Sanhedrin passed the death sentence along to Pilate, it was political expediency that sent him to the cross even as a political radical was freed by the crowd.   Paul and the other Roman martyrs didn’t die over theology.  Rome was pantheistic and you could worship and preach anything you chose so long as you also subscribed to the generic Roman state creed.  I ask you, is that not exactly what silent American pulpits are doing now?

The ultimate question here is not who will win the election but how will the souls of men be affected by the election.  If the church teaches them to tolerate and accept evil in this great position of responsibility how can it expect them not tolerate and accept it in their own lives as well?   Just as children learn not from what their parents say but what they see lived out before them so do churches. They learn not by what is preached to them but rather by what is tolerated and practiced by them.  Having said that, the western church for the most part has gotten the strange idea that it can somehow separate government and politics from the so called “Christian life” and Christian values and still remain faithful to the scriptures.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  This so called “Christian life” is a sham built of moral cowardice.  God gives you a life period.  He is either Lord of all of it or He is Lord of none of it. 

While I have a great respect for tradition I am sometimes frustrated when fundamentalist Christian leaders inappropriately quote historical figures to evade current situations or rationalize a bad decision.  Quoting an Englishmen talking within the context of the British political system to a modern American is comparing apples and oranges.  America is not a monarchy.  We rebelled against that system and won.  Further, quoting someone like Whitfield in the midst of the current presidential race is a lot like handing an 18th century sailing masters manual to a confused passenger trying to land a crippled 747 after the flight crew have bailed out.  Some of the material may apply but there are several hundred years of social and technological advancement (for the good or bad) between the bits of navigational theory that may or may not apply.  What the passengers needs is a clear answer that will save his life (or soul). 
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, (like his theology or not) has advice closer to modern times.  Concerning the rise of Hitler he observed, "Upon closer observation, it becomes apparent that every strong upsurge of power in the public sphere, be it of a political or a religious nature, infects a large part of humankind with stupidity. … The power of the one needs the stupidity of the other. The process at work here is not that particular human capacities, for instance, the intellect, suddenly atrophy or fail. Instead, it seems that under the overwhelming impact of rising power, humans are deprived of their inner independence and, more or less consciously, give up establishing an autonomous position toward the emerging circumstances. The fact that the stupid person is often stubborn must not blind us to the fact that he is not independent. In conversation with him, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with him as a person, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like that have taken possession of him. He is under a spell, blinded, misused, and abused in his very being. Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. This is where the danger of diabolical misuse lurks, for it is this that can once and for all destroy human beings.”  (Essay “On Stupidity,” D. Bonhoeffer)  I can’t think of more apt description of the current political climate on both sides at this time and I fear that we are seeing the work out of 2 Thess. 2:11-12 before our eyes. How great will be the condemnation of the church for not revealing this morally crippling spiritual blindness being cast upon all by the political system?

Bonhoeffer’s response to political evil was open and direct: “...there are three possible ways in which the church can act toward the state: the first place, as has been said, it can ask the state whether its actions are legitimate and in accordance with its character as state, i.e., it can throw the state back on its responsibilities. Second, it can aid the victims of state action. The church has an unconditional obligation to the victims of any ordering of society, even if they do not belong to the Christian community. "Do good to all people." In both these courses of action, the church serves the free state in its free way, and at times when laws are changed the church may in no way withdraw itself from these two tasks. The third possibility is not just to bandage the victims under the wheel, but to jam a spoke in the wheel itself.”  (Essay, “The Church and the Jewish Question,” D. Bonhoeffer ) 

Bonhoeffers’ later verbal statements were even more direct, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”  Bonhoeffer the great preacher and theologian became an agent of the Abwher (German military intelligence) that internally opposed Hitler, operated illegal underground churches and seminaries and helped Jews escape.  The “confessing church” far from being a theological oddity was a major player in the resistance movement.  And at that, Bonhoeffer was not executed over theological issues.  He was executed for being part of the plot to kill Hitler.  If the church is silent, who will hold the government accountable?  If the church is silent what will it say to God when He asks “What did you do with the talent of freedom that I gave you to speak out against evil?”  The only answer can be, “I buried it.”

Make no mistake. Donald Trump is simply the reverse image of Hillary Clinton. They are both morally and politically bankrupt. Trusting a totally failed political system to hold either in check is whistling in the dark. The choice is virtually identical to what Weimar Germany faced in the 1930's, Marxism or an alt-right Neo National Socialist strong man. I ask you which is better? To chose one and share in the complicity for what follows or to take Bonhoeffer’s path of opposing both, fight the good fight on God's terms alone and if necessary suffer the consequences with a clear conscience?

I have longed for an end to the compromise and rationalization by our religious, cultural and political leaders. I have longed to hear the evangelical leaders I have trusted denounce the duplicity of both sides and call for the church to reject both sides until they return to Godly values. But, that has not happened. I mourn for America regardless of who wins the election. About the only thing I can take solace in is that, like Bonhoeffer, I can say wholeheartedly:

"Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
"Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine!"

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Man With a Gun! Oh You Poor Frightened Little Cupcake!

OK, I admit it. I have gotten lazy of late. I sometimes open carry around the neighborhood. There are many days when the only places I am going are neighborhood restaurants and my special coffee shop where they all know me very well and all know they have no reason for concern.

By habit, I am a shirt tucked in guy. So, when I am among "friends" in the hood I don't worry about someone seeing my weapon. And, it's not like I'm wearing some huge tactical rig or carrying a carbine around on my shoulder. Most days, I am carrying a Glock 43 in an in the waistband Kydex holster so all that you see is about two inches at most of black pistol butt sticking out of my waistband. BUT, the bane of my existence are the occasional out of town or at least of local experience TU types that frequent my hangouts.  They can be a pain the *ss.

One day a couple of weeks ago, one of these darling little TU cupcakes was apparently "triggered" by the"microagression" of seeing me sitting there in the corner, minding my own business, drinking my coffee, reading my tablet with two inches of Glock showing from my waistband. I really wonder how they even saw it since the table should have blocked their view. BUT, it takes hard work to be offended, saw it they did and so they called the police.

I knew something was going on when a cop who doesn't normally frequent the place showed up and didn't order. He was an older, larger guy. I have a nodding and speaking relationship with the motor cop who hangs out there regularly. The SWAT shop is right down the street and I know the faces of most of those guys who come in for take out regularly and I'm sure, that since they are by nature very situationally aware, they know mine. After a few seconds, this cop's face registered. He is a senior patrol officer that works our neighborhood.  After a few seconds, the light bulb lit up over my head.  He was working actually working a call concerning me!

The officer came in, positioned himself diagonally from me across the room and pretended to be looking at upscale coffee accessories.  I thought, "Gimme a break officer.  You could probably care less about a French Press or a European stove top espresso maker.  You're not the type. You drink coffee black that comes out of a pot."

After a few minutes of that little performance, the officer asked to use the bathroom.  That would take him right past my side were he could see the weapon on my waist that was hidden by the table. He did so, got a good look at me and the weapon and then pretended to use the bathroom.  We exchanged man type comments as he came out of the bathroom.

After he left, all I could think was "What a colossal waste of that officer's time."  I'm on a first name basis with most of the employees of the coffee shop and many of the regular customers.  I am something of an institution in that place, the old half retired lawyer that sits there at the corner table sipping coffee and sometimes meeting clients over a cup.  I come in several times per week, tip well and mind my own business.

Somebody taught that little TU cupcake to be scared to death of a firearm.  Somebody taught that little TU cupcake that he or she was doing the right thing to call the police and make trouble even though open carry is perfectly legal in Oklahoma.  I'm sure the little cupcake secretly hoped that the officer would show up and make my life miserable for a while.  And, I'm sure the little TU cupcake also hoped that if enough people followed his/her/it's/their example that the police would get tired of making useless calls and make it tough on folks who dare show a weapon in public.  But, none of that happened.  The officer was clumsy in his "investigation" but professional.  And,  I refused to get angry or rattled by the fact that a cop was checking me out for exercising a perfectly legal right. There were no arrests, no shootouts, no sponaneous eruptions of gunfire.  Just an awkward moment for the officer and an annoying moment for me.

Bottom line, you lost this one cupcake.