Friday, December 26, 2014

Seven Haiku for the Day After Christmas

by Jim Rapp 

Day after Christmas
and Mary is pondering
“these things” in her heart 

Day after Christmas
and shepherds are telling all
who will hear, the “news” 

Day after Christmas
and wise men are preparing
to follow a star 

Day after Christmas
and Herod is sensing a
change in the making 

Day after Christmas
and WE are tallying up
dollars spent and earned 

Day after Christmas
and the Gift has left the cold
Bethlehem stable 

Day after Christmas
and the Prince of Peace seeks a
place to lay His head

Friday, December 19, 2014

Two Haiku for a Heartless, Soulless Man

by Jim Rapp 

The man is alive
today solely because of
a better man’s heart 

But no one living
has been willing to donate
a soul to this man

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Day of Prayer

I have committed to praying on the 10th of each month for a young friend who is serving as a campus missionary in a European city. Today, after the release of the Senate report on the horrendous torture techniques employed by our government against terror suspects, I am especially aware of the need to pray for her and for all other Americans whose lives have been put in jeopardy by the (necessary) release of that information. 

The report reveals the extent to which our nation abandoned the rule of law and the moral commitments which we have so loudly proclaimed in our fight against Islamic terrorists. Sadly we – and we must recognize that the actions of our government reflect on all of us – have committed crimes little different in moral character than those of our enemies. 

And so on this December 10th, 2014 I pray not only for the safety of my young friend, but for that of all those made vulnerable by the evil actions taken by our government and now made known to the world. And I pray for those against whom those actions were taken, those we call our enemies. I pray that evil – the evil our enemies are perpetrating in the Middle East and around the world, and the evil practiced against our enemies in the name of Christian righteousness – will be defeated; overcome by righteousness.  

And specifically I pray that the spirit of Babylon, which permeates our nation no less than the rest of the world, will be seen for what it truly is – the spirit of anti-Christ – and that those who claim to be the servants of Christ will distinguish themselves by speaking against this present evil and by raising their voices in the service of peace and reconciliation in our broken world. 

The Fine Line
by Jim Rapp

Where is the line;
the border between
rotting Babylon
and New Jerusalem? 

Line seeking is
an admission
that the line has
already been crossed. 

Line seekers
implicitly declare
which side they
have chosen; 

They seek, not
to be on the
right side, but to
appear to be there; 

Evil never owns
its given name –
Babylon calls itself
“New Jerusalem.” 

America, come out
of rotting  Babylon
so that you will not
share in her sins; 

Line seekers, come
clean away from
Babylon – touch not
its unclean ways.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Guilt by Color

(a haiku quartet)
by Jim Rapp 

If you are a cop –
a white man patrolling a
black neighborhood – stop 

Nothing you do can
be viewed through any lens but
race – you are the man 

You’re not permitted
to act or refuse to act
when crime’s committed 

Turn your tin badge back
and pretend you didn’t see –
thugs have cred you lack

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Stepping Into The Unknown

(A Haiku Duo)
By Jim Rapp

If the path were known,
its hazards and all, I might
have delayed my start,

thus arriving late;
missing the connection for
a journey of joy.



 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Friendship Remembered

by Jim Rapp 

Friendship,
if only just the memory of it,
lends its
warm patina to a life thus lit.
 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Weekend Fare

by Jim Rapp 

It is Friday afternoon;
We’ve watched the early evening news.
It always seems as soon
as news is done the networks choose
to play a weekend "tune"
in which the looming crises lose
their urgency; a boon,
I guess, to marketers of booze,
and sports and Looney Tunes.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Body Lovers


Jim Rapp

Body lovers make good friends;
     they overlook the body’s "faults"
                because they love what is within.

 Body lovers have no list of faults;
          each bulge and blight, bespeaking friend,
                 becomes a treasure for love's vaults.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Substantial Evidence


(Haiku Structure)
by Jim Rapp

The substance of things
hoped for, the evidence of
things not visible (Heb. 11:1)

Substance can be felt;
evidence requires a sense
beyond retinal.

When you eat this bread
your hands recall the body,
lifted from the cross,

laid warm in the tomb,
the substance of things hoped for –
desperately hoped for.

When you lift the cup
remembering the blood shed –
ruthlessly wrung out

faith alone ignites
the hope unfathomable;
evidence enough

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Things Missed and Things Missed

by Jim Rapp 

Some things are missed
            a fault of
            auditory failure
Some things are missed
            because their
            essence always lingers 

The preacher's softly
            urgent words
            of admonition
A child's babbled
            silly-serious
            inarticulation 

The comic's denouement
            a quick and muted
            twist of wit
A shower's rapprochement
            with a roof
            that's loving it 

The weather person's
            hurried need
            to say it all
A wind gust driven
            turgid against
            the north side wall 

The grind of traffic's
            engines in the
            street below
A blind benefic
            rumble with a
            storm in tow 

The breathy secret
            that implies the
            meeting is ad hoc
A consistent fret
            of ticking by the
            ancient windup clock 

Some things are missed
            a fault of
            auditory failure
Some things are missed
            because their
            essence always lingers

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Working the Night Shift

by Jim Rapp
 I hear talk of multi-tasking,
younger minds, adept, and quick
are good at it, contrasting
with old skulls grown thick.

But I have learned that even I,
as ancient as I have become
can stand my ground, even vie
with youth’s quick metronome.

I’ve learned to work while sleeping!
Hah! Give that a try, you Punks.
I’ve typed five pages without peeping,
All perfect z’s; a grand slam-dunk.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Who Is My Friend

Jim Rapp

He was my neighbor
Though I was not his neighbor
I . . . invisible

I was her neighbor
Though she was not my neighbor
She . . . beyond the pale

Which is my neighbor
She who names me her friend or
He whom I name friend

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Treasures in Earthen Vessels

by Jim Rapp

Ἔχομεν δὲ τὸν θησαυρὸν τοῦτον
       ἐν ὀστρακίνοις σκεύεσιν
We have this treasure in earthen
            vessels 2 Cor. 4:7

Humble terra cotta pots measure
out the potter’s window shelf
each treasure treasured for the treasure
held, each treasured in itself.

We’re (Not) Using Our Heads

by Jim Rapp 

Batters “beaned” by the ball,
Pitcher’s felled by line drives,
Outfielders ramming the walls
Diving and risking their lives
Catcher and runner lie sprawled
Fans dancing and giving “high-fives” 

Old “stars” wheeled through the halls
Arranged in neat rows by sixes and fives
Watch the images move on “walls”
Observe bleakly with half-knowing eyes;
By now it should be obvious to all –
They got here by (not) using their head, guys! 

Someday our Tiddlywink teams,
Resourcefully using their heads,
Will make their game more “extreme”
By skull-banging the puck instead
So their widows can pitifully keen,
“He got Alzheimer’s by (not) using his head.”

Friday, October 24, 2014

No Shame In Going Home

Jim Rapp

There is no shame in going home,
no shame in saying, “I was wrong to leave,”
no shame in leaving what was wrong
to bow anew to Truth, confessing, “I believe.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Don’t Forget To Send In The Cash

by Jim Rapp

The TV preacher offers to pray for your needs,
and requests thirty dollars to serve as a “seed”.

The Party’s “quick survey,” seeking your thoughts,
includes a reminder to send your “hard fought”.

The Doctors – especially Oz – to "help you stay well,"
bring on slick hucksters with something to sell.

CVS, in a fit of “conscience” has ceased to sell smokes
but candy, soda, quack cures, still sell to poor folks.

“Buyer beware” is the buyer’s defense;
standing alone – and standing against.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

An Author's Dilemma


It is better to remain silent
and thought to be a heretic
than to write a book
and provide the evidence.
                                                                    apologies to Anonymous

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

An Old Man’s Dilemma

(A Haiku)
by Jim Rapp

Philippians 1:21

The old man wobbled
between two options; live now
or live forever.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fall Colors Make Me Believe

Jim Rapp

There is a reason for everything,
I’m convinced of it;
whether the hand of God shaped each thing,
or He fashioned it
in a thought-full sort of making –
like, Big Banging it
doesn’t change the Genesis saying;
for me, confirms it;
“In the beginning God was making;”
I just believe it.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Aerial Warfare

(A Haiku Trio)
by Jim Rapp

High, high, high atop
the pine a winged one, silent,
silent, scans the scene.

Far, far, far below
the pine tree counsels footed
ones, “Hide here. Hide there.”

No friend to winged ones,
he. “Be gone,” he cries, “Be gone!”
“Spare the footed ones.”

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

From Where I Sit

In past years I showed a U. S. State Department film entitled From Where I Sit to my Social Studies classes. The film began with the image of a rotating, tumbling chair frame. The first angle from which the audience viewed it would not have caused most people to think “chair”, but as it turned and more perspectives were revealed it became evident to most that it was indeed a chair. One’s interpretation of what it was depended upon “where one was sitting.”

It is easy, in a blog like this, to give the appearance of superiority, to speak with a certainty that says, “I know better than any others what the truth of the matter is.” To avoid sounding arrogant I’ve not done much prose blogging lately. I suppose some of my poems have nonetheless been just as self-assured and arrogant, alas. Sorry about that.

But it is still true that what we see is what we see – from where we sit. If I had stopped the film before it was evident that the figure being shown was a chair, and if I had asked the students to tell me what they saw, I would have gotten a variety of answers and some of the students would have been insistent upon their interpretation of the data. Perhaps if they had discussed their perspectives they might have actually come to the conclusion that it was a chair they were viewing. Or perhaps they would all have gone on in ignorance of what they had seen.

Our social and political world is no different. The data is being shown to us daily, coming from a myriad of sources. We can only see it from a limited number of angles. With that incomplete data we must decide what we are actually seeing and decide what course of action, if any, we should take regarding it. Sometimes we are more sure of ourselves than at other times. Sometimes we humans will fight and die for the truth we perceive.

But the wisest course is to compare perspectives with others who see it differently, from where they sit. The things presented in this blog may sometimes ring (or reek) with certainty. Take that to mean that, from where I sit it sure does look a certain way. Take what you read here and add it to other perspectives including your own present view of the matter. I’m doing the same, reading, discussing, even arguing, and gradually changing my opinions of what I am seeing.

We may never fully understand what we are seeing but as “rational creatures” we are doomed to forever be trying to interpret the images revolving before us. We cannot NOT do so. But we can do so with the understanding that our view is only one of many views and with that understanding we can have the humility to allow others to hold opposing views while we collectively attempt to arrive at a consensus.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Oh Shucks!

by Jim Rapp

When God said, “Let There Be!”
Matter rushed so quick to be
that all the universe became a sea
of clay the likes of you and me.

“Shucks!” said God, “Now how can we
make this swirling clayey sea
reveal, reflectively,
the Triune face of we?”

Then spoke a voice so wee,
a clod from farthest far eternity:
“Master, though besmudged we be,
we’d like to show the likes of thee.”

The Human Malady

by Jim Rapp

Desiring what isn’t paid for
may be the second “root of all evil”;
 “love of money” being nothing more
than a new name for “civil”.

Begging for a handout isn’t just a fault
of those with nothing they can pay;
as often, those with bulging vaults
are raking unearned pelf their way.

The over-charging lawyer; the underpaying pimp
really play the same game;
The million dollar “ministry”; the town skimp –
Just twins, with a different name.

A tax exemption or a disability allotment –
each a good (or bad) public policy –
is nonetheless an unpaid “got-ment”,
compliments of a taxpaying citizenry.

The rich begrudge a bowl of porridge,
the poor resent a life of ease,
unwilling, each, to bridge
the gulf of mutual oblige.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Against Blind Intolerance of Islam

by Jim Rapp

“. . .let the one who has never sinned
throw the first stone!” John 8:7 (NLT)

The only religion Jesus criticized
was the one he honored
by his faithful attendance
at the synagogue.

So why have you, his followers, politicized,
yes, with Satan, cosponsored
a relentless campaign of discordance,
against another’s god?

Is there not plank enough in your eyes –
sin enough in you to be deplored –
without proclaiming your intolerance
of another’s god?

Was it hateful diatribes that seized
your heart and mind, or
love and grace, a preponderance
of the love of God?

You are not called to demonize,
but to evangelize, to open doors,
to show through your long sufferance
the saving love of God.

Your “enemy” is not to be despised,
demonized, ridiculed or
destroyed, but – surprise – romanced
into the kingdom of God.

The Prophet in the Wilderness – Marilynne Robinson

by Jim Rapp
Meanwhile, the messenger who had gone off to
summon Micaiah advised him, "Look, everything
that the other prophets were saying was unanimously
favorable to the king. So please, cooperate with them
and speak favorably." 
            (1Ki 22:13 International Standard Version)

So should the prophet speak according to her lights
or according to the “lights” of those,
who, fearing controversy – to avoid a fight –
silence those who know, and know they know?

Micaiah spent some time on stale bread and water
for sharing with king Ahab  his lights.
Though coached in advance – told the words he should utter –
he laid out the hard truth in plain sight.

All should read a book by Marilynne Robinson:
The Death of Adam; a strong critique
of Darwinian thought, 1 a prophet’s orison,
a prayer that Adam will come awake,

shake off the spell that Darwinian prophets cast,
a God defying, God denying,
death-dealing doctrine of survival of the best
which rapes the earth and leaves it dying.

With poetic power the prophet loudly cries.
Four hundred hundred, her words defy,
who dance and pipe the “established truth”, Satan’s lie:
“Eat this fruit; it will not make you die.”
______________________
1Robinson does not deny scientific evolution, nor
does she subscribe to a young earth theory. But
she sees as pernicious – even fatal to the human
race – the social, political, and environmental
uses of the doctrine of survival of the fittest.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sliding Into Heaven

by Jim Rapp

He said, “I trust, by grace, I’ll make it in.”
 “By grease?” she heard him say.
“Ah yes,” he laughed, “I’ll bring along a tin
of that – to slick the way.”

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

To Everything A Season

(A Haiku)
by Jim Rapp

Summer’s end gives fall
a reason – August-ripened
grain is arsenaled.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Perverting a Good Thing

                             by Jim Rapp

(However the Wisdom that comes from above is first of all pure, then peace-loving, gentle, willing to yield, full of compassion and good deeds and without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.)
Jas. 3:17

People who speak self-servingly –
        Performers speaking obscenely,
        Poets speaking obliquely,
        Politicians speaking misleadingly,
        Power speaking arrogantly,
        Pornographers speaking indecently,
        Panderers speaking beguilingly,
        Professors speaking haughtily,
        Preachers speaking timidly,
        Provocateurs speaking irresponsibly 
        Purveyors speaking deceptively,
        Profiteers speaking clandestinely,
        Prognosticators speaking unremittingly,
        Patricians speaking condescendingly,
        Peasants speaking envyingly –
Pervert the potential of speech.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Sunday, July 27, 2014

resumé

by Jim Rapp

no connection to
the mighty,
the well known,
the respected,
the wealthy

only twice perhaps
in the home
of a leader
and then to be
scrutinized, criticized

hung out with
tax collectors,
law breakers,
prostitutes,
and malefactors

born,
raised,
lived,
died,
indigent

seeks position
on earth –
as in heaven –
as King of Kings;
Lord of  Lords

Thursday, July 24, 2014

What Is The Cost of a Burger?

by Jim Rapp

Mr. Bitman of the NYT
and his intern David Prentice
are trying to make us see
the cost of burger in practice.

“Price is not cost,” says Bitman,
as any sensible eater can see.
Price, is a mere trifle, a sham;
is to cost as puddle to sea.

Price is the cost that the eater,
thoughtlessly gnawing his fare,
imagines equal to the burger
consumed without fanfare or flair.

But to know the true cost of a thing
one need only consider what’s lost;
in the case of the burger what’s missing
is the life of the bull who bore the cost.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Righting of the Costa Concordia

by Jim Rapp
 
The “gleaming beauty” is aright again
slowly plying for the scrap heap
her rusting form justly linked in sin
with her faithless Captain’s creep
to safety masquerading in
a woman’s dress as women leapt
to certain death who could not swim.

A Rainy July Morning

(A Haiku Trio)
by Jim Rapp

You do all things well.
I’d rather watch Your rainfall
trace a window scene

than be a drudge, spell-
bound; a mental slave, enthrall
to a T.V. screen.

You do all things well;
Your faithful raindrops all
rush to make the scene.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Wrecking Your Chances

by Jim Rapp

Never write a poem when you are this tired,
it is bound to turn out badly, thus
wrecking any chance you could be hired
as the next laureate of the U.S.

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Gospel Haiku Quartet

by Jim Rapp

The Son is saying
“Come, trust in me, and be
reconciled to God.”

For God so loved the
world that he gave his only
Son to die for it.

The Son came not to
condemn the world but that through
Him it could be saved.

All who call on His
name, and put their trust in Him,
have eternal life.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Adjectives Are For Poets . . . Uh, Poor Poets


by Jim Rapp

Authors writing papers with which to “snow”
a simple-minded reader,
news writers determined to make a show –
a “ratings” catcher,
are free to visit the website, “Adjectives to Go”.
But any serious writer –
poets excepted – they’re uniquely in the know –
prefers a solid “doer”,
a truth-full noun or verb without a single bell or bow.

 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Shredding (1952 - 2014)

by Jim Rapp

I’ve been shredding the past,
tax returns from ‘fifty-two,
letters to and from a cast
of characters I knew
in days now dim with age,
receipts and cancelled checks,
attempts to play the sage.
Yellowed pages bow their necks
to the modern guillotine,
filling bag after bulging bag,
soon to be bleached clean,
recycled into pulpy slag.

I’ve been shredding decades of blessings,
memories sweet, and bitter sorrows;
shredding to avert the guessings
of some guessers some tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

kids again


(a haiku quartet)

our teacher gave us
flower seeds to plant today;
are we kids again?

all over fifty
yet we’ll do as we are told;
‘cuz we’re kids again.

we will plant the seeds,
watch them grow, and be amazed
like we’re kids again.

parables unfold
as each seed sprouts and teaches
God’s old kids again

Friday, May 9, 2014

An Overblown Storm

They promised us more,
promised that severe weather
would be coming in.

Just one thunder thump
and a few rain drops are all
they could squeeze from it.

For a storm lover
it was a severe let down,
a teapot tempest.

 

 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Our Final Resting Place


(Haiku Musings)
 
Moving on, seeking
our final resting place – we’re
partial to East Ridge.
 
I know, I know, it
sounds like a cemetery –
you know, like East Lawn.
 
Tired of ownership
we’re moving on with lighter
step, or will be soon.
 
Right now we’re sorting,
packing for a move, a sale,
and give-a-ways too.
 
We end each day with
heavy steps and aching bones,
taking strength, on loan
 
from younger men, who
bound where we can merely creep,
lift what age cannot.
 
We’ll get to East Ridge,
our final resting place here
on this weary earth,
 
And as for East Lawn,
we’ll skip it all together –
ashes to ashes, we.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Simple Faith

(A Haiku)
by Jim Rapp

They chide simple faith
but faith that isn’t simple
isn’t faith at all.

He Is Risen! Why Do You Seek The Living Among The Dead?

An Easter Haiku   
by Jim Rapp      

Our Lord is risen
Against all hope He conquered
death so we could live

Sunday, April 6, 2014

April Snowstorm

by Jim Rapp

As quickly as you came, you started melting.
Just as I began to worry how the robins, chirping
in the snow-clad pine, would find they daily bread
you melted, leaving branches bare instead. 

Enough’s enough, my snowy April friend.
Don’t be telling sister May that she should send
another storm to make our pine tree groan
and robins seek another place to call their home.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

That You Are There

by Jim Rapp

That you are there,
a Morning Sun
to warm a waking world –
waking cold,
a Covert from the wind,
a Cottage on the Moor,
a Hand to reach to,
an Arm to lean upon,
an over-eaving Beech Tree
giving shade
in which to rest,
a Dulcimer Song
that lifts my weary soul,
an Ayin Spring at which
to quench my thirst,
a Ruby Sunset
curtaining –
covering –
closing out
a day of heavy toil,
a Quieting Presence
in the darkness.

That you are there,
that you are there
is all I need to know.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Some Things Your Church May Not Be Telling You


It isn’t just the Evangelical community – often associated in the popular press with Tea Party ideas – that holds latent animosity toward the poor. I’ve heard pastors and laypersons from “mainline” churches using the same code language as their evangelical and fundamentalist brethren when expressing their disdain for Progressivism or Liberalism. And it must be said that the same animosity is widespread in the community at large, whether those speaking are church affiliated on not. The poor are too often the target of such contempt; the whipping boys of popular discourse, welfare cheats, lazy moochers with their hands out, those unwilling to do better or to be better. It has amused me for years (a wry amusement) that Christians recognize the poor of Jesus’ day as deserving of assistance, and they will send thousands of dollars to foreign lands to assist the poor there, but stoutly resist paying one dime more in taxes to support the poor in our own communities. 
 
No doubt the reason much of the evangelical community has embraced the Republican Party stems from the church’s belief that the Republicans share their Biblical understandings regarding marriage, the sanctity of life, and ideas peripheral to their long-held beliefs regarding these issues. The Republican party, eager to have the church on its side, has encouraged the belief that it is the champion and protector of the church’s sacred trusts.  I believe the church’s right to maintain its core doctrinal beliefs must be protected (is already Constitutionally protected) except in certain dire life and death situations. 
 
However, since its inception, the church universal has encouraged attitudes toward the poor that are in essential harmony with the principles that guide liberalism and, in our day, inform many of the social policies advocated by the Democratic Party. In previous eras, evangelical Christians were in the vanguard of liberal movements on behalf of the poor, mentally ill, imprisoned, dispossessed, and disadvantaged.  Note that I did not say that the leadership or the laity of the church at any particular time responded sympathetically to the needs of the poor and disadvantaged. Even in historic moments of liberal enthusiasm, it was often key laypersons who, at great personal sacrifice, rallied the church in opposition to the wishes of the clergy, calling the church to honor the Biblical injunctions about the care of the needy.  
 
And that is the point of this essay. There are certain things that many Christians will never hear discussed or assented to in their Christian church because, in our day, the evangelical church is essentially a tool of the Republican Party. (In the last election eighty percent of evangelical Christians voted for Mitt Romney, a Mormon, rather than for an acknowledged Christian believer, Barack Obama.) 
 
You will seldom – perhaps never – hear your Pastor or church leadership tell you: 
 
1)      “our church isn’t capable of meeting the needs, of its own members; they need to be encouraged to look to the government for additional assistance, especially for long-term problems.”
 
a)      rather you will hear, too often, that if Christians will practice generosity in giving, all the needs of the congregation can be met. Perhaps, but only if the demographics of the congregation meets certain very specific criteria – plenty of well-off members associated with the church, and few of the desperately needy. (In reality one or two very needy families could stretch the voluntary generosity of a relatively large and affluent congregation to the breaking point. And no church I know of is capable of providing comprehensive, indefinite support for those in need of life-long assistance. I am not aware of a church that budgets specifically for the care of the needy, either in their congregation or outside of it. Periodic one-off campaigns may be mounted to raise off-budget moneys for special needs.) 
 
b)      or you may hear that the church, in conjunction with other community charitable organizations can meet the needs of the poor without the necessity of “big” government programs. Again the demographics of the community would need to be very favorable and the generosity of the community exponentially enhanced over current levels. 
 
c)      or you may hear that, in reality, there are very few families or individuals who are truly needy, who are incapable of improving their lot if they would only accept a little help and then exercise the same initiative all the successful people in the community do. 
 
d)     or you may hear that the needs of the poor could be taken care of if the families of the needy would step forward and do their duty in caring for them. “Charity begins at home.” “He who does not care for his own is worse than an infidel.” 
 
2)      You will seldom be told that a significant share of every congregation falls into one or more of the following categories, dependent upon government programs for some portion of their financial and/or physical wellbeing: 
 
a)      children of church members or attendees are receiving free or reduced lunches at school
b)      families associated with the church are receiving food stamps or WIK assistance
c)      some families are visiting food kitchens partially supplied by government surplus items
d)     family members are attending colleges and technical schools on government scholarships or with government guaranteed and subsidized loans
e)      children are enrolled in religious charter schools using government supplied scholarships
f)       developmentally disabled children and adults are receiving SSI payments and Medicaid assistance
g)      Families have their medical needs met through  Badger Care
h)      elderly members are living in low income government subsidized housing
i)        elderly parents have exhausted all their life’s savings and other resources and are now being cared for by the state using Medicaid funds.
j)        Individuals and families are receiving regular medical care for the first time in their lives through the ACA (Obamacare)
k)      businesses owned and/or operated by church members benefit from tax relief or tax credits specially targeted to help them succeed
l)        businesses owned and/or operated by church members have employees whose compensation is so low that they qualify to receive food stamps, Badger Care, Obamacare, or free or partially paid school lunches for their children 
 
So why the silence about these embarrassing facts? (Why should they be embarrassing facts?) 
 
I believe it is because the church has been essentially co-opted by the Republican Party; that it dares not venture away from the Party’s anti-Christian stance on government assistance to the poor. And any shame the church might feel when considering the facts listed above is also the result of having imbibed the Republican elixir that such conditions only exist where liberalism has run rampant.  Even though the Bible, which the church correctly quotes on the issues of great importance to it – marriage and sanctity of life – is filled from cover to cover with admonitions to support the poor, and warnings of the dire consequences of neglecting to do so, the church has chosen, at best, to resist the most powerful tool at our society’s disposal to assist the poor or, at worst, to join in the chorus of those demeaning them. 
 
There is a better way, and that is for Christians, and the church in general, to divorce themselves from any particular political party and begin to select policies to support that are consistent with Biblical teachings regarding the issues being debated in our society. That will allow the church to be pro family, pro marriage, pro life, AND compassionate toward the poor. For too long it has been muzzled in the area of compassion for the weak and poor among us by its perceived need to hew to the Republican line.
 
By standing outside of partisan politics, neither wearing their colors or waving their flag, the church can put pressure on all parties to enact legislation that helps, in a small way, to accomplish the will of God “on earth as it is in heaven.” You might even hear some day, a churchman suggesting that the taxes paid to support the needs of the downtrodden in our society helps to fulfill the Christian’s obligation to feed and clothe the poor, to provide for the sick and to minister to those in prison. You might even hear some day, a churchman suggest that raising the minimum wage is a small gesture that our society can make toward improving the lives of our poorest citizens. You might even hear a churchman argue in favor of allowing workers to bargain collectively with their employers so as to give them power equal to that of the moneyed interests for whom they work. You might hear a churchman argue that government programs that assist the poor are a way that Christians can meet needs in our society that are beyond the means of the local church or individual charity. 
 
But the church can never authentically make those arguments while captive to EITHER party. Its voice will always be suspect as long as it allies itself to one or the other party. Only when it speaks as the prophet of God; only when its authority rests on its own Biblical underpinnings, will it begin to be that prophetic voice that God placed it in the world to be; the salt and light that Jesus said it would be.
 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

spring thaw

by jim rapp
(a haiku)

mounds that last week gleamed
in virgin purity show
gritty undersides

Monday, March 10, 2014

Let There Be Light

by Jim Rapp
 
While growing old, Lord,
I need especially to
see the brighter side

Eyes grown dim are prone
to see all things in shades of
gray, or worse, in black

Foresee my need; shine
a brighter light on things my
dull perception hides

Let there be light, sun
by day and moon by night, to
compensate my lack.



 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Gallup-ing In Circles


by Jim Rapp

Gallup tells us what we think,
believe, or hope, or plan
and so that is what we think,
believe, and hope, and plan
so when Gallup asks us
what we think,
believe, and hope, and plan
it is no surprise to read
that Gallup finds that this
is what we think,
believe, and hope and plan.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Not News

(A Haiku Quartet)
by Jim Rapp

Today we got some
“Not news”. On days without news
we’re given “Not news.”

No private e-mail
system in the governor’s
office.” Headline news!

Pseudo-news! No doubt
the newsroom is layered with
pseudo pseudo news

When nothing happens
print it. Pseudo happenings
are as good as gold

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Four (or Five) Haiku Proverbs

by Jim Rapp

Wisdom outweighs “smarts”
Taken apart, wisdom is
gold, “smarts” rusting tin

Wisdom, eternal,
witnesses the parade of
“facts” quickly fading

Time, judge of all things
peels away the thin veneer –
callous revealer

Today’s swagger is
tomorrow’s embarrassment,
tomorrow’s disgrace

Wisdom outweighs “smarts”
Taken, apart, wisdom is
gold, “smarts” rusting tin

Monday, February 17, 2014

He Comes

(A Haiku Quartet)
by Jim Rapp

He will not consent
to be crammed into any
hostile place – He comes

When the darkness “ruled”
the deep, His Spirit came and
hovered over it

Earth shook its iron-mailed
fist at Him and so He came,
a helpless infant.

He came to His own
and they would not receive him.
but to those who would . . .

Thursday, February 13, 2014

This Day

(A Haiku)
by Jim Rapp

This day I rise, a
grace-saved sinner – may this day
be a grace-shared day

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

In Memoriam

         A Haiku for Lola
                      by Jim Rapp
In Memory of Lola (Nichols) Swanson
(Jan. 10, 1931-Feb. 5, 2014)

Loving memories
Of one whose gentle Laughter
Always brought us joy

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Haiku for Sinners

by Jim Rapp

Caught in the act, bare-
naked – clothed again in Grace
that says, “Sin no more.”

Thursday, February 6, 2014

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Card

by Jim Rapp

Christmas cards – old-fashioned Christmas Cards
Depicting snowy roads – high-banked snowy roads
Are getting scarce – the paper kind we used to get are
Seldom sent these days – replaced by e-mail overload

But God – the maker of all things, especially Christmas
Has made, this year – at least up here where snow
Defines – is the very essence of Wisconsin Christmas-card-ness
A living – a drive-through, living Christmas show

The streets – the lawns, the fields, the whole wide world is white
The oaks – the elms, the ash lift snow-clad arms to heaven  
The pines – their branches laden with their diamond freight, fight
The wind – the thieving wind, to keep the gift that they’ve been given

And I, a child again – a simple snow adoring child again
Am awed that God – who surely has a thousand other climes to deck
Would stop – would lay aside His work and go to pains
To paint for me – a Christmas Card . . .yes, for me alone, I reck