Tuesday, January 31, 2017
by Jim Rapp
A friend related her encounter,
awaking at night to find
Jesus' piercing gaze affixed on her.
"What the heck!" she greeted him,
then closed her eyes tight shut.
Reopening she found herself alone again.
"Now why did I say that?" she asked.
She'd blinked and lost her fleeting chance
to utter something memorable at last.
Had she offended Jesus, standing at her door;
squandered, once for all, her opportunity;
shown herself a bumbling fool . . . or
had Jesus, delighted, turned his glance
to spare her from his joyful burst
of laughter at her fumbled eloquence?
Monday, January 30, 2017
by Jim Rapp
(Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God
but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had
done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that,
but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose
for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end
up with a corpse on your hands?)
James 2:19, 20 The Message translation
An acquaintance sends me e-mails –
almost daily sends me these mails –
intended to puff those they hail
as saints, even though it entails
blind acceptance of profligate males –
and even a few profligate females –
whose morals, on public display, assail
Christian sensitivities; their unrepentant trails –
serial trails – of adultery and infidelity fail
all tests of Christian morality and nail
any claims of such piety to the rail.
"Trump's Christian Cabinet" – Ha! It assails
all logic, all evidence; it disavails
truth, proffering "alternate truth" to flail
in its place – Alt-truth – a frail
reed which will crumble and fail
any who confidently lean on it, and retail
it in the misguided hope it will prevail.
Trump's cabinet Christian? Wholesale?
Though it's leader and members fail
to grasp, or at least display, it holiest Grail –
"Love your neighbor as yourself and fail
not to love God"? They claim to sail
in Christian waters, and make appeals,
to some Christian values, but recall:
"Even demons believe," but they all
tremble at what they believe; these all –
Trumps cabinet of believers – all grovel
at Trump's altar and like him, you'll recall,
confess sinning to no one at all.
Sunday, January 29, 2017
by Jim Rapp
Then he will say . . . get away
from me . . . I was a stranger
and you didn't welcome me.
(Matt. 25:41 . . . 43)
Get away from me!
His words –
away from his
of the stranger
I was a stranger
to his own –
"knew him not."
You didn't welcome me
Seeing what they
the homeless and hungry,
the thirsty, tattered and sick,
the unfairly imprisoned,
to be dangerous drifters
they turned away
the creator and
judge of their souls.
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
by Jim Rapp
Something there is
that cannot abide
Everything of worth
Wise words –
considered thoughts –
Written words –
mankind's jewels –
Heroic words –
true words –
are its bane
corrupting words –
alternative facts –
alternative truth –
just wind –
will not always
Saturday, January 21, 2017
Want to have some fun? Pull together a group of people who are willing to share two or three phrases their mother or father often quoted. My mother, for example, would remind her caught-red-handed-guilty child, "Be sure your sins will find you out." Or when I, or one of my siblings, did something particularly dumb she would say, "You don't have the brains God gave a goose."
Perhaps the All-American, Grand Champion admonition is "Use some common sense." If you grew up without being given that advice you are a rare bird indeed.
The idea of "common sense" is as old as our country. It came to us through Scottish ancestors who strongly believed that there was an innate ability in humans to know right from wrong, smart from dumb, practical from impractical, profitable from unprofitable, true from false. The idea of Common Sense Realism is very likely the source of Jefferson's famous phrase "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." And I've been reminded that Thomas Paine's famous, and inflammatory essay was entitled, Common Sense.
The alternative to common sense is the belief that important knowledge is the preserve of an elite few to whom we turn when we are in need of special understanding and guidance. Americans have always been partial to the idea that the common man (or woman) using common sense is equal to any challenge. The creators of the U.S. Constitution had such faith in the common man that they kept all offices of government open to all citizens with no educational or professional restrictions at all. If you were a specified age and a bone fide citizen you could run for and serve in any office of the land including the Supreme Court. (It needs to be noted however that in most states at the time our nation was formed a "citizen" was a white, male, Christian, 21 years old or older, who owned a specified amount of real property. The majority of common men and women were excluded.)
Another indication of our trust in the common man, and his common sense, is our use of a jury of peers to decide matters of law and even matters involving life and death.
But how far are we willing to carry this idea of common sense? We see that our founders limited it, in the case of voting, to an exclusive group. Are there classes of people whose judgment we are unwilling to place equal to our own? Do Democrats trust the common sense of Republicans? Do Republicans grant wisdom to the ideas of Democrats? Is there a common sense that draws people of different religious faith into harmony and trust? Do Christians trust the common understandings of Muslims and vise versa? Can we trust the common sense ideas we encounter on the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, etc. to guide us in important aspects of our lives?
When does common sense make sense and when is it merely nonsense?
I'm not going to answer that question but I invite you to think about it. It seems obvious to me that, despite our profession of belief in the wisdom of the common man and our declared trust in his common sense, we frequently are reluctant to commit ourselves to anyone's common sense but our own. And in really important matters we seek, not the common man, but someone who has an uncommon sense of what is true and wise and practical; a specialist.
Thursday, January 12, 2017
Note: today, January 12, 2017 the U.S. Senate started the process
of repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
by Jim Rapp
Compassion labored shaping a tall-storied glory
that jealousy destroyed, story by story.
Outshone, outmatched in vision and skill
hate declared it a "castle" that envy would kill.
Compassion built the castle and could build again –
but hatred's skills work only to maim;
to frantically rip all beauty to shreds
leaving nothing to stand in its stead.
Wielding only its wrecker's tools
hate pledged – the pledge of a fool –
to build, using it's tools of destruction,
a castle, it said, of better construction.
The haters have started; with no print,
no vision, no skills: they're bent –
hell-bent – on making dry sand into
castles, which even real artists can't do.
But evil won't always hold sway.
Compassion's admirers, one day,
will build his castle anew, and when
goons trash it, they'll build again –
and again and again.
Wednesday, January 4, 2017
by Jim Rapp
I meant no harm,
I'd simply said,
"Have a good day."
But from another room
I heard instead
an angry someone say,
"Who the blankity blank
gives you the right to say
what kind of day we'll have?"
I admit, I'd been out-flanked;
it was not mine, their day
to judge, to order or to fave.
Only the perfect have a right
to tell another what they must
or mustn't do, should or shouldn't be.
The rest of us imperfects might –
when ask – make brave to thrust
a judgment forth, but very gingerly.