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Friends, I discovered this poem this morning by one of my favorite poets.  It declares hope in the midst of the powers of this world. On this Good Friday, as we inch nearer to the hope of the resurrection, may this be a reminder of the power of death that has wrecked this world and the small ways in which we can produce change.

“Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”
by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

“Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” from The Country of Marriage, copyright ® 1973 by Wendell Berry, reprinted by permission of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.

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Several people have asked me if I have any copies of my poetry recorded.  I’d love to have more, but as of yet, I do have a few.  My next few posts will feature music I recorded a few years back with my buddy Ross Stratton in Ft. Wayne, IN.

This first poem is is an exploration of Genesis 1 and 2.

Creation to Conversation

Enjoy!

 

“Psalm 139”

Posted: 09/10/2013 in Uncategorized

The first time she ever spoke those words,
They flew
From the tip of her tongue like birds
And they rested, nested
In the backside of her mind

15 years she’s been blind
By the ways she’d been slandered
Redesigned and Defined
By societal standards
Gerrymandering beauty to fit an ideal
Photo-shopped to the top
Not resembling real

She would feel all the weight
As she waits on the scale
Cuz the more that she weighed,
Well, the more that she failed
She inhaled expectations
And exhaled all her worth
Breathing lies into life
Like God breathed life to earth

And it worked as the boys began giving attention
Tried to make her feel loved, never mind their intentions
Not to mention the tension she felt in her heart
As the eyes of the guys would dissect her apart
They’d surround her like sharks
In an ocean, alone
All her dark felt so dark
Never knowing… or known

And the cycle went on
Spinning round like a record
From the wings of the dawn
To her past that’s been checkered

Skin scratched like vinyl
Soul scarred with shame
Discarded like the dust
From whence she came

But these words, they fell
Like raindrops on a desert flower
And lay down in the stem
Absorbing their power
She devoured each syllable
That hung from her lips
As she tasted the fruits
Of an intimate kiss

This was unlike the ways
She’d been looked at before
She was seen as herself
Nothing less, nothing more

It’s frightening to be known
Cuz it means they can bruise you
Confiscate your desires
To misuse or abuse you
Reach down to your soul
And then wholly refuse you

To be seen, unformed, the most vulnerable state
Yet to know I am fearfully, wonderfully made

And your thoughts can’t be counted
Your wisdom surmounted
Or all your judgments clouded
How could I have doubted

That you were the one
Who could see, feel, and hear it
So where can I possible go from your spirit?
Where can I flee from your almighty presence?
You’re there at the top of the stairway to heaven
You meet me alongside the gateway of hell
You find me and bind me wherever I dwell

And these words, they have fluttered
From head to the heart
And they’ve perched as you’ve searched
And unearthed every part

I could look through the books
Of the world’s greatest scholars
Spend the rest of my life
And the last of my dollars
I could search the whole universe
Far as could be
But I never could find God
Til I found God, in me

This is a poem I wrote about an experience I often had while in Israel.  Whenever I traveled from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, I would have to go through a checkpoint to pass through the Israeli wall.  While crossing, I was often a witness to prejudice and violence as Palestinian civilians attempted to pass from one side to the other.  I want to make very clear that in writing this poem, I am not attempting to stand on the side of a politic.  I would not consider myself either pro-Israel or pro-Palestine, for I believe that people on all sides have been oppressed.  This is just one sample of my experiences, and please keep that in consideration.

“The Peace of Jerusalem”

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem
Six words hand painted on a rock outside an empty tomb
Six miles away, where an infant once lay by an inn without any room
I stand by a wall, 30 feet tall
And wonder what Joshua’d think of it all
Would he blast the trumpets, sound the call
And march until the checkpoints fall
Like Babylon, like Jericho
The victors reap just what they sow
The seeds of violence and hell
Harvested now by Israel?

No, not today
The judgment waits
And power stays
Along this gate

I stand in line, passport in hand
American
As if my daddy owned this land
As if my skin was greater than
As if their blood was on my hands
And so I stand

Checkpoint-ed
Anointed as witness of sin
To watch the abuse as I walk right in

Pat downs, reach arounds,
On the ground, not a sound
Fingerprints, passport
Discrimination into sport

Take off your turban
Take off your shoes
Strip down to nothing
With nothing to lose
And yet nothing’s to gain
When there’s nothing but shame
So just play by the rules
Cuz they made up the game

No, you can’t plead your case
With that look on your face
They can tell by your race
That you’re in the wrong place

Teenagers taught hatred
With the authority of guns
The birthright of all the chosen ones
But they are just sons and daughters made to
Hold a gun, hold the line at the government’s cue
Somehow I doubt that they even knew
But it’s something like fear that’ll do that to you

Well, you can plant a flag
But you can’t take control
You’re only achievement is in making a hole
That makes way for the underground
Where the silenced bring sounds
And where chains are unbound
And where lowly are crowned
And where hope it confounds

Because it doesn’t make sense
When the violence
Isn’t returned by self-defense
But by actions of beauty
To sing and to paint
Is their call of duty

Art is the gun and the pen ammunition
Graffitied resistance on concrete partitions
Even stones cry out for their own demolition
In such hostile conditions, there will come a day
When actions will rise from the words that they say
If not revolution, then time will decay
Yet, six miles away, there is hope about to bloom
Six words hand painted on a rock outside an empty tomb
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem

This is a prayer that I wrote and shared for Veteran’s Day at Concord UMC this morning.  Please pray this with me.

Lord,

 You have given us these veterans as examples of commitment. They have forsaken so much in their lives – distance from families, friends, communities, going wherever they were sent. Some of these men and women, you have delivered from the scourge of war and some through times of peace.  May those whose bodies, spirits, and memories have been scarred by the agonies of war be reconciled to each other, to their enemies, and to you. Their commitments of service do not go unnoticed.  May they know today that they are cherished, forgiven, and loved by You and by those here among us in this church. Grant them peace of mind and heart that they may become peacemakers in all they do as they now serve as leaders in our community and in our church. Remind us also of the many veterans in our country who suffer addictions, PTSD, and live homeless, hungry, and tired.  Teach us to care for these veterans as we would unto you.

 We pray for those who serve in the military now, especially for those in harm’s way.  Be with their families – mothers, fathers, siblings, children – who anxiously await their return. Shield these young men and women from danger and bring them home.

 We pray for the soldiers of our enemies – men and women just like us. Grant them safety, wholeness, and peace.  May we remember that these are our brothers and sisters, who bleed when they are wounded, whose hearts break in sorrow.

For those who have experienced the pain and loss of a loved one not returning home from the devastation of war, we mourn with you today.  Great God of Comfort, draw near to the brokenhearted. In their loss, may we hope together for the good news that this life is not the end.

We pray for the innocent victims of terrorism and warfare – civilians who have lost their homes, families and lives. We mourn their losses and hope that they may one day live in peace, without fear of harm or suffering.  Remind us here today of our calling to care for the oppressed, the orphan, the refugee, and the widow.

 For those who have yet been untouched by the agonies of war, may you continually be granted the gifts of freedom and peace.

Lord, we long for the day when all will be reconciled unto you – when there will be no more tears, no more pain, and no more war.  We believe that all this will come by the power of the Father, through the mercy of Christ, and in the love and peace of the Holy Spirit.

 And all God’s people proclaimed with one voice: Amen.

In posting these, I make no attempts to judge or to, in any way, minimize the tragedies of 9/11 and all of our contemporary wars.  I have simply been scouring the Scriptures for God’s truth and seeking His heart on the matter.  I realize that this list is not exhaustive, but these are verses that I believe cannot be ignored in light of all the events occurring in our world.

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17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

– Romans 12:17-21

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17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls;
when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice,

– Proverbs 24:17

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43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

– Matthew 5:43-48

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11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’

– Ezekiel 33:11

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I was having a conversation today with Webster and Dr. Jones (not a real MD) today about the greatest band names of all time.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot today, so I decided to just go through my iTunes and alphabetically list the best band names for each letter of the alphabet. Now, I can’t speak for all bands out there, cuz these are only the ones I had on my iTunes. Some of the names I chose because they were just sweet, and others I chose because they were completely ridiculous. It’s a pretty simple premise, but I had fun with it. If you disagree or have others you’d like to add, post them in the comments.  Enjoy!

Audio Adrenaline

The Butthole Surfers

Cage the Elephant

Death Cab for Cutie

Eagle Eye Cherry

Future of Forestry

The Gaslight Anthem

Horse Feathers

Iron and Wine

Jimmy Eat World

K.C. and the Sunshine Band

Lifehouse

Meatloaf

Neon Trees

Old Crow Medicine Show

Panic! At the Disco

Queen

Raft of Dead Monkeys

Soundgarden

Third Eye Blind

U2

Vampire Weekend

The Wallflowers

(no X’s)  Seriously, no good band name starts with X.

Young the Giant

Zero 7