Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement

1/29/08

Robert Louis Stevenson and The Beginning of Words

Few writers impact a writer like those of youth. From the ones we first hear on our mother's breath, we learn diction, phrasing variance, rhyme, rhythm, story and style. Plots may be less complicated, but the internalization of language is wrought.

Robert Louis Stevenson's book of poetry, "A Child's Garden of Verses," is that. More famous for "Treasure Island," Stevenson captured for me the daydreams of a young boy. He was long gone (1850-1894), and I only entered the world where poetry was written in 1966, but when is a boy not a boy? The 72 years between us were not so much.

70 of his 102 words below are unique. Some British words, images which are no longer modern, and yet, who has not laid sick in bed, with toys all around? 'Counterpane' rarely comes into use for me, but I know, somewhere, is its land. I have been there on excursions many times.

The Land of Counterpane
Robert Louis Stevenson

When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay
To keep me happy all the day.

And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills;

And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
All up and down among the sheets;
Or brought my trees and houses out,
And planted cities all about.

I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane.

http://www.bartleby.com/188/index1.html

A Horsefly Meets His End (a poem)

A Horsefly Meets His End
Anthony Trendl

Ne'er met a horsefly that I think I liked.
Nor such a horsefly was e'er so fond of me.
Buzz, he would, swat I would,
and thus our dance would be.
'Round the barn, 'round the pond
Past a broken shed--
Why is this fly so fond of me?
Not a question now,
I've swatted, and the fly is dead.

hear me read this poem, complete with a genuine imitation horsefly

1/27/08

Happy Birthday This Good Morning

For you, for all, whomever's birthday* this is:

Good morning on this most morning of days, the celebration of your birthday.

In the morning, there is a fresh air, the kind which is never found in the afternoon. Flooded with goodness, flooded with grace, mornings put an end to sleep, to darkness and to previous things. Birthdays are the counting of mornings accumulated thus far, and joyously agreeing that our Jesus has loved you, is loving you, and will love you.

Better than evening in a meadow, morning air invigorates as it presents the life of the day. The Lord, whose Spirit is the freshest of all air, is the eternal morning. It is the Lord who created, who breathed life into a nonexistent world, who lifted Adam from dust, and who brought His Son back from the deadest place. It is the Lord who will be there to welcome us in Heaven, now, or later, but He has for us a beautiful place where no darkness exists.

Good morning, because morning is good. God created the beginning, and was there when it began, the birth of all that is created. He saw that what He made was good. He called for light, and light there was, the first morning, the birthday of time. Good. All God creates is good.

Good morning, too, as this is the day the Lord has made. All days He has made, and with each a good morning. Good morning, as all days up until this point in your life have been the Lord's, some of which you gave to Him moving forward when you gave to Him your soul and your life on Earth, all of your days. All your birthdays become more precious and blessed since they are no longer applauding your day, but Our Father's good work. So this morning begins with acclamation and cheers.

Good morning, this is, because you are the Lord's, whose love and mercy is new to us every morning. You are His servant, as is your spouse -- you are two who have become one, which, as you are His, this oneness is magnified.

With love, your brother who sees the sun rising always, who knows the Lord's grace, and who knows from whom my help comes from,

Anthony Trendl

* originally prepared for a dear friend who now serves on the mission field in Hungary. He happens to be married, hence references to his spouse.

picture:http://chicagowildernessmag.org

Steven Tyler of Aerosmith Sings Amazing Grace

Steven Tyler of Aerosmith singing Amazing Grace at the Church of Today in Detroit.

While nothing else in Tyler's life suggests a conversion, it is nice to hear his intrepretation.

As songs go, this is more than 'beautiful.' Poignant.

1/24/08

January 25, 2008: Tomorrow: Today: Eternity

Tomorrow. The word is loaded with New Year's Resolution undertones. Smoking gets quit tomorrow, and exercise programs are best begun tomorrow, after adequate rest.

"Tomorrow, tomorrow," sang Little Orphan Annie as her anthem of hope.

What of it?

Tomorrow is not when Jesus Christ comes back. He comes back today. The big question is which today.

When the magnificent today comes, there will be no tomorrow. Not in the same life changing way as any tomorrow can now be. Instead, all things will be eternal.

I will not get lost in eschatology here. That's not my field. And, not my point.

Christ's return is imminent. Soon. Today could be the day.

1/22/08

Politicizing the Life of Children

Everything is political, even the life of a child. Whomever Planned Parenthood supports should cause a shift in perspective. Their choice can no longer hide under the guise of "I wouldn't do it, but support the legal choice of those who do." No, no, no. Not that at all.

In fact, Planned Parenthood is doing pro-life voters a service. They are flushing out candidates they think are the most pro-abortion, and most worthy of their support. It clears things up. While we'll hardly know who is most likely to spare the life of a child the mother does not want, a few of the candidates will be winnowed away.

Remember that Planned Parenthood will not just be looking at the most pro-abortion candidate, but they have donor dollars to think about. Those donating to them do not have bottom-less wallets, but, just like pro-life organizations, like Focus on the Family, have a budget requiring efficiency.

That means the candidates Planned Parenthood supports are the ones who also are viable in a national or other main election. They might give a nod to third tier choices, but the big money and big speeches will go to the person with the skill set and popularity to do the most damage to human life in the womb.

Planned Parenthood to Push Candidacies
Wall Street Journal
By BRODY MULLINS WASHINGTON -- For the first time, abortion-rights advocate Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc. is launching a major effort to elect pro-abortion-rights candidates to Congress and the White House in November.

1/21/08

Bill Cosby's Dentist Routine

Quite possibly the funniest thing ever. Bill Cosby doing his famous Going to the Dentist Routine

Complexity of Man (A Simplistic Response)

While working out today, I wondered what Eric Liddell would be thinking about if he ran on a treadmill in the basement of a big corporation? Would he be thinking about that Microsoft PowerPoint presentation he needs to get back to?

Why not? If that's the pressing concern. Liddell was not a Christian cartoon who only ran with his mind contemplating Psalms. He was a guy who ran fast, and enjoyed this pleasure as from and through God. However, his life extended far beyond running. His biography is another story, but complexity of our heroes intrigues me.

In fact, one of the Psalm writers, King David, was himself complex in both his life and his quality of faith. He managed a population, made hard decisions, sent people to war. Though a man like God's own heart, he also fell guilty of murder, adultery and scamming to get out of both.

Psalm 121 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Psalm 121
A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;

4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;

6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;

8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Martin Luther King Jr. Spoke as a Christian: Letter from a Birmingham Jail

When we think of today's reformers, even the ones espousing the best of ideas, we rarely see candid faith, especially that of a Christian.

Some, like George Bush, claim Christianity, and seems to be, but speaks mostly from the authority of politics, and not Christ. Just is the same with Southern Baptist Bill Clinton.

Jesse Jackson, once under King's wing, speaks in churches regularly, but has only the resolve of a good man, not a godly one. Jackson's faith may be true, but he dodges such focus as owned by his mentor, the late great Martin Luther King Jr.

Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]
LETTER FROM BIRMINGHAM JAIL*

April 16, 1963

MY DEAR FELLOW CLERGYMEN:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statements in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

------- *AUTHOR'S NOTE: This response to a published statement by eight fellow clergymen from Alabama (Bishop C. C. J. Carpenter, Bishop Joseph A. Durick, Rabbi Hilton L. Grafman, Bishop Paul Hardin, Bishop Holan B. Harmon, the Reverend George M. Murray. the Reverend Edward V. Ramage and the Reverend Earl Stallings) was composed under somewhat constricting circumstance. Begun on the margins of the newspaper in which the statement appeared while I was in jail, the letter was continued on scraps of writing paper supplied by a friendly Negro trusty, and concluded on a pad my attorneys were eventually permitted to. leave me. Although the text remains in substance unaltered, I have indulged in the author's prerogative of polishing it for publication. -------

I think I should indicate why I am here In Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against "outsiders coming in." I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty-five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct-action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here I am here because I have organizational ties here.

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I. compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place In Brimingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self- purification; and direct action. We have gone through an these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro .leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good-faith negotiation.

Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham's economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants --- for example, to remove the stores humiliating racial signs. On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttles worth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained.

As in so many past experiences, our hopes bad been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self-purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves : "Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?" "Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?" We decided to schedule our direct-action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic with with-drawl program would be the by-product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.

Then it occurred to us that Birmingham's mayoralty election was coming up in March, and we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day. When we discovered that the Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene "Bull" Connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the run-oat we decided again to postpone action until the day after the run-off so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues. Like many others, we waited to see Mr. Connor defeated, and to this end we endured postponement after postponement. Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct-action program could be delayed no longer.

You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling, for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent-resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.

The purpose of our direct-action program is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved South land been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken .in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: "Why didn't you give the new city administration time to act?" The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor. will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant 'Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

We have waited .for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God- given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we stiff creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging dark of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six- year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you no forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness" then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.

You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may won ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there fire two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the Brat to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all"

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal .law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distort the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an "I- it" relationship for an "I-thou" relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and awful. Paul Tillich said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression 'of man's tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.

Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal.

Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state's segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?

Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.

I hope you are able to ace the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.

We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's anti religious laws.

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fan in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with an its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because his unique God-consciousness and never-ceasing devotion to God's will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber.

I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: "An Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth." Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely rational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this 'hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to 6e solid rock of human dignity.

You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At fist I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I began thinking about the fact that stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency, made up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self-respect and a sense of "somebodiness" that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because in some ways they profit by segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best- known being Elijah Muhammad's Muslim movement. Nourished by the Negro's frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible "devil."

I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the "do-nothingism" of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle.

If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as "rabble-rousers" and "outside agitators" those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black- nationalist ideologies a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or. unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent-up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides-and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: "Get rid of your discontent." Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist.

But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that an men are created equal ..." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we viii be. We be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremist for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime---the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jeans Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need. Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still too few in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some-such as Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs, Ann Braden and Sarah Patton Boyle---have written about our struggle in eloquent and prophetic terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They have languished in filthy, roach-infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of policemen who view them as "dirty nigger lovers." Unlike so many of their moderate brothers and sisters, they have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful "action" antidotes to combat the disease of segregation.

Let me take note of my other major disappointment. I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Of course, there are some notable exceptions. I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some significant stands on this issue. I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand on this past Sunday, in welcoming Negroes to your worship service on a non segregated basis. I commend the Catholic leaders of this state for integrating Spring Hill College several years ago.

But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative .critics who can always find. something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who 'has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of Rio shall lengthen.

When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leader era; an too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows.

In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed.

I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: "Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother." In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious. irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern." And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, on Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.

I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South's beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious-education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: "What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Walleye gave a clarion call for defiance and .hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?"

Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? l am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great- grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

There was a time when the church was very powerful in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators"' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide. and gladiatorial contests.

Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent and often even vocal sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it vi lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom, They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jai with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment.

I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham, ham and all over the nation, because the goal of America k freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America's destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation-and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands.

Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping "order" and "preventing violence." I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if .you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.

It is true that the police have exercised a .degree of discipline in handing the demonstrators. In this sense they have conducted themselves rather "nonviolently" in public. But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: "The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason."

I wish you had commended the Negro sit-inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face Jeering, and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy-two-year-old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: "My fleets is tired, but my soul is at rest." They viii be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience' sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo-Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Never before have I written so long a letter. I'm afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he k alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?

If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.

I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us. all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.


Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,
Martin Luther King, Jr.

source

1/18/08

For God Alone (a poem)

Periodically, I am honored to write for one of the most esteemed and well-read religious magazines in the world, Decision Magazine. Included below is a sample, a poem which I believe is still important today as it was in 2002.

I remember well the context of this poem. 9-11 had just happened, and I saw America's patriotism rising. Many Christians, I felt, were putting our security more in the capacity of our military, and less in the Lord. I also felt that my first citizenship, my only real citizenship, is in Heaven. I was afraid, as great as America is, our reliance on Christ was taking second place.

When asked about my political leanings, I tell them I lean away. I vote, and I try to vote responsibly, but ultimately, do not put my trust in any political office the way I put that trust into God's hands.


For God Alone
by Anthony Trendl
first published in Decision Magazine

For God alone do I step on this dusty land--
My nation is divine, and waiting for me.
In Him alone can I find liberty sweet,
Because of Him alone, I have no condemnation.
The earth, this country, my present home,
Will all give way to crumbling dirt:
No security in country or people will I find,
But Christ alone is freeing, loving, ever kind--
To Him alone myself I bind.

If you are so inclined, consider donating to the Billy Graham Evangelical Association.

Elvis Presley sings "Amazing Grace"

Elvis Presley sings "Amazing Grace."

The Mother of All Matches: Bobby Fischer Goes to War reviewed



If Bobby Fischer's name is affiliated with a book, it comes to reason that there is some amount of weirdness forthcoming. I am not referring to the chess books Fischer wrote, as those are guidelines to chess perfection. This refers to any discussion of his life, which this book does. The world's greatest chess player, Fischer, has lived his personal life much less logically than his life in an eight by eight square cell.

To help the nonchess reader sort out the menagerie, authors David Edmonds and John Eidinow provide a "Dramatis Personae," listing 21 Americans, 24 Soviets, six Icelanders, four match officials, and six sundry others, explaining their relationship to the Reykjavik, Iceland chess match. They also include a short glossary to educate us in the vocabulary of competitive chess.

The book begins with a vital quote by Boris Spassky, "When you play Bobby, it is not a question of whether you win or lose. It is a question of whether you survive. This sets the tone for all that follows.

Edmonds and Eidinow lay out the social mire Fischer was growing up in, and his quick rise to chess dominance.

In 1954, when Fischer was 11, he was attending matches and doing well enough but not at his later prodigy level. In that year, as he is quoted, he "just got good." Modern chess history, or at least for one its most colorful characters, begins then.

1972: Boris Spassky was the champ. He deserved to be there. Bobby Fischer was the contender. He deserved to have the opportunity. Between these two men stood a world of complex politics, money, national pride, idiosyncrasies, and suitors to the game. Reykjavik, Iceland was the location of what has become one of the most legendary chess matches ever, between Spassky and Fischer.

Early on during Fischer's career, he had the same impact Michael Jordan would later enjoy later enjoy as professional basketball player. "Fischer-fear" was the description of some players' psychosomatic illnesses from Fischer's intimidation. Opponents would make mistakes as a result. Fischer had the bravado of Muhammad Ali, but none of his class. He would take this personality and boorish demands to the match.

Boris Spassky is painted differently. A product of the Soviet support system, he became professional about the game. Affable and popular, an opposite to in every way to Fischer, he still had what Fischer lacked -- the title "World Champion."

The bulk of the book moves on from biography and personality profiles. It follows the path the chess culture -- all chaotic in its apparent systemic approach. Going from the need to compete to the actual match turned through every convoluted corner, with Kissinger's involvement, the FBI, the KGB, and as much intrigue as a James Bond movie.

The travails of the match are outlined as needed (but not heavily), highlighting the most interesting parts and never boring nonchess players. The psychology of the players and chess players in general is discussed, as is the history of modern champions, providing a field for tension and a framework for the match.

This was in the midst of the Cold War, and the Soviets -- not just Spassky, owned the chess champ title. Nixon was president. Fischer, the bombastic, arrogant American who hated Russia, had a knack for successfully risking it all on the board by knowing the principles of chess as a sublime art form. Spassky, the methodical Russian, against Fischer, became a symbol of the Cold war itself. The image of the match was only half of the matter. Neither man was the caricature the press saw them as, but such are the stories of legend.

I fully recommend "Bobby Fischer Goes to War: How the Soviets Lost the Most Extraordinary Chess Match of All Time," (title from the hardback edition) by David Edmonds and John Eidinow. Oh, and if you somehow missed the big news back in 1972, Fischer won the match.

Anthony Trendl
editor, HungarianBookstore.com
also see Bobby Fischer Dies, Haile Gebrselassie Wins Dubai

Bobby Fischer Dies, Haile Gebrselassie Wins Dubai

Bobby Fischer Not often is there such news that, though entirely unconnected to me, hits me personally. Today, two things are doing that job.

Bobby Fischer Dies
There is also sad news today. Bobby Fischer, the great chess player, has died. In high school, chess became an important part of my life, as I met many great friends over the game. More importantly, it was over a chess board that I had conversations that led to my committed belief in Jesus Christ.

Fischer's death means the end of an era.

Weird to think he's dead. An icon? Of course. What does this have to do with Christianity? Everything, sort of.

When a basis of my testimony involves walking home from chess practice with a high school friend, hearing about Jesus as my personal savior, I can't hep but wonder what Fischer knew. He was a quirky legend when I was learning to play. His hatred of many things is well-known, but what did he love?

I hope someone he knew walked home with him from something and told him the truth about our Lord. Doesn't look like he would have listened, but God's word is strong. How often do we give up because we are unwilling to till hard soil?

Makes me think how persistent I need to be in my relationships -- not just in the manner of developing healthy friendships for themselves, but also, to remain cognizant of opportunities to share the most precious relationship I have with them. A few men did that in my life, one of whom was a chess player, and now, feebly but firmly, I walk with God.

His broken life deteriorated after beating Spassky in 1972. Signs were abound before this, but, having reached the pinnacle of chess, he had nowhere to go, nowhere to strive, and imploded. He became more known as a nut-job than a beyond-brilliant chess genius.

For me, his death is also a reminder that the icons of my youth are dying. Life on Earth is fleeting. To me, as a chess player, Fischer was among the biggest icons, if not the only icon, of the sport. Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov, Viktor Korchnoi, Judit Polgár, and, of course Fischer's famous Russian foe, Boris Spassky, all are in the list, but, far and away, the status of shining star remains all Bobby Fischer's.

I rarely play chess now, except for occasional games on the computer (maybe a few times a year), but still, hope the soul of Bobby Fischer rests peacefully, having found no solace here on Earth.

There is a colleague where I work, one of the people I interviewed with, with whom I discussed playing a game or two. I should suggest we play soon.

Marathon Running
I'm a runner, and there's big news in the running world today. Haile Gebrselassie ran a 2:04:53, 27 seconds off his very impressive record from September 30's Berlin Marathon (2:04:26). While it is not a record, Gebrselassie is demonstrating that he is a serious force in the 2008 Olympics, if not the given champion just waiting to collect an award.

Returning to running, I am finding the joy of the long distances again. While recently, my workouts have been sketchy, I am excited and inspired as I read that there are records still out there. If I were to run a 3:20 marathon, I will have done very well. Hopefully, the profile of these great victories will draw others into the sport, and develop a new running boom. Ah! For the 1980s again!

also see: The Mother of All Matches: Bobby Fischer Goes to War reviewed

1/17/08

Bake Banana Bars - Recipe for Banana Bread-like Dessert

Banana Bars -- a recipe my mother used when I was a child, and among my fondest memories include her sharing them with me. Essentially, they are a sort of banana bread with chocolate chips. Unlike a bread, though, they are softer, with a chocolate chip cookie color. They have a texture something like pound bread, and look like blonde brownies.

Who do I credit with this recipe? Not my mom. I think she swiped it from a woman down the street who made them for her family. (Update: from Mrs Hinz). When I was in kindergarten at Chippewa Elementary, we had a cookbook made of all the favorite family recipes of the kids in my class. A few recipes stood out as new Trendl family favorites. This remains the best of the best, as far as I'm concerned.

If you have everything you need, you can be eating these within an hour of reading this guide. While you are munching on these (best with a glass of milk), imagine you are sitting on the letter Q in Miss V.'s kindergarten class in Palos Heights, Ill. in 1971.

Cream:
2/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup lt. brown sugar
2/3 cup regular sugar

Beat in:
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Blend in:
1 cup mashed ripe banana

Then sift together and add:
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Mix in:
1/2 package chocolate chips (you use around 6 oz.)
Grease and lightly flour a jelly roll pan (10 x 15 approximately).
Bake at 350 for 20-35 minutes until it becomes golden and begins to shrink.
Cool 15 minutes, then cut and enjoy.
Keep covered after cutting.

General baking products to keep you cookin'
If everything works right, some of what is below will be a link directly to Amazon.com. Otherwise, just copy/paste into the search box on the left.

Cheering for Drop in US Abortion Rate?

US Abortion Rate Falls to Lowest Level in Decades

Easily cheering? Why?

Do we cheer when there are fewer battlefield deaths in Iraq? Not one of those mourning parents are cheering. Not one of the dying soldiers is cheering. Remember the big attention Cindy Sheehan received as she mourned her dead son? She never cheered.

Not one of the babies laid to rest by knife is cheering. They have never cheered, never had a voice in their own execution.

Do not cheer. Do not become passively numb: what number of abortions is acceptable? The numbers in the story are not the hard decision abortions when the life of the mother is in question.

These are the unwanted, disposable children. Planned Parenthood suggests "Every child should be a wanted child," and remind customers if they do not want their child, to dispose of them via a tidy operation. This isn't LASIK eye surgery I am talking about.

I once was more vocal about this issue. Made a few enemies, and a few friends. Organized a few well-attended events, promoted some others - a 5K road race, a formal debate, prayer chains, a multi-church service, various protests and rallies. Lots of letters to the editor, as well as organizing a local letter campaign.

Am I less passionate about pro-life matters? No. I stopped believing politics will be the answer. I still quietly consider a candidate's voting record and clear views when I vote, but I have not been as involved.

Places like Planned Parenthood are still hurting America, and increasingly on trial:

Kline says Planned Parenthood made up abortion records
On Oct. 16, Kline filed a 107-count criminal complaint against Planned Parenthood and its Comprehensive Health clinic. It accuses the organization of performing illegal late-term abortions in 2003 and of falsifying, forging and failing to maintain abortion records.
The miracle of birth is still impressive:
Hurricane Katrina's 'rescued embryo' baby turns 1

1/16/08

Bloomington-Normal: To All the Places I Have Lived Before


Much can be said about Bloomington-Normal in its impact on my life. I lived there from August 1985 to August 1993, and then again for the summer of 1994.

Memories as sweet as fresh grilled corn are found there, with adventures and relationships that resound today as some of the best years of my life.

Where there? In order.

Normal

  • Watterson Towers, Illinois State University (3 Fell, 1 Monroe, three dorm rooms in all)
    Roommates: Matt Keane, (Other Roommate); Mike Mederich; Craig Reusch; Peter Schmale
  • North Fell Street as one of the famous the Phlegm Brothers
    Roommates: Peter Schmale, Tim Judson, Dan Leavitt, John Wilczewski
  • Linden and Poplar
    Roommates: Peter Schmale; Joel Sanders

Bloomington

Normal

  • Linden and Poplar (three weeks)
    Roommate: none

Bloomington

Normal

  • Linden and Poplar
    Roommate: none
Picture source: http://www.bloomingtonnormalcvb.org/community/bloomington_normal.php

1/15/08

Casablanca and The Greatest Generation

Casablanca may or may not be 'the greatest movie of all time', but it holds it own. A favorite for me, it, and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, were my first two DVD purchases back in 2002.

What Casablanca undeniably has it 'love and glory.' And 'story'. You know the song. That's probably why I find myself indulging in the old movies, and skipping the new ones.

Bogie, in guise of Rick Blaine, tavern/night club owner in Morocco, is in all regards a secular humanist, and a selfish one to boot. Keeps his head low, lives for himself, and sticks his neck out for no one. Ain't that America? Except for that matter in Iraq. Our neck is stuck out there.

Back to Blaine. He's been burnt by the beautiful Ilsa Lund, played by Ingrid Bergman. She gone done him wrong, as far as he knew, but he did not know the whole picture. She had a greater mission than a mere affair with an American in Paris. When called to leave Rick behind, she cried, but did not hesitate.

The story, packed with subtext, subplots, co-plots, is as layered as any movie. The core story, in fact, might not survive without the rest. So intertwined, they are organic, crucial to the entirety.

Quotable to nth degree, and misquoted almost as much, Casablanca is iconic in American cinema and culture. Today, it reminds of a day when freedom was fought for no matter where it was threatened, and American were willing to stand strong.

Even so, in Hungary, we dropped the ball in 1956. Our greatest generation also was racist, blacklisted communists without justification, and interned Americans of Japanese ancestry. Casablanca conveniently skips this, but the movie is not about the world. It is about Rick Blaine.

Love. Honor. War. Hate. Compromise. Bribes. Extortion. Murder. Denial. -- What more do you want?

Truth.

Dooley Wilson singing As Time Goes By in Casablanca.


As Time Goes By
music and words by Herman Hupfeld
© 1931 Warner Bros. Music Corporation, ASCAP

This day and age we're living in
Gives cause for apprehension
With speed and new invention
And things like fourth dimension.
Yet we get a trifle weary
With Mr. Einstein's theory.
So we must get down to earth at times
Relax relieve the tension

And no matter what the progress
Or what may yet be proved
The simple facts of life are such
They cannot be removed.

You must remember this
A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh.
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by.

And when two lovers woo
They still say, "I love you."
On that you can rely
No matter what the future brings
As time goes by.

Moonlight and love songs
Never out of date.
Hearts full of passion
Jealousy and hate.
Woman needs man
And man must have his mate
That no one can deny.

It's still the same old story
A fight for love and glory
A case of do or die.
The world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by.

Oh yes, the world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by.

Casablanca

1/13/08

Bowling: Striking Out for a Prize

A friend's wife won a bowling party: 16 people, two hours, free shoes, chips/salsa.

My scores
112
145
107

And, when the pink/red bowling pin was in the center place, I bowled a strike. This won me the same prize. My friend won the same.

The days of three not so impressive games harkens back to the days in high school. Most weekends, Charlie Dillon, Andy Anderson, Tim Huang, Jerry LaGrou, Jeff LaGrou, and/or others –- we headed to the Tinley Park Bowl in Tinley Park. The lanes were worn and poorly waxed, but we were bad bowlers. It made no difference. We were bad, and we knew it.

These guys were friends from Dunlap’s Restaurant, the chess team, Youth and Government, and, in a few cases, all three.

After a few miserably fun games, we would head to a White Castle for cheese burgers and orange pop. Low-key in all regards, and days I miss completely.

Bowling now was so much nicer. The company was fantastic either way, but the passage of the Illinois smoking ban has made bowling once again possible for nonsmokers.

Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard J Foster (review)



Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth


A quick review I wrote of this May 1, 2000:

I read a portion of this book yearly. As I grow older, I discover how my understanding of how to approach God changes. My capacity to be quiet and listen, and to consider His presence strengthens with each year. Foster discusses the ways through the centuries, and from Christ's own example, how to meditate, how to pray, how to study, how to be in solitude, and so on. Never does Foster compromise biblical Christianity with tradition, or with a new age view of contemplative discipline. Have your Bible open, and be ready to be challenged to rethink experiential faith in ways as old as the New Testament.

Keep "Celebration" handy too... it isn't a one-sitting kind of book. It isn't so thick or difficult to understand, but to integrate these disciplines will require slow and careful reading of this book.

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When Richard Foster began writing Celebration of Discipline more than 20 years ago, an older writer gave him a bit of advice: "Be sure that every chapter forces the reader into the next chapter." Foster took the advice to heart; as a result, his book presents one of the most compelling and readable visions of Christian spirituality published in the past few decades. After beginning with a simple observation--"Superficiality is the curse of our age.... The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people"--Foster's book moves to explain the disciplines people must cultivate in order to achieve spiritual depth. In succinct, urgent, and sometimes humorous chapters, Foster defines a broad range of classic spiritual disciplines in terms that are lucid without being too limiting and offers advice that's practical without being overly prescriptive. For instance, after describing meditation as a combination of "intense intimacy and awful reverence," he settles into such down-to-earth topics as how to choose a place and a posture in which to meditate.

Perhaps most interesting and useful is Foster's chapter on the controversial Christian discipline of submission. According to Foster, submission does not demand self-hatred or loss of identity. Instead, it simply means growing secure in the conviction that "our happiness is not dependent on getting what we want" but on the fulfillment that naturally flows from love of one's neighbors. Such wise and encouraging suggestions have helped many readers to discard the idea that discipline is an onerous duty and to move toward a liberating and simpler idea of discipline--whose defining character, as Foster never forgets, is joy. --Michael Joseph Gross

Psalm 11: Three Parts Worry, Four Parts Glory

Today, in church, we looked at Psalm 11. I never saw that is has two sections. The first three verses are filled with concern, then the following are looking at God's providence to manage the trouble at hand.

Psalm 11
For the director of music. Of David.

1. In the LORD I take refuge. How then can you say to me: "Flee like a bird to your mountain.

2. For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart.

3. When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?"

4. The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them.

5. The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates.

6. On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot.

7. For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face.

(NIV)


Zondervan NIV Study Bible