23 January 2007


In ancient Greece (Sparta to be exact), what class of people were neither citizens nor slaves?

Give up? The answer is below.

Anyway, I came across this word while reading Niebuhr, _Moral Man and Immoral Society_. (Why anyone would want to read this is almost beyond me.) Of course, I had to look up this word (among many others) using Google, and as soon as I saw the definition, I immediately thought back to a discussion at our poor friends' dinner table.

The husband, Jon, has been working three jobs lately. Two of them are blue collar jobs. One of them is a job as tutor. His wife, Sara, also works as a tutor, mostly in Spanish. Most of the kids are home schooled and many of them are incredibly wealthy. It struck me while we were eating together that they were essentially like slaves. They are barely able to keep making their humble house payment and keep diapers on their two little ones. Their struggles, for the most part, are unrelated to irresponsibility on their part. Tutors, like teachers, just don't get paid much. They're almost like slaves (although apparently it's not so tough that it drives them to write wonderful spirituals). And yet, who contributes more to the good of our communities than teachers and tudors? We entrust our children to them whether our children have an allowance of $3,000 per week or $1.00 per month, yet their pay is closer to the latter.

Well, here is the answer . . . the class in ancient Sparta that were neither citizens nor slaves were/are called *helots*. Certainly not an exact correlate to "tutor", but the definition of helots reminded me of teachers just the same. By the way, Jon and Sara laughed when I said they were almost like slaves!

17 January 2007

Adventures in Babysitting

Well, I fell off the folate wagon today (still having spinach and kale in the fridge--thanks, Noel) . . . but I did perform an amazing feat (for me). I was changing Joshua's diaper this morning and (no offense, Joshua, but it was pretty nasty) I touched some poop with my right hand by accident while trying to keep his left sock and hand out of it. Joshua was squirming and I had to get the sixteen buttons of his overalls buttoned back together while he was trying to crawl all over the place. I eventually laid on my back with the one-year-old on his stomach on my chest and proceeded to button while he kept trying to crawl over my face. I said, "It's like I'm on Fear Factor," and Joshua laughed. It was pretty funny . . . and dirty.

Here are some "older" pictures of Joshua when I was feeding him an Iguana we caught out back.

16 January 2007

I'm Popeye

Need more folate? It is amazing how much better I feel whenever I eat folate-rich foods on a regular basis, especially daily. Thankfully, organic spinach was on sale the other day so I bought three big bunches of it. It's great! I've had it in enchiladas. I've steamed it with carrots. There are other great sources for folate, though. I read here that liver, asparagus, spinach, okra, and beans are also high in folate. Does anyone know if kale is high in folate? It's good steamed with carrots, too, but it smells like a fart while cooking.

15 January 2007

MLK Jr Day

I'm posting an excerpt from a speech by MLK Jr and hoping you folks will comment on it knowing that I value hearing dissenting voices from my own . . . and even my heroes'. In the sermon up to this point, King has given strong reasons for protesting violence. Then he points beyond the Vietnam more and even beyond "the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism" to what he hopes has the last word: God's love. I, too, hope that God's character rules in the End.

Now there is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter that struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing.

The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality...and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing "clergy and laymen concerned" committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end, unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy.

And so, such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.

In 1957, a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years, we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which has now justified the presence of U.S. military advisors in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counterrevolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Cambodia and why American napalm and Green Beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru.

It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin...we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life's roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.


To read more or listen to King's sermon, "click here".

13 January 2007

A Brother and a Sister from the Caribbean

Okay, this is a picture from during finals week last semester that I only just now got around to posting. Alson (the tall guy) asked us several months ago if his friend, Jehann (also pictured), could stay with us for several days. We said, "Sure." It turned out to be a wonderful blessing. Alson's story is pretty amazing. Everyone should hear it, but I'll make it brief here. He is from St. Vincent in the Caribbean. Before he became a Christ-follower, he worked in the drug market (St. Vincent has better quality ganga than Jamaica even . . . just in case you were wondering). He used to be afraid of being caught by the authorities, but now he only has a healthy fear for the Lord. Alson's convictions about following Christ are clear to the people around him. His attitude and his presence here at Harding Graduate School of Religion (HUGSR) are testimonies to God's providence. God is certainly active in Alson through trials. He is getting a degree in counseling and interning/apprenticing for the Norris Road Church of Christ. One more note . . . he's very good at soccer and has a Christ-like attitude when he plays it. We had a great time, too, while his friend, Jehann, was in town. She is also from St. Vincent, but she lives and works out of St. Kitts, another Caribbean island. She's hoping to get into a PhD program (in the U.S.) related to human community economic development or something like that. She's wicked smart dude! And fun to be around. Woman barely sleeps! She works hard and is so kind! My sister loves her, too! Thanks for coming, Jehann! Man, we really had some sweet fellowship even in such a short time of being together.

11 January 2007

Spiritualizing Away

I originally drafted this on 8/8/06. I'm probably wrong about it all, but have rarely found a dialogue with anyone about it except for with Dave Bland and Jordan Coss. I've talked with Shawn Griffith about it, too. And Nicole has heard me preach on about it. Anyway, I hope you don't get bogged down in me tediousness, but that you'll have something to comment. I won't take offense if you don't. :-)


I heard the phrase again recently (I think it was in a book or something):

"Don't spiritualize it away!"

This applies in the context of Jesus feeding a whole crowd of people (two occasions of which are recorded and at least one of them has been recorded multiple times although I don't think the Da Vinci Code or the Judas' writing even refer to these crowd feedings). Jesus feeds people physical, tangible, edible food. I think it was usually bread and fish. I don't know any other details. But usually church people call the crowd stupid for not realizing that the food was really merely spiritual. Stupid crowd? Not this time. They were actually cared for physically, tangibly, and edibly. And Jesus probably taught them with words, too. I know at least one account records that.

But was the crowd stupid for not recognizing "the spiritual"? I don't know what to think of this. I think I must be more backward than the crowd. The crowd at least recognized that Jesus had fed them. I usually 1) ignore the fact that Jesus actually fed them with tangible nourishment, and 2) contradict my confession that Jesus lives within me. If he is alive in me, wouldn't the poor in spirit be coming to me? I have yet to see crowds of people coming to me to be fed and taught.

I have to confess that we have enough wealth to feed crowds. Honest. I haven't examined our budget lately, but I know it's true that we spend less money on food than we do most anything else. I wouldn't give up our travelling expenses to see family and friends. But what if we sacrificed some of our possessions and freedoms? What if we opened up our home to homeless people to come over any time to get food. At first, our capacity to feed others would run out after about two or three weeks, after probably hundreds of homeless and poor people would have come to receive. By then, I bet some wealthy folks would see what was going on and try to stop us before we become poor, too. But, really, has anyone ever gone poor that way? (I heard Willie Nelson did, but besides him, no one.) I think the wealthy folks would start supplying us with food to aid in our ministry to the hungry. I'm sure God would be so happy to see that. He loves cheerful givers, both physically and spiritually.

Then, inevitably, some Gnostics like Dan Brown or maybe a local Christian would come by and say, "You're physicalizing away the Good News by what you're doing!"

I think, though, that the Good News is spiritual and physical. If it was one or the other, it wouldn't be *good* news.

At least not to me. Unlike many other Christians, I feel hungry sometimes (for up to 30 minutes at a time). I'm pretty sure God created me that way and gets pleasure out of seeing my stomach and brain, etc. do their work. I also wonder about the unseen direction of my life--am I going toward Satan or God? I hope that he has a plan to redeem not just the unseen parts of life, but the seen parts as well. He created both. I think he has purpose for both. At least, that makes sense to me right now.

Don't get me wrong. I want to grow spiritually as well as physically (in the sense of *healthy* not *obesity*). But, if somehow the scientists proved that all we are is chemicals, I would say, "Praise God! God is the only one who can create chemicals from nothing and raise them from the dead after they've been dead and decomposing." I think the promise of resurrection is a greater one than the gnostic one: " . . . like a bird from prison bars has flown . . . I'll fly away." I would rather see God redeem the world he created, resurrect the creation after it dies, re-create it after it decays. Wouldn't that be better than escaping as a spirit into another "immaterial" world that doesn't remember this one?

If the gnostic promise is better, then Jesus was being deceptive when he healed people of mental and physical diseases and when he fed the hungry. I've heard people say, "We have to meet their physical needs so we can get to spiritual needs," but I don't feel comfortable saying that; maybe I should. If I should be eager to leave this body to enter a spirit world, should I assume that God made flesh by mistake or in order to deceive us? I look forward to eating with Jesus someday in the new creation. So I won't spiritualize him away.

07 January 2007

Photos Galore: 9 in all

Last breakfast at Perkins Restaurant before my Mom, Dad, Sister, and Brother drove back to Abilene, TX. Melissa is working on walking over three miles at one time. Stephen and Nicole and I are preparing for 13.1 miles on April 28 in Nashville, TN. I don't like country music; I'm going for family. :-) Well, I do like Johnny Cash to some degree (maybe that's rockabilly) and some other old stuff. Who is that woman who sang the "Sorry" song? I like Anne Murray, too, but she is Canadian. One time my family drove to Washington D.C. in a two-door '77 Volvo 242 DL listening to two cassette tapes: "Folk Hits of the Sixties" and "Anne Murray's Greatest Hits". Life used to be so simple. (sigh)

For lunch the day before New Year's Day Rouen and her son, Erick, and Ralph and the kids he picks up for church, John and his sister, Brittney, came over and helped us eat. It was good and we had help heating up the leftovers. The kids were hopped up on energy so I had them help me carry containers of refrigerated food over to the Griffith's apartment (I had the key) to use their microwave oven. Then I said, "Hey, run around the oak tree three times." They raced off immediately. They came back out of breath and said, "We had a hard time finding it." I said, "It's just right there. Go do it again." They said, "Oh!" and ran as fast as they could. After lunch, Erick and John read a book (in stereo): _The Story of Ruby Bridges_. That was really cool!

Nic and I went to Bonne Terre Bed & Breakfast in Mississippi, about 30 minutes from 201, for our fifth anniversary. We are still very much in love, probably more so.
We got back from Bonne Terre and went for a four-mile jog. The weather was peculiarly warm so we took a photo.

06 January 2007

Neurology Anomaly

Is One Foot Really Smarter Than the Other?

This is an interesting physiogical neurology anomaly that can help you have a phenomenal parlor trick at your next party.

Here are the steps:

In a sitting position, lift your right foot off the floor and, then, make clockwise circles with it.
While making circles, draw the number 6 in the air with your right hand.
Your foot will change directions and there is nothing you can do about it.