Congress

Congress: (n) a legislative body

I grew up in the Midwest–not bold enough to “go West, young man,” and not near enough for ‘East of Eden.’

One autumn, a farmer in a nearby town planted too many pumpkins. They were rotting in his field, and released a nasty odor. Since it was nearly deer hunting season, he invited hunters out to his farm, to shoot the pumpkins, to just enjoy the hell out of doing it, so the pumpkins would fly into pieces and be absorbed into the soil.

I don’t know if it was a great idea or not, but everyone was thrilled with pumpkin slaying.

I feel a similar sensation in this day and age as our government–our legislature–our Congress, if you will, has become the token pumpkin that the American funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
people are encouraged to shoot, hoping to eliminate some of its stink.

There is certainly plenty to criticize.

For instance, I once ate a chocolate eclair, and a friend commented to me that the crust was “a little bit dry.” I repeat–IT WAS A CHOCOLATE ECLAIR. But some people complain about the weight of the gold they have to carry to the bank.

Likewise, with the red, white and blue, I’m not so sure any of us are terribly concerned about the progress of our nation. We seem to be empowered by the notion that we can bitch at will while never being criticized for it, or anyone demanding that we explain in detail what our real complaint might be.

The government of the United States has successfully progressed for nearly 250 years. Some hard times. Many decisions.

But we have survived.

We need to isolate the dead parts of the system and surgically remove them without feeling the need to attack the entire frame of Uncle Sam.

That would be an intelligent discussion. That would be valuable.

I will not criticize Congress, nor will I pray for it. Neither profile is productive.

But I will participate in meaningful discussions about why things don’t work–and rather than holding onto tradition, finding ways to make our Congress an actual congress of the mind of the American people.

 


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Chore

Chore: (n) a routine task, especially a household one.

I suddenly realized that there is no happy word to describe work.

“Labor.” That sucks.

“Effort.” Well, that takes effort

“Struggle.”

Even the word “employment” is constricting, brings a frown to one’s face.

How do we expect to ever move forward in our consciousness when everything seems to be a chore? We didn’t like chores when we were children, so are we going
to wake up one morning having accumulated enough birthdays that we will become intrigued with doing repetitious tasks?

And if we don’t like doing these “events,” what’s to guarantee that the mechanic who’s repairing the airplane doesn’t get bored and take a shortcut?

If we don’t like doing the things we’re supposed to accomplish, won’t we eventually just do them poorly?

And once mediocre becomes normal, normal is certainly dangerous.

How can we re-train ourselves to believe that work is not a chore and that chores do not need to be repetitious, but rather, gain glamor and gleam by being enhanced with new possibilities?

This is not the season to insist on tradition. The work force in America needs a revolution–a revival, if you will–of the passion that originally made us believe we wanted to do what offered us a paycheck.

Don’t ask me to do my chores.

I will rebel, go to my room and listen to the music you don’t like.

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Bob

Bob: (n) a shortened name for Robert.

We’ve given up on Bob.Dictionary B

In an attempt to include Julius, Keesha, Manuel and Mohammed, we somehow or another felt it was necessary to reject Bob and relegate him to the museum of artifacts.

As much as conservatives suffer under the short-sightedness of failing to see where progress is heading, liberals are often so far-sighted that they stumble over the settled souls of their fellow-countrymen.

It took a lot of Bobs to make America.

They don’t understand everything that is going on–yet they won’t become more tolerant by constantly being told how bigoted they are.

Bob has a heart, which is often encased in a weathered, oaken trunk of tradition. It needs to be opened, tenderly and carefully.

As we try to give freedom and justice to all, we need to remember that this also includes Bob. He may be slower at arriving at necessary conclusions, but he should not be ignored because we find him tedious.

God bless America, with all of its unique names and nationalities.

But also, God bless Bob.

May we travel at a pace where we rest every once in a while … so all the Bobs in our country can catch up. 

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Bell

Bell: (n) a hollow object, typically made of metal, that sounds a clear musical note when struck by means of a clapper inside.

Dictionary B

I was sitting in my car on a hot, summer’s day, becoming more frustrated with each moment of sizzling waiting. I can’t recall what was keeping me from progress, but I was totally disgusted.

All of a sudden, there were bells.

Apparently a church in the middle of town had a ritual of ringing bells at noonday from its belfry.

I was suddenly translated to a simpler mindset.

I had the feeling that I was in the middle of a Normal Rockwell painting, sucking in a bit of Americana through my nostrils and allowing my eyeballs to be transformed to see something other than my aggravation.

The bells did it.

They harkened to a better part of me which remembered, from somewhere in my youth, such clanging–to stimulate a sense of celebration or an inkling of hope.

I don’t know who came up with the idea of putting bells in a church and what committee decided to ring them to inform the community of the presence of a house of worship, but damn…it works.

There’s no doubt about it.

A religious system that is beleaguered by too much tradition and obtuse theology is actually much better represented by the chiming of the bells … than the rhetoric of its ding-dongs.

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Begin

Begin: (v) to start; to perform or undergo the first part of an action or activity.

Dictionary B

I will take all of my opinions and beliefs down to the River of Justice and wash away all the sins of stubbornness.

This is where I must begin.

It happens every minute of every day. Confronted by reality, I present my history, which often shows that I am behind the times and offers me a choice.

Do I cling to my tradition or do I embrace the fresh breath of spirit?

Where do I begin?

  • I begin with what’s true, not what seems comfortable.
  • I begin with what includes others, not placing myself in the position of separating sheep from goats.
  • I begin with what produces joy, instead of stimulating aggravation.
  • I begin by allowing hope to make a case instead of making my case over the issue of hope.
  • I begin by realizing that in the kingdom of life there is neither male nor female, just souls who are willing and those who are stone.
  • I begin by laughing, knowing that crying will soon be necessary.
  • I begin aware, pursuing awareness.
  • I begin with who I am, unashamed.
  • I begin with me, repentant.
  • I begin fresh … daily.

 

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Armageddon

dictionary with letter A

Armageddon: (n) in the New Testament, the last battle between good and evil before the Day of Judgment.

I have this memory from Sunday School class of a verse in which God shares with Cain that the blood of his brother “cried unto God from the Earth.”

Pretty powerful image.

So every time I think about Armageddon, I’m a bit baffled.

I have never had a desire to go to the Holy Land–mainly because I do not believe that any particular parcel of dust and stone is holy–and especially when the landscape has been so stained by human blood, shed for meaningless doctrines and interpretations.

I am not certain that this position I have taken would be a popular one with those who want to go and see where Moses received the Ten Commandments, or where Jesus walked on the water.

But if I found myself in the unenviable position of being the President of the United States, I would never send any troops into a kingdom that is already crimson with blood.

I would never allow myself to be known as the conduit that initiated a battle over nothing, which destroys everything.

There isn’t much I can do about the Jews and the Muslims wanting to fight with each other. It is my belief that Jesus came to break truth off of tradition, so that we could be human beings with each other instead of tribes.

But I guess as long as we insist on honoring our cultures more than humanity, protecting our kin more than seeking reasons to call the people of the world our brothers and sisters, and debating the personality of a God which is far beyond our comprehension, we will gradually inch our way periodically towareds Armageddon.

When we do, look for me in the rear, turning around and heading the other direction.

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Arab

dictionary with letter A

Arab: (adj) of or relating to Arabia or the people of Arabia

I grew up in Ohio.

My formative years were spent in a small village in the Buckeye Nation, surrounded by bigoted people.

They did not like black people–not because of proximity or personal contact. It was simply a tradition that had been passed down from one generation to another, and even though some of their ancestors fought to free the slaves, they didn’t especially want these “freed men” to live in the same neighborhood.

I was surrounded by intolerance. My family would probably argue the point, but only because we love to rewrite history once it’s been corrected.

But truthfully, the average person living in Central Ohio in 1965 believed many erroneous things about “colored folk,” including that they smelled differently, they were less intelligent, and they certainly should not date sons, let alone daughters.

Here’s an interesting fact: that isn’t true today.

The reason it isn’t true is that gradually the minority of the people who were more loving and giving wore down the intolerant, or else they buried them in the cemetery or changed their minds.

But as long as we believed that there were more “good Buckeyes” who were color blind than “bad Buckeyes” who were not, no progress was made.

The same thing is true for the Arabs.

They are experiencing a very strong backlash to extreme fundamentalism in the religion that they hold dear.

Here’s a fact: until the good ones who love people outlast and eventually outnumber the ones who don’t, and take the words of their holy book and punctuate the verses that are more inclusive, they will be characterized, universally, as dangerous.

There’s no way around it. If my close neighbor who shares my mosque flies airplanes into buildings, I become a suspect.

In my community of 1,500 people, having 60 folks who were open to having black people living in the town was not sufficient to warrant referring to our citizens as open-minded.

Truth had to win out.

So here’s the conclusion, and I speak this joyfully and hopefully to my Arab brothers and sisters:

Wear down your bigots and outnumber them.

It’s the only way to regain the beauty of your cause and an acceptance of your true mission.

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