In my second pronouncement since appointing myself king of America, I hereby make it a law that all White House staff members, up to and including the President, along with all Congressional leaders and their staff members attend each year a one week intensive course in American history, devoted primarily to the founding documents that have defined the idea and the ideals of our nation.

Our “leaders” are leading us so far astray from the meaning of American Democracy that even if all those leaders were to be replaced today, it would take years to clean up the incredible mess they’ve made of things already. Our leaders need a good reminder that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. . .”

When we look at polls and approval ratings, we find numbers that suggest Congress simply does not care what the words “We the People” mean. Congressional approval rating is currently at 16%. I don’t believe that it has as high as 20% since I started paying attention nine years ago. And yet our Congressional leaders still boast they they are representing the people. Polls concerning DACA all suggest that nearly 90% of Americans want it settled in such a way that DACE recipients get to stay with full security and the protection of the law. Congress couldn’t care less what the people want.

Our president continues to set daily records on how low presidential approval ratings can sink. He is a petty dictator frustrated by the fact that we have a three part federal government. He would  prefer to have one department, entirely under his direct command. And we know he is incompetent to envision a way to manage even what power he does have, so he tries to cut everything down to his own size. Think, for example, of how great a disaster it is that in the midst of unusually serious international complexities, he has cut the State department nearly in half, increasing our ignorance of many countries, including North Korea.

And on and on and on Blah, blah, blah.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be lead again by someone acquainted with and in love with the American dream?

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Stephen Miller

Senator Graham has claimed over the weekend that, “As long as Stephen Miller is in charge of negotiating immigration, we’re going nowhere.”

Hooray! Finally someone is pointing out what has become increasingly obvious in recent weeks.

Keep watching. Miller’s cover is weakening. He is every bit as self-righteous as Trump him. And that is saying a great deal! He is unable to bend or to conceive of anyone else being as right about everything as he is.

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Getting Started on Reconciliation

So our ridiculous government is shutdown again. And how do our “leaders” use their time? In blaming one another. Blame is childish, useless, never productive, and a severe threat to reconciliation.

Since our leaders refuse to lead, I hereby appoint myself king. I will from time to time issue strict orders that will slowly lead us out of partisanship, the pettiness, the petulance, that now dominate Washington.

Here is the order for today, to be in effect for the next ten thousand years: No one in Washington is permitted to evade responsibility by saying a single word which even vaguely sounds like blame.

The punishment for violating this rule is to have one’s mouth covered with  43 layers of duct tape.

There! See how simple is was to solve 50% of Washington’s problems?

 

May I take a moment to talk about blame and responsibility? Blame is an oppressive force, making any positive steps more difficult. Responsibility is something quite different. If you seek someone to blame, you’re making progress.

If you ask, Who is responsible? you immediately run into a devilish choice. You might find yourself asking who is responsible for creating this mess. That is the same as asking who is to blame and gains nothing.

The real question, the helpful question is, Who is responsible for improving this situation? Asked that way, the question opens doors and creates hope. And one of your first discoveries will be that you bear at least some of the responsibility. This is so very much better than evading responsibility by blaming someone else.

Oh how I wish we had some grownups in Washington, that we would learn to recognize, nominate, and elect grown-ups.

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Friends

My cancer is very slowly robbing me of strength. I’ve got very little pain, too little to notice But I don’t sleep well and feel perpetually tired. I know my time is limited yet I find a growing freedom to bask in the joy of being loved by my Lord. Many times I can anticipate the other side of the grave.

And here’s what I can enjoy about that anticipation: I can already feel myself sitting on Jesus’ lap with my head against his chest. I can freely say, “I love you, Daddy.”

Yes, yes, I know. I’ve been studying biblical theology for more than 50 years.  I ought to be able to keep Jesus and the Father separate for the sake of theological clarify. But I’m not talking about theology. I’m talking about images and sensations that keep rising to the fore in my heart. And I’m not going to get off the beautiful lap.

I also find a deeper joy than ever in friendships. One couple with whom we are especially close spent a couple of days with us this past week. We’ve been good friends for nearly 40 years. I don’t think there has even been a minute when I’ve taken them for granted, yet now it  seems truly miraculous that the Lord could have put such people in our lives.

Our lives are filled with miracles. I do not mean merely that there are lots of good things that happen to us and that surround us. I mean God-caused interruptions that add richness and depth to our lives. And I do not mean special little gifts God sets aside for those who love him. He loves us, no matter our response. He loves and cherishes you right this moment. Don’t wait until impending death hones your senses.

Here’s a simple idea: The more you practice saying Thank You, the more sensitive you will become to all the reasons yo have for giving thanks.

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No Compromise — No Virtue

Somehow our culture has decided that “compromise” is a dirty word. Advertisers, especially for automobile companies, since at least the mid-80s. They do it out of crass greed, not caring in the slightest that they are teaching devastating values that are doing extremely serious damage to America.

Imagine this scene: The very same House and Senate we have now are suddenly zipped back to 1787 and told to create a Constitution which would define the new nation to be called the United States of America. The result would be that there would be no Constitution and no nation.

Our Constitution is the result of the combined efforts of some of the finest minds in America at the time. And what was the brilliant key to their success? Compromise! Had they lacked the wise ability to compromise, they could have created nothing.

Compromise is the ability to accept the less-than-perfect for yourself or your party so that decisions can be made for the of the greater whole, the nation.

Today’s “leaders” lack wisdom, insight, understanding, and common sense. The reason they cannot run a government is that they are entirely clueless about how crucial, how central compromise is in the running of country. They are simply too immature.

Next election, vote for grown-ups. You’ll be able to recognize them. They’ll be the ones about 30 years younger than to children in Washington today.

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The Mystery of Music

My first encounter with serious music came from the little radio station in my home town. It was Christmas season, 1954. Amid Bing Crosby and Perry Como came the incredibly dynamic sound of Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Now, 63 years later, I am more entranced and enriched by music than ever.

And I am still baffled by a few questions. Why does organized sound seem to form a coherent and meaningful whole in our brains and heart? How is it that Barber’s Agnus Dei can reach so immediately behind all my defenses and touch me with such wonderful gentleness? What makes a hymn to Mary, such as Gomez’ Ave Maria, such a song of worship and praise to God in my soul?

And I am completely unable to imagine how a Mozart can sit at a piano and play a beautiful piano sonata that didn’t even exist until he started playing? How can Handel create the Messiah — with that overwhelmingly magnificent Halleluia Chorus — in just a few weeks? How can a Beethoven work and work and work on scribbling a few notes on a page and create sounds no one had ever heard before, sounds which still enthrall us two centuries later?

How can these things be? What mysterious gift have these people that they can listen to and learn from the angels singing in the heavens?

For 55 years I have been seeking, with limited success, to be a man of faith and love. As I now come to what are my final days, I have been pleasantly surprised that death is no enemy, dying is no threat. It is reassuring that, in a time which could be considered high stress, I have been at peace with and even excited about my future.

Yet, to my embarrassment, I have on sever occasions faced bouts of anxiety. They are times which I look at my bookshelves or put on one of my favorite CDs. Suddenly I find myself worried about losing these incredible treasures. My books are my invaluable weapons against that dread enemy, ignorance. My music keeps me from being lost somewhere in the chaos of the insane complexity of my own psyche and soul.

Surely the Lord won’t confiscate these treasures at the gates of heaven? I try to reassure myself that, even if he does, he will have even greater music awaiting me, even better books (and I’ll be a better reader!)

So here I sit at my beloved desk, surrounded by books and music, with a Bonhoeffer manuscript awaiting the final reading before being sent off to the publisher, and lots of cards from long-time friends reassuring me I made a difference in their lives. In every little nook and cranny on this desk lies a storehouse of gratitude. Though seldom being sure of it, now I see clearly that all my life I have been loved by the Lord of the Universe, the Lord whom I am just now learning to call Daddy.

What overwhelming miracles!!!

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Sending Away the Salvadoreans

I am so very deeply ashamed of our president and his immeasurably tiny soul. Through his utter heartlessness, his inability to grasp any but the simplest form of any problem, and his determination to cut every issue down to the miniature size of his own psyche, he is trying hard to make America as shameful, selfish, and self-centered as he is himself.

Once we were the land of the free and the home of the brave. No more. Trump can’t grasp such lofty ideals. Once we were “We the People.” No more. Neither Trump nor any Republicans in Washington give a wooden nickel for the will of the people.  Once we could speak — and build a whole nation — on, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” No more. Washington now respects the rights only of a small portion of the populace, the wealthy. Clean the swamp? What hogwash.

Our Senators and Representatives have become a pack of pitiful sycophants, humiliating themselves in their rush to heap ridiculous praise on Trump just to salve his childish ego. Trump will see to it that before long they will all have a knife in their back. That’s his way: use people until you’re done with them, then destroy them. And he is proud of himself. How disgusting!

So, he wants to do away with all the bad apples among the foreigners in our midst. Despite the will of the people, despite all his insistence that he is only getting rid of problem folk, the truth is seen not in his words (He is quite thoroughly addicted to lying) but in his actions, which can only be described as brutally racist.

Yes, I know I’m becoming more and more raw in my condemnations of Trump. Death has a way of making subtlety an useless waste of time.

 

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