Tuesday, March 22, 2016


I don't normally talk politics, but am increasingly peeved at GOP obstructionism. Eight years of Bologna Stuffing, if you ask me.

A Parable: There was a man whose car died unexpectedly. He needed it for work, so his boss, a car dealer, told him to select a vehicle on the lot that would meet his needs. The man spoke to a sales associate who refused to let him look at any vehicles, let alone select one. “Wait until the new models come out this fall,” said the salesman. “But our boss wants me to select one now,” replied the man. “I don’t care,” answered the salesman. “Forget the boss. You can wait until fall, and that’s all I have to say on that.”

How would you respond?

A justice has died. The Constitution calls for the President to nominate a replacement. The Constitution calls for the Senate to consider that nomination. The Senate Majority leader has said no. Senator Daines has said no. The average Supreme Court vacancy lasts 102 days (just over 3 months), no matter who controls the Senate, no matter who is in the White House, but America will be denied a new justice for at least a year because the Senate GOP has told the boss (the Constitution) to take a hike. I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing red.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Moose at the Door

I looked out my window,
And what did I see?
I saw a young moose
Walking out past a tree.

Majestic he looked,
As he stood there to pose
Before heading out back
As he followed his nose.

Just where is he going?
I wondered out loud,
As he gave me a look that said,
“I don’t like a crowd.”

I moved through the house
From the front to the back
And caught sight of the moose,
I would cut him no slack.

I took hold of my camera
And held it steady in hand
I captured the image
Of the moose on my land.

But how is it mine,
This land as I think?
Oh sure I’ve made payments
But is that ownership’s link?

The moose has as much claim
To the land that he treads
As I with my mortgage
And my bare flower beds.

The land is the Lord’s
Who made earth, wind, and sky
And fishies and moosies
And all poor mortals who die.

So I was delighted
When this moose came to the door
To visit our hovel
On his wilderness tour.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Sloth in the Valley

Sloth (is) the sin by which we ignore our obligations. Tony Campolo

A reader asks, “How can people claim to have faith in God and lack a desire to read the Bible or go to church?”

I will admit I am not an advice columnist cut from the cloth of either Ann or Dear Prudence.

However, I know my immediate (and quite judgmental) response to the question is to chalk it up to sloth. That’s an old fashioned word for what we call “laziness” today. In fact, Sloth heads the list of the seven deadly sins we sometimes hear about in church – especially during the season of Lent.

I should note here that the word “sin” has fallen out of fashion. I, myself, prefer other ways to describe or talk about sin. Such euphemisms include character defects, faults, shortcomings, and the like. One reason I suspect, is we live in a culture that doesn’t like others to feel too badly about themselves.

Some words also lack meaning in this digital age. We hear the word “sin” and probably conjure up images of people going into those tiny booths in church where they tell the priest what bad things they’ve done, and where the man behind the curtain grants pardon (absolution, in church-speak) and suggests a few spiritual exercises to the penitential party.

The fact is that sin is a technical term used by ancient archers, and simply means to “miss the mark.”

Imagine you’re out hunting. You spot a beautiful bull-elk, take careful aim, hold your breath, and just as you prepare to squeeze off a round, your nose itches and you twitch just enough your bullet misses the elk’s heart (the “mark”). Instead, you get a lung shot and have to trail the animal for a couple miles before it succumbs to the wound.

Now you have to haul it further, and it’s suffered longer, so the quality of meat has been degraded. Those are consequences of your “sin.”

You would not be a bad person. No one would accuse you of being evil or cruel. You would simply admit you missed the mark (sinned). It could have been the twitch of the nose; it could have been a twig the bullet grazed while en route to the beast. Having missed the mark, you will make a mental note to ignore nose twitches and watch for things that might deflect bullets in the future. In other words, if you’re wise, you’ll learn from what happened and apply changes in the future.

If, on the other hand, you ignore what happened, you will continue to make the same mistakes, and continue to “sin” – to fall short and miss the mark. The point we need to realize is we’re better than that. We don’t want to be too lazy to learn, too lazy to change, or too lazy to do what we ought to do.

It is quite possible, though, that the spiritual problem we are facing in our culture isn’t sloth as much as the reverse – we’re so busy. We’re too worn out to learn; too worn out to change; too worn out to do what we ought to do. We’ve lost our appetite for Sabbath – the gift of rest.

In other words, we’re not too lazy to go to church; we’re too busy. We’re not too lazy to read our bibles; we’re too busy. When we’re not at school or work, we’re out fishing, hunting, hiking, shopping, taking in ball games, or running to town for dinner and a movie.

We live in a world that craves action and which not only devalues leisure, but considers all those activities the very definition of leisure! I know people who develop a case of hives if they’re immersed in more than thirty seconds of silence; going to church could quite possibly do them in altogether, and yet …

I find church as essential for my spirit as air is for my body. It isn’t the “going” I find essential, but the “being” there that makes the difference. It is a road not taken by everyone, to be sure, but for me, “(it) has made all the difference.” (Frost)

Church is where sinners gather. Ironically, there’s no sin in that. I’m just glad we have many places to renew our spirits when needed here in this, our valley.

Thursday, March 3, 2016


We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity – The Big Book

I was walking up a set of stairs the other day. I wasn’t alone; I had a companion who was also upwardly mobile. Simultaneously, we noticed a common house-fly creeping around on one of the treads. It was still winter, and so it seemed somewhat out of the ordinary to find the critter lurching about on the step like a drunken sailor.

My companion remarked quite matter-of-factly, “Oh look, there’s a fly crawling about.”

I stepped on it and said in reply, “Not now.”

It is always my intention to be kind to all of God’s creatures, but must confess I find flies both disgusting and disturbing. I know the sorts of things they like to play around with and eat, and I want no part of it, so I am quite fly-i-cidal when I see them out and about. They make me crazy.

I can stand in a room full of flies, swatting them left and right all day long, and be insanely happy as the dickens. You could call me a flyromaniac.

One day I was out shopping and found what I thought was a good deal on a set of fly swatters. It was a three-pack, so I bought two (to match my six-pack abs, of course). That way I could have a fly-smoosher handy in every room, for little annoys me more than when I have to waste time seeking something to obliterate the uninvited wing-nuts. By the time I’ve located the whacky-doo, the pesty-poo has moved along, so now I have something for every room – and they were cheap, to boot.

Unfortunately, you get what you pay for. These swatters are so flimsy they do no harm; they are anything but lethal. In fact, I do believe the flies have put out fliers inviting swarms to come get massages for free. It got so bad a deputy sheriff threatened to throw me in jail for operating a massage parlor without a license! I let fly with my tale of woe, so he let me go, as long as I promised not to flea the county.

So I gave up the fly swatters for Lent and decided to take another tack. I went to the local hardware store and purchased packs of tacky fly-snatching strips. I stretched them out and hung them up by the windows, and they did an OK job of catching the little black buggers. On the other hand, they looked pretty unsightly hanging there, and that bugged me. What would our guests think?

I didn’t mind the strips, so much, but I don’t like seeing creatures – even nasty flies – struggling in despair. I could almost hear them crying in their little fly-voices: Help me! Save me! Woe is me!

It makes me feel a bit like a Padre de Sade. Even if flies are carriers of disease and pestilence, they undoubtedly have their place in the circle of life (just not around me).

Consequently, I decided to try a different approach. I went to another local establishment and found cans of pesticide for sale. They were reasonably priced, and I thought the skull and cross-bones were tastefully and artfully displayed. I carefully read the instructions and discerned I was qualified to follow them, so I bought a can and, with more than a bit of maniacal cackling, took it out for a spin.

I soon discovered a flock of flies congregating on a window, presumably discussing where to go for dinner. I stood back a few paces, gently shook the can in my hand, aimed, and pfeut – let fly with a cloud of aerial ack-ack.

At first, the mist appeared to have had no effect, and I was quite disappointed, but then … then they began to quiver and shake and soon, they began to drop like … yes … they began to drop like flies.

Take that, Beelzebub! V-F day was at hand; I’d found my solution. Those falling aviators looked at me with their googly eyes and the last thing they heard from me was this: “You’ve been canned.”

With that, what passes for sanity (at least in my mind) returned, and that’s the buzz for this week here in this, our valley. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


Haiku de Jour

Sins in Life abound
Quite pleasant do I find them;
Fasting, not so much.