Saturday, 8 July 2017

Making Jesus Famous?

The Church SRQ is located on the east side of Clark Road, just north of Beneva.

I pass it on the days when I attend the Health Fit program  at Sarasota Memorial Hospital's facility on Rand Boulevard/Clark Rd.

Church SRQ has a motto: Making Jesus Famous

This is from the Church website "It’s never too early to be a world changer here at The Church SRQ! Every week Tony Faeth shows our youth that Christianity isn’t about stain (sic) glass, pews, and rituals it’s about loving people, doing life together, and making Jesus famous!"

The motto bothers me.  

Whilst it is true that Jesus' fame spread (see Mark 1:28) he eschewed fame and did not seek after it.

The accounts of the Temptation in the Wilderness make it clear that he rejected fame and celebrity status.  

When (in John's Gospel) Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

And when it seemed that he was attracting a mass movement he told his would be followers of the cost of discipleship,

It has been aptly said that Jesus is not interested in fans, he is calling us to be followers.  And there's the rub.  His teaching is radical, is dangerous, and is very difficult.

That being said I think that the Church SRQ motto should be  "Making Jesus Infamous"

Thursday, 6 July 2017

She was named Maureen and she will always be a Joy.

My oldest sister Maureen was born in Bristol, U..K.  on 6th July 1937.  It's her birthday today.

The lore is that our Mum and Dad had chosen her first name, and that it was a next door neighbour, one Mrs. Charlton,  who said "give her JOY  as a middle name, because she will always be a joy to her parents.

So my sister is Maureen Joy.

Mrs. Charlton  (we called her Auntie Charlton) was wonderfully and prophetically right.

"Our Maureen" has been a consistent source of joy wisdom and counsel  all these eighty years:

To our parents

To her siblings and their spouses, children and grand children

To her fabulous and beloved husband Bernard

To their four children Nicholas, Louise, Emma, and Anne.

To her  daughter in law Lesley, and her sons-in-law David, Brett and Stuart

To her grandchildren,  James, Hannah, Imogen, Molly, Isaac, and Olivia.

We, her immediate family, adore, respect and love Maureen.    

And not just her family members There is a wider circle of people who bless God because Maureen crossed their paths: not least the members of Kensington Baptist Church, a multi-racial Church in the multi-cultural district of Easton, Bristol. Maureen has been a vital part of that Church and its ministry for close to sixty years.

Her faith in God-in-Christ is firm and unshakable,  She will gladly "witness" to this, but she will never "push" her beliefs on those who do not share them.

Maureen has visited me thrice in the U.S.A.  (Bernard twice).  My American compatriots who have met them in Massachusetts,  in Florida,  (or in the U.K),   will attest with me that she  (they) are the best.

Don't you wish that you had a big sister like Maureen?  She is indeed an utter Joy!

Bern and Maureen on our 2015 ocean cruise from Bristol, U.K. to Norway and back.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Adelaide and me

Adelaide with my sister Maureen (early morning!) Dec 2016

Adelaide has not been well since Saturday.  She sleeps a lot, slouches  (not limping) around, and in those four days has eaten no more  than five tablespoons(U.S. not U.K. size)  full of tuna and about twelve small pieces of cat kibble.

I can't get an appointment with her vet until Thursday morning, so in the meantime I am giving her far more t.l.c. that she usually gets from me.


And no barbecues or picnics for me today as my tummy has been a bit queasy.  I had a small piece of broiled fish and a little bit of baguette for breakfast, otherwise I have not eaten all day.

Monday, 3 July 2017

4th July 1776 and America's Original Sin

By 1984 it had become clear that I would spend my entire ministry in the U.S.A., so it made sense to become a U.S. Citizen.

Of course I was paying my taxes and the slogan "no taxation without representation" came to mind!  I also wanted the liberty of commenting on government policies and national affairs in my sermons (when the Sunday Scriptures pointed me in that direction.). It seemed unwise to do so as an alien guest, even as one with a Green Card.

Those were the incidentals.  What drew me most was the (mostly) magnificent Declaration of Independence. Imagine this -  it was a declaration of WE THE PEOPLE not I THE KING.

Who, apart from King George and his Tory Aristocrats and Bishops could quarrel with these magnificent words.

....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.

"all men?"   certainly not all men.

In 1776 it probably meant white men of property.

"all men?"   certainly not all men.

Black male slaves were not counted as "men".  It gets worse.  In order to boost the allocation  of seats in the House of Representatives (population based) slaves were counted as 3/5 of  free white men  in (the less populated slave owning States.

 "all men?"   certainly not all men.

In  1775 Men was a not a generic word for human beings.  Women were not given the vote until 1920 via a Constitutional Amendment.

And an "Equal Rights Amendment" to the U.S. Constitution (passed by the Senate in 1972)  was not ratified by sufficient States, which means that the rights of women are not guaranteed.

But  with all of its flaws I am still moved by the Declaration of Independence.  

That is until I read the following . Then my blood runs cold.

"He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

This of course means that Racism is enshrined in our foundational document.   The noble Indian Nations with their rich histories are, in the Declaration of Independence, reduced to merciless Indian Savages,.


Thirty three years on I am still proud that I chose to become an U.S.A . citizen.  But there is so much more  to do as we work t'wards a more perfect Union.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Independence Day (1) The prophetic words of Langston Hughes.

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again! 

Independence Day (2) Vice-President Henry Wallace on ":The Century of the Common Man" (1942)

Emphasis mine, with reference to the current occupant of the White House  (jmp)


"The Century of the Common Man"

Henry A. Wallace's speech articulating the goals of the war for the allies. From his book The Century of the Common Man. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1943.

This is a fight between a slave world and a free world. Just as the United States in 1862 could not remain half slave and half free, so in 1942 the world must make its decision for a complete victory one way or the other.

As we begin the final stages of this fight to the death between the free world and the slave world, it is worth while to refresh our minds about the march of freedom for the common man. The idea of freedom — the freedom that we in the United States know and love so well — is derived from the Bible with its extraordinary emphasis on the dignity of the individual. Democracy is the only true political expression of Christianity.

The prophets of the Old Testament were the first to preach social justice. But that which was sensed by the prophets many centuries before Christ was not given complete and powerful political expression until our nation was formed as a Federal Union a century and a half ago. Even then, the march of the common people had just begun. Most of them did not yet know how to read and write. There were no public schools to which all children could go. Men and women can not be really free until they have plenty to eat, and time and ability to read and think and talk things over. Down the years, the people of the United States have moved steadily forward in the practice of democracy. Through universal education, they now can read and write and form opinions of their own. They have learned, and are still learning, the art of production — that is, how to make a living. They have learned, and are still learning, the art of self-government.

If we were to measure freedom by standards of nutrition, education and self-government, we might rank the United States and certain nations of Western Europe very high. But this would not be fair to other nations where education had become widespread only in the last twenty years. In many nations, a generation ago, nine out of ten of the people could not read or write. Russia, for example, was changed from an illiterate to a literate nation within one generation and, in the process, Russia's appreciation of freedom was enormously enhanced. In China, the increase during the past thirty years in the ability of the people to read and write has been matched by their increased interest in real liberty.

Everywhere, reading and writing are accompanied by industrial progress sooner or later inevitably brings a strong labor movement. From a long-time and fundamental point of view, there are no backward peoples which are lacking in mechanical sense. Russians, Chinese, and the Indians both of India and the Americas all learn to read and write and operate machines just as well as your children and my children. Everywhere the common people are on the march. Thousands of them are learning to read and write, learning to think together, learning to use tools. These people are learning to think and work together in labor movements, some of which may be extreme or impractical at first, but which eventually will settle down to serve effectively the interests of the common man.

When the freedom-loving people march; when the farmers have an opportunity to buy land at reasonable prices and to sell the produce of their land through their own organizations, when workers have the opportunity to form unions and bargain through them collectively, and when the children of all the people have an opportunity to attend schools which teach them truths of the real world in which they live — when these opportunities are open to everyone, then the world moves straight ahead.

But in countries where the ability to read and write has been recently acquired or where the people have had no long experience in governing themselves on the basis of their own thinking, it is easy for demagogues to arise and prostitute the mind of the common man to their own base ends. Such a demagogue may get financial help from some person of wealth who is unaware of what the end result will be. With this backing, the demagogue may dominate the minds of the people, and, from whatever degree of freedom they have, lead them backward into slavery. Herr Thyssen, the wealthy German steel man, little realized what he was doing when he gave Hitler enough money to enable him to play on the minds of the German people. The demagogue is the curse of the modern world, and of all the demagogues, The worst are those financed by well-meaning wealthy men who sincerely believe that their wealth is likely to be safer if they can hire men with political "it" to change the sign posts and lure the people back into slavery of the most degraded kind. Unfortunately for the wealthy men who finance movements of this sort, as well as for the people themselves, The successful demagogue is a powerful genie who, when once let out of his bottle, refuses to obey anyone's command. As long as his spell holds, he defies God Himself, and Satan is turned loose upon the world.

Through the leaders of the Nazi revolution, Satan now is trying to lead the common man of the whole world back into slavery and darkness. For the stark truth is that the violence preached by the Nazis is the devil's own religion of darkness. So also is the doctrine that one race or one class is by heredity superior and that all other races or classes are supposed to be slaves. THE belief in one Satan-inspired Fuhrer, with his Quislings, his Lavals, and his Mussolinis — his "gauleiters" in every nation in the world — is the last and ultimate darkness. Is there any hell hotter than that of being a Quisling, unless it is that of being a Laval or a Mussolini?

In a twisted sense, there is something almost great in the figure of the Supreme Devil operating through a human form, in a Hitler who has the daring to spit straight into the eye of God and man. But the Nazi system has a heroic position for only one leader. By definition only one person is allowed to retain full sovereignty over his own soul. All the rest are stooges — they are stooges who have been mentally and politically degraded, and who feel that they can get square with the world only by mentally and politically degrading other people. These stooges are really psychopathic cases. Satan has turned loose upon us the insane.

The march of freedom of the past one hundred and fifty years has been a long-drawn-out people's revolution. In this Great Revolution of the people, there were the American Revolution of 1775, The French Revolution of 1792, The Latin-American revolutions of the Bolivarian era, The German Revolution of 1848, and the Russian Revolution of 1917. Each spoke for the common man in terms of blood on the battlefield. Some went to excess. But the significant thing is that the people groped their way to the light. More of them learned to think and work together.

The people's revolution aims at peace and not at violence, but if the rights of the common man are attacked, it unleashed the ferocity of a she-bear who has lost a cub. When the Nazi psychologists tell their master Hitler that we in the United States may be able to produce hundreds of thousands of planes, but that we have no will to fight, they are only fooling themselves and him. The truth is that when the rights of the American people are transgressed, as those rights have been transgressed, The American people will fight with a relentless fury which will drive the ancient Teutonic gods back cowering into their caves. The Götterdämmerung has come for Odin and his crew.

The people are on the march toward even fuller freedom than the most fortunate peoples of the earth have hitherto enjoyed. No Nazi counter-revolution will stop it. The common man will smoke the Hitler stooges out into the open in the United States, in Latin America, and in India. He will destroy their influence. No Lavals, no Mussolinis will be tolerated in a Free World.

The people, in their millennial and revolutionary march toward manifesting here on earth the dignity that is in every human soul, hold as their credo the Four Freedoms enunciated by President Roosevelt in his message to Congress on January 6, 1941. These four freedoms are the very core of the revolution for which the United Nations have taken their stand. We who live in the United States may think there is nothing very revolutionary about freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and freedom from the fear of secret police. But when we begin to think about the significance of freedom from want for the average man, then we know that the revolution of the past one hundred and fifty years has not been completed, either here in the United States or in any other nation in the world. We know that this revolution can not stop until freedom from want has actually been attained.

And now, as we move forward toward realizing the Four Freedoms of this people's revolution, I would like to speak about four duties. It is my belief that every freedom, every right, every privilege has its price, its corresponding duty without which it can not be enjoyed. The four duties of the people's revolution, as I see them today, are these:

   1. The duty to produce the limit.
   2. The duty to transport as rapidly as possible to the field of battle.
   3. The duty to fight with all that is in us.
   4. The duty to build a peace — just, charitable and enduring.

The fourth duty is that which inspires the other three.

We failed in our job after World War Number One. We did not know how to go about it to build an enduring world-wide peace. We did not have the nerve to follow through and prevent Germany from rearming. We did not insist that she "learn war no more." We did not build a peace treaty on the fundamental doctrine of the people's revolution. We did not strive whole-heartedly to create a world where there could be freedom from want for all peoples. But by our very errors we learned much, and after this war we shall be in position to utilize our knowledge in building a world which is economically, politically and, I hope, spiritually sound.

Modern science, which is a by-product and an essential part of the people's revolution, has made it technologically possible to see that all of the people of the world get enough to eat. Half in fun and half seriously, I said the other day to Madame Litvinov: "The object of this war is to make sure that everybody in the world has the privilege of drinking a quart of milk a day." She replied: "Yes, even half a pint." The peace must mean a better standard of living for the common man, not merely in the United States and England, but also in India, Russia, China and Latin America — not merely in the United Nations, but also in Germany and Italy and Japan.

Some have spoken of the "American Century." I say that the century on which we are entering — The century which will come out of this war — can be and must be the century of the common man. Perhaps it will be America's opportunity to suggest that Freedoms and duties by which the common man must live. Everywhere the common man must learn to build his own industries with his own hands is a practical fashion. Everywhere the common man must learn to increase his productivity so that he and his children can eventually pay to the world community all that they have received. No nation will have the God-given right to exploit other nations. Older nations will have the privilege to help younger nations get started on the path to industrialization, but there must be neither military nor economic imperialism. The methods of the nineteenth century will not work in the people's century which is now about to begin. India, China, and Latin America have a tremendous stake in the people's century. As their masses learn to read and write, and as they become productive mechanics, their standard of living will double and treble. Modern science, when devoted whole-heartedly to the general welfare, has in it potentialities of which we do not yet dream.

And modern science must be released from German slavery. International cartels that serve American greed and the German will to power must go. Cartels in the peace to come must be subjected to international control for the common man, as well as being under adequate control by the respective home governments. In this way, we can prevent the Germans from again building a war machine while we sleep. With international monopoly pools under control, it will be possible for inventions to serve all the people instead of only a few.

Yes, and when the time of peace comes, The citizen will again have a duty, The supreme duty of sacrificing the lesser interest for the greater interest of the general welfare. Those who write the peace must think of the whole world. There can be no privileged peoples. We ourselves in the United States are no more a master race than the Nazis. And we can not perpetuate economic warfare without planting the seeds of military warfare. We must use our power at the peace table to build an economic peace that is just, charitable and enduring.

If we really believe that we are fighting for a people's peace, all the rest becomes easy. Production, yes — it will be easy to get production without either strikes or sabotage, production with the whole-hearted cooperation between willing arms and keen brains; enthusiasm, zip, energy geared to the tempo of keeping at it everlastingly day after day. Hitler knows as well as those of us who sit in on the War Production Board meetings that we here in the United States are winning the battle of production. He knows that both labor and business in the United States are doing a most remarkable job and that his only hope is to crash through to a complete victory some time during the next six months.

And then there is the task of transportation to the line of battle by truck, by railroad car, by ship. We shall joyously deny ourselves so that our transportation system is improved by at least thirty percent.

I need say little about the duty to fight. Some people declare, and Hitler believes, that the American people have grown soft in the last generation. Hitler agents continually preach in South America that we are cowards, unable to use, like the "brave" German soldiers, the weapons of modern war. It is true that American youth hates war with a holy hatred. But because of that fact and because Hitler and the German people stand as the very symbol of war, we shall fight with a tireless enthusiasm until war and the possibility of war have been removed from this planet. We shall cleanse the plague spot of Europe, which is Hitler's Germany, and with it the hell-hole of Asia — Japan.

No compromise with Satan is possible. We shall not rest until all the victims under the Nazi yoke are freed. We shall fight for a complete peace as well as a complete victory.

The people's revolution is on the march, and the devil and all his angels can not prevail against it. They can not prevail, for on the side of the people is the Lord.

"He giveth power to the faint; to them that have no might He increaseth strength.... They that wait upon the Lord shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not be faint."

Strong in the strength of the Lord, we who fight in the people's cause will never stop until that cause is won.

(May 8, 1942)