Saturday, January 28, 2006

I should've learned . . .

Fender Broadcaster Body play the guitar, and when I did, I should have kept the one I had!

I read an article today about how much people are paying for so-called "vintage" guitars - you know, the so-called Pre-CBS Fenders and the 1950s vintage Les Pauls?

Some people are dropping hundreds of thousands of dollars for these things. This particular ax, a Fender Broadcaster, number 37 of 50, was for sale in Germany for $20,570. Got any spare change?

I learned to play guitar on an old Yamaha that my dad bought. He loved music, but he had one problem - he was tone deaf. He could not make the instrument make the proper sound if you held a gun to his skull. My brother, the pianist, had no interest in stringed instruments, so I inherited the guitar. And it was a love affair that has not ended.

Some people would say that this is a hobby, but I beg to differ. This is a sickness. At one time in my life I owned six - six - guitars. I had a Yamaha steel string, another steel string knock off that someone gave me, a classical, a 12-string, a Gibson Les Paul electric, and a bass. I traded some of these around - including gasp! the Les Paul. That one I should have kept!

It was sweet - wine colored with gold hardware. A Les Paul Custom, no less, and I remember I dug ditches - literally worked for a construction company all summer - to get it. I choked for breath when I found it at home one day when I got back from work. My dad had secretly gone to the music store to get it. It was beautiful.

Les Paul Custom Guitar image hosting by PhotobucketAnd I remember playing, and playing and playing that thing until my fingers went numb. "Sweet Home Alabama," "Purple Haze," "Spooky," "Brown Sugar," "Renegade," "Sultans of Swing," and any other guitar anthem I could learn, I learned. I also learned some Wes Montgomery-type jazz tunes to impress the fellas at the music store. (This photo is not of mine; I only had two pickups on mine, but the color scheme is the same, just to give you a taste. I saw one for sale on e-bay for $2,500! But that's the sickness talking)

A sidebar: - I actually got to meet a couple of the guitar gods of my wasted youth at the Super Bowl three years ago. I met - actually was in a press conference with and asked a question of - Carlos Santana. I also had a lengthy conversation with James Young of Styx, and of course we talked about guitars! And about nine years ago, an old girlfriend of mine and I interviewed Les Paul himself as part of an exhibit at the National Museum of American History here in Washington. My question for him? Why are the things so $&!@## heavy ? His answer - for the sustain son; you don't get the sustain in the high notes without the dense wood, and dense wood is heavy.)

But the thing about a Les Paul is it's a MEAT eater. It's not the kind of ax you can play in church (at least not in a stone Episcopal church like I went to in college).

So it sat in the case for years. Then when I moved out of the house after college - and got involved with my now ex-wife, I traded the Les Paul for - choke! - an Ibanez jazz guitar. It was a kinder, gentler instrument, but it was not the same.

So when I saw this article I remembered my wine colored mistress, with her golden hardware shimmering in the spotlights and her shiny black headstock inlaid with mother-of-pearl. I remembered how my classmates cheered - cheered! - when I started playing "Sweet Home Alabama" for the senior talent show in school. And I wondered where that guitar ever went. I hope it has a good home.

Friday, January 27, 2006

"525,600 Minutes ...."

Okay, so Rent took that one, and since I don't want to get sued, I give them all credit. But no royalties!

It has been one year since I started this blog. The first post (in the archives on January 28, 2005) was about the Super Bowl.

But the past year has been one of changes, some I will never forget, some I would just as soon not remember.

I do not want to get too sentimental about this. The Raves have been a forum for me to express feelings and to find out what other people think. I have also learned a few things - some HTML design, some CSS, and what it's like to have a pissed-off photography person write you a crappy note in public.

I have tried to be fair, and I have tried to get my facts right in stories about larger issues. I have enjoyed the comments and I hope that there will be more, for - God willing - the Raves will continue.

So I wanted to mark this anniversary, and to thank those who have stopped by. I have changed some of the links in the sidebar, because they ceased to be my favorites. I hope to add some more features in the future (as I learn more web design - I do want to entertain and inform you dear readers). And if I go to the World Cup this year, I plan to post from there, too, and promise to keep it real.

Your faithful correspondent,


The Squeeze, Part 2

Lion image (c)kai.dokkyomen.acI want you to look closely at this picture. This is, sickly as it might appear, a lion. In a cage. In a zoo.

And if you look really close you can see that it looks like he is sick - or has water running from his eyes - and he presents a pitiful picture.

He is as little like a lion as possible, but inside his heart there still beats something wild. The question I ask is this: What's inside you that God put there by design but somehow seems to have faded?

I often find myself frustrated with the so-called realities of life and what I believe God wants me to be doing. Sometimes I cannot reconcile the two. Jesus said no man can serve two masters, and it's true. It's either God, or the world; no middle ground.

However, while as Christians we are not to be conformed to the world (see my earlier post about the Squeeze) we still live here . And to live here takes money, and to make money you have to have a job - unless you steal or filch off others - and a job demands attention. But inside my heart there is a desire to chuck all that. Unfortunately this is where the tension comes in.

As the late Flip Wilson said in one of his comedy routines, "For this church to run it's gonna take money!" And what was the congregation's response? "Let it crawl, Rev! Let it crawl!

Now this is where the tension gets personal. I like to eat. I like to have lights on in the house. I like to drive a car and go on vacation every now and then. So I have to have money. So I have to have a job. But does that mean that my job and God's purpose are in opposition? Not necessarily. But sometimes, when the love has worn off, the frustration rises and the "over-it" factor comes in, it's really hard to remember those things.

Now part of the reason I'm complaining so much about that tension is that no one told me about it! I was not prepared for this midlife crap, and so now I am learning the game on the field, instead of in practice. So if you are a parent, prepare your children for real life. Not telling them how it really goes is abuse, plain and simple.

And in case you're curious, this is what a lion looks like on the savannah, where he belongs. Notice that there is a majesty about the beast, and there is an authority to him. He looks nothing like his fellow cat in the photo above.

It is said of Jesus that he preached with authority (Mt 7:29) and not as the scribes. And He is called the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5). Did you ever wonder why? Could it be because he was being who he was supposed to be and not what other people wanted Him to be? It got Him crucified, but His resurrection proves the point.

Thomas Merton once wrote that a tree glorifies God by being a tree because it is being what God created it to be. My hope for all of us is that we would be just like that tree - or this lion - and be what God created us to be instead of what we think we have to be to get by.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Now is the Winter of our discontent!

Take me Back! Take Me Back! Take Me back! This is a shot of Paradise Beach on Paradise Island. I took it earlier this month with a Fuji 1000 film camera and had it developed onto a CD so I could post it. There are more Bahamas photos in the Flickr thingy in the right hand column.

The weather in Nassau, the Bahamas, today, Thursday January 26,2006? Partly Cloudy, and 75 degrees at the airport.

Washington D.C.'s weather? Sunny with a high of 40 with 25 mph winds that make it feel like it's 25!



Harold and Fayard NicholasDid you hear that sound? It was the sound of tap shoes mourning the passing of one of the class acts of dance - Fayard Nicholas, of the Nicholas Brothers dance team, died earlier this week. He was 91.

Fayard and his brother Harold - who died in 2000 - brought class, style, and moves to tap dancing that will be copied - but never duplicated - for ages to come.

I first saw the Nicholas brothers in a retrospective piece that 60 Minutes did on them several years back. The Nicholas Brothers with Dorothy Dandridge in 1941These two men were the tap dancers of the 20th century, bar none. Gregory Hines learned from them; Savion Glover learned from them; Sammy Davis, Jr. learned from them; Debbie Allen and even Michael Jackson learned from Harold and Fayard.

What you thought Michael came up with moonwalk? Fayard and Harold were doing that step when Michael's father was a gamete!

The children of show business parents from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Harold and Fayard made it look easy. They performed at the legendary Cotton Club in Harlem, they performed in movies, in the Ziegfeld Follies, and even a Command Performance for the King of England as well as for several U.S. Presidents.

They have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and have been awarded the Kennedy Center Honors, as well as a Tony Award and have made appearances in several films.

Their moves are legendary, even into their sixth decade on stage. Fayard will be missed. He and his brother sprang from an era when stage shows had something that is sadly missing from much popular culture today - style. [ Images courtesy of the Nicholas Brothers Website

Sunday, January 22, 2006

A'int that sumpfin!

Kirsten Hall formerly of Sugarland (c) Sugarland.comYou might not know this lady unless you are a fan of Sugarland. Or a fan of hers from the Atlanta Music scene. Her name is Kristen Hall and she is a singer-songwriter who has decided to leave the group at the height of its popularity.

Ironically, I was talking to Cornelia about her because in Sugarland's videos, she never seemed to appear that much on camera. Now there's all kinds of speculation about why she left the group, famous for such pop-country hits as "Baby Girl" and "Gotta Be Something More."

Some of this is ridiculous - like the conservative establishment in Nashville wanted her out of the group because she is a lesbian. Or that she was too fat, but whatever the reason, she's gone.

I must admit that I did notice that Kristen did not get much attention in the videos I saw on CMT or GAC. But that could be of course because another member of the group Jennifer Nettles is the lead singer. Jennifer Nettles (c)

Of course it doesn't hurt that Jennifer Nettles has a beautiful face, is always dressed in tight clothes to show off her figure, and has a voice that could melt a glacier. And she has also been on stage with Jon Bon Jovi, and has some solo work as well.

But I couldn't help noticing that Kristen never really appeared on camera that much. Even though she is a talented songwriter. I even said one time "fat girl don't get no face time." And even that comment shows that I am just as much a part of the problem as anyone. Why should I characterize her by her weight? Part of what I was noticing I was helping to encourage!

But Kristen is gone. The word is she's gone home to Atlanta and wants to write songs. Ironically, it was the singing of her own songs in clubs each night that helped lead her to found Sugarland with Nettles and mandolin player/ songwriter Kristian Bush in the first place.

But whatever the reason, I hope she has a great career. More power to ya girl. Follow your heart.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Squeeze is on . . .

Sun & Moon garden mold by Milkyway Molds.comAnd do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom 12:2)

This attractive piece of sculpture is actually a mold - you know, like one of the things they pour soap into to make all those cute things your wife likes at Crabtree and Evelyn. Or Bath and Body Works. But it holds a valuable lesson - the mold does. And it relates to the verse above - the squeeze is on to shape you into someone's image. Who's it gonna be?

The reason I ask that question is because everybody seems to want to make me into something they want me to be. I interviewed an Olympic skier today on the talk show we have at work. And he - like me - is a childhood sexual abuse survivor. Why do I mention that? Because one of the consequences of abuse that I have found in my life is that I try to please people. I guess I am trying to make everybody happy because if they are happy at least they won't attack me.

Anyway after the broadcast, one of the supervisors was paying me a compliment about it, even though his decision is the reason we no longer have any live sportscasts in English where I work. So he is suggesting that I think about working for the television division because I can communicate well. But writing for the newswire is more than enough work - some days I write as many as 15 stories in a shift, and I sometimes even post them on our Internet site. So to add a labor-intensive, time-consuming television project to that would burn me up.

But this supervisor says that soon "everyone will have to serve two masters, because everyone is going to have to do everything." There it was. The squeeze! What he was saying is that the managers have decided to add extra work (of course without adding any extra money). So there's the squeeze.The squeeze is on

Now I will be the first to admit that my emotional damage might - might - be coloring this a little bit. I might be perceiving things as abusive - or putting on the squeeze - when they really are not.

But it could be that I am also sensitive to manipulation - the squeeze. And that's where this verse from Romans comes in. Paul has told the Roman church to present themselves to God as living sacrifices because of Who God is. He goes on to instruct them not to think more highly of themselves than they ought to and to use the gifts that God has given them to help others.

But the word for conform is the thing that I want to point to. It is the Greek word summorphus which basically means "having the same form as another, similar, conformed to." It is made up of the preposition sun which is "a primary preposition denoting union" and morphe meaning "external appearance."

So what it's talking about is don't look the same as the world. I have seen this scripture translated in other versions as "don't let the world cram you into its mold."

And that's what I feel sometimes. I feel like people are trying to cram me into their mold. At work, at church, on the Beltway. It feels like I'm being bullied, like I am being squeezed. And I don't like it. But the question remains, to whom will I conform?

The thing that I learned about the word "conformed" here is that it is also used in another verse in Romans, 8:29: For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

And the word image here is the word "eikon" which is "used of the moral likeness of renewed men to God" and also is "the image of the Son of God, into which true Christians are transformed, is likeness not only to the heavenly body, but also to the most holy and blessed state of mind, which Christ possesses." A. W. Robertson says about this conforming:

Here we have both morph and eikwn to express the gradual change in us till we acquire the likeness of Christ the Son of God so that we ourselves shall ultimately have the family likeness of sons of God.

Now that means that God wants me to look just like Jesus. But he is kind, he does not manipulate, but leads. Does that mean that I will always be comfortable? Absolutely not! Will that transformation be easy? I don't expect it will be, but as Bob Dylan said "it may be the devil or it may be the Lord but you're gonna have to serve somebody." I choose Jesus.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Two Tickets to Paradise

The Cloisters on Paradise Island (c) dbyrdHere's another shot from Paradise Island.

This is called "The Cloisters" and the name is appropriate - it is actually an Augustine Cloister from the 12th Century. It was brought to Paradise Island by Huntington Hartford, who purchased it from the estate of former newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst.

It is a breathtaking place. Unfortunately, condominiums are being built adjacent to the property that threaten its silent beauty.

The Cloister is part of what is called the Versailles Gardens, a multi-tiered layout that features statues of mythological and classical heroes and heroines, but also includes a couple of massive bronzes of David Livingston and Franklin Roosevelt.

According to Frommer's 2004 guide, The Cloister was reassembled on its current site stone by stone after Huntington Hartford, the A & P heir, bought it from the Hearst Estate.

When they took the thing apart, no one numbered the pieces, so it had to be reassembled by artist and sculptor Jean Castre-Manne. It took him two years but it is as close to the original as could be achieved. Versailles Gardens in the Bahamas

When we were there, the Bougainvilleas were in full bloom, the grass was cut to about two inches deep and felt like shag carpeting under your feet and the sun was shining brightly off the statues and the steps. The stairs have an overgrown quality to them, with a thick mound of grass in the cracks where mortar used to be.

It was a garden of tranquility. Unfortunately, The One and Only Ocean Club, a private Country Club, owns part of the gardens and has its pool on one of the tiers. You cannot explore the full garden, since the Club portion is "for members and guests only." If you need a reminder, there are signs.

One thing we enjoyed was sitting in the gazebo on the harbor side of the gardens in the photo above. This spot is supposed to be a favorite for weddings and you can certainly see why. When we asked directions to it, the concierge called it "dat place where dey have de wedding pictures taken."

But development threatens this sanctuary. Even the Frommer's guide acknowledges that "although the monument remains a timeless beauty, recent buildings have encroached on either side, marring Huntington Hartford's vision." But it is still worth seeing.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Guess who!

Jack Bauer image Courtesy fox productions Here's Jackie!

The Fox show 24 had its season premier Sunday night and already Jack Bauer has capped a bad man, former President David Palmer is dead, Tony Almeida is in critical condition, his girlfriend is dead and the caca has hit the fan!

Hang on y'all. There's a new sheriff in town and it's gonna be a wild ride. And boy don't we love it so.

I had heard Kiefer Sutherland on the talk show circuit (David Letterman, Charlie Rose, et al) talk about how there were some changes brewing this year and man did this show deliver.

In the first 10 minutes, the former President David Palmer (played with authority by Dennis Haysbert) is shot through the neck (ironically the same way Martin Luther King was shot through the neck; I wonder if the producers thought about that? Maybe they did it on purpose). And Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard) and his love interest Michelle Dessler (Reiko Aylesworth) are blown to shreds by a car bomb. Tony lives, Michelle does not.

Chloe O'Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub) is being chased by bad guys (whom Jack summarily caps, including the guy who blew away David Palmer) and we find out that President Logan (hereafter referred to as "The Weasel" played to his snot-nosed best by actor Gregory Itzin) has a mole in his office who is working with the bad guys behind all this.

Connie Britton Image courtest Jack also has a new love interest, Diane, played with come-hither over it kind of sexiness by Connie Britton And there are the usual gun-toting bad guys, and as of this writing they have taken over an airport, in which Jack - and Diane's son - are trapped.

This whole thing seems to be run by some shadowy Russian mob figure and this story is just two hours old. And there is the hint of some collusion within the U.S. government. And Jean Smart really shines as President Weasel's first lady. She apparently is bipolar, and yet she seems to have some kind of insight into the shennanigans going on around President Palmer's assassination.

All of this appeals to me on a very visceral level. It harkens down deep to a sense of right and wrong where - as I have coined the phrase to my lovely wife - "bad men must die!" I mean I was screaming "Shoot him Jack!" when Kiefer Sutherland confronted the assassin in an oil refinery. Hey man, kill the bad guys. Save the world.

And I guess that could be more of an expression of frustration with the real world. You know, where this week's freedom fighter is next year's terrorist - where a country that says it wants to promote democracy would spy on it's own citizens and use torture in violation of it's own sacred documents to extract information.

The real world is much murkier and grayer that Jack Bauer's existence. Even though the producers try to make his world more like the real one, we all carry that sense while watching 24 that somehow, some way, Jack will bring the bad guys to justice.

So I look forward to this season. The interviews have promised suprises, for which the show is known (like Jack's wife getting killed by his girlfriend in season one) so I am looking forward to 24 weeks of entertainment. [Kiefer Sutherland image courtesy Fox television. Connie Britton Image courtesy]

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Ok so Winter's back

But just in case you don't like cold weather here's a shot to remind you what Paradise looks like. And it is Paradise - Paradise Island in the Bahamas to be exact.

You want to know what love is? My wife took me there for Christmas. It was a total surprise and we still talk about it. Four days at an all-inclusive resort (Paradise Island Harbour Resort) and we spent most of it walking up and down the beach.

The air was clear, and warm, and the water was still warm enough to swim in and the sunsets and sunrises were absolutely breathtaking! So I can say I have been to Paradise. If you get the chance, go. But you better go quick - they are building condos whereever they can and soon all the great beaches will be hard to get to - like Pirate Beach and Paradise Beach.

If you don't go, then this is what it looks like. This is the end of Pirate Beach at Paradise Beach, shot with a Suji 1000 film camera, and I have not processed it at all. The water is that color and so is the sky. The rocks in the foreground are an old coral reef.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

That one is .... gone!

So the Washington Redskins have gone down to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL Playoffs.

They played in waterlogged Seattle, but in the end, Mark Brunell and the crew could not overcome the 10 point deficit and Seattle's famed 12th man crowd. But they gave it their best. Maybe now all the fairweather friends will shut their pie holes - at least until August.

I have been a Redskins fan since I was a kid. I came to love the Burgundy and Gold because of my dad, who went to Duke, as did the quarterback of the Redskins at that time - Sonny Jurgensen.

We watched the skins through the cruddy years, when they came close, but never won the Super Bowl. I went to my first Redskins game as an adult - my dad and I never made it to RFK together. I was at the last game the 'skins played at RFK against Dallas, and people were pulling hunks of turf, and seats, out of the stadium.

I have been to FedEx field a couple of times, but it is not nearly as convenient as RFK was. If you could call waiting in line for hours to get on the metro after a game convenient. But that was part of the charm.

But all that is gone now. If you are a 'Skins fan, the past few weeks have been like Cinderella, but midnight came in the rains of Seattle, and the glass slipper is broken.

The Skins are done for another year, and all the gas-faced pundits like George Michael or Michael Wilbon or Tony Kornheiser will pick the body apart until they know why every cell malfunctioned. But come August, they will be back. And so will I.

Friday, January 13, 2006


So I have made a few changes to the blog template. The header is a photo I took of Hooker Falls in North Carolina, which I then colorized using Adobe Photoshop Elements. I also changed the footer to match, adjusted the color of the sidebars, and the color of the visited and non visited links. I would be interested in comments, but I like the colors for now. Maybe when the Spring comes I will change it again. Stay tuned.

Now is the Winter?

It's been so warm here in the DC Area that I thought I would post this photo shot last February and altered a little bit with Adobe Photoshop to remember that Winter is still here.

As part of that, my job is getting ready to cover the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. As part of our prep, I got to do something really cool, something you might see the next time you mail a letter.

I got to interview the artist who designed the US Postal Service's new Winter Olympic stamp. His name is John Mattos, and he lives in Chinatown in San Francisco, California. He is a soft-spoken guy, and said that the big thing for him in designing this stamp was to keep it simple.

The stamp - which carries the Olympic rings, USA, and the phrase Winter Olympics Turin 2006 as well as the new 39 cent denomination - features a female skier going into a turn at full speed. The first time I saw the image, I could not have told you that it was supposed to be a woman, but on closer inspection of a larger image, I saw, that yes, indeed the skier had breasts and a feminine face.

But the thing that was neat about interviewing John was that he said he was reading a magazine in which the names of all the people on the board that selects stamps were published. He tracked them down and sent them samples of some of his work (he won a gold medal in 2003 from the New York Society of Illustrators) and they called him a week later.

Unfortunately, John will not be making the trip to Turin for the Olympics. He's busy with another project - actually two projects - and cannot spare the time. But it sure was cool to talk to him.

If you want to see the new stamp, go to the US Postal Service web site or your local post office. If you want to see more examples of John Mattos's work, check out his website at And remember, Winter is still here until March - even if the temperature says otherwise.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


So maybe I'm a prophet or maybe I know the realities of life. It appears that Pat Robertson has apologized for his remarks about Ariel Sharon. He said that he had been insensitive to the Israelis in a difficult situation. Well, at least he owned up to it. So just like the rest of us screw ups there is forgiveness for him too.

What is it worth?

This is a photo of the grandson of a lady I go to church with. His name is Tony Lutz and he was killed outside Fallujah, Iraq, when a sniper's bullet hit him where his body armor was not.

The thing that is truly tragic about this is that if our government had been willing to pay a few dollars more, this young man might be alive.

There have been news reports in recent days that the body armor supplied to our troops -- like Tony -- is defective. Apparently the Pentagon has decided its too expensive to buy stuff that would adequately protect our troops - like putting enough armor on their humvees - so they give them something that is adequate, but deadly.

Now this should be elementary. These young men and women are fighting a war of dubious purpose, supposedly to guarantee the freedom of the rest of us. But they are not being given the best equipment available to do that job. They are given what we - that's right we - will pay for. Because it is our tax dollars that fund the Pentagon and the rest of the Government.

And a report on CBS News last week said that the so-called "insurgents" in Iraq - the guys like the sniper who killed Tony Lutz - are being taught to aim for the seams in the armor so they can kill Americans. Interceptor Body Armor
I don't know about you, but I find that ridiculous. The Army of course says that it is committed to providing the best equipment possible, but if that's the case, why did an unreleased study last summer by the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner conclude that of the fatal torso wounds it saw, most of them were at the edges of the armor plating. The report said that a larger plate or superior protection around the plate would have prevented the fatalities.

Tony's funeral is Friday in Arlington, Virginia. Pray for his family. He has two kids, both under six. His grandmother's name is Terri. Pray for her too. And when you're done praying, write your congressman and senators and do something about this ridiculous situation.

Is this the will of God?

Pat Robertson on the 700 ClubSo it appears that the Israeli government does not believe that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke earlier this month was - as Pat Robertson asserted on the 700 Club - punishment from God for Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza strip.

Now it looks like the Christian Heritage Center - which was to be built on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and for which Robertson was scheduled to raise $50 million while Israel was going to provide the land and infrastructure - is a goner. Israel has revoked the deal. Now where does God fall on this?

The Associated Press and the Jerusalem Post both quote Israel's tourism Minister Abraham Hirchson as saying that the order does not apply to all evangelicals, just to Robertson and those who share his views.

Last week, Robertson said that Sharon's hemorrhagic stroke was punishment from God for "dividing his land" through ordering the withdrawal of settlers from the Gaza strip and the West Bank. Robertson said "woe to any Israeli Prime Minister who thinks he can come in and divide up this land."

The Christian Heritage Center was expected to sit on 35 acres of land near Capernaum, the Mount of the Beatitudes, and Tabgha, where Jesus is believed to have performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Capernaum from the Southeast by

Robertson's spokeswoman Angell Watts was quoted as saying that he "has not talked to the Israelis on this topic." The head of the Heritage Center steering committee, Uri Dagul, said that the Israelis initiated the project before Robertson came on board. Dagul did not dismiss the possibility of working with the television evangelist and Christian Broadcasting Network found if he issues an appropriate apology.

Readers will remember that Pat made controversial comments about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez a few months back, and had to apologize for them. Whether he will apologize for his latest remarks does not appear as likely.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

In the heavens . . .

sunset December 28 2005 Washington, DC (c) dbyrdHe has pitched a tent for the sun,
which is like a bridegroom
coming forth from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat. (Ps 19:4-6)

So I posted some more sunlight shots on flickr.

I know some people would argue that photography is not about statues or buildings, but these shots are really breathtaking because of the sun. The light in them is amazing and I didn't do anything to it. They really looked like this. Check it out.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Pat, Ariel, Katrina and God

Robertson Links Sharon's Stroke to Wrath. The Rev. Pat Robertson -- the Chancellor of the University I attend -- has linked Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke to punishment from God for partitioning Israel.

On The 700 Club Thursday, Pat said after a report from Chris Mitchell, the show's Mideast Correspondent, that Sharon had been punished for dividing up Israel.

It is ironic that the man who championed the so-called "Greater Israel" policy, and who fought to maintain Israel's territorial integrity, should also be the one who was responsible for dismantling that policy. But does that mean that a stroke in a 77-year-old man was God's judgment on him?

Robertson quoted the Book of Joel when he said that God "has enmity against those who 'divide my land.' God considers this land to be His. You read the Bible he says this is my land. And for any Prime Minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says 'No! This is mine.'"

The Hebrew word Joel uses in Chapter 3, vs 2 that Robertson quoted is 'erets and it is translated variously as land, earth, world, dust, and ground.

Pat goes on to imply that a similar fate might have befallen former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, for his land-for-peace plan. The 700 Club host says he would say "woe unto any Prime Minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the E.U., the United Nations or the United States of America."

Robertson ended the segment by saying "God says this land belongs to me, you better leave it alone."

The book of Joel does talk about God judging the nations. He speaks of bringing all those who have afflicted Israel into judgment. This is also the same book that says that God will pour out his Spirit on all flesh, and whoever calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.

So is Robertson right in making his connection between Sharon's stroke and his policies? What about the Kuwaiti -- and the minister --who wrote that Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment on America for it's Mideast policy or its wickedness? Or those who said that 9-11 was the wrath of God for America's wickedness?

Or what about Robertson's earlier statements that the United States should "take out" Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez? Statements for which he later apologized? Are his comments about Mr. Sharon another example of an off-the-cuff remark that went awry?

A White House spokesman, Trent Duffy, speaking to reporters on Air Force One called Dr. Robertson's comments about Sharon "wholly inappropriate and offensive, and really don't have a place in this or any other debate."

CBN released a statement from Robertson's spokesperson, Angell Watts, part of which reads: Robertson is simply reminding his viewers what the Bible has to say about efforts made to divide the land of Israel.

She also expressed Dr. Robertson’s outrage at People for the American Way, who have a clear left-wing political agenda and who, on an ongoing basis, lift his comments out of context and widely circulate them in an attempt to discredit him.

So I wanted to ask: What do you believe?

What is it to be kind?

I have often wondered about people who are kind. I only know a few of them, but every time I meet them, they seem to have a lasting effect on me. Most of the time the people I encounter leave a bad taste in my mouth, especially at rush hour on the city streets. But every now and then, I meet someone who is really, and genuinely kind .

And often I am not one of those kind people. That they stand out by contrast to the majority speaks volumes.

Oh I can be kind, I can act "nice" to people. But most of the time I am not. At least I admit it. I often excuse or rationalize crappy behavior by defending myself or justifying my actions. But the person on the other end of my vitriol often does not know that. They just see me as a prick. Which I can be, truth be told. I have honed my points to razor sharpness, and I can use them if I need them. But who wants to be a sea nettle?

I had something happen today that struck me. Actually I had two things. One was negative, and the other kind of nice. The negative thing was a comment someone made at work. The kind act was someone offering to buy me a cup of coffee when I had to get out of line at the coffee shop. Both had an effect. One was the same old crap. The other was remarkable for its unsolicited kindness.

The thing about kind people is that they make you want to be like them. Nasty people only make you want to snap their heads off or avoid them. But kind people have this magnetism. You will go out of your way to be around them. And you always feel better when you talk to them.

But it's hard to remember to be kind to people. I guess you have to practice being kind and then kindness just kind of comes out of you like smell out of a rose. I looked up some quotes on kindness and I found a few that were pretty good.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Frederick W. Faber:
Kindness has converted more sinners than zeal, eloquence or learning.

Ralph Waldo Emerson:
You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

We're not worthy! We're not worthy!

Ron Carter image by Hunihiro TakumaThat was my response a la Wayne and Garth when I logged on to Ron Carter's website.

I had heard his name when talking bass with friends, and he was always referred to with a sense of awe, and wonder, kind of like Willie Mays or Nolan Ryan or Juan Manuel Fangio, or anyone else you could think of who mastered what they did.

Quintessential - not to be improved upon.

I had also seen him in the Ken Burns Jazz miniseries on PBS. Then I heard the brother. Now I know.

His website offers some tastes of the master's art. If you like music that swings, a groove that will make tapping your foot irresistable, and moods that convey all that jazz is about, check this out.

Listening to him play, and knowing that he is making that sound on an upright just causes my jaw to drop. Granted, he has been at it for longer than I have been alive, but now I understand what all the hushed silence was about when people talked about him.

I thought Victor Wooten was the best I had ever heard. Now I have heard another master, another who can truly be called quintessential. Not to be improved upon. Perfect. Check it out if you like bass. If you don't like bass, why are you reading this?