Sunday, October 18, 2009

Recasting the Bible in Our Own Image!

Barry Gittins has a great two-part post on, “I was a teenage fundamentalist,” over at, well written and insightful. Likewise, a must companion read to this post is found over at titled, “Putting the right spin on the Bible” (emphasis on the word, “right”).

Its essence is the human tendency to “Recast the Bible in our own image.” I love Pitts opening statement:

“So we may soon have ourselves a conservative Bible. Besides Fox News, I mean.”

Likewise his ending statement:

“Conservapedia’s effort to remake Jesus of Nazareth in the image of Dick Cheney suggests a future filled with more of the same. A conservative Bible? Lord, have mercy.”

This post is a must read, necessary to fill in all of the irreverent, but very relevant stuff in between.

Note: For some of you reading this, the right links can be found over at


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tattoo Evangelism!

What an interesting phenomenon. I’ve thought about one, but at my age a tattoo and sagging, wrinkling skin don’t go very well together. The above are a few examples of those that can be found on the Facebook site: Salvation Army Tattoo’s.

This was created by Rob and seems to be drawing a lot of interest. Who knows, one day we may have a Territorial Tattoo Evangelism Secretary (TTES). Tattoos have always been important in the Hawaiian culture. For Rob’s Master’s thesis in Art at the University of Hawaii, he used tattoo art very creatively in his prints, each with a subtle spiritual theme. Subsequently, they were displayed in an art show and viewed by Hawaiian members of his beach ministry corps. Since they did the tattoos on each other, Rob was approached and asked if he would create a Jesus tattoo and use their skin as the canvas (I’m writing this from memory, so may not have the facts exactly right. If not, Rob will set me straight, but its close enough). Anyway, now I can proudly exclaim, “My son, the tattoo artist!” …For Jesus, that is.

I wonder, is there a Commissioner, active or retired, with a tattoo? Would I be the first? If so, I’m sorely tempted; that is if a wrinkle free patch of skin can be found. Maybe ArmyBarmy could run a competition in cyberspace to determine the design, followed by a podcast featuring the actual rendering? Wouldn’t that be a hoot? So long as God is glorified in it all, of course!


Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Naked Truth!

Interestingly enough, I copied a picture of The Naked Cowboy and the Clothes less Fringle (does have an apron on, both standing the July Kettle in Times Square, NYC) off Facebook yesterday, to accompany what was going to be a fun post today (including the YouTube link, which unfortunately no longer exists). The subject matter, however, has taken a significant turn making this post a little more serious than it was meant and/or ought to be.

It appears that DHQ has ordered the Corps Officer, Billy Francis, to remove the photos and the link because there were a few complaints. Oh my! How the Army culture has changed over the past Century in New York City. Diane Winston, in her book, Red Hot and Righteous, details a bit of that early Army cultural flair; a panache highly objectionable to a plethora of puritans during that day. Had HQ listened and the antics of those early pioneers quieted, the Army would not be the powerhouse that it is in America today.

Winston quotes an 1896 editorial in the War Cry “…we have commonly preferred to engage a secular place for our meetings…our greatest triumphs have been witnessed in theatres, music halls, rinks, breweries, saloons, stores and similar places.” Oh my! Theaters, breweries, saloons, wonder what the purists had to say about that? Had those in authority listened, where would we be today?

She further writes, “Similarly, its evangelical street workers invented ever more dramatic ploys…staged ‘trials’ of the devil…preached from coffins…and appeared as ‘specialty’ acts with names such as the Golden Minstrel, the Saved Cowboy, and the Converted Pugilist.”

Saved Cowboy, Converted Pugilist! And the cowboy’s not naked; he’s wearing SpongeBob Squarepants briefs and cowboy boots for goodness sake. Is that a tattoo of Christ I detect on his left shoulder? The truth is, if we continue to listen to the objectors, where will we be tomorrow? Where are we today? Not to worry, the objectors are far and few between because we’re playing it a little bit safer today. Now that’s the naked truth!

Stay tuned for a continuation of this theme in the next post.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Round and Round!

It’s interesting how life keeps coming back round again. Think about it. We’re back in Hawaii now after a three hour delayed flight, not fun, screaming babies, hacking, coughing seatmates, late hour, 2:30 a.m. California time. Wake up this morning, 4:30 a.m. Hawaii time (7:30 West Coast), do the math, 5 hours sleep.

Off to Homelani Camp on the North Shore for the final Music Camp Concert, where nineteen years ago we were welcomed as Divisional Leaders, but held under a tent then: Same camp, new pavilion (house that Joe built), different campers, most not born then, and a rugged beach, probably the same sand and recirculated sea water pounding its shore.

What possesses us to be there? Two of our granddaughters are in the program, playing in the band, singing in the chorus, et al, just like their grandparents did at that age (different camps, mind you). Awards are given: Riley wins the Soloist competition, McKenna receives the Drama Award, Theory Medal and during the finale is crowned the camps “Honor Musician,” making the buttons pop, or in this case, T-shirt expand.

This is where the round stops, however, neither grandparent ever winning even a single award during those hither music camp years. For decades now, I’ve been outspoken against these kinds of awards, believing that every camper is a winner, and should be adjudged so… AND NOT BECAUSE I DIDN’T WIN, EITHER!

Thus it is I sit and write with mixed emotions this afternoon. Proud, yes, but also sad for those who tried so hard and came up lacking. What will that do to their little psyches? I know what it did to mine. In that sense, I guess the round hasn’t stopped… “round and round we go, and where it stops nobody knows.”

Still can’t get my head ‘round’ this award thing, or our rank thing for that matter. Why?


Thursday, June 4, 2009


Married 43 years today. WOW! What an adventure! I’ve got to be one of the luckiest guys in the world. To understand that statement you have to know us, personality and disposition-wise. Everyone loves Doris; they tolerate me. No delusions on this front. Without her strength and balance, I’d probably ended up a client rather than a Commissioner.

It all began in San Francisco, at The Salvation Army School for Officer’s Training, of all places. We didn’t like each other at first for dispositional reasons: sweet and sour being the two opposing extremes. To this day she leans right and I lean left, canceling out each other’s vote in every election. Had I been nominated for General at the High Council, she would have voted against me, that’s how different we are: night and day.

But the staff and some cadets thought we would make the perfect couple, for some inexplicable reason. Thus they conspired to bring us together, led by the Education Officer, then Captain Bob Stillwell. When I walked into a classroom, the only vacant seat was always next to her. We found ourselves assigned to the same Field Training Brigade always. Everywhere I turned, there she was! Stillwell later confided to me that this was a clandestine, carefully executed, purpose-driven plan with the code name, “Propinquity” assigned to it.

Propinquity: Closeness, proximity, nearness in space, time, or relationship (Mirriam-Webster).

So it has been ever since, working (in propinquity) together as a team, mostly her assets balancing my liabilities. Whatever works!

Someone forgot to clue in the Personnel Secretary (then called the Field Secretary), however. I was commissioned to open a corps in Flagstaff, Arizona, she to assist in Farmington, New Mexico, with nothing but a wide expanse of Indian Reservation in between. Expedience took precedence over propinquity in this instance and thus it has ever been.

Adding insult to injury, we petitioned the Field Secretary for a June 4 wedding date because our good friends and session-mates had already claimed the weekend following, which would have been one year to the day following our Official Engagement (The rule being one year of engagement before you could marry). The response came back, “Permission Denied!” because it was one week premature. Regulation took precedence over propinquity and thus it has ever been.

Thankfully, Doris had friends in high places, the Chief Secretary, then Colonel Billy Parkins; he liked her. She wrote the appeal instead of me and voila! The decision was reversed. In this kind of instance, propinquity took precedence over regulation and thus it has ever been (nearness in relationship being one of the definitions). Her likableness has been my salvation many times over, no denying it here.

We still cancel out each other’s vote. She didn’t even nominate me for General. She loves band and songsters whilst I tolerate them. When I’m listening to Country/Western up full blast, base thumping on the stereo, she puts her “classically filled” ipod headset on. She still leans to the right, and I a little further to the left. In spite of our differences, we’ve grown closer together over these 43 years. Fortunately, in that time, God’s will took precedence over all of the intervening Field and Personnel Secretary’s tendencies toward expediency (which included a number of other silly appointments separating us needlessly).

It’s called Spirit-filled propinquity!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Say What?

What? “We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation.” C’mon, the President didn’t really say that did he? If he did, who’s his speechwriter, Bill O’Reilly? Or maybe the right-wing media pounced upon one of Letterman’s Late Show, dumb, doctored videos, spinning it as the Gospel truth. Obama wouldn’t make such a stupid mistake; he’s a Harvard graduate for God’s sake! Whoops, slip of the pen there.

Anyone with an ounce of brains knows that we are a Christian nation. I mean, look around you.

“A man who rammed his SUV into the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Paul on Thursday told police that Jesus told him to do it, the Star Tribune reports.”

Miss California, Carrie Prejean (Miss USA Competition): “We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage…(According to her Christian values) I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman.” Perez Hilton (Judge who asked question) responding on his Celebrity Gossip Blog: “You dumb b**ch,” going on to describe her as having “half a brain.”

The Jewish Americans, film series by David Grubin: “What does it mean to be Jewish in America today? As Letty Pogrebin says in the film, ‘it’s a matter of context.’ For many Jews issues of identity are not relevant to their everyday lives. However for some, balancing their Jewish American identity can be challenging. Are we American Jews, Americans without a hyphenated identity or simply Jewish?”

Feature Film: “Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter” – “An army of vampires have come into the town and are reeking havoc on those in the religious community. After one victim falls pray (How they spelled it – prey?) to the lesbian group of the vampire leader, Maxine, the church decides to call in Jesus Christ.”

“Expressions of Islam in America,” Gisele Web: “The 1990s may be the last decade in which Islam is viewed as a "non-mainstream" religious tradition in America. At its current rate of growth, by the year 2015 Islam will be the second largest religion in the United States, following Christianity.”

Website: “Welcome to the Jesus-made-me-do-it: The club that makes a complete mockery of Jesus/God/The Virgin Mary.” Wicked refuse?

A Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll indicated the American people favor a proposal to build a 2,000-mile security fence (Mexican border) by a 51-to-37 percent margin.

Recent research by Mark A. Chaves, a sociologist at the University of Arizona, concluded that more than 90 percent of all congregations in the United States are at least 80 percent one race.

Ad infinitum.

Of course, we’re a Christian nation, ever obedient to Christ’s command, “Love one another as I have loved you.” It is this brand of compassionate inclusiveness that makes America great, her Statue of Liberty beckoning:

"Give me your tired, your poor,
 Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
 The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
 Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
 I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

Say what?