Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cause I'm a joker...im a toker

I looked out across
The river today
Saw a city in the fog
And an old church tower
Where the seagulls play
Saw the sad shire horses
Walking home in the sodium light
two priests on the ferry
October geese on a cold winter's night

In a world well before the one that I know, people of power and status had before them wise counsel, strong leaders and reassuring voices. Reasurance that the course of action the king was on was "right", wise counsel to softly direct the king, and strong leaders to carry out his vision. They also had within their midst the one who would phrase wisdom as foolishness,
The role of the Joker, despite what Disney would have you believe was not one to juggle, or do illusions. They did not come up with punch lines to jokes unfinished nor would they entertain at a party.

They were there to make the unnacceptable, acceptable. The only voice allowed to critisize the king was the joker. In his foolishness he could bring to light what would otherwise go unsaid. If the comment was ill recieved - well he was just a joker. If the advice was heeded, the king could take claim to the idea as if it were his own, spare the kingdom, get the girl - whatever he pleased.

He is in many ways the prophetic riddler - trying to discern amongst the voice of the yes-men the difficult path to take. The art of delivering truth died in a large manner, I believe with the Joker. In the tyranny of the literal, we have done away with the creative challenge to truth. "Look upon my words, ye Mighty and despair" has resulted in a silencing of the Jokers, the artists, and most importantly, the prophets.

"What is they want from the man that they didn't get from the work? What do the expect? What is there left when he's done with his work, what's any artist but the dregs of his work, the human shambles that follows it around"

How do we go about engaging a culture, with a medium (arguably voice and text) that no longer engages a culture. We just don't "get" prophesy anymore. So when an 80 year old man can sit in the living room of the wife of a roofer and comfortably prophesy over the room of 29 adults and children- I consider myself to be witnessing a Joker in true form. He has no pretenses - infact puts out the disclaimer that if his words do not resonate with you - drive over the tape with your car on the way out. And it shouldn't be any different. God's language is not of ours - and yet he has used our voices to speak it. Through this, I was able to see the divine lark of God's relationship with his creation.

None of the minor prophets
knew that he was minor, of course. Habakkuk, I imagine,
thought that his visions earned him
standing as Ezekiel's peer, if not indeed Elijah's.
Then there was Obadiah,
who could be forgiven if he thought he might be a Moses.
How they would be remembered
Providence concealed from them all, though they could see the future.

Maybe it doesn't matter.
If you're on a mission from God, sent to rebuke a city
or to redeem a nation,
where by canon-makers you're ranked may be inconsequential.
Nor is the voice within you
any less authentic for not having a distant echo.
Seers of the world, be heartened.
Even minor prophets can have genuine revelations.

from Parallel Lives, by Michael Lind
Heard November 9 2007 on Garrison Keillor's "The Writer's Almanac"

Sunday, November 11, 2007

This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

George Bernard Shaw

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Prayer for Peace

What we need now is bread,
soft dough to dig
fingers in, to knuckle and
pinch, pummel and punch
down. Like the grass
when crushed under foot
springing back,
it will not cry out or
die like daughters
and sons.
If we must raise our
fists, let us
plunge them in the body
of yeast and wheat.
Bread is not flesh.
Our hands will come
clean if we rise like
acre upon acre of shining
grain. Let us be sun-
ripe and light
like the crusty
loaves. Let us break


Terry Song
55 years old

Terry Song lives in Columbia, Missouri and teaches creative writing, literature, and women's studies at Stephens College. She is author of This Is My Body (West End Press).

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Mother Writes to Laura Bush, Who Suffers

On the Today Show, April 25, 2007 -
Ann Curry to Laura Bush, about Iraq:
Do you know that the American people are suffering …. ?
Laura Bush:
Oh, I know that very much, and, believe me, no one suffers more than their president and I do when we watch this.

Dear Mrs. Bush, dear Laura,

Do you mind if I call you Laura?
We're both women after all, mothers,
Texans. We speak the same language,
share the same mother tongue.

Do you know that the people are suffering?

I was ironing in the morning quiet when
I saw your interview, ironing the shirt
of my youngest, the shirt he loves best
because it is like his older brother's,
the brother who will not be coming home,
the brother who died in Iraq.

No one suffers more than their president and I do.

I wished I could dismantle the box
around you, until you were sitting here
in my kitchen as I iron, just the two of us,
talking women's talk.
I would tell you my heart.
How it is broken wide open now,
how anything, everything
-the smallest gesture, a word, the sorrow etched forever on my husband's handsome face-
is my son.
I would tell you how tears
have become speech, indistinguishable
from any other speech, a river.

And because it would be just us,
you and I, here in my quiet kitchen,
chances are I'd forget I was ironing,
staring straight ahead as I spoke into morning.
I wonder if you'd notice, the iron
burning through the shirt,
the space
where whole cloth had been,
the smoke rising.

No one suffers more.

Believe me.

Robin Turner

Robin Turner, 50, lives near Dallas, Texas.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


"To be able to regulate "velocity," both our desired speed and the pace of accelaration is undobutedly a useful skill. One of the signs of discernment and wisdom in this area is the ability to know when to move forward and when to stand still. Aquiring this skill requires clarity of purpose and some moments of quiet reflection. For many people, the busyness creates a sense of motion without necessarily having any real sense of direction. Even though the people are working hard, they are moving further away from any form of life and career satisfaction. Activity without focus creates an imbalance and does not contribute to our overall well-being." [Norm Amundson - Physics of Living]

There are many times when I envy the skilled, driven and [excuse me while I puke] "called" individual. The doctors, engineers, and mechanics of the world. With clarity, and purpose they seek out their education, plunk into their career and emerge from it 30 some odd years later, a satisfied individual. Sure there are some bumps along the way, but this, this "whatever" can be enough of a pull to by and large keep them on the "straight and narrow"

There are many who do not set up any parameters for regulating velocity in their life. They accept it for what it is - and tend to respond to things that throw their velocity off by introducing their head to the sand. This bear down and give 'er framework is really the reality of most indivuduals - whether "called" to a career or not. I would argue it is in fact more common amonst the "called" and even most amonst the "called christian" than the 'non.' Excuse the broad strokes.

"Activity without focus creates an imalance and does not contribute to our overal well-being" - it seems to plague many christians. Zeal without foresight, or rather zeal without insight is easy; I guess it's zealously ignorant. And so our lives tend to be articulated by much activity with little focus. We are called, committed and guilted into just about everything with zeal and enthusiasm - but our parameters for creating a healthy vocational or even just life velocity are simply non-existant. So we're busy busy busy for the kingdom with little focus - and yet wonder why we burn out (velocity overload).

There are many ways to regulate velocity, people have made millions selling formulas for the right life- but ultimately, as Christians we are not called to the "right life" neither are we even called to a perfect velocity. We are however, called to live in response to what the spirit is doing, saying leading etc. And while most of the times I have no idea what's going on up there in the sky (I keep thinking their just doing some internal housecleaning), I can promise that much of this deafness comes from a velocity that does not allow for a life of response. As motion is confused with intention, production with purpose it becomes increasingly difficult to slow down, and listen.

"I can't find the joy within my soul, it's just sadness takin hold. I wanna come in from the cold, and make myself renewed again. It takes strength to live this way, the same old madness everyday, I want to kick these blues away, I want to learn to live again. All the fires of destruction are still burning in my dreams. There's no water that can wash away this longing to come clean..."