Woody Guthrie wrote, “This Land is Your Land” in 1940, he wrote it in direct response to the song “God Bless America” by Irving Berlin. Woody thought the song Irving Berlin wrote was “unrealistic and complacent”. He recorded the song in 1944 in New York and all the lyrics you usually hear today from this song were just the verses he put in the original recording. He didn’t include the bolder verses about private property or our responsibility to the poor. You can read these verses, and more about the song here. These additional verses really drive home the point, that “truth, justice and the American way” are comprised of all of our combined personal commitments to these ideals. The way we act, the laws we pass, the markets we create all express our values.
I have child who’s very interested in what’s fair. This is usually about how sharing is not fair. I tell him that “sharing is about giving something up, and sometimes that’s what fair means”.
In the Bible there’s an absolutely wonderful verse in Micah that really hits me as my major complaint with Arizona’s Immigration Law.
But he's already made
it plain how to live,
what to do,
what God is looking for
in men and women.
It's quite simple:
Do what is fair and just
to your neighbor,
be compassionate and
loyal in your love,
And don't take yourself too seriously
take God seriously.
In its brevity, says a lot about Justice. Looking up from the bible to the world I live in, I realize I don’t get much guidance and precious few examples of Justice being done in our modern society.
I'll tell you what justice is not.
Justice is not the will of the few and
it's not the will of the many.
Justice is not politics.
Justice is the law.
And the law is man's feeble attempt
to set down the principles of decency.
And decency is not a deal.
Or an angle, or a contract,
or a hustle or a campaign
or a trick or a bid for sympathy.
Decency is not the beast
that bays for money, power,
votes and blood!
Decency is what your mother taught you!
Decency is in your bones!
Do I make myself clear!
Now go home. Go home now.
Be decent people. Be decent.
I always enjoy his writing but I am struck by how he presents a choice between science and religion to frame how a person understands and explains the universe. In this peice he says specifically
“To someone who is very religious, there is no other way to perceive life.”
Phil, and full disclosure I can call him Phil as I’ve known him for years before he became the Bad Astronomy columnist, has a wonderful gift for making sweeping generalizations that inspire people to think critically. This one kind of gets me going so I felt like I should write about it. So I did.
Pitting science against religion undermines both and does little to further our understanding of our world and our condition
Religion and science are not absolutes, nor are they mutually exclusive. They are not in the spirit of either when they present themselves as in competition with the other. They can be subverted to the point that they inspire terrible acts by misguided people who harbour ill intent.
For how questions science (usually) wins
For why questions religion (usually) wins
If you care enough about the “why” questions religious affiliation is valuable
Religious affiliation is not about blind agreement
We tend to gather around and imitate those that seem sure of themselves
This tendency can be exploited to do terrible things
But what the heck do I know I just like to think about why questions
We had a nice Labor Day weekend. This video sums it up nicely.
we had a nice visit with Emerson a friend of David’s from pre-school. We went to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, and had lunch at American Taco, a new place for us which we really enjoyed. After lunch we played around the house and were joined by our neighbors Mark and Caroline, who we’ve not played with enough lately. We swam in the pool Saturday night (video at the start of this post) and David and Laura went to bed early from our busy day. I stayed up and watched VaTech in a valiant effort against Alabama. Good game, too bad the Hokies lost.
Started out with my attending a lovely service at the Church of the Beatitudes. Some of the members of the bell choir performed at the 9:00 AM service and sounded great. After the service I was chatting with our vocal soloist Stephanie and she mentioned that if I wanted to sing with them at the 10:30 service, they would love it, as they were missing their bass voice. I really like the piece they were singing, Lord I Know I Been Changed so I jumped at the chance. It was really fun to sing with a small group A Capella, first time I’ve done that.
While I was at church Laura played with David as he created a TV set out of a cardboard banker’s box that was just amazing, complete with a remote control and crackers all made out of cardboard and decorated with magic markers. I’m going to post a video of him providing instructions for use later this week.
After I came home from church and we had a fun Sunday afternoon of Star Wars Lego - The Complete Saga on the Wii, more swimming and a few errands.
Monday - Labor Day
I like to grill on holiday weekends so we had Laura’s parents over this evening. Most of the day we tidied up the house and prepared for our guests. David had some nice play time while Laura and I took care of the chores. The barbecue was alot of fun. It was great to have Laura’s parents over.
It was just awesome weather for a three day weekend. One of the nicest Labor Day weekends for weather in the 17 years I’ve been living in Phoenix. Started out with a great Monsoon storm Saturday morning and stayed in the high 90’s or low 100’s for the rest of the weekend. Started to peak back up into the 105+ range on Monday afternoon.
So I really highly recommend going out to help build a Habitat for Humanity house. It’s a great way to help someone out and you get to use power tools and all.
This house is for an entire development of Habitat for Humanity houses around 12th Street and Baseline. Habitat purchased on “infill” plot of land big enough for quite a few homes. We’ve many more weeks on the house our church is involved with, so it’s not too late to join in the fun :). Schedule says
May 2 is install finish carpentry
May 16 is Irrigation / Planting and Landscape Rock
May 23 is cleanup
May 30 is Dedication and Housekeeping
David, who’s five now, is getting old enough to understand the connections between things, which came up Friday night. I was explaining to him how I wasn’t going to be able to play on Saturday morning, like we usually do, because I was going to help build a house for a family that couldn’t buy a house without our help. He didn’t much respond to that at all, but 30 minutes later the weather brought the topic up again.
They were also up for Best Classical Album of the Year (again!) and 2 others.
Joel Rinsema (who Charles Bruffy mentions in his acceptance speech) is also the Choir Director at the Church of the Beatitudes. Three other members of the Phoenix Chorale sing with our church choir. It’s sure an honor for me to sing next to such talented voices and under such talented direction.
I’m hoping to speak at church today, but I’m not sure that I’ll get the chance. I’m posting this here so I can share it with my pastors and my friends.
It’s been an honor to work with a group of volunteers at (my) Church of the Beatitudes assisting a group of Refugees that are settling in Phoenix AZ. We were told we were given a family that they were sure would need some extra care becuase our church has such a great reputation for generosity, attitude and responsibility.
As Christmas approaches we’re seeing the family
struggling and persevering in their to transition into financial independence
working with us, their network of help, and the local community at large to create a sense of personal identity within a big strange city, and alien culture
I’ve been doing all I can to help, but with my hectic schedule and time commitments it never feels like enough. Still even the littlest effort has been rewarded a hundred fold.
The needs the family has now are many. In some ways fewer than they were when they first arrived. In other ways greater. I know that many of you have been wondering how it’s been going, and I’d love to expand on my very brief overview above, but in the interests of time I’ll refrain. it’s such an interesting story to tell that I urge you to seek out members of the committee to hear it.
I’d like to finish by asking you all to consider helping out, because I know you’ll get as much reward for your effort as I have. The most interesting thing I can tell you we’ve identified as a need is a job coach that can help an ambitious and energetic 18 year old man, put together a game plan to get a GED, and a scholorship for a College Education basically on his own. What a wonderful difference can be made by someone. Is it that someone we know in our congregation? Outside of it?
We are also working on a special Christmas donation so that the family can enjoy giving each other presents. This is outside of our duties, but something special we want to do anyway. If you would like to help us financially, in addition to your normal stewardship of course, then please mark your contribution as “Refugee Family”, and either:
place it in the collection plate marked
mail it to the church office (the address is on your order of worship)
or drop it off at the reception desk
Thanks very much for your time today and have a blessed holiday season.
Here's the Photos!
Music I've been listening to lately
What else I've been up to
Ktizo - A new church I'm helping to plant (I serve on the board)