In Lake Jackson: The Times They Are a’Changin’

I have not been totally sold by talk of the blue wave in November. Certainly it is something to hope for but I don’t have much faith in the majority in these times, especially not the majority of the folks who manage to register and vote in the age of internet manipulations, intentional voter suppression, auditless electronic balloting and the attack on truth itself from the highest offices.

Sasha Tarrant and Rita Lucido hold back an enthusiastic Eeyore, whose guest appearance got the Dems going. Rita Lucido (on the right) is the Democratic candidate for Texas Senate District 17,

It was in February that Ted Cruz famously said of Texas Democrats, “They will crawl over broken glass in November to vote.” He may very well have been right. Tonight I saw more Democrats at one time in Lake Jackson than I have ever seen before.

The Southern Brazoria County Democrats held a fundraising barbecue at Jasmine Park in Lake Jackson. The place was packed with Democrats. And it was a lot more fun than crawling over broken glass.

Adrienne Bell (U.S. House, Dist. 14) was there. Rita Lucido (Texas Senate, Dist. 17) was there. Mike Collier (Lieutenant Governor) was there. And there were lots of other candidates for state, county, regional offices and judicial seats.

And there were all the “just plain folks” like me who were there to eat barbecue and enjoy the friendship of people who have decided that it is not alright to accept the behavior of the sitting president.

Lila Lloyd was there. Sharron Stewart was there. Mike and Ann Lange were there. And there were probably a few people there who would as soon not be mentioned as having been seen consorting with Democrats. But we love them just the same and look forward to having them join us, next time in the privacy of the voting booth.

The time for pretending that it is normal to vote for Republicans for any office is over. Done. The only patriotic thing to do in November is to NOT vote for anyone under the R column. That is my best nonpartisan advice. Then, as soon as we get ourselves out from under the kleptocracy, we can go back to being Democrats and Republicans again. And all of us can keep on loving the country we live in.

This is How Political Discussion Should Be: Beto O’Rourke on NFL Player Protests

This video ( ) was carried in The Guardian today. It runs about four minutes as Beto O”Rourke answered a question regarding how he feels about people kneeling in protest when the national anthem is played at sporting events.

His response was thorough, sensible and respectful. It is good to hear this kind of discussion and Beto O’Rourke is the kind of senator Texas needs. If you agree, then it is time to get involved.

Beto’s response was pitch perfect. I would only add to his thoughts on the matter that I interpret the protesters’ kneeling as anything but disrespectful. Kneeling is an expression of reverence for the ideals the American flag represents. Kneeling would seem to be the correct response when those ideals are not being respected by law enforcement or anyone else in authority.


Did Anyone Notice?

That the party of God and country, family values, fiscal responsibility and national security is now the Democratic Party? We have been tarred and feather as tax and spend, weak on defense libertines since 1980. Who knew they would hand us their brand without our even asking?

Of course we were always that party but somehow, Republican propaganda and the big dollars behind it were able to persuade a lot of voters otherwise. Looking forward to being able to welcome some of our old friends back into the party.

The Search for Meaning: Still at It 75 Years Later

By the time most people hit their teen years they begin to grapple with the question of meaning. It is one of the main questions we take with us to college and into careers. Was there ever a college freshman who didn’t ask “What is the meaning of life?”

At the end of this month I will celebrate my 75th birthday. And I am still searching.

Some of us never find an answer that is fully satisfactory. Yet the question itself betrays a faith that there is, or at least should be, some meaning in our lives. As a practicing United Methodist, I finally submitted to regular attendance at that Methodist invention called Sunday School after resisting for many years. I became part of a small group at Chapelwood UMC that settled on a curriculum called “Living the Questions.” We don’t presume that there is a literature that will give us all the answers to questions of faith. We look for studies that will help us learn how to live out the faith that brings us, in the first place, to the question of meaning in our lives,

Although we may resist admitting to definitive answers to the questions of faith, sometimes an answer sneaks up on us that won’t let go. And it is compelling enough that we feel an urge to put it into action in our lives. It may be something as simple as this: loving and living in community. In fact, that pretty well sums it up for me after these nearly seventy-five years of searching.

Of course we can examine that proposition another 75 years trying to unpack all that is implied by loving and living in community. But it isn’t that difficult to set it in motion in our lives.

There is a prayer of confession in our liturgy of Holy Communion that helps me fill in the blanks each time I hear it.

Merciful God,
we confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have failed to be an obedient church.
We have not done your will,
we have broken your law,
we have rebelled against your love,
we have not loved our neighbors,
and we have not heard the cry of the needy.
Forgive us, we pray.
Free us for joyful obedience,
      through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Every time I hear it, I wonder how it is possible to pray such a confession without looking deeply into our politics. After all, to truly love our neighbors and respond to the cry of the needy, we need to move beyond symbolic service that fails to address systemic issues like immigration, poverty, abuse, homelessness, addiction and unemployment. We certainly provide help and loving care to a family when we pay a utility to keep them in housing for another month. But it is our vote that makes it possible to address the larger underlying problems that these families experience.

And how does it all make sense in a world that has the gift of science to help us understand social and environmental problems? Is “talking to God” really a useful tool when we really need to be talking to the conflicted and corrupt politicians who have the power to do something? How does all this talk of a spiritual reality fit into what we know from science?

Our young associate pastor, Rev. Josh Lemons, gave a remarkable sermon this last Sunday at Chapelwood. He is doing a series on “Thinking for Christians.” The second sermon in his series was titled Faith Seeking Understanding. (The podcast is linked here.)

Josh is young, energetic and he has obviously learned something about the value of kinetic communication. He was all over the place Sunday. Please note that when you listen to the podcast, you will not be aware that he fakes a toss of a can of green beans into the congregation or that the climbed and stood on top of a tall four-legged stool to illustrate the Wesleyan quadrilateral concept: how scripture, tradition, reason and experience are all required in the analysis of our troubling theological questions if we are to have a stable base of support.

Rev. Josh Lemons, Associate Pastor, Chapelwood United Methodist Church. In this photograph, he was rehearsing for the confirmation service that would take place the following Sunday.

Chapelwood is an interesting place for Christians who need room to allow reason and experience to instruct the questions of the spirit. And when I hear ideas like these discussed from the pulpit, I feel freed for joyful obedience.

I invite you all to Chapelwood and to our Living the Questions class. The class meets at 9:45 am Sunday and the worship services are at 8:30 and 11. We always have good coffee – fair trade from Equal Exchange.

We Visit with Adrienne Bell, District 14 Candidate for Congress

Ann and Mike Lange hosted an event on Thursday to introduce Adrienne Bell to the folks in her Lake Jackson neighborhood. Ms. Bell is a candidate for the Texas District 14 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. She is running a hard race against the incumbent, Randall Keith Weber, an Alvin heating and air conditioning contractor.

Adrienne Bell, Candidate for Congress

Ms. Bell is a teacher in the Houston Independent School District who has been politically active but never run for office herself. She was very involved in President Obama’s campaigns in Texas and was honored to receive his endorsement the day before our meeting with her.

In the photo she is sharing part of our meeting with a group of seniors in Texas City. It’s a big district and multi-tasking a requirement. No problem. She teaches second graders.

What Is a Reasonable LJ Citizen to Do? BETO!

You watch the news and read the papers online. You see that we have serious problems and feel that you can’t do anything about it because of the stranglehold Republicans have over political offices in Texas. A letter to Weber, Cruz or Cornyn is pretty much a waste of a postage stamp.

I suggest a better investment – Beto O’Rourke.

Your U.S. Sentaor from Texas, Rafael Edward Cruz (he goes by Ted), has drawn an excellent and serious opponent this year, the sitting congressman from Texas’ 16th Congressional District, Robert Francis O’Rourke (he goes by Beto). The 16th District includes El Paso and my old home away from home, Fort Bliss.

A photocaricature of Robert Francis O’Rourke by DonkeyHotey with permission under Creative Commons agreement. See more of his work on his Flickr site at

I have made a monthly pledge to his campaign through November. When I wake up in the middle of the night in a major fret over the state of the world, I remember that I am helping this man make more ads like this one. I go back to sleep and dream about a Texas that gives me a voice in Congress.