Thursday, September 29, 2011


"Religion is not an escape from reality, but rather a genuine effort to make sense of what passes for reality and all that surrounds us.
"Religion is not the answer to the unknowable or the unfaceable or the unendurable; religion is what we do and what we are in the face of the unknowable, the unfaceable and the unendurable. It is a constant exercise in the making of sense first, and then of meaning." -- Peter T. Gomess, Preacher to Harvard University.

I once thought religion was an escape from reality. That church goers didn't have a true vision of the reality some must endure while undergoing trials and tribulations. That some churches preferred to spend $15 million on a church with three crosses. Or maybe $4 million on a parking deck.
But that was me looking from the outside in.
Now that I'm a member of a "mega-church" looking from the inside out gives me a better and truer perspective.
Most of us can't fathom the unknowable or the unfaceable or the unendurable.
But religion provides us a window into our souls.
It invokes sense and meaning to life.
Whenever we feel like God is alive in our lives, in our hearts and in our souls, then we can gain a glimpse of the significance of what our life can mean to others.
I have friends amongst the homeless, er houseless, who look up to me for what I documented.
They encourage me to write another article.
I can't be the chief spokes person right now because I'm blessed to have a humble place to lay my head down. I don't have to battle the elements and worry about my tent springing a leak during a rain storm.
And I don't have to worry about Pepe Le Pew, that pesky skunk, who once darted through my tent seeking some Doritos.
But I can awaken every morning and say a prayer of thanksgiving to God for giving me some guidance and some sense of purpose and well-being.
We can face life's vicissitudes with a strong heart and a strong soul filled with God's grace and caring love.
Love your neighbors. Love your friends. And love God for giving us this life with charity for all.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Matthew 23:12: "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted."

Sirach 4:17-18: "My son, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.
"Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God."

Humility can be the most God-like quality to embrace.
We all are very proud people.
But one must subjugate hubris (selfish pride) to distinguish oneself as a humble individual.
I can remember my vain-glorious days when I put myself on a pedestal.
But sooner or later humility intervened and I learned the true meaning of respect from my peers.
We all disdain boastful, arrogant braggarts who want to pat themselves on the back every opportunity they can.
There's nothing wrong with being proud of your accomplishments, but humility will let others appreciate them and you much, much more.
The gifts God bestows on us are our talents.
But he appreciates us if we just stay humble.
I don't know if I've ever met a humble Texan, but I've met a plethora of humble Arkansans.
Alabama sure made the Razorbacks swallow humble pie!
Humility brings us back to our senses and we must not get depressed or cast aspersions on our pride. Just learn from one's braggadocio and the speed bumps that intervene. Then, go on not with a chip on your shoulder, but humility in your heart.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Good deeds

"Do all the good you can.
By all the means you can
I all the ways you can
In all the places you can
At all the times you can
To all the people you can
Al long as ever you can." -- John Wesley

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions." -- Anonymous

Are you a good deeder or a wannabe who procrastinates?
We all strive to do good deeds, but sometimes we stray or put it off until...
If you don't do something good when you have the window of opportunity, shame on you!
Sometimes we must make choices and sometimes the decisions aren't just black or white, but a tinge of grey, just like my beard.
I hope to inspire someone someday like my parents who were Christian saints who instilled in their children the paths of righteousness and good will to all men.
They made sacrifices at times.
They weren't storing up riches on earth.
Sometimes for Christmas all we got were clothes, but those were necessities.
They spent a lifetime doing good deeds to all they could, by all means, in all ways, in all places, at all times, to everyone and as long as they lived.
Even when they were both not in very good health, they still became involved in the literacy program at Central Methodist Church in Conway.
They were even teaching an Hispanic to read. They wished they could speak Spanish so it would be easier.
So, what path are you traversing?
Are you doing good deeds or just pretending that you want to do some good things?
Hopefully we'll meet in the hereafter and reminisce about the goodness of God and the great times we had here on earth.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Listen, listen, listen

Sirach 12:7-8: "Before investigating, find no fault; examine first, then criticize.
"Before hearing, answer not, and interrupt no one in the middle of his speech."

Proverbs 18:13: "He who answers before he hears, his is the folly and the shame."

All good journalists know these proverbial words of wisdom from experience.
You've got to be a keen listener to be a good interpreter.
So, how many times have we failed to listen and learn before we respond?
Sometimes it's easier to interrupt someone else's opinions before they're through talking.
Of course, in the midst of a debate, one must bite his tongue before tongue lashing.
They key to being a good speaker is being a good listener.
Formulating a response with earnest sincerity requires hearing all that's said, digesting the significance and then espousing an opinion.
One garners respect when one listens, listens, listens. Respects the opinion of the speaker. Then, responds with contemplative rejoinder.
It's easy to be a mouth that roared.
But how many of us want our opinion to speak louder.
You're never going to change someone else's opinion until you've allowed them all due respect.
Critical analysis should be sagely phrased and succintly stated.
So, listen before you speak.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Who am I?

I'm in the midst of another mid-life crisis.
Who am I?
Where am I going?
As I turned the calendar on Aug. 15, gadzooks I discovered after doing some mathematical matriculation that I had lived 60 years on this good Earth.
Alas, I'm not satisfied with my current life function.
Yes, I'm happy to have a roof over my head, thanks to two awesome Christians, Joyce and Tom Conner.
But, I'm frustrated because I don't have a fruitful job milieu.
I had a glimmer of hope transpire Friday when Blair Jackson, editor extraordinaire of the Free Weekly newspaper and I chatted.
Ostensibly I was hoping for job clarification.
She asked me if I was seeking to write a column every week.
I told her Kent Marts, her supervisor, had offered me a column once a month for an Andrew Jackson in compensation.
Woops!!! I didn't give her all the details.
I sent her some of my articles which were published about houselessness.
She astounded me by informing me she'd gone through the archives and read my published treatises on homelessness.
Then she proceeded to interview me for over 30 minutes and took notes.
I guess she was trying to finalize her article because she said her deadline was Monday.
I asked her if she'd talked to anyone at Seven Hills and she said she'd called there 10 times and struck out.
So we proceeded to Seven Hills and I introduced her to the powers that be.
They even hooked her up with a phone conversation with Jon Woodward in Florida.
So, I gained a sense of accomplishment.
She asked me if I wanted to go somewhere else.
On the way back to the library I sheepishly queried her if she might have any writing assignments for me.
And she said she was contemplating.
So now I've got to be aggressive and try and impress her with an article.
I was a classmate of Judge Mary Ann Gunn, who's starting a controversial television program tomorrow.
I also matriculated with Alice Walton, so that's another shot in the dark possibility, i.e. on 11/11/11 the Crystal Bridges Art Museum opens up.
I just need a sense of purpose and a sense of direction, so as I progress through my 60s I won't feel as forlorn and footloose as I currently creep.
Pray for me and maybe help me figure out who I am and where I'm going.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Sirach 7:5-17: "A kind mouth multiplies friends, and gracious lips prompt friendly greetings.
"Let your acquaintances be many, but one in a thousand your confidant;
"A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure.
"A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth.
"A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy, such as he who fears God finds;
"For he who fears God behaves accordingly, and his friend will be like himself."

The Book of Sirach derives its name from the author, Jesus, sone of Eleazar, son of Sirach.
The Catholics include it in their Bibles and use it extensively in their liturgy.
The author, a sage who lived in Jerusalem, was thoroughly imbued with love for the law, the priesthood, the temple and divine worship.
Sometimes we can garner wisdom by reading divinely inspired words which aren't included in our Protestant Bibles.
Indeed, faithful friends provide us shelters from the storms of life and the treasures they imbue are priceless.
No one can measure friendship by a monetary value.
Faithful friends are life savers sometimes.
A faithful friend will go the extra mile to aid us when we need it the most.
I've been rescued on numerous occasions by faithful friends who altruistically provided me with rides, food, clothes, hospitality, camaraderie and genuine unsolicited friendship which they never expected to be repaid, except by just a simple thank you.
God intercedes in our lives through friends.
We should reciprocate and pass on our friendship to others who are in need of just a friendly gesture.
Some of us can't provide friendship through monetary means but we can be good neighbors through our Christian love.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Don't Worry, Be Happy

Luke 12:25-26: "Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your life span?
"If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest?"

Or in the immortal words of the songster, "Don't worry, Be Happy!"
I don't even sound good singing in the shower, but once upon a time I did my version of that ditty to try and bestir a lady who was worrying too much about her beau.
And so every once in awhile if the spirit moves me I'll karaoke that tune.
And I'll ad lib the words to fit the occasion.
I used to worry too much.
Once I endured the slings and arrows of my outrageous misfortune I learned that
God was in control of my destiny more than I was and I stopped worrying as much as I used to.
I'm worried about the Alabama-Arkansas game but I remember when Arkansas was not even on the Vegas tout list when they faced Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.
Lou Holtz suspended three of Arkansas' high powered weapons for a dorm dalliance.
Prior to the kickoff Holtz had his players stay loosed by telling off colored jokes and they pranced and danced to a 31-6 rout of the more ballyhooed Boomer Sooners.
And I covered the Arkansas-Texas A&M joust in 1975. The Aggies were clear cut favorites after ousting the Texas Longhorns the previous week.
I had the (mis)fortune of entering the Aggies dressing room following their 35-14 loss to the Razorbacks.
Two of the Aggies All-American linebackers Ed Simonini and Garth Ten Apel were commiserating about the rugged loss.
One said, "What was the final score anyway?"
The other quipped, "I don't know, I think Arkansas is still out there scoring!"
Then, Simonini sarcastically remarked, "Well, at least we lived up to Aggie tradition. We choked!"
Yes, we all have a tradition of making tragic mistakes sometimes by not following our Christian principles of right and wrong.
Don't worry about the future, make it a positive happy day.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Spend yourself altruistically

Isaiah 58:10: "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourself in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your life will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noon day."

How many of us could learn myriads of wisdom from this verse?
How many times have we pointed fingers and blamed our ordeals on someone else, or even God for making us endure the yoke of oppression?
And how many of us have maliciously gossiped and talked the talk of foolish misrepresentation of the truth.
So, Isaiah says we should spend ourselves to feed the hungry and in that sense of expression satisfy the needs of the oppressed.
Then there will be earthly rewards, not just spiritual rewards in the afterlife.
Your life might shine as a beacon to end the darkness the oppressed are suffering through as they seek shelter from the storms of their misery.
Their dark night of the soul might be like a phoenix arising and permitting them to enjoy the food and nourishment the more fortunate should be sharing.
Similarly, we are given different gifts and talents by our Master.
The thing that matters most is how we use what we have been given, not how much we make or do compared to someone else.
What matters is that we spend ourselves while we are able to do so in a spiritual food for thought way.
Or, I paraphrase the Serenity prayer whenever I want to rap with God.
God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
God grant me the Tranquillity to seek to bring some peace on earth to those who are fighting with themself.
God grant me the Altruism to love my fellow man and serve him with my gifts in a loving, caring experience without expecting any positive paybacks, either financially or materialistically.
And, God grant me the Wisdom to make smart choices and do the right thing.
That's the STRAW that stirs my soul.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Why is it that some people survive drug and alcohol abuse, even manage their lives with it, while others succumb got addiction?
According to Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Use, people who are addicted to cocain, heroin and alcohol have fewer dopamine receptors in the brain's reward pathways than nonaddicts.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter critical to the experience of pleasure and desire, and sends a signal to the brain.
Drug addicts may have blunted reward systems in the brain, and everyday pleasures don't come close to the powerful reward of drugs.
More than likely a complex interplay of genes, environment and psychology play an integral role in determining addiction.
Then, why can't we be addicted to God's love?
Wouldn't it be awesome to tell someone I'm a Christian-aholic.
I'm addicted to God's grace and love and mercy.
That would be the best high on the planet. Just tune in, turn off (the other drug addictions) and let God take you higher and higher into an oblivious state of emotional fervor filled with love.
Sounds like a plot for a hippie happy party of a time in a Christian environment.
But wouldn't that be much more fulfilling than drugs?
God can take us higher into a nirvana state of ecstasy. And the only hangover would be wanting to do it again and again.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Faith, hope

Romans 5: 1-5: "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the Glory of God.
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."
Sometimes we wondered why we have to suffer.
Maybe God is testing us and/or teaching us some supreme lessons in the meaning of life.
Suffering produces endurance.
Endurance produces character.
Character produces hope.
Hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given unto us.
I know from painful experiences that I endured and persevered suffering while going houseless for a period of time.
Sometimes I wasn't sure why I was going through these experiences.
But I developed a stern character and never lost hope that someday I would be a better person and would enjoy life in a more normal state of being than sleeping in a tent during a rain storm.
 Or having a skunk poke its beady little eyes in my tent at 5 a.m. and scamper through my tent scaring the Holy Ghost out of me!
Or having two policemen awaken me and my camp mates at 1:30 a.m. and brazenly lecture us that we were flirting with criminal trespassing.
Maybe God had his ulterior motives in all of this.
I gained endurance and developed a Christian character attitude toward my adversity.
Hope became my watchword.
Lo and behold, I've been blessed with virtues which I couldn't have ascertained any other way.
God loves us and he cares about us and he wants us to gain life wisdom through our vicissitudes.
So, keep hope alive in the midst of life's travails and God will bless you with his Holy Spirit which can strengthen us in the future while encountering the inexplicable travails we sometimes must travel through to become onward and positive looking individuals.
You Gotta Have Hope and Faith and garner wisdom!

Thursday, September 1, 2011


"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10.
God wants us to make a difference in his world. He wants to work through you. What matters is not the duration of your life, but the donation of it. Not how long you lived, but how you lived.
If you're not involved in any service or  ministry, what excuse have you been using
Abraham was old.
Jacob was insecure.
Leah was unattractive.
Joseph was abused.
Moses stuttered.
Gideon was poor.
Samson was codependent.
Rahab was immoral.
David had an affair and all kinds of family problems.
Elijah was suicidal.
Jeremiah was depressed.
Jonah was reluctant.
Naomi was a widow.
John the Baptist was eccentric to say the least.
Peter was impulsive and hot-tempered.
Martha worried a lot.
The Samaritan woman had several failed marriages.
Zacchaeus was unpopular.
Thomas had doubts.
Paul had poor health.
And Timothy was timid.
That is quite a variety of misfits, but God used each of them in his service.
He will use you, too, if you stop making excuses.