Category Archives: Before the Altar of God Eternal Hostility Against Every Tyranny

Morality and Practicality

Morality could be described as what we ought to do; practicality as what we can do. When what we ought to do and what we can do are the same or at least in sync, we have no problems and we do good work. But what happens when when we can’t do what we ought to do? What if we can not satisfy the good, but only, perhaps, satisfice it?

This is the argument that separates the Democratic candidates for president, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sec. Hillary Clinton, on the subject of healthcare. Sen. Sanders is preaching a gospel of medicare for all, a single payer system that leaves no American behind and eschews the private insurance market for, at the very least, all basic healthcare needs.

On the other hand, Sec. Clinton has said emphatically,

“People who have health emergencies can’t wait for us to have a theoretical debate about some better idea that will never, ever come to pass.”

So Sec. Clinton says that Sen. Sanders’ call for medicare for all is a better idea, but that it can never happen. It is the moral thing to do, but not the practical thing to do, the ACA is the practical thing to do and she believes that to be the case for all time.

Now it would be silly to call people to do something, even though is better than what we do now, that will “never, ever come to pass,” but it would not be silly to call people to do something better that not only can be done, but is being done right now, across the globe; an example of which is just a little ways north of here in a place folks like to call Canada.

(And to clarify, Sen. Sanders has not called for people with or without emergencies to wait for healthcare while he and anyone including Sec. Clinton have a “theoretical debate about some better idea.” Sen. Sander has not said to scrap the ACA, but evolve it over time into Medicare for All).

Is it impractical to do something, a better thing, that other people are already doing and have been doing for decades? Is it immoral to do something, a better thing, that other people are already doing and have been doing for decades? If a thing is neither impractical nor Immoral to do, isn’t saying that it is immoral and impractical the real immoral thing to do?


Selma at the Bridge

Much has been made of late about what happened one Sunday morning on a bridge in a town in Alabama. Commemorations have been held, speeches have been given, marches all across the country have been staged and even a major motion picture has been released. It has been big doings all around the country, all around the world. John Lewis young SNCC organizer then, US congressman now, is getting his due recognition finally as a true hero and leader in the movement. Names forgotten in history books are re-emerging in current events as we once again speak about Jimmy Jackson, James Reeb, and Viola Liuzzo. We say today that Bloody Sunday was turning point, a momentous occasion, one that spurred on the passage of the Voting Rights Act and made America a better place. We do not talk about the limp.

In another story, at another river, another man confronted a power greater than himself. His name was Jacob and he wrestled at the river’s edge all through the night with what he thought was a man but what he learned was God. And at the dawn it was God who asked for release and Jacob who made demands for blessing. God granted that blessing and another gift not often mentioned. In the course of the struggle God touched the hip of Jacob, and forever pulled it out of joint. For the rest of his days, Jacob, now named Israel (He who has striven with God and with men, and has prevailed) would walk with a limp, a reminder of the cost and continuing nature of struggle.

On that Sunday, Bloody Sunday, in Alabama men again struggled long, wrestling with God and man. And again did our Jacobs prevailed and would not release their opponent until they were blessed. But on our bridge stood not just one man or even a few, but many. As history would tell hence, an entire nation stood on that bridge and wrestled with itself, with its aspirations and in the end received both its blessing and its limp. Just as Jacob paid a price for victory that one day in a struggle that was ongoing, so too have we paid a price for our struggle at our river. People died in the struggle at Selma and in all the days since. Others across the days and years would lie wounded, bloody, and forever changed.

While now we as a people still walk, we are reminded again and again it is no graceful gait with which we move but a crooked cadence, given to stumbles and imbalance. Tragically we still walk this world surrounded by ignorance, want, and cruelties both petty and great. Often we fall and often we find it harder and harder to rise,

And yet…

Still we do rise and even with the limp we still walk, we still struggle on, we still wrestle with the wild God and we still demand our blessing.

For it is in the struggle we find the victory, it is in the wounding we find the healing and it is in the demand we may grant sweet release.

Amen and blessed be.


The King statue in Washington DC doesn’t look like Dr. King. The King statue doesn’t look like anyone in particular, truth be told.

I noticed this right off when I went to DC a few years ago, right after the unveiling.

I walked down to the Lincoln memorial and took a look at the Ole Abe. He looked just like every photograph of the 16th president that I had ever seen.

White guy looks like himself, black guy looks like … who knows.

Well that’s what happens when the people are “colorblind.” If you can’t see a person’s color, you can’t see the person. And if you can’t see the person, you can’t sculpt him. This of course implies that the artist responsible for seeing Lincoln did see his color. When speaking of color blindness, you rarely if ever hear about ignoring white people’s color. White people do have a color, you know. But that color isn’t a problem, therefore you are allowed, even encouraged to see it. Other colors are a problem, so you should try not to see them. This of course leaves you seeing only whiteness and whiteness becomes the norm.

Once whiteness is the norm, you don’t have to mention it again. This gives whiteness the appearance of colorblindness, but in reality it is all you see, and it becomes more than a color but a moral stance, all goodness and light. But it is still whiteness, whiteness with good PR. Non-whiteness and all within it are less than white.

This incredible whiteness of being becomes to the citizenry the same as water is to a fish. Fish don’t think about water or even notice it until it is gone. The water is the norm, always has been and always will be. This may be fine if you are a fish living in that water, but what if you are mouse? A mouse cannot live in the water like a fish. And a mouse is constantly aware of the water and the adjustments the mouse must make when in the water in order not to drown. A mouse can never live completely in the water, he must always keep his head out of the water, he is aware that there is this thing called air that he needs and that water keeps away when his head goes under. Demanding colorblindness of people of color is like the fish demanding the mouse to submerge his head and breathe like a fish. The demand will not make the mouse a fish. It will not make the mouse not need air. This demand will always shorten the mouse’s life. And as the mouse dies, it ceases even to look like a mouse and becomes simply a lump of wet fur, its features distorted by its death. And the sad thing for the fish is, they won’t even notice the difference and most likely will blame the mouse for not being a better a fish. For the remaining mice, some will refuse to breathe like a fish and seek a way to swim to dry land, but some will not and those too will blame themselves for not being fish.

This explains why the King Statue doesn’t look like King. It was sculpted by an artist who, whether he knew it or not, wanted to sculpt a fish when his subject was a man.


My life is not your teaching moment.
My tears are not yours to drink.
My pain is not here to grow your empathy.
My words are not your thoughts to think

White folks, it’s your turn now
To take up your cross and walk
To do your work of justice
To stand up in your world and talk

I will not leave you forsaken
I will still include you in my prayers
but I will not do your work for you
I will not ease your cares

It’s your turn now to bear the fear
Of facing the demon called Race
It’s your turn now to stand and fight
And set your own healing pace

We can stand beside each other
And build the Kingdom grand
But we cannot be actor and spectator
And expect to save this land.

So take your stand and do your work
Stare down your fear, don’t blink
My life is not your teaching moment.
My tears are not yours to drink.

Let Us Speak in Praise of Robber Barons and Righteous Men

Let Us Speak in Praise of Robber Barons and Righteous Men

The government of this nation in partnership with big business has spent the last 30+ years destroying every safety net, every protective measure, every rule of law (that they could get away with) that protected the citizen from the amorality of the market. Under the guise of deregulation, RE-regulation gave the protection of rights to corporatists and the burden of responsibility to the citizenry. Now we see what these practices have wrought. Today it’s foreclosures, tomorrow it will be bank closings. After that … ?

We are encouraged to take individual responsibility, we are told time and time again, “It’s the markets. They go up, they go down. It’s the nature of things. Just ride it out.” (Markets are human constructs, not produce you can pick from a tree. There is nothing natural about them.) “Pay no attention to the men behind the curtain. Nothing to see here. Move along.”

A person loses her home and it’s her fault; not the mortgage company who loaned her $150,000 on a $75,000 house (knowing her annual income was $25,000 and her credit rating was 3), not the investment speculator who sold over-rated debt to investors, not even the so-called market savvy investors who should have been paying attention and should have known better but just couldn’t turn down a ROI that big. Oh no! It’s the decision of a 12.50 an hour manager at Burger King who wanted a home of her own that has brought about the biggest financial catastrophe since 1929!

What about all those other individuals involved? Where is their responsibility in all this? Where is the public outrage against them? Where are the criminal charges against predatory lenders? Where is the call not for tax relief for the wealthy, but debt relief for the working class? Where are the protests? Where is the legislation? Where are the photo ops of politicians signing laws to protect us, singing the praises of us, looking out for us?

Let us speak in praise of robber barons and righteous men.

Mighty are these supermen and all powerful their will
Bending all reality while filling up their tills

Bloodless now the common man, and shallow husk is he
For toil he must from dawn til dusk for coins he owes to thee.

A Word on Shaming the Devil

A Word on Shaming the Devil

“Speak the truth and shame the devil!”
I heard this saying all the time I was growing up. It was usually said as an affirmation of agreement with some previous statement and that previous statement was usually a pronouncement of some now obvious truth that before either those present had overlooked or more often had purposely avoided.
It was never about a guy in a red cape with horns, a goatee, and a pitchfork.
In our day to day lives, we often avoid the truth, it’s easier that way. In avoiding that truth, we allow the petty cruelties of life to fester and kill us all by tiny cuts. Evil lives in the willful blindness we practice when we look the other way. Our own devils dwell in our silent acquiescence to small and large tyrannies of the status quo and travesties of justice.
But when we break from our go-along-to-get-along mentality and say in truth “This is wrong,” we shame the devils of silent compliance and blind obedience and make them smaller, take their power, and expose their evil.
We grow our souls this way. We grow our faith this way. We build the Kingdom this way.
As the people of Ferguson continue today to speak their truth, let us all do the same. With them and in our own lives, let us all strive for a love supreme, a holy truth, and a soul salved in a Balm of Gilead.

A Plea for a Humanity Well Practiced for the Young Men Shot Dead

In your time and places of worship today, remember the young men who have died before their time and for sin not their own. Hold in the light the family, friends, and communities they leave behind and think on things that will change the hearts and mind of those of us who would in a moment do the thing that an eternity can not undo