Pastor Speaks Out on Walmart

(cross-posted at Daily Kos)

Our church, and our pastor, are serious about two things: inviting people into the love and acceptance of God, and confronting injustice as the opportunity presents itself.

So when Dr. Joseph Phelps of Highland Baptist in Louisville was contacted by the WakeUpWalmart folks and asked to do a short commercial, he stepped out of his comfort zone and stepped up to the plate.

Our church has a long history of caring for the less fortunate as part of our mission. Recently the work of social justice has begun to become a part of that mission: part of the ministry is caring for the individual, and part is trying to change the systems that help create the problems.

Still, anyone familiar with the church would realize that doing an ad for WakeUpWalmart was outside what we had been doing. Not that it is completely out of character — far from it — it’s just a little more “out there” than our normal modus operandi.

Joe Phelps has a pastor’s heart, a tremendous one. Occasionally, he also puts on the prophet’s mantle. He’s not egotistical about it, like some; neither is he aggressive about it, like others. But when he feels called to speak out, he does so. And in 30 seconds, he cuts to the heart of the issue for those of us who call ourselves Christians.

Here’s the money quote:

As we celebrate Christmas, search your heart — If these are Walmart’s values, would Jesus shop at Walmart? Should you?

You can view the video here: Video at WUWM.

Here’s the church website: Highland Baptist.

Update: Pastor Shares Statement on Why
I just discovered that Joe also put a statment up on the church web site, explaining why he decided to accept the invitation to do the ad. You can read it here.

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This Is Amazing!

My older son Griffin just showed me a video made by a guy who recorded himself playing single notes on the drums, then on the piano, then took the whole thing and edited it in such a way that he plays first a drum solo, then a piano and drum duet. The only thing he did was edit the clips to put them in order to make the music. It is absolutely amazing.

Here’s the link:

Jump to extended to view the video!


A Little TARC Blogging (Now with Carbon Reduction!)

I’m doing something new — letting the newly-minted 16-year-old driver try his solo wings to and from school, while I ride the bus. Today is the first time, and so far I like it. Most days I drive him to school, go by Highland Coffee and read the paper, then do a little email and dailyKos before going on in to work. Today I read the paper and drank my coffee while riding in, then went into the lobby of the LG&E building and used their free WiFi hot spot to do some morning blogging. I missed Highland Coffee, of course, but on balance this may actually be a boost to my productivity. Not to mention a reduction — or at least not an increase — in global warming. The car is still going to town, but at least its not TWO cars.

One of the small things we each can do to aid in the fight against global warming is to go to Carbon Planet and sign up for Carbon Credits. First you use the calculator on the site to figure out your CO2 impact on the environment. Then, you “buy” credits to offset that impact. The money goes to things like R&D on alternative fuels, and conservation campaigns.

Yes, it is something of a conscience salve, and yes, it’s an easy way out of dealing with the tough choices we are all going to have to make over the next decade. I know it, and I don’t care; it’s a small step in the right direction, and small steps are better than no steps. Not to mention the seed it plants in the brain, that may eventually grow into a Prius, or even a bike.

So, take a TARC once in a while, buy some carbon credits, and start making those small changes. They all add up.

And if you’re on the 49 or the 55 and you see me typing on my beat-up laptop, say Hi. It’ll help me keep my mind off the 16-year-old driving my car.

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Ray Charles Truth for NO

(cross-posted from dKos, from a reply down the page)

as I stated on another blog, I heard this song by Ray Charles and Gladys Knight on WMNF radio. After the song, the commentator stated,”We will not forget and we will not forgive! It was not the SLOW response, but the NO response!”


Heaven help the child who never had a home,
Heaven help the girl who walks the street alone
Heaven help the roses if the bombs begin to fall,
Heaven help us all.

Heaven help the black man if he struggles one more day,
Heaven help the white man if he turns his back away,
Heaven help the man who kicks the man who has to crawl,
Heaven help us all.

Heaven help us all, heaven help us all, help us all.
Heaven help us, Lord, hear our call when we call
Oh, yeah!

Heaven help the boy who won’t reach twenty-one,
Heaven help the man who gave that boy a gun.
Heaven help the people with their backs against the wall,
Lord, Heaven help us all.

Heaven help us all, heaven help us all, heaven help us all, help us all.
Heaven help us, Lord, hear our call when we call.

Now I lay me down before I go to sleep.
In a troubled world, I pray the Lord to keep, keep hatred from the mighty,
And the mighty from the small,
Heaven help us all.
Oh, oh, oh, yeah!
Heaven help us all

Courage to Write, Courage to Speak

I’ve been re-reading an important book in my life, The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes. The basic premise, of course, is that fear in all its infinite variety is part and parcel of writing, and that the act of writing is itself an act of courage. The corollary to this is that most writers do not suffer from writer’s block (sitting to write and having no words come), but from writing avoidance: wanting to write, but avoiding it because, ultimately, of fear.

As I’ve been working through this again, I’ve come to realize that it is true not only of writing. The same fears — of rejection, of failure, of loneliness, of misunderstanding — apply to speaking, and especially to speaking out on things we care about. We’d rather tell jokes to friends than speak truth to power and risk losing the friends.

One of the joys of both middle age and recovery is finding your voice. You come to realize that the risk of losing friends is less deadly than the risk of being silent. And, if you’re fortunate, you’ve developed some friendships that are based on mutual respect for each other’s differences rather than on shared sameness.

Doing this blog, doing my web site, and trying to write something every day, are all exercises in fear control. In Keyes’s eyes, all acts of courage. Speaking out, writing letters, contacting officials — also acts of courage. Not big courage, not hero courage, not anything needing a medal, but small acts of courage, nonetheless.

If all of us with normal lives, normal checkbooks, and normal health — in other words, all of us with power — would face our internal fears and write and speak our truth, we could relieve the larger fears, the big fears, of the powerless. Here’s to a tsunami of small acts of courage.

BTW — The book is available through Amazon here


A Paean to Small Joys

Let us sing the praises of small joys, of everyday joys, of the little blessings so often missed and ignored:

— Of independent coffeehouses, in old buildings with wooden floors, with classical music playing on the CD player and young people with dreadlocks behind the counter.

— Of independent bookstores right next door, full to the roof with books, bestsellers cheek-to-jowl with obscure tomes by obscure writers, books for every taste and almost every viewpoint, and hilarious greeting cards you can’t find at Hallmark.

— Of regulars, those familiar faces that aren’t friends, really, but whose facial expressions and political views you know probably better than your friends’ expressions and views, who greet you when you arrive and share a cuppa and a story.

— Of good coffee, and good conversation, and a good start to the day.