Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Power to Bless - A Father's Day Sermon

photo by llee_wu / flickr

One of the books that has meant a great deal to me is a little book called, The Power to Bless. It was written by a Pastoral counselor, Myron Madden. He said that the great power of primitive religion was the power to curse. This was a most fearful thing—to be cursed. But beginning with Abraham a new dimension was added to religious history. It was the power to bless. And over and over we read through the Bible these wonderful words: “I will bless you and I will bless your descendants.”

Now the great news is that the power to bless is much stronger than the power to curse. This is the heart of Judea-Christian religion. Instead of giving us some curse for our cussedness, God graciously holds out a blessing instead.

Now we all know something about the curse. It’s those crippling messages we have heard all our lives. That we don’t count. That we’ll never amount to anything. That we are dumb, lazy, sissies. It is the feeling that we are just not important. And this curse cripples us. It shrivels our self-image. Sometimes it makes us too dependent and we keep hoping somebody will bless us. Or often we just put a shell around ourselves and won’t let anybody in. It hurts too much.

But we also know something about the blessing. To be blessed is to be accepted. To be blessed is to be brought into the circle. To be blessed is to belong—to be a part. When your parents gave their blessing to your marriage, your career, your dreams. It is to be accepted by another person—though they know us warts and all. It really is amazing grace. Remember how the old father blessed that boy that came back home in rags and shame. What did the father say? “My son…my son.” It is knowing that we really do matter. That we are truly loved. 

So the gospel holds out a great promise for all of us. We are blessed despite all sorts of obstacles that are thrown in our path. Or that we throw in our own paths. The New Testament reminded us that little group of scared believers—always in the minority—always seeming a little strange by most folks. “Once you were no people…” they were told, “but now you are God’s people.” You are somebody.

In the patriarchal period the dying father blessed the eldest child. And we see this clearly in the Jacob-Esau story we read this morning. Esau was the oldest and the birthright belonged him. But the Mama wanted the youngest child, Jacob to have the blessing. So they tricked the old blind father into giving the rightful blessing that belonged to Esau to Jacob. Jacob disguised his voice…he wrapped his wrist like hairy Esau. And the father gave the blessing to the wrong son. It was a terrible thing to steal one’s blessing. Esau had loved his brother and could not believe that his brother would steal what belonged to him. And that love for his brother turned to hatred. And he vowed if he found Jacob he would kill him. To steal a blessing is a terrible thing.

Moses blessed his people. Aaron later would bless the people. In the early synagogue service there were eighteen benedictions. And when Matthew put together Jesus’ teachings on the Sermon on the Mount over and over he said it: You will be blessed…You will be blessed…You will be blessed. And it finally got into their heads—that they really counted. 

The common people kept following Jesus because he made them feel good about themselves. You know how it is when you are around somebody who makes you feel good about yourself, that maybe makes you laugh, when you can put your defenses down. You are accepted and you know this. This is to be blessed.

On this Father’s Day we stop and think about that powerful figure in our own families that shaped or mis-shaped our lives. Some Daddies pass on the curse and not a blessing. “You really think you are something, don’t you.” “You’ll never to anything.”Making fun of you. Always sarcastic when they talked to you. Which translates really means that you are a nobody.

Those that study that long parade of those who have taken guns and caused such terrible grief find an enormous similarity. In almost every single case either they came from a home without a father or a house that was a nightmare of a home. Dylan Roof, 21 years old white supremacist in Charleston stood up in that Bible study at Mother Emanuel Church and mowed down the Pastor and eight others. Nobody doubts that somewhere along the line he was crippled by somebody or a whole lot of some bodies.  And all he ever learned was how to curse the world around him. He came from a broken home and attended seven schools in nine years. Nobody ever took him in their arms and said: “My son…my son.” He felt rejected everywhere he turned. And what if somebody or a whole lot of somebodies had reached out and helped? Teachers, somebody in Sunday School, scouts—maybe a coach, a relative. Somebody. We all have the power to bless somebody.

You probably know Coach Dabo Sweeney’s story. Life was pretty good for him until his high school years. His
photo by nutternumberone / flickr
Daddy’s business slowly failed and as the bills mounted he turned to the bottle. And when he drank—he was violent especially toward his family. Dabo left the house, would stay in their backyard or sit on the roof of his home. Some nights things got so bad he slept in the family car. Finally his parents divorced—but they lost their house and lived in motels and were finally evicted because the Mother could not pay the rent. For three years she lived with Dabo and they both slept in the same room while he went to college in Tuscaloosa.  

Dabo could have just crumbled. But his Mother loved him and stood by him. And when he thought he had to drop out of school because he didn’t have the $1,000 he needed to continue in school—a check came in the mail from somebody out there. There were teachers and coaches that helped him. And we know the rest of the story. He has led Clemson to win two National Championships. And he cares about his players and he is a great model for young people. Dabo Sweeney knows first hand the power to bless. Why do I tell you this story? Because none of us know when we reach out to somebody out there—what miracle might just take place. 

Let’s come back to the Jacob and Esau story. The years went by. And Jacob profited again and again from the birthright he had stolen. But the brothers never saw each other. But as their hair turned grey and so many years had passed—both still remembered what Jacob had done. But Jacob wanted to make amends with his brother. But he was still afraid of Esau and he remembered Esau’s rage when he said, “I will kill you if it is the last thing I do.”

So Jacob decided to send his older brother a peace offering. He couldn’t sleep. He was afraid every day. He remembered how he had betrayed his brother. So he sent Esau: “a hundred  female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty milch camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys.” (Genesis 32,14-15) 

And for a little while there was a silence. And Jacob wrestled with an angel. And he dreamed dreams. And one morning Genesis 33 says that Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming. Jacob was petrified. And when Esau got there what did he do? This great big hairy man who had been betrayed. What did he do? He stretched his arms out as far was he could, there was this enormous smile on his face and there were tears running down his cheeks and he said:”Jacob…Jacob…Jacob. I love you. I have always loved you. I don’t need all these animals you sent as as peace offering. No peace-offering needed. Just to see you standing here—To see your face is to see the face of God!” And Esau brought his own cadre of animals and he told Jacob he had to take them. The man who did not get the blessing…blessed there man who had stolen  the blessing. And there was peace with the brothers after all those years for each brother blessed the other.

Isn’t it what we all have to do? Give a blessing and not a curse to one another. Some of you old timers will remember World War II. A lot of things were rationed then and one of the things that you could only get in small amount was sugar. There just was not enough on anybody’s table. Some people would go into a restaurant and empty the sugar bowls and it became quite a problem. So the restaurants decided to take sugar off the tables. And if people wanted sugar it would be put in the coffee or tea in the kitchen. So this man came into a diner one morning for breakfast. He ordered eggs and the trimmings and then he said, “I want some coffee and I want some sugar.” The server brought his breakfast and set the coffee down on the table and left. In a few minutes the waiter came back and the man barked  “I think I ordered sugar with this coffee.” And the waitress  put her hands on her hips and said: “Mister, stir what you got.”

Some times we ask for what we already have. We have all been blessed and not cursed. And so what we need to do is to stir what we got. And then don’t stop there—but start in this room…take that blessing out to your home or job or wherever you meet other people. “Stir what you got…brothers and sisters, stir what you got.” This power to bless can change us and we can pass it on.

photo by Julie / flickr

(This sermon was preached at the Providence Presbyterian Church, Powdersville, SC, June 16, 2019)

--Roger Lovette /

A Father's Day Meditation

It was only a week ago we met in the church to say goodbye. It was my brother’s funeral. He would have been proud, very proud. For not only were his four children there but his eleven grandchildren. One granddaughter stood and sang accompanied on a guitar by another grandson. His daughter moved to the piano and played as we all sang a hymn. His youngest son came to the pulpit and opened up his heart. And grief flowed in that room like a river.

This Daddy was no saint. Which Daddy is. Sometimes I think his lows were about as low as one could get. Yet—he did not stop. He did what he could. And maybe that’s the point that children must realize. Some think Daddies must look like that Norman Rockwell picture where Dad is this perfect creature that is always there and always does the right thing. But if we strip away the sentiment of Father’s Day we can see that underneath it all he is just like us—a human being trying to make it through. 

Somewhere I clipped this Letter to the Editor. I think it is a pretty good piece for this special Day we name Father. 

“On every Father’s Day, all I ever see are letters, columns or stories from children praising their Dads to high heaven. And that’s fine. While I don’t want to rain on their parade, for me and all those fathers whose children are estranged from us for whatever dumb reason, it was a painful day. So, to all those Dads as they say in the beer commercial: This one’s for you!

Stuff happens: separation, divorce, misunderstandings, arguments, fights, you name it. Bad things happen to good people. But, whatever happened to any of us should be forgiven and forgotten Father’s Day. Maybe the day will be the start of something big, like reconciliation. 

Listen, all of you kids who currently are not talking to us. You have to know how thrilled we were when you were born and how proud we were as you grew up. We’re father, dad, pops. And no matter what, you are undeniably our children., for whom we have unconditional love.

So, let me tell all of you, who owe your lives to your fathers (and mothers): There is no good reason on God’s earth why you should not contact your father open this special day. Come on, give your old man a break. Call or send a card. You will not regret it. Remember, “Honor thy father and thy mother” was a a commandment—not a suggestion.   Have a good Father’s Day, guys, I hope you get a call or a card.”

Some us cannot send a card or call. Our fathers are dead. But on this day maybe it is time even for us to stop and ponder the tiny graces that came and the love whether spoken or unspoken that they give us.Or tried to give us in their own way.

Gene Lovett
September 24, 1939 - May 28, 2019

--Roger Lovette /

Friday, June 14, 2019

Women, the Baptists, and 2019

photo by Tjflex2 / flickr

One little girl was heard while praying, "Dear God, are boys better than girls? I know you are one but try to be fair."

At the latest Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Birmingham it sounded like Deja vu. Beth Moore, Bible teacher has criss-crossed the country leading Bible studies.  This past week she dared to speak “to a bunch of male Pastors” about sexual abuse. As a victim of sexual abuse she feels strongly that her denomination should speak out strongly this issue and work to solve this problem. 

But the Southern Baptist Convention is a mite concerned about any woman “standing before men in an authoritative role.” Hiding behind those old threadbare cultural texts they say: women have no right preaching to men. Some of these pastors don’t even want women teaching little boys—it’s a men’s job. Well—take the women out of the church and out of teachings Sunday schools and it would be pretty slim pickins. I don’t believe the men alone are going to come to the rescue on Sunday mornings at ten o’clock or eleven either.  But that’s not the point. 

The real point is everybody is equal in the kingdom of God. Ever read Jesus’ words and his attitudes toward women? I remember a time when the Virginia State President of the Women’s Missionary Union could not even give her report at the pulpit at the State Convention. She had to let her Pastor read it.

Since then we have opened up all kinds of places for women. They hold cabinet positions. We have had at least three women as Secretary of State the last few years. (Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Wright and Hillary Clinton.) There are a few CEO’s of Fortune 500 that are women. Several very talented women are running for President. And take the women out of the picture and it would be a sparse day. We just said goodbye to Rachel Held Evans who was a wonderful spokesperson for the gospel and for women’s rights in the church.

I recall the story about Lottie Moon, who wanted to be a Missionary to China. The officials said she could not do that. Their rule was that no single woman could serve as a missionary. Well, tiny Lottie Moon would not be deterred. Baptist woman passed the hat and raised $3,315 and spent her to China as a missionary. The Mission Board wrote her and said she could not teach men, or baptize or preach. I think they suggested that she come home. Lottie Moon wrote back and said, “What am I to do when men seek so insistently to learn from the Bible? Should I leave them in ignorance until a man shall arrive? What am I to do when our fledgling churches need leadership? Should I leave them in the hands of untrained new Chinese converts merely because these converts are men? I cannot and will not." She said when a man arrived shed would relinquish her role. No man came. 
Lottie Moon served her Lord faithfully for 39 years living and teaching in China.  She became a saint in Southern Baptist circles. And a Christmas offering in her denomination was named Lottie Moon offering. Since 1888 1.5 billion dollars has been raised for missions. These gifts financed half the Southern Baptist mission budget. 

The Southern Baptists have lost many members in the last few years. I predict with their 1950 threadbare rules will lead more and more women from their ranks. 
Folks it is 2019 and time for the Southern Baptist Convention to look long and hard at what the Scripture really means for such a time as this. (Maybe the Methodist church too.) Axe handles really do not float, we do not believe in “dashing the heads of little children against the stones” and whales don’t usually swallow folks. When the Bible was written the earth was flat. It had four corners. Biblical passages in the Old Testament decried blood transfusions. Some verses even called for the stoning of homosexuals. We don’t throw the book out—we just filter it through the eyes of Jesus. And it becomes alive—sharper than any two-edged sword.

The Church of Jesus Christ is far from perfect. But to hide behind the Bible to promote discrimination against women or anybody else seems to me to be a pathetic response to the gospel—the good news—of Jesus Christ.

photo courtesy of Class Film / flickr

--Roger Lovette /

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Trump and Sweet Hour of Prayer

photo courtesy of YouTube

When I was Pastor we’d call on Brother So and So to pray. (It was in the dark ages when we didn’t call on women to pray in public.) And sometimes when we closed our eyes the pray-er must have had indigestion or something. Maybe a fight with his wife that morning. But after the “Our Father…” he’d go off on some kind of tirade. Sometimes it would be aimed at the Preacher. Sometimes the lack of money in the building fund…sometimes furtively thinly disguised directed toward one of his enemies in the church. Some member would sidle up to me after Church and whisper: “Well—we got some preach-praying this morning.” Which is not exactly what Prayer is supposed to be. 

One Sunday just weeks ago had been designated by Franklin Graham as a “special day of prayer for the president.” What? Unless I am mistaken what gives Franklin Graham the right to proclaim any kind of special day for anybody. I do believe Mr. Graham was quilty of a little preach-praying when he gave this proclamation. 

In response to Graham’s suggestion the President appeared that Sunday at a mega-church in Maclean Virginia. The White House of course set this up. At a loss for words the Pastor brought Trump on stage and had a special prayer. Trump, I am sure loved it, I am not sure about God. David Platt, the Pastor actually prayed a decent prayer.* You can read it for yourself. Later the Pastor said he had been blindsided since he did not ordinarily engage in partisan politics. 

But that is not the point. We are not to use religion to support some political person or their agenda. That really is preach-praying. Historically at the National Day of Prayer almost every President shows up. But this is a far cry for the subtle endorsement called: "A Special Day of Prayer for the President." We've already seen pictures of evangelical preachers surrounding our President with bowed heads. And when their photo op makes its way into the media I call this preach-praying. It gives the not-so-subtle suggestion that Mr. Trump is God’s man of the hour. 

Old time Baptists must be turning over in their graves. They believed in separation of church and state. In fact they believed the principle so strongly that they wrote it into tour Bill of Rights. Of course, the battle to separate church and state is forever with us. Dr. Russell Moore, a Southern Baptist leader took aim at the evangelicals who try to wrap our President in the Christian flag. Moore said these evangelicals defame the gospel by excusing “Trump’s profanities, racebaiting and courting white supremacists, boasting of adulterous affairs and debauching public morality…through the casino and pornography industries.” Mr. Moore sounds like an old-time Baptist.

Scripture admonishes us to pray for our leaders and for our country—but never does it support preach-praying. Linking God to some particular candidate. God is neither Republican or Democrat. Jesus did say when you pray do not be like those who stand where everybody sees them—but go into the closet and shut the door and pray secretly. For everybody. For everything. Certainly for the President and our country—and the whole wide world that God loves. 

I think Pastor Platt made a mistake when he called the President up to the Platform. He should of just recognized Mr. Trump, welcomed him andthen given his prayer which I have no complaints with. In fact it certainly was not preach-praying. And it did not endorse the President or any other political leader.

We see enough of our President without seeing him preening on some Church stage with his pious bowed head. There is a little book called Humor in the Pulpit. Lyman Beecher once prayed: “O Lord, grant that we may not despise our rulers; and grant, O Lord, that they may not act, so we can’t help it.” Samuel Eaton a Congregationalist disliked the Madisonian foreign policy: ”Lord, Thou hast commanded us to pray for our enemies; we would therefore pray for the President and Vice-President of these United States.” Henry Ward Beecher prayed after President Buchanan was out of office: “Thank you Lord for removing rulers imbecile in all but corruption.” When a prominent Preacher offered this prayer in Boston the papers reported: “That it was the finest prayer ever delivered to a Boston audience.”

Hmm. Looks like preach-praying can be on both sides of the aisle—but I could not resist some of these funny prayers. Remember Jesus did say in the Sermon on the Mount: “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them…”

Lest I did not get my point across—whatever it is—let us pray for our President and all our leaders that “ justice might roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” I don’t believe you would call this preach-praying.

*Here is the Pastor's prayer on that Sunday:

O God, we praise you as the one universal king over all. You are our leader and our Lord and we worship you. There is one God and one Savior—and it’s you, and your name is Jesus. And we exalt you, Jesus. We know we need your mercy. We need your grace. We need your help. We need your wisdom in our country. And so we stand right now on behalf of our president, and we pray for your grace and your mercy and your wisdom upon him.
God, we pray that he would know how much you love him—so much that you sent Jesus to die for his sins, our sins—so we pray that he would look to you. That he would trust in you, that he would lean on you. That he would govern and make decisions in ways that are good for justice, and good for righteousness, and good for equity, every good path.
Lord we pray, we pray, that you would give him all the grace he needs to govern in ways that we just saw in 1 Timothy 2 that lead to peaceful and quiet lives, godly and dignified in every way. God we pray for your blessing in that way upon his family. We pray that you would give them strength. We pray that you would give them clarity. Wisdom, wisdom, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Please, O God, give him wisdom and help him to lead our country alongside other leaders. We pray today for leaders in Congress. We pray for leaders in courts. We pray for leaders in national and state levels. Please, O God, help us to look to you, help us to trust in your Word, help us to seek your wisdom, and live in ways that reflect your love and your grace, your righteousness and your justice. We pray for your blessings on our president toward that end.
In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.
--Roger Lovette /

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

A Tribute to My Baby Brother

My first memory of Gene was the September morning they wouldn’t let me in my mother’s bed room. I woke up and there was a commotion in the other room. And then someone came out and said, “You’ve got a baby brother.” Red-headed, squirming and sorta of a foretaste of what we all had in store for us.

He was four years younger and we were as different as two brothers can be. Sorta like Jacob and Esau. We grew up in a tiny four-room house across from the mill. It was where our parents worked year after year. Up the street was the red-brick school where we went and across from the school was our church. Like it or not our Mother made sure our ears were scrubbed, our clothes were ironed and that we were there every Sunday.

My brother and I both worked in the mill and after Gene graduated he worked in that mill for four or five years. But then he got a job at Fort Benning working in Civil Service. He left there to work in the Post Office for 29 years. But he didn’t retire—exactly. He began doing income tax for folks and some years over five or six hundreds returns. Those returns came from everywhere—all over the country. And people would come and sit and ask questions about investment and just about everything else. Some of those people had little money but he helped them out anyway. I asked him one time, “Why don’t you charge more and you’d have half the work to do.” He simply said, “No. These people need me. I try to help them. I’m not going to change my fees.”

At his funeral they asked me to say a few words. And I told those that gathered about his love for puzzles and how he worked on them constantly. There was always pieces of a puzzle on a large table in the den. When he left us one of his puzzles was still spread out half-finished. That half-finished puzzle reminded me of my brother. All his life he was putting together some sort of puzzle. And he did it well.

He took the pieces of his life and kept trying to put his puzzle together. He married Charlotte and they were married for 58 years. They had four children. And later there were eleven grandchildren. He loved them all. And amazingly every single one was at his funeral. They loved him fiercely. 

He built their house. He had never built anything much. But he just went to work—studied plans, asked questions and for two years of his time off he built his brick house. It was solid and fine and he and his wife and all four children grew up there. The house was ringed with azaleas and every spring people would stop and stare at the dazzling colors. He had a vegetable garden and in the corner was a scuppernong vine that he had planted.

The pieces of his puzzle included his love for cars and trucks and dogs and cats galore. He loved sports and was a good golfer. He read voraciously. He painted his house inside and out over and over. He ripped up carpet, sanded floors and made things shine.

A great many pieces of his puzzle was his love of friends. Several times a week he
met with “the boys” at McDonald’s. At his funeral I looked out on Peddy and Mac who were there in all those crazy growing-up years. Far back in the church was Bill and Byron. They all did taxes and were great friends. 

There were many pieces of his puzzle. More than many folk. That gap of four years that separated us made a difference. But as the years went by that gap slowly closed. We took a trips together. He loved to gamble and he dragged me down to Biloxi several times. 

But one of my favorite memories was the cruise we took to the Caribbean together. Night after night we would go into the darkened auditorium and listen to the Karaoke when people mostly made fools of themselves. But not all were fools. People would yell: ”We want Bill…and we want him to sing ‘I Believe I could Fly.’” And up on the stage this aging fat man with a lot of lines in his face took the mike and began to sing: “I believe I could fly…I believe I could fly…” My brother, who loved music was blown away. Every night the people would yell for Bill and he would sing the same song. There in the darkness Bill sang for us all. And over and over since then my brother would sing a little: “I believe I can fly…I believe I can fly.” Well Gene, you really did fly. You really did. You had a family that loved you much. You had friends that surrounded you. And you had a multitude of interests. And you helped I don’t know how many people. You know what—I do believe you could fly. You flapped your wings over and over. And you will be missed by a whole lot of us. 

Gene Lovett
September 24, 1939 - May 28, 2019

--Roger Lovette /

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Lessons for Memorial Day - 2019

Looking out the window on this Memorial Day week-end we are a pretty divided people. We all know there are a multitude of reasons for this. And as much as I would like to blame our President—this issue has been with us for a long time. But I would add that I don’t think our President has done much to help us with this burning problem of division.

Which brings me to a Memorial Day story that dates back to April of 1866. The war wounds of the Civil War were still fresh. But in Columbus, Mississippi a group of women came together to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers. But they also noticed the barren graves of Union soldiers and they placed flowers on those graves as well. We need to honor all our citizens living or dead. And this, I believe is the real meaning of this holiday. 

What if we suddenly realized that there really is more that unites than divides us. I’ve told this story often. The old farmer trained his roosters for the county cock fights. And one morning he took his two prized roosters and put them in a cage and headed down to the cockfight. He stopped his truck, got out opened the back and pulled out the cage. It was a mess. Two dead roosters. He moaned “I can’t believe it…I just can’t believe it—they killed each other off—there’s nothing left but blood and feathers. They didn’t realize that they were on the same side.”

I’ve been reading a fine book for where we are Memorial Day 2019. Jon Meacham has written, The Soul of America. The subtitle of his book is: “The battle of our better angels.” The book takes a backward look at many of the ups and downs of our country. He reminds us that our current climate of partisan fury is not new. Some days I don’t think it has never been like this. But how I wrong I am.

There have been a great many occasions in our history when the darkness seems to have eclipsed the night. He writes about the Civil War which brought us 618,000 dead which led to the stormy days of Reconstruction . Meacham reminds us that the list goes on.The backlash against immigrants in the First World War. The resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan. He talks of the struggle for women’s rights, the demagoguery of Huey Long and our isolationist policies of our country even before World War II. Remember how we incarcerated between 19,00-50,000 Japanese Americans in that war. He asks us to remember the witch-hunts of Senator Joseph McCarthy that tore so many people’s lives apart. And of course he mentions Lyndon Johnson and the struggle for Civil Rights. Meacham says, “The goodness is that we have come through such darkness berfore. Time and time again we came back to the better angels of our nature.”

Mr. Meacham gives us some markers as we all deal with the struggles of our time.

  1. Enter the arena. We cannot disengage ourselves from the difficulties of our time. We have to be informed. We have to speak up. We need to remember our better days and give ourselves to these principles. America started as a revolution—and that revolution continues to this very day. The battle goes on.

2.  Resist tribalism. Engaging in this fight for our better selves takes work and patience and energy. Sometimes we all grow weary in well-doing. Those devoted to extremism on whatever side there may be does not help us. We must reaffirm the heart of who we are: “We the people.” Despite the bruhah of today—we really are on the same side. United we stand…divided we really do fall. We must listen, listen, listen to one another. We must be fair. We are not to shape our lives by the headlines and the twitter feeds. Instantism is simply instantism.

3.  We respect facts and deploy reason. There is such a thing, Meacham says as discernible reality.  We are certainly entitled to our own opinions but not to our own facts. Meacham reminds us the the dictators of the world have said that if you tell a lie long enough the people will believe it. President Truman added: “Well, if you tell the truth often enough, they’ll believe it and go along with you.” A free press is essential to democracy. The New York Times motto is: “Democracy dies in darkness.” Of course the press and the media pundits are not always right. They get it wrong sometimes—but we must champion the truth as we understand it. 

4. Keep History in Mind. This is the power of Meacham’s book. Looking back we can see that Democracy is often a messy thing. But we must hammer out who we are—not give away the heritage of our better days. We remember the question that a woman asked Benjamin Franklin was asked after the first Congress had done its work. “What kind of a government are you going to give us, Mr. Franklin?” He replied, “A republic, Madam, if we can keep it.”  

A friend of mine sent me this true story. A little eleven year old black boy, Antoine Mack lived in the inner city of Boston. Antoine was one of a number of youth sent to Camp St. Augustine, a program sponsored by the Brothers of the Society of St. John the Evangelist. Despite his hard life, Antoine wrote a poem that is really a beacon of light for all of us. 

“The night will never stay,
The night will still flow by
Though a million stars in the milky way
pin it to the sky.

Though bound with the blowing wind,
and buckled by the moon,
The night will always slip away,
Like sorrow, or as tune.”

photo by Michael Seeley / flickr

--Roger Lovette /

Friday, May 24, 2019

Abortion--Not Exactly a Settled Issue

photo by Hillel Steinberg / flickr

Looks like the Pro-sorta-Life people are on the march. Alabama just passed a law that would outlaw abortion except to save the life of the mother. No exceptions even for rape or incest. Several other states have recently passed the “heart beat bill”prohibiting abortion after six weeks. Of course mostly males have passed these bills—except maybe Alabama whose Governor happens to be a woman. Some of these same folks are intent on banning birth control. Which is flat out crazy when you think of it. Whatever happened to “lesser government” interfering with our lives.

Of course abortion is one of the hardest issues of our time. Abortion should should never simply be used as a birth control procedure. Life is precious. All life. But there a multitude of reasons why a woman personally struggles with abortion. I often think that the saddest day for many women is Mother’s Day. They had an abortion and many live with a sadness over what they felt they had to do. Hardly any woman is forced to have an abortion. So those women who feel like this is wrong should simply not have an abortion. And victims of rape and those incest victims—should not have to bear the children for a pregnancy that was not their fault. Imagine a ten year old girl having to be forced to have a baby. 

Strange these pro-sorta-life-folk do not raised their voices when aging grandmothers, raising three grandchild as best she can—should have their food stamps cut off because she does not have as job. Or those disabled who are told they must work or their food stamps would be no more. Or those pious folk who want to do away with the school breakfast and lunch programs for kids that are poor and hungry. Or take frightened citizens of illegals that they never raise their voices when children are ripped from parents’ arms and some never will see their children again. My God—what kind of a people are we?  

We’re not talking Republican or Democrat. We’re talking common sense and human decency. Wonder what Jesus would say about some of these laws states are passing today?

I have a email-friend. We’ve never met. But we both grew up as cotton-mill boys. We both lived in little houses owned by the mill. And we both spent some time working in cotton mills. This friend is a mighty fine writer. And he has a good head on his shoulders and a mighty big heart.  I want to share with you what he sent me the other day. For me it captures the dilemma of the abortion issue perfectly.

Here it is. Thanks J L Strickland.

"I’m beginning to think Alabama’s legislature is the political equivalent of the Special Olympics. 
This abortion law is nothing but cruel and inhumane to the nth degree.  Who- are- these- people- we- have- elected?
It’s the no allowance for rape or incest that bothers me. I wonder what they’d think if their wife were impregnated by a rapist, or their daughter by a perverted uncle?
Those clowns explaining their position on this embarrassment to the state are an embarrassment to themselves.
I agree with the notion that abortion is a tragedy. But, forcing a woman to have an unwanted baby is the real tragedy.  Sometimes,  it’s necessary, like it not.
And though it’s a big surprise to some folks, some things are simply none of their business.
Besides, with all the modern birth-control methods available, there’s no reason for anybody to get pregnant. 
The problem is, the hard-core anti-abortion folks are against birth-control, too.  I.E., their opposition to Planned Parenthood.
I have acquaintances who will drive 500 miles of a Saturday morning to picket or protest an abortion clinic or birth-control center.
Alabama is my home, too. My ancestors came over the border before Alabama was a state.  There’s no where else I had rather live and I’ve had chances to move.
However, the mass lunacy that has gripped Alabama, starting in the Wallace era, is beginning to bother me.
But, none of this is really surprising. I’ve long recognized the area below the Mason-Dixon is bat-shit crazy – a large open-air looney bin.   Starting the Civil War proved we were a bunch of mouth-breathing nitwits.
Of course, as in most things,  the rules are different for the rich and po’ folks.
A lady friend of mine was a R.N. scrub nurse at the local hospital, Lanier Memorial.   Meaning she assisted the surgeons in operations.  But, you knew that.  She was a mill-village girl who got a scholarship to that four-year nursing school in B’ham.  She made the most of it. 
She told me years ago, when abortion was still greatly illegal, that the rich folks across the river and the daughters of mill brass could get an abortion on demand.   Since she was on call for emergency operations, she knew whereof she spoke. 
How it worked was,  a knocked-up big shot’s teen-age daughter or wife who didn’t want any more children, would be admitted to the hospital for an emergency DNC, female trouble.
This always happened on a Sunday afternoon, which tells me it was a worked-out, planned remedy to their situation.    They got a safe abortion, performed by skilled, trained medical personnel, under the guise of something else.
It was an abortion, pure and simple.  The hospital told her to keep her mouth shut.  And since they had paid for her scholarship, and room and board in B’ham, she did.
Rich girls got specialized treatment while females from the working-class had to carry their unwanted baby to term, or deal with a butcher with a coat-hanger.
And risk dying from loss of blood or an infection.
Which, I guess, is what the Montgomery dimwits want to bring back again.  In their foolish eyes, folks who don’t agree with their warped religious beliefs are beneath contempt.
And contempt is what they are showing for Alabama females.  Too bad they aren’t as concerned with deprived children already born and living in poverty, neglect and want.
T’was ever thus.  We are sailing on a ship of fools…
I don’t deny being a Methodist back-slider, but the quotes “Judge ye not” and “Love ye one another”  come to mind.
Though the state legislature would no doubt deny my right to quote them.  Being as I’m not anointed like they are.
God doesn’t love me like he does the Montgomery vagina vigilantes." 

—Roger Lovette /