Sunday, June 22, 2014

Facebook--I love you--Almost

photo by Dimtris Kalogeropoylos/ flickr
Lud-dite. (lud/it) n, a member of any organizations of various bands of workmen in England (1811-1816) organized to destroy manufacturing machinery, under the belief that its use diminished employment.

I am beginning to believe that we ought to bring back the Luddite movement. Here’s what we could do—smash—and I do mean smash—smart phones and the cheaper not-so-smart-phones that (poor things) can’t access apps. I would also almost include I-pads but because I am addicted I will have to let this invention slide by without destruction. But I will add I-pods to the list. I have my second one. The first one I dropped into the commode and baptizing it did not only--not make it more religious—but the little cursed instrument flat quit working. So—I ordered a used one on Amazon which came with someone else’s name engraved on the back. I cranked up my laptop—my desktop was acting strange—found I Tunes and tried desperately to upload NPR, jazzy music, etc.

 For the life of me I could not understand how to upload. So—a trip to the Apple Store about twenty miles away. The guy was extremely helpful. He wanted to know what version of I-Pod I had. I only thought the Holy Bible came in versions. I was stumped. Like a good Apple employee he was nice but I could see in his eyes that he was dealing with a Luddite—even though I don’t think he knew what that meant. He gave me some pointers and so I went home—cranked up I Tunes and guess what? My shenanigans did not work. So—I am sweating at the Rec Center without the diversion of NPR or my jazzy 1960’s music. (Not contemporary Christian!)

I can’t disengage myself from my computers—my lap top that works fairly good or my Desktop which works some time. Except when I try to print something out my computer sends me to Fax and I have to choose another option. Wait, wait that’s not all. Then I have to turn the printer off and let it rest for just a minute—turn it back on and ta-dah—it works most of the time. I can’t get rid of my computer because how else would I be able to bore you all with my rantings.

Anyway—yesterday I kept getting furtive messages from all over saying that somebody had hacked into my Facebook account and I had better check things out.  After calling my son who is no Luddite but a computer semi-whiz—he finally figured out that some creep had hacked into my Facebook account—made yet another Facebook page for me...and was sending stuff all over the creation. So he patiently helped me erase the hacker’s furtive work. Then I had to change my Password yet again. Which means when I do crank up Facebook next time I will have no unearthly idea what my new Password is.

photo by Kaylynstar / flickr
I could stop here and talk about the multitude of Passwords I have procured- just trying not to get hacked. This is dizzying. This is my second time to be hacked on my Facebook account—and I want even get into the spam, the erectile dysfunction (!!) ads that keep coming up (How did they know?) and those little gremlins always on the edge of the computer and just salivating to get in and destroy all my precious stuff.

So I now have only one Facebook account—so friends and neighbors you can contact me and not be scared of what might happen to your computer or Facebook or Password or I-Phone or whatever.

Come to think of it, I cannot be a full-fledged Luddite. I loooooove my computers—sorta—but I am not exactly like that man in the film,  “Her” where this character actually falls in love with an imaginary character on his computer. (Where do these ideas come from?) So—I will keep trying to figure out what Password goes where...hoping I can duck the hackers...and hope that somewhere out there in la-la land—somebody might find a little something that helps and not hurts when you go to my Facebook or Blog Page.

And to all those out there who let me know I had been are way, way up there in my book. Expect multitudinous pictures from the Lovette clan—I know you cannot wait.


A semi-Luddite

                                                       RogerLovette /

Friday, June 20, 2014

War--When Will We Ever Learn?

photo by lightsqueeze/ / flickr
Where have all the young men            gone? 
Where have all the young men            gone?
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?"
       --Folk Song  

As the war in Iraq is heating up yet again—it’s time to ponder what we ought to do. It is heart breaking to see that troubled land still in total disarray and chaos. People there have not known anything their whole lives but war and terror and bloodshed and death.

Funny—but the same people who led the charge for war in 2003 are at it again. The newspapers reports and the pundits are everywhere saying we should or we shouldn’t move our troops back into Iraq. The loudest voices seem to be saying should.

Colin Powell said once of the Iraq war: “If you break it you buy it.” Well—we certainly broke it and unfortunately we bought it. Estimates are that we have spent at least 1 trillion dollars on that war. That does not include the heartbreaking-human factor.  Nicholas Kristof writes: That 1 trillion dollars "is a $35,000 tax on the average American household. The total would be enough to ensure that all children could attend preschool in the United States, that most people with AIDS worldwide could receive treatment, and that every child worldwide could attend school—for the next 83 years. Instead, we financed a futile war that was like a Mobius strip, bringing us right back to an echo of where we started.”  The rest of the article is worth reading.

We cannot afford to help re-break Iraq. We have nearly bankrupted ourselves already in the trying.  Reports say that 500,000 Iraqi lives have been lost or broken. We have send back home 4,500 flag-draped caskets. Speaking of the rants toward the VA—most rightly deserved--the poor soldiers broken and wounded and their families have gotten lost in the shuffle. As we think of that terrible expression “boots on the ground” we need to remember all those that have come home that will never be the way they were when young and hopeful they served for us. 

At the beginning of the Gulf War in 2003—we were in Oxford for a month. Protests were running high. I think they must have remembered their parents mostly talking about the bombs that fell on London and other parts of England for over 70 days. But what I remember is the window of a little row house I passed by. On one of the panes were these words: “War is not the way.” As the old protest song is still haunting: 'When will we ever learn...when will we ever learn?”

Iraq Memorial outside Boston Church
photo by Dixie Lawrence / flickr

--Roger Lovette /

Friday, June 13, 2014

Bowe Bergdahl--Who Knows?

Photo-whiteoutpress / flickr
Ever heard the story of the man sitting at the football game who couldn’t scream enough. A real fan—he pulled for the home team. But—he kept yelling at the opposition: “Kill him. Take him down! Ha—he’s a fool! Tear his head off! You must be stupid!” The woman sitting behind him had enough. She tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Mister that’s my boy you’re yelling at.”

I couldn’t help but think of Bowe Bergdahl’s parents when I remembered that story. I do hope they aren’t reading many newspapers or watching too much TV these days.  My problem with this whole mess is that most folks have rushed to judgment much too soon. Who knows?

We do know he walked away from his post. We also know that he had walked away two times before: once during training in California and once in Afghanistan. He returned both times. Maybe he is just weird or downright strange. I find it hard to believe anyone would wander into Taliban territory in his or her right mind. He could be mentally ill. He could also be a coward and a deserter. We just do not know. Yet—the outcry has been stupendous. My problem is that we need to give this soldier the benefit of the doubt until we know the truth. Which we do not know. Where do we get the idea that any of us are guilty until we are proven innocent?

If we had left Bergdahl behind—the howling will probably be more that all the noise surrounding this man and his actions. Some imply that he was not in danger and that he was not sick. Who knows? We are pretty sure the place where he was incarcerated was not a health spa. He was in prison behind enemy lines for over five years. Who knows what happens to anyone in that kind of terrible situation. Remember Daniel Pearl and a great many others who have had their heads chopped off by the Taliban?

Why do we have to politicize everything? Some folks seem to be more concerned about releasing those five Taliban detainees than they have been about this American who spent all these years in prison. Clarence Page recently wrote, “...Israeli Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners—many of them terrorists responsible for hundreds of Israeli death—to free Gilad Shalit, an Israeli sergeant held captive by Hamas for five years.”

We have jumped to conclusions much too soon. Let the process do its work. If this soldier deserted he needs to pay for his actions—and will. But we need to give one another the benefit of the doubt—even the President, especially the President. Don’t you think we send a powerful message to our enemies when our Commander in Chief is vilified and demeaned and his integrity questioned.

Whatever the reasons like that woman at the football game that tapped the yelling man on the shoulder—I feel for this soldier’s parents. Guilty or innocent whatever joy they may have had by the release of their son has been muted by the press and social media. Do we have our priorities jumbled?

(With all the media hoopla over the Bergdahl affrair, Joe Klein of Time has written a piece  that is fair about Bowe Bergdahl's parents. It is called, "Sacrificial Lambs." I recommend this wise piece to all.)                                 

                                              --RogerLovette /

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Father's Day--A Time to Remember

 photo by unciepal/ flickr
We gathered from all over. We came to say goodbye to an old friend. For three years he had suffered and struggled. And now that his battle was finally over we gathered for his funeral.

The little church where he worshipped was packed with friends and loved ones. In the middle of the service his red-headed son moved to the pulpit. He took from his inside pocket a folded piece of paper, unfolded it, and began to read. "Man, he said, "would my father get a kick out of this. Me standing in a pulpit..."

The son told us that on the day he left home for the service twenty years ago, his father handed him a brand new briefcase. Inside was a handwritten note that read: "Dear Son, I wish you Godspeed. Always remember God's grace is sufficient. Love, Daddy."

Only as his father lay dying did the Father confess to his son that the day he left home had been the hardest day of his life. He told him that he was so upset that he couldn't go to work--and he never missed work. The boy confessed that he had cried all the way home to California.

But on that day of saying good-bye the son remembered a gift and a note. He remembered that his father loved him wherever he went and whatever he did. He also remembered that benediction the father had tucked away in his new briefcase. "God's grace is sufficient."

The tall handsome man standing behind the pulpit reminded all of us that gathered for the funeral that he had found his father's words to be true. He told us there had been hard times and disappointments, heartbreak and dead-end streets. But he reminded us that his father's words kept coming back when he most needed them: "God's grace is sufficient." The boy had stitched these words into his own life's experiences and found them to be true.

I have often wondered what words I have given my own two redheads. What father-to-child advice have I indirectly, and sometimes, directly given along the way?

Despite my failures as a father, I hope they know they are loved with a fierce love that I will carry all the way to the end. I hope they know how very proud I am of who they are. I hope they know the great joy they have brought me. A joy I cannot even imagine being without.  And I hope they also know there is embedded at the heart of life itself a grace that is not only amazing, as the old song goes. But that same grace will be sufficient at every turn. On this Father's Day--this is my hope. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Racism--Unfinished Business

"The past is never dead. It's not even past."
         --William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun

Want to read a good book? I just finished Tim Tyson’s, Blood Done Sign My Name.This non-fiction book is really about Tyson and his father’s journey with race in the South. His Father was a Methodist preacher during the seventies in Oxford, North Carolina.

When Tyson was ten year’s old a 23 year old black man was beaten unmercifully and shot to death in public by a white man with ties to the KKK. This story would change Tim Tyson’s life. He tells about the community, his father’s church, the trial that let the man who murdered the black man go free without any charge.

It is the story of a moderate white man in a typical Southern town in the seventies. Alongside his family's experiences is the story of enraged blacks who became radicalized and burned down much of the town.

Tyson’s father kept pressing his all-white Methodist congregation to widen their vision of humanity and pushed the town to come to terms with its bloody racial history. The family was forced to move away. Here we find one  courageous preacher's struggle to build bridges in a time of terrible destruction.

Tyson is a fine writer and now teaches Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In the light of 2014 politics I find the seeds that were sown back in that dark time are still in full bloom today. We have come a long way from where we were—yet this country still has a long way to go when we come to racism.

Alongside this book you might want to read Ta-Neshisi Coates’ long and telling article in June 2014 The Atlantic, where he writes of the injustices that black folk have faced through the years. His article is called, “The Case for Reparations.”

The book is not really a Southern story--but it a story of our whole country. Ours really is an unfinished business.                    

                                      --RogerLovette /

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Home Church Closing--My Favorite Memory

(Many of you have read my words about my home church in Columbus, Georgia closing its doors after 90 years. As I have been thinking of all the things that special place meant to me...I remembered that reproduction of Jesus in the Garden which hung in our church all my growing-up years. I published this on my blog in 2009--but on the eve of this Pentecost Sunday--I wanted to take this page out of my heart and share with you.)

In the little mill church where I grew up there always hung a very nice reproduction of Hans Hoffman's, Christ in Gethsemane. You've seen this picture because for a while it was everywhere. In homes, in Sunday School classrooms and in those tiny leaflets they gave us at the end of that long Sunday school hour. But this particular picture hung back of the choir, directly over the pulpit on the back wall of my home church. Heinrich Hofmann painted this picture of Jesus kneeling in the Garden. It is said to be one of the most copied paintings in the world. The bearded Jesus kneels with his hands folded on a rock. His face is turned heavenward and a radiant light shines from above. In the background of the original painting three disciples sleep. Further away you can make out faintly the walls that surround the city of Jerusalem. But the central focus of this painting is Jesus kneeling in the Garden.

Sunday after Sunday I would make my way up the street of the cotton mill village where I lived. I would walk past the mill, go two blocks and turn left. I would walk another short block until I came to the steps of my church with its tall white columns. I would enter the vestibule and slip into the Sanctuary always sitting on the left side about half-way back. And I would look, Sunday after Sunday, at that painting--Jesus praying in the Garden. I remember that some Sundays after everyone had left the church--making my way up through the choir loft to just stand and look at the picture up close. I can even remember reaching out and gently touching the painting and marveling at its strange power.

All those years, hard cotton-mill years--Jesus was there in the Garden. When the war came and I had nightmares about Hitler and the Japanese and somehow the Indians (thanks to the movies) got mixed up in it all--Jesus prayed in the Garden. As a teenager there were Sundays when I would giggle so hard at nothing and would have to cram a handkerchief in my mouth and hide down low so the preacher would not see me. Jesus still prayed in the Garden. I remember weddings and funerals. I remember the soldier boys from Fort Benning that came to our church and became friends before they went overseas. And Jesus prayed in the Garden. I remember the day that FDR died up the road in the Little White House in Warm Springs, Georgia. I still remember hearing a newspaper boy yelling: "A-Bomb dropped on Japan." Through those painful teenage years, wondering what I would do and where I would go--through it all Jesus prayed in the Garden.

I was invited back to peach in that church years later. I wondered what would be appropriate. And then it hit me. I would preach on Jesus kneeling in the Garden. And I told them that sunny Sunday morning that through it all Jesus knelt in the Garden.

Mattie Mae, our oldest member was there that morning and would be dead within a month. Tempie who began work in the mill and age nine and could neither read nor write-was there. Bessie, our youth leader who scandalized everyone with a divorce had come back for that service. The first girl I ever kissed was sitting in front of me. And Mary Helen, near blind told me later that she could not see me but she heard every word. Scottie came on crutches. Estelle, my mother's best friend who had lost her son my age, was there blinking back the tears. Edward, my good friend was not present. He had been murdered several years before and never lived to see the day he could have come out of the closet and been free. And that Sunday morning I told all those that came that through it all--the good, the, the hard and the ugly--Jesus knelt in the Garden. But not only them but all those who had such a hard time along the way and never made it. Jesus prayed in the Garden for them, too.

Even after all these years I now know that through all my dangers, toils and snares--that Jesus knelt in the Garden for the likes of me. And on the eve of this Pentecost Sunday I bow my head and thank God that once upon a time Jesus really did kneel in the Garden for us all.

                                            --RogerLovette /

Friday, June 6, 2014

Maya Angelou: Second Verse

Saint Sabrina Photos / flickr

I keep remembering Maya Angelou and what she left all of us. Her funeral will be Saturday morning in Winston Salem. Even though that service is private I understand that the University is offering a live video stream of her service if you have a computer. Try: go.wfu.dedu/angeloumemorial .

One of the poems that means a great deal to many of us is the first verse in her poem, “Alone.”

"Lying, thinking

 Last night

Where water is not thirsty

And bread loaf is not stone

I came up with one thing

And I don’t believe I’m wrong

But nobody

Can make it here alone.”

If you want to read a wonderful tribute to Maya—you might read Bill Leonard’s fine words called "Holy Woman", which appeared in Associated Baptist Press. He is Church Historian and teaches at Wake Forest University. Thanks, Bill.


Monday, June 2, 2014

A Love Letter to a Closed Church

Porter Memorial Baptist Church - Oct. 24, 1924-May 25,  2014 - Columbus, GA.

You walk up the concrete steps between the tall white columns. You try the door. It doesn’t open. You try again. It is locked.

It’s Sunday morning and the church is locked. You listen at the door—but you hear no sound. Everything is quiet.

For the first time in ninety years—the doors are locked tight on Sunday. The Hammond organ is quiet. The piano in the opposite corner makes no sound.

The pews are empty. Dust gathers on the pulpit and the big open Bible.

A thin spider web can be seen across the choir chairs.

It’s a Sunday morning and the church is locked.

Even when the depression came—the doors were open. Even when the wars came—the doors were opened. Even when the tornado came through toppling trees and blowing away roofs—the church stayed open. And even when the houses around the mill sold—one by one--the doors stayed open. Later—when the machines grew silent, and people left the mill, brushing the lint from their hair for the last time, wondering what they would do—the doors were still opened.

Yet—today—this Sunday morning—and the church is locked.

Yet all across the land—and even a handful in foreign countries—lives were changed by that church with the tall white columns and it’s open Sunday doors. People walked down those aisles and found something to keep them going on hard mill days. They sang their gospel songs there—mostly by heart. Even after all these years they believe in that land that is fairer than day. They believe in standing up for Jesus and coming just as I am and all the power of Jesus’ name. They prayed a zillion prayers for what—everything. Death, divorces, betrayals, depressions, whiskey, not enough money—ever, scared of the " Huns and the Japs"—who might just drop a bomb and blow them all away. They prayed for forgiveness and hope and faith and most of all even love—especially love.

And across the land—and even in a handful of foreign countries—people do not remember what the preacher’s name was or how long they were there—or even the faces of most of the people. They remember their hearts were strangely warmed—enough, just enough to send them back to spinning frames and hot non-air-conditioned days and nights in the mill. Some don’t go on Sundays anymore. Yet—even these remember when they heard a word that stuck—and it has never, ever let them go. And it took—well, mostly it took. Some remember filing in, not on Sunday but a week-day—when they rolled the awful casket in and some preacher said, “I am the resurrection and the life...” They didn’t think they could stand it—but they did.

 Most don’t know that if they came back on a Sunday and walked up the steps between the tall white columns that the doors would be locked. Yet—what happened there, year after year, preacher after preacher, collection plate after collection plate—mattered. It was their lifeline that they sang of so often.

And though this Sunday the doors are locked and the dust gathers and the organ and piano are silent—once upon a time this was a holy place. So holy they didn’t take off their shoes but they knew deep in their hearts that they had stood on holy ground. And it kept them going—and still does.

Sanctuary - Porter Memorial Baptist Church, Columbus, GA

                          --RogerLovette /