Dear Readers

I post here my regular weekly columns that The Danville News publishes every Friday.  This is a valued platform.  We include my most current column on this home page.  The columns I haven't been able to load as PDF I have placed as text under the heading of Sermons (see above to click to).  I thank many of you for kindly asking for them.  Once I update my Godaddy website I will be able to resume filing these columns in a PDF format.  It requires a technical skill I sorely lack so please be patient.    For you I write.  


The Danville News
Robert John Andrews
26 January, 2018
“You Are Not Alone”
Word Count:  750
My retirement work lately has required hours helping facilitate the closing of the First Presbyterian Church at Williamsport, one of our old, once queenly, dowager churches.  In my tradition we don’t tell churches what they have to do.  My task has been to help them properly carry out their decision to end worship, lock the doors, sell the building, distribute to worthy ministries any funds left over, mourn and grieve and celebrate the ministry of 135 years.  Close the book, ring the bell, blow out the candle.  Sing Requiem.  Sing Te Deum.   What increases my sorrow is how my parallel task is to prepare a process for other congregations closing their doors. 

How many of our congregations are video stores in a Netflix world?

If you belong to a  church and if your church were to die, what would the community lose by your death?  Would anyone care?

This closing of First Presbyterian didn’t have to happen.  They bungled decisions – the talent isn’t in the decision, the talent is in building consensus.  Also, the congregation was fatigued and long past a sense of goodwill, hope, and joy.    How I wish we (myself) had been more attentive five years ago in helping them discern what kind of future they might have fashioned.   There are creative ways to respond to needs.  First, however, we should have done our homework and figured out what were those needs.  We rush to solutions without first asking right questions. 

Whoever said congregations needed to be forever anyway?   Why not short-term churches?  Why not revamp the colonial model of larger congregations establishing satellite bible studies led locally, nourished by circuit rider pastors?   How about churches without walls?  House churches, café churches, churches devoted to a single mission, mindful that “mission is the gateway to church not church the gateway to mission?” 
The more limits the more the need for creativity.  Demographically, our area is quite limited.  Demographics is destiny.  Church work today often becomes the hospice question:  how can we have the best possible today given the limits of today. 

It is our own fault.  Where have our prides, jealousies, habits, traditions, theological suspicions interfered with shared ministry.  We failed to creatively combat our nation’s disease of comfortable self-interest.   We expected the visitor to conform to us, not us learning from the visitor.  Imagine you were a younger Christian and the church matriarch (we all got one) school-marms you by scolding:  “Why aren’t you helping out with our rummage sale?”  Would you go back to that church?

It’s not as if  Christianity is in jeopardy.  If we thought that we’d be what Parker Palmer calls functional atheism:   thinking the solution and success is up to us.  Let’s be honest, the church isn’t dying.  Take a look at Ghana where there are more Presbyterians than you’ll find in both the US and Scotland.   For us, Christianity became habit, institutionalized, ceremonialized.   We elected to be nice and God’s judgement is that we have become so.  For Ghana, Christianity is essential, daring, robust, radical. 

What is dying is the church in which we’ve been comfortable for years.  Perhaps we need to be uncomfortable.  For I view this a wonderful judgment freeing us  to get back to what we mean by church, by the ecclesia, the gathered community.   When people admired the Grove Church building saying, “It’s a beautiful church,” I replied, “Yes, they are.”

One theologian describes us as beginning the fifth major revolution of church yet to be named:  1) Imperial Church; 2) Great Schism; 3) Reformation;  4) Cultural establishmentarianism; 5) ?  I’m excited what will come next, for I see myself as mid-wife to a future I will not see.  

For I also know, we humans need to belong to something more important than ourselves.   We need to belong to a community that cares, who brings casseroles when babies are born and when we hurt or loved ones dying.  We need to belong to a community grounded in a sacred truth that keeps us on our toes and off balance and less pre-occupied with ourselves and more pre-occupied with the well-being of others.   We need to be cautioned about idols we prefer to worship.  We need a means to look at ourselves and our society and be given a swift kick so we can be truly human.  We need peace, hope, love.  We need “bread not religion,” though religion can be the platter.   We need a people who show us that we do not have to be alone.



~~~~

“Mirrors”
Grove Presbyterian Church  -- I am let back once a month to help out -- here is today's message
21 January, 2018
 
 
Old Testament Lesson                                                                    Jonah 3: 1-5, 10


The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time, saying, 2“Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” 3So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. 4Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
5And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth. 10When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
 
New Testament Lesson                                                                     Mark 1: 14-20


Jonah was sent to deliver God’s warning to the king and Assyrian people of Nineveh (basically the land of modern day Iraq).  They were, as the propagandist prophet Nahum shrieks and insults, a very bad people.  City of bloodshed.  Utterly deceitful.  Countless debaucheries.  The last thing Jonah wanted was for them to actually listen and repent.  Jonah wanted this enemy nation utterly destroyed.  But in this parable, God has a different intent. “We are not enemies, but friends.” – concluded Lincoln in his first inaugural address, speaking to his ‘dissatisfied countrymen.’ “We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”—Abraham Lincoln


14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” 16As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 17And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” 18And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.


Reflection                                                                                               “Mirrors”
 
You love them.  You hate them.  

“Oh, man, am I that jowly,” you gripe looking into the mirror. “I’ve got to get some exercise.”

Again, looking into the mirror you like the way your new hat looks.  “That looks good.”

You hate them.  You love them.  

Go home and take a few minutes to count the number of mirrors in your house.  

We’ve a total of 15.  Not counting hand-held mirrors.  

Love them, hate them, for mirrors are truth-tellers, so why would we want the things around?  Give me a mirror that lies to me.  

“Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?"

You look at yourself in the mirror and you are forced to confront who you are, what you have done, what you haven’t done.  You’re really looking at your inner self blinking back at you.

Mirrors.  You’ve been told, you’ve been shown, you’ve been exposed.  Now, what are you going to do about it?

Where I take comfort is in how the whole purpose of Jonah’s mission to Nineveh, even though he really didn’t want to do it -- Jonah hated the Ninevites the way Israel hates Palestinians and vice versa, the way Isis hates the USA and vice versa-- and even though Jonah got really annoyed when the people he hated repented and even madder at God for being kind, gracious to them.  His God’s love available even for them…

…what I take comfort in is that the whole purpose of God is to create opportunity, to redeem, to make new.   God does not have to cause calamity.  A society, a people cause their own ruin when the way they behave, worship, politic is calamitous.   Who is to blame?  Start here [hold up mirror].  

The purpose of judgment is to bring them (us) to better life.   Repent and believe the good news!
Turn around, turn around – forswear thy foolish ways.  

Any fool can destroy, tear down.

To create, to build up – that’s authentic power.  Power to make new, to redeem.  Power revealed in human compassion, human hope. 

Please listen from a sermon by George MacDonald (whose writings inspired CS Lewis):

“How terribly, then, have the theologians misrepresented God …  Nearly all of them represent him as a great King on a grand throne, thinking how grand he is, and making it the business of his being and the end of his universe to keep up his glory, wielding the bolts of a Jupiter against them that take his name in vain. 

Brothers, have you found our king? There he is, kissing little children and saying they are like God. There he is at table with the head of a fisherman lying on his bosom, and somewhat heavy at heart that even he, the beloved disciple, cannot yet understand him well. The simplest peasant who loves his children and his sheep were … a true type of our God beside that monstrosity of a monarch.” 

That power we call God is partisan.  God does have favorites.  God prefers the poor, the refugees (like Jesus, Joseph, and Mary), the humble, the weak, the oppressed, the outcast, the sick, the damaged, God prefers honest sinners.  

The whole purpose and intent of this book [Bible] is to reconcile, redeem, restore -- to heal, to bring us out of our slavery.  What hatreds, slogans, prejudices, assumptions, fears, cowardice, grudges, self-preoccupation, self-righteousness, pleasures and powers, inability to listen, to learn enslaves you, enslaves our United States, enslaves our world?    

When you are brought to your knees that’s when you know how to stand for something.  

Jonah, even though he hated obeying God, held the mirror of truth up to Nineveh, exposing their evil ways, revealing their lack of social morality, their lack of personal morality.  Personal morality hangs on social morality.  Social morality hangs on personal morality. Wake up, wake up.  Jonah made them look at themselves.  See a prideful society boasting that they were the greatest kingdom in the world.  See a society built on corrupt affluence, a society governed by the mantra, ‘what’s in it for me?” A society built on domination of others by military might, enslavement, cruelty, the repression of truth, the abuse and plunder of the lower classes by the Nineveh rich, their delight in personal pleasure at the expense of family and duty, their denial of human dignity, their religious leaders’ slavish, fearful, manipulative, craven veneration of their decadent monarch. 

Magic mirror on the wall…

For several months after Grove I visited a variety of local congregations to experience the humanity of the worship service intending to write an article called “First Impressions.”  One of the most disappointing and alarming impression was a congregation singing an insipid, smug praise chorus, repeating the refrain: “God is mine, God is mine.”  

Really, I asked?  I thought it was the other way around.

Isn’t it interesting how Jesus is far more interested in matters of justice than Jesus is in taking our spiritual temperatures and whether or not we have “joy, joy, joy, joy down deep in our hearts?”  As long as there are self-righteous Jonahs and corrupt Ninevehs, can any of us be happy?   As long as there are others needing salvation, how can any of us call ourselves saved?

As has been preached, a healthy, decent society asks not:  “Am I better off now than before?”  A decent, healthy, indeed godly society asks:  “Is my neighbor better off than before?”

We Christians do more than study the Bible, we eat the gospel so we can follow and work.

A Poem:  Keeping the Faith After Charlottesville 

God bless the Southern Baptist pastor
Booted from his church for following Lord and Master
How dare Pastor preach we must repent 
Our unjust society we must lament
That sinful bigotry and racial idolatry
Denies God’s view of human equality
Hey, Christ, your gospel really is annoying stuff
I attend church and am saved, that’s good enough

Mirrors.  You’ve been told, you’ve been shown, you’ve been exposed.  Now, what are you going to do about it?

Take a look.  The judgement is ourselves.

I know there’s been a lot of talk, frenzy, fuss and bother, and bric-a-brac thrown about this week about that tedious word, “racist.”  Let me now put this ridiculousness to bed.  

A wiser man and a man who possesses an ounce of Christianity in his soul, knows he is a racist.  I know I am, there's nothing new about that.  It is embedded in my National DNA.  I also am sexist and a whole lots of "...ists."  But I am working on it because I am a Christian.  I must, because I am Christian.  I have been working on it ever since the sixties when I grew up in more ways than hormonally (though I haven't grown up much in that area anyway).  

An old pastor repeats himself…

I’ve been working on it ever since my original aim in life to enter the honorable and noble profession of politics for the common good got detoured by the annoyingly inspiring message of Martin Luther King, Jr. and how my pastors championed the gospel and supported Dr. King’s ministry.  Back then I looked into the mirror of myself and our society and I was shown how the law can legislate against another man lynching me but the law cannot make him love me, or I him.  

That is what I learnt, and that is when I grew up.  I was called by and tugged toward a love full of truth, guts, justice, and a love that requires self-examination, requires repentance, requires begging Jesus’ help, Jesus’ spirit, to make me the kind of man Jesus is.   



**********************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Where I stand.  Working on my positives ( welcome hearing your comments because more important than a leader being able to tweet to talk to constituents is for the leader to be able to listen to constituents -- got that Donald?).  For me, good decisions are the result of good process, so the focus and energy must be on the process.   I want to see the facts that validate positions, such as in immigration lotter "they send us their worst."  We need to ask better question about claims and statements.  

1. Mandatory National service required of all young people via the Department of Education -- military as only one option among many for the community good
2. Set Social Security on the guidelines of Roosevelt -- to receive at the average age of death
3. Those on disability should be given forms of community service to fulfill.   Same with those on welfare, public assistance, whether personal or corporate -- any drug test should apply to legislators and anyone who receives public money (corporate welfare, schools)
4. Minimum wage -- unless McDonalds can afford $25 an hour for a living wage we realize the difference between entry jobs and real jobs by creating real jobs
5. Jobs:  create a job czar to explore and implement new industries based on new sciences -- must get away from relying on service industry or industry of the 20th century -- the long term environment outweighs short term cheap fuel.  
6. Abortion -- focus on prevention and compassionate help with those who wish to exercise the right of choice, medical opinions outweigh making regulations -- a helping hand goes farther than tsk tsk...
7. Immigration -- open borders with vetting and coming here for established work opportunities.  More than barbed wire on our borders is for us to work with countries that are the source of illegal immigration to cure what is the cause of their desperation to escape their country
8. Tax reform -- I got to talk to smarter people -- set up independent commission to make recommendations -- always need to tinker with reform but key is increasing revenues by increasing incomes of our citizens.  Taxation is a civic privilege and responsibility -- we benefit from taxes.
9. DACA - immediate security for this young people -- if you leverage humanity against building a wall, you are stupid because a wall is a waste of money and a Berlin message -- again single issue motions.  Once decision at a time.
10. Gun control -- being a strict protector of the second amendment, everyone has a civil right to own a musket that fires two shots a minute, otherwise, no reciprocity between states for handguns and concealed carry, full universal background checks, no assault or even semi-assault permitted unless controlled and stored by a gun club, any purchaser must pass (as with a car) a driver's test
11. Gerrymandering -- yield the decision to impartial and disinterested agency -- those in power try to keep power however unfairly
12.  Opioid addiction -- it is a fiscal and humanitarian necessity that we provide drug courts and means via clinics and rehabs to get clean so they can take care of their kids.   
13. School loans:  commission to explore and act on the reason school costs exceed all others;  given mandatory service, we expect more serious college students who value the return on investment -- more technical training as well.  No interest loan rates, scaled if they produce in-kind community service following gradation
14. Military and VA -- service doesn't give you preference in medical care -- boost VA versus private care option because the wait in private care is just as long if not longer
15.  Gambling -- should never be used as a basis for government revenue except for taxing the hell out of casinos and other forms of gambling.  Government should have no business operating lotteries.  
16.  Invest science into new industries -- coal, natural gas, petroleum must be replaced
17.  Global warming and climate change -- yeah, it's real and unless we love mother earth we are screwed.   Bill Nye and Neal deGrasse Tyson should be consultants.
18.  Foreign Policy --  let's send lots of food to North Korea via South Korea and win the people's hearts. Win them with love and pride be damned -- if "if I make my enemy my friend do I not defeat my enemy?"
19.  National Debt -- independent commission to tell us how to satisfy the debt by ten years
20.  Income equality -- the United is screwed if we don't boost the middle class via new economy and ethical management (CF. Adam Smith and the virtue of bosses who renounce privilege and greed).
21.  Black Lives matter:  it is getting better with community policing.  Blue lives matter too, as a billboard in New Jersey on Rt 80 says but those in blue chose to enter a risky profession;  those born black didn't.  
22.  Confederate monuments:  fact finding-- when were they erected and why?  My preference-- move them to appropriate venues such as battlefields 
23.  Me Too:  the more women get in positions of authority the better we'll reduce harassment at all levels.
24.  Refugees:  caring for thousands of children and women is worth the risk of a the errant terrorist.   Better prevention too as we show them the goodness of this land.  The higher calling is decency even at risk to national security.
25.  Infrastructure  require all legistators and executives to drink Flint water and drive across dangerous bridges and hit every pothole
26.  Impeachment or incompetence:  let this Greek tragedy play itself out -- governmentally, patriotically, journalisitically, we are becoming a better people for our sins being exposed.
27.  Non-profit tax rules:  keep the Johnon amendment to protect congregations from becoming Political Action Committess and thus them denying their very existence
28.  Bonuses:  it is lovely these corporations (sweetening their poltical clout?) are giving out so many bonuses, but two questions:  1) wouldn't it be better to provide sustainable wage and salary increases?  2)  how long has this pot of money you are now graciously dipping into has been around?
29.  Successful heights in the stock market hasn't helped Shamokin much.  Old time investment to profit long term by investing in the growth of the economy long term
30.  Military:  its use is defensive only
31.  We must engage economically, diplomatically, politically, in humanitarian causes globally.  We have entered an interdependent age, which is a means for achieving if not actually peace than at least cooperation
32.  Branches of Government:  Congress needs to be congress and assume rhe courage and responsibility for Executive Orders by actually voting on them as laws -- much easier to do when congress prohibits riders and votes on a single motion at a time -- the President as President in name only.
33. Mandatory work schedules -- must stay for lengths of time to get the job done rather than shuttle congress for fundraising 
34.  Tax Reform:  what does it matter what I think about it.  The casserole is in the oven.  We shall see what it tastes like.
35.  I see my role to be John the Baptist, preparing the way for younger, more diverse, more capable leadership for the future.
36.  A little return to paternalism could be a good thing:  revise orphanages, the state hospitals for the mentally ill.  Focus on children, on children
37.  Seems to me the Durbin-Graham proposal made DACA sense -- tough to deal with a fellow who keeps changing the rules 


I'm just beginning friends -- see you at the polls -- tell more and ask me what I've overlooked



Finding My Writings…


Producer Jason Perez and I are going public officially on Wednesday January 17 wtih a presentation at the Danville Middle School Library of our Youtube and DVD multi-media tour of the Danville Pennsylvania Memorial Park.  It is based upon a speech I delivered at the centennial of the park.  Enjoy the 38 tour on Youtube by entering:  Memorial Park Danville Pa.  You can 'play all' or watch the 7 segements separately.  Thank you, Jason of Brews and Bytes!


Angel’s Share now features Chapter 27 (The Boys) of my Seasons for Everything:  Tales of a Reluctant Pastor.


"This Land" -- The latest version of my Woody Guthrie road trip's 17 expanded columns (pending permission to use the lyrics) can be found here:

This_Land_Master_copy_full_text_10_October_2017.pdf
827.9 KB


Here's the link to my 21 November 13 mninute radio interview with Mark Lawrence for his Sunrise Show at WKOK - AM radio -- http://wkok.com/wkok-sunrise/#f3e7b63so9


 I also got playful this Labor Day and culled together a series of Religous Dim Sums, couplets (love that word) for pastors and congregations.  Enjoy.

Religious_Dim_Sums.pdf
332.2 KB


Click here to preview my "First Impressions" article about my impressions of church worship visits.

First_Impressions_pdf.pdf
366.4 KB


Click here to preview my "Beyond Third Grade: A Primer on the Bible."  I have attempted to take texts ripe for skeptics and the curious and offer up the proclamation in the story.  Enjoy.

 

Poetry Corner (with apologies to Percy Dovetonsilsz)

see under Calendar please


Came across this in my readings, Cattalus 85 by Valerius:

Odi et amo. quare id faciam, fortasse requiris?
nescio. sed fieri sentio et excrucior.

I hate and I love. How do I do that, perhaps you ask?
I don't know. But I feel it is happening and I am tormented.



Nothing nicer than a lady's smile
makes the day worthwhile
lingering in the thought 
my soul's been caught
beautiful and winsome
how now love becomes


 A life of projection:
can't get what you want
focus on what others need done


There's better ways to keep warm
More blankets is the colder norm
Just ask the kids in the dorm


An unused engine in the chill and cold
will die unless its motor is cajoled
you must rev it up, if you please
warm it up by using the key


Omelets

Its been a long time since I've been so happy,
hours in the kitchen, cutting, chopping, prepping
then the guests arriving sharing the day's glee
omelets to order, the joy of cooking
three eggs in a bowl, a little water too
poured in the pan and lift and heat
add the chosen fixiings as they choose
fold it over onto their plate for them to eat
followed by the eggs benedict on muffin
drenched in hollandaise sauce whisked
eggs poached and crossiants in the oven
hollandiase is fresh, we allow no mix
then the jambalaya and the hot chili
Smoking bishop punch sipped from mugs
my kitchen day barefoot acting silly
friends sharing talk, hopes, and hugs
Elaine enjoying being the hostess
Her day with her best friends all around
She did more than she should given diagnosis
This special day enthroned fully crowned
Irish coffees, prosecco, a blazing fire
me happiest left alone to make them content
eyes and smiles revealing secret desires
imagining in my way that none was absent



 New Year’s Day

Not everyone will be at the party
Breakfast with the same coterie
The usual staid talk and banter
Rather than a chance to enchant her
An absent smile and flick of hair
Absent eyes beaming to ensnare
Like a piano’s sound missing a key
For not everyone will be at the party




Looks like we are heading back to July
The medicines aren’t controlling the pain
Not sure what all this now signifies
A very quiet Christmas it will remain
The softer joys of happier memories
Calls from the kids the best of remedies


Dear Santa, 

I do not write for me
Even though I lack all I need
Better for others I love to receive
Though they aren’t things but actions
The fruits of other things done
Success and affection begun
Lives happy with love
True reality thereof
Joy from above
Known here below
A oneness that grows
Dreams that dare overflow
No more loneliness anymore
Given freely to those I care for
Tears transformed by peace restored
Please Santa, give them a true present
For they are to me a blessed sacrament
Their pure hearts God’s own Christmas ornament


In trying to clean things up, all previous poems (as of 12/21/17) can be now found not as a PDF but text under the CALENDAR file (reachable above), coded by category: Love and Romance, Dim Sum Fun, Religious and Philosophical, Myth, Family, Political.  Since I was told I am driving a Model T website and need to buy a new car with automatic windows I am no longer able to load PDF's onto my clunker of a website.  So I am making all my poems available as text.  I write them for you...



Political Quips


Bob puzzled (17 January):  I am puzzled about this conversation about merit based immigration.  First, I'd like to know that if we accept based on merit, can we please kick people out based on merit?  There's a few folks I'd like to evict who don't come up to my standards.  What really interests me is how do we define merit?  Income level?   Academic level?  Intellect over affection?  Smart people even if they lack heart?  Is a physician of more merit than a plumber?  How about a really rich bastard over a very kind person?   How about healthy or crippled?  How about hetereosexuals over homosexuals?   Are men more meritorious than women?  Would someone like Gandhi have been eligible?  What about someone emmigrating who seems less than eligible but whose grand-daughter yet to be discovers the cure for cancer?  By the way, how would Jesus define merit?   


 Bob resolved (16 January):  It's clear what has to happen.  Aside from censuring the President, Trump the chump Mussolini must be isolated and ignored.  Congress, you are the first branch.  Act, vote, do your job.  Love this country more than lesser things, like your career, like the president, like your ideology.  Love goodness.  Love what is right and true.  


 Bob remembering (15 January):  A wiser man knows he is a racist.  I know I am, there's nothing new about that.  It is in my national DNA.  I also am sexist and a whole lots of "...ists."  But I am working on it.  I have been working on it ever since the sixties when I grew up in more ways than hormonally (actually, I haven't grown up much in that area).  It is when my original aim in life to enter politics got detoured by the annoyingly inspiring message of Martin Luther King, Jr. and how my pastors supported the gospel that motivated Dr. King.  I learnt how the law can legislate against another man lynching me, but the law cannot make him love me, or I him.  But that is what I learnt and when I grew up.  Love full of truth, guts, justice, and a love that requires self-examination and repentance and asking God's help, God's spirit, to make me the kind of man Christ Jesus was.   Listen to the closing words of his sermon, the Drum Major Instinct:

Every now and then I guess we all think realistically (Yes, sir) about that day when we will be victimized with what is life's final common denominator—that something that we call death. We all think about it. And every now and then I think about my own death and I think about my own funeral. And I don't think of it in a morbid sense. And every now and then I ask myself, "What is it that I would want said?" And I leave the word to you this morning. 
If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. (Yes) And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize—that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important.

Tell them not to mention where I went to school. (Yes) 
I'd like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. (Yes) 
I'd like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody. 
I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. (Amen) 
I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. (Yes) 
And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. (Yes) 
I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. (Lord) 
I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity. (Yes) 
Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. (Amen) Say that I was a drum major for peace. (Yes) I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. (Yes) I won't have any money to leave behind. I won't have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. (Amen) And that's all I want to say. 
If I can help somebody as I pass along, 
If I can cheer somebody with a word or song, 
If I can show somebody he's traveling wrong, 
Then my living will not be in vain. 
If I can do my duty as a Christian ought, 
If I can bring salvation to a world once wrought, 
If I can spread the message as the master taught, 
Then my living will not be in vain. 
Yes, Jesus, I want to be on your right or your left side, (Yes) not for any selfish reason. I want to be on your right or your left side, not in terms of some political kingdom or ambition. But I just want to be there in love and in justice and in truth and in commitment to others, so that we can make of this old world a new world. 


Let me know if you agree...it must be more than a movement now.



Bob getting perspective (13 January):  and hoping everyone else will.  Listen, if you had to choose between Norway and Haiti for who you want to emigrate to the United States, the answer is obvious if you use the yardstick of cuisine:  would you rather food from Norway like rotted fish and slippery eels or food from Haiti?  Creole, Cajun, Caribbean spice?   We got a winner!!!!


Bob searching the house looking for a dog muzzle (11 January):  How long, O Lord, how long?  And where are the voices of my Evangelical brothers and sisters who know too well of the courage, faithfulness, dedication, valour of our friends in Central America, the Caribbean, and throughout Africa?  The only shithole nation is the one he is making of the United States.  I would love to take him on tour to see the character of the people I have met in my journies  You Republicans, either in House or Senate or sitting at home -- how can you be silent and accepting?  Shame, shame.  And that includes dear family and friends.  Shame.  


Bob enjoying a reading day (10 January):  Had a quick bite for lunch and turned on the TV news.  Trump speaking at the Cabinet meeting.  My Lord, what a bore her is.  Same old talk.  Turned it off.  No wonder, as PJ O'Rourke reported, the folks at his rallies started drifting away after 20 minutes of Trump.  He's so boring and repititive.  Back to the last in the trilogy about Arthur and the Britons.  

 Bob delighted despite (9 January):  We lack credentials to diagnose mental health or illness.  What we can conclude is that Trump the Chump is an ass.  Pathetic, desperate, unable to enjoy what it means to be a decent and good human being.   I'll give him that he is clever in a reptilian brain sort of way but smart or not, better is wisdom which he obviously lacks.    II Peter 1: 3f says:  "...you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love."  How's that working for him?


Bob looking forward to meeting with the Democratic Party here (8 January):  had to turn off the news, so tired of the propagandists.  What a waste of energy and time arguing over the book about Trump, about his mental fitness or unfitness.  Focus on the policy, the conduct, the decisions -- there's enough there to reveal who we are dealing with.   We already know that.  Create positives instead of cyclonic propaganda and debates.  


Bob keeping warm (6 January):  Clinton Foundation, Uranium deal.  Finally, getting the DOJ to chase after the real culprits!  You know what needs to be revisited with congressional investigations:  Benghazi!!!!    That topic has barely been investigated.  


 Bob back striding into the New Year (3 January, 2018):  It was high school.  About twenty-five of us were selected to participate is the experimental co-ed class on Sexual Education.  Boys and girls.  Girls talking freely about things we boys didn't want to hear.  Shirt-tails out leaving class.  Then the film of a birth and me saying, noooooo!!!!   Our teacher was a flippant, grizzled, fun school nurse.  It was she who laughed saying to both us boys and girls that size really doesn't matter.  What matters, she said, is how you use it.  A few giggles from the girls.  Blushes from the boys.  Okay.  Thanks.  True I profess for amorous adventures.  Doubly true for nuclear red buttons.  What matters isn't size, it is how you use the damn things.  So don't.  Why would anyone want to serve in the military with this man as commander in chief, a man cavalier with human life.  He has no sense of decency.  Mussolini Trump has made American internationally third rate, in one year.  He promotes Israeli apartheid.  He view opponents not as opponents but enemies.  What he thinks is funny or a joke is simply insulting and cruel.  Dear Lord, he is tedious, tiresome.  What childhood did this man have?  As Elaine said:  "His administration is a circus and he's not the ringleader, he's the lead clown."  How is far more important that what.   Where are the Republicans?  Where is their voice?  


 Bob no thank you (21 December):  if you ever wondered what Donald's ass tastes like, just ask Paul Ryan or Orrin Hatch.


 Bob and the triumph of the tax bill (20 December):  Thank God, finally some action and Trump winning in the Congress -- I am so sick of winning.  God bless the finest presidency ever.  I am personally grateful that my 401-K will see the benefits.  God bless those dividends and the stock market.  Oh, wait.  I had to cash in my entire investments to pay off school loans.  That's right, I don't have any investments.  Oh, well, I'm sure Trump wants the best for me.  And as far as those whiney kids are concerned about health care, all I have to say is this:  are there no workhouses?  Hey. Ghost of Christmas present, who are those two creatures beneath your robes?   Maybe someone should show them to Mussolini...

Bob listening to Trump the Chump Mussolini's National Security Speech (19 December):  Brute power, Strength through might, fear us, dominate our will over others -- we have heard this before and it has always augured death and destruction -- he has no concept of greatness.  Where's the emphasis on goodness, on justice, on friendship, on our values that makes us admired not feared?  He is royally destroying America.  And does anybody else have chills running up their back when he refers to the 'homeland?'  How soon until his followers start forming organizations to enforce Trumpian policies?    I wonder what color will be their shirts?  Likely not pink.  


Bob and the Center for Disease Control (16 December):  ooo, ooo, given all the banned words and the naughty naughty against science in the EPA and whereever Trump the Chump Mussolini's fingers interfere, I just came up wiht a perfect slogan for his next campaign for President:
War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength

 Bob and the FBI (14 December):  Why, o why are the Republicans in a snit about the FBI agents?  It isn't a sign of bias to call Trump an idiot.

Bob's Robocall:   If Obama's eight years in office were a disaster, please sir, may I have some more...

Bob wishing he'd stop campaigning (11 December):  Trump the Chump Mussolini again denouncing our legal and justice institutions.  Behind it my paranoid side fears an excuse for demagoguery -- he realiy wants to be dictator.  Part of me wants to rush out and buy a Winchester just in case and let my Scottish blood fight tyranny;  but I was raised on Martin Luther King, Jr., and someone named Jesus, dammit.  

And about the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6: 6-13, Luke 11: 2-4):  the Pope has a point about fixing the translation but he's barking up the wrong word.  The Greek word (eisenegkes) his Spanish translation calls into question (dejes caer) does speak of not led into falling into temptation, but the Greek use is rhetorical.  It means: do not bring us, carry us, into temptation.  The real word to discuss is temptation (peirasmov), which means trial, test, examinaton.  Better is to think of this not as our normal human temptations (for which I am very prone), but please Lord keep us away from the necessity of the kind of test, examination, where we must fully succumb and account for ourselves, for our failings, our inhumanity, our lack of true faith, justice, love, hope -- which by the way is exactly what the United States is going through right now and deservedly so.    



Bob grateful (December 7th):  There is still hope for the true Christmas spirit, untainted by Rasputin Bannon or trolling out the slogans about the war on Christmas or this applause that we can now say "Merry Christmas"  (which by the way I try not to say, given I live in a world of hurt, loneliness, damage).  I prefer to be more accurate and say "Have a blessed Christmas."  Back to the hope.  I read my stories today to my little first graders and had a little extra time so I told them the story of The Gift of the Magi.  The little girls especially held their hands over their mouths when I described how Della revealed that she paid for Jim's gift by selling her hair.  They they guessed with full expression (oh no) how Jim paid for the combs he bought his wife.  They loved it. There is hope still in our land for the young ones to really understand and honor Christmas.  We just need to help them peel away the nonsense.   Time to reread O Henry and Dickens.  It might be a good tonic.   Luke too.  



Didn't Mussolini Trump ever watch the movie Casablanca?


[denying an official of the German National Bank entrance to the casino]
Rick: Your cash is good at the bar.
Banker: What? Do you know who I am?
Rick: I do. You're lucky the bar's open to you.


Ugarte: Heh, you know, watching you just now with the Deutsche Bank, one would think you've been doing this all your life. 
Rick: Oh, what makes you think I haven't? 



Bob realizing Poe as prophet (3 December):  I wonder if Trump the Chump Mussolini ever read the tale The Cask of Amontillado?  Perhaps not but I'm betting he never realized Mueller was as good bricklayer as Poe's narrator.  Not out of revenge but with bricks of law.  A new nickname for Trump?  Fortunato?  Hmmm.... In pace requiescat!


 Bob no longer incredulous but credulous about Flynn etc (1 December):  are you tired of all this winning?


Bob back from Brooklyn and walking the Brooklyn Bridge and seeing what we can accomplish (St. Andrews Day - November 30):  I have just communicated with my Senator Toomey asking him how he can remain silent in the face of our President's communications.  What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?   We need from our senators and representatives courage, common sense, and patriotism in the face of Trump's behavior.  Trump the Chump Mussolini is a danger, destructive, delusional, demented.  He is destoying America.  I fear that if confronted with losing office, he will retaliate with violence.  I think he wants a dynasty.  If there is war, will martial law be far behind?  You Republicans, you who voted for him must speak up and refute him.  You must.  You must save America.  


 Bob feeling religious (26 November):  Now Trump the Chump Mussolini is keen on Making Christmas Great Again.  How wonderful, not that it hasn't been.  But I think it will take more than selling an over-priced  ball cap (and where is the money going?).   Trump Il Duce might begin by honoring the prince of peace, practicing humility, actually going to church (l love  the audacious hypocrisy of those who fight for a Merry Christmas but don't set foot inside a church) and Trump kneeling before the Lord who demonstrates leadership by serving.  No doubt Trump views Christ Jesus as a loser for getting crucified.

Forget saying Merry Christmas or even the more authentic Happy Christmas.  I prefer saying: "Have a blessed Christmastide."


Bob looking forward to Thanksgiving (22 November):  So why did Trump the Chump Mussolini remark that the women accusing Roy Moore were Trump voters?  My guess:  he feels they have been disloyal.  For what does it profit you to gain the whole world and forfeit your soul?  I read that somewhere.  Incredible.  Petty.  So insecure and weak.  No concep of what constitutes greatness.  HIs ping pong policies ruinous.  Tax code, firing prosecuters, flipflop about Ivory, an adminstration where reports suggest has pecular bed partners from the Russian mob, destroying the environment, reckless on the climate let alone civil rights, protecting gerrymandering, stacking the deck for Republican votes, is more concerned with their view of greatness than producing goodness, lapdog to Putin, diminishing the respect with which our nations once held in the eyes of the world, looking at government as his family's personal ATM, himself a vulgarian.  Oh well, for those of you who enjoy your brand of football, have fun tomorrow.  I'm looking forward to listening to Alice's Restaurant and then watching Laurel and Hardy in March of the Wooden Soldiers.  We are thankful most of all that we have a government and not a king.   Yet.


Wisdom from a wise woman:

But dear worthiest child, the Lord does not want you to despair like this. However many falls you have had, whether they be your own fault, or whether they be caused by the blows from life that you have received, his love for you is like a rock. None of your falling can harm or alter it.
How can this be so? I am wretched and unholy, full of weakness, unlovely and unlovable.

You must forget how you feel about yourself; only look at him and see how he feels about you. [Andrews adds how please know yourself by how he and I love you].  He wants to assure you of his love. All the hurt and distress that has come to you only moves him to love you for your weakness or your blindness. He wants to surround you with his love. Only come to him and his tender touch will restore you.

[Christ Jesus] didn’t say ‘You won’t be tempested, you won’t suffer travail, you won’t suffer be dis-ease';  but he said, 'Thou shalt not be overcome.
 
― Julian (Juliana) of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love


Bob ecclesiastical (20 November):  Now I cannot be judgmental given my own flaws, but I do ask Roy's pastor and the other pastors supporting him how would they respond if similar allegations were brought to the attention the South Baptism Connvention and the church elders about a pastor?  What steps would they take immediately.  I have a good idea.  

Make America Good!

Bob loving Fox News for getting it right (15 November):  Of course I am referring to Shepherd' Smith's clear and concise rebuttal of the Uranium conspiracy nonsense perpetuated by frantic Republicans and nutsy pundits like Hannity.    His reporting clarifies everything.  

Check it out: http://video.foxnews.com/v/5646426075001/?#sp=show-clips. 

We also note it was Hannity's interview with Roy Moore that did them both in, especially as the three respondents surprised Hannity by realizing the interview put a noose around his own neck.  it wasn't what Hannity was expecting.  Fact win.  


 Bob not surprised about Roy Moore (10 November):  First:  ain't no way anybody should refer to him as judge.  Two:  makes me reread my own poem about Harvey W and fearful that I see him looking back at me in the mirror.  Third:  Come on now, it is Alabama -- they have a grand tradition of the masters taking advantage of young girls and justifying it Biblically.  Fourth:  I am so glad Donald the Chump Trump (aka Mussolini) has come out so honorable and virtuous by saying that such behavior (alleged) would warrant Roy Moore stepping down;  Of course, how come the chump never did step down?  





Cool.  My talk on 'The Other Side of the Coin -- the Life of the Danville Mill Worker' is now on Youtube, courtesy of Van Wagner.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KC_BE29K1Uc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHLWtHXmMoE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOKpwxcttng
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyK0QJ_l3XE


Nathaniel's Call available for purchase! 

The paperback edition (355 pages) can be purchased from the following vendors:

Amazon at www.amazon.com 
for 18.95

Barnes and Noble at 
www.bn.com for 16.52 (plus shipping)

Booklocker at 
www.booklocker.com 
for 18.95


Nathaniel's Call Cover

Nathaniel's Call by Robert John Andrews 

LOUISVILLE

The Presbyterian Writers Guild has selected the Rev. Robert John Andrews, a pastor in Danville, Pa., to receive its prestigious Presbyterian Publishing Corporation First Book Award for 2014 for his novel set in the Civil War, Nathaniel’s Call.

Andrews’ book ― self-published in 2012 ― was selected from among 17 entries in a variety of genres to receive the biennial award, given in Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly years to the best first book by a Presbyterian writer during the past two years. The PPC First Book Award winner is recognized at the Presbyterian Writers Guild’s General Assembly luncheon, which this year will be Thursday, June 19 in Detroit.

Jane Hines of Nashville ― retired director of communications for the Synod of Living Waters and chair of the PPC First Book Award Committee ― said, “Several genres are represented in the 17 books we received (teen science fiction, memoirs, poetry, young adult fiction, novels, journals, dissertation re-writes).  We were just looking for the best writing in any category and found it in Nathaniel’s Call.

As a Nashville-based committee comprised of Southerners, Hines added, “we don't think it will be a best-seller in Vicksburg and Richmond, but we see Nathaniel's Call as a splendid example of the art of writing.”