Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Reasons to Rejoice!

I was sitting here thinking of my father a few minutes ago when the thoughts made me smile. Dad is a hard man, fiercely to the right of almost everybody in the church (I remember him taking Ira Rice Jr. to task for being too loose on a couple of points!), but he lives what he believes. You will never be able to call him a hypocrite. At this moment --pray for him -- this 75 year old man is in Guyana doing mission work. I've tried to contact him but failed. He thinks he'll be back Stateside in a couple more weeks. While he and I might not agree on some things, I admire the force of his faith. I know that he will continue to give his time, life and health to the gospel. When he returns, he will not have luggage; he will have given away all his clothes, books, and toiletries.

He lives on Social Security and a tiny check from a tiny church (30 or 40 people, I believe) but he supports Guyanan ministers and orphans everywhere. He lives very, very simply along with my saintly mother and youngest sister (a Guyanan orphan they adopted).

I knew my path would be different from my father's but I always admired him and still do. When I think of that old fellow in the jungles I cannot help but smile and shake my head. Go get 'em, dad.

There is a report on my desk from the Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort, Inc. out of Nashville, TN. In 2005 alone they gave (in goods and materials, not counting volunteers and their man-hours) ---

Mississippi $4.85 million (hurricane)
New York $80,000 (flood)
Ohio $78,000 (flood)
Tennessee $145,000 (hurricane and tornado)
Texas $1.7 million (hurricane)
Wyoming $75,000 (tornado)
Vermont $95,000 (flood)
Alabama $1 million (hurricane)
California $1000 (forest fires)
Florida $1.42 million (hurricane)
Georgia $115,000 (flood)
Indiana $486,000 (tornado)
Kentucky $70,000 (tornado)
Louisiana $6 million (Katrina, Rita)

Outstanding! Awesome! Excuse me if I am somewhat proud of my brothers and sisters in Christ. We might fight over this or that and our blogs might catch on fire from time to time, but when people are in need we step up like no one else... and we do it quietly. While the numbers above are impressive (and I rounded them. The official report has them to the penny) they are only a fraction of what the churches of Christ gave for most giving was not done through this agency. And how do you count the thousands of volunteers we have sent into the region? In one area of Mississippi no trucks where being allowed in except for National Guard and FEMA vehicles... and ours. We had already built such a reputation among the rescuers that they waved us through the barricades as soon as they saw the cardboard signs on our dashboard: Church of Christ. Cool!

Bashing your brethren, sneering at the older or younger generation, and attacking "names" has always been seen as a risky, but cheap, way to elevate oneself. Yet, in our brotherhood, at the same time that some publish diatribes attacking the motivations of this or that person; at the same time seminary students launch arrogant missives and blogs at anything in range, and at the same time older ministers bemoan the hopelessness of those same students.... we continue to shine God's light. He has continued to bless us and use us for His good.

My son might one day write a blog about me. I can almost see it now. "Dad and I don't agree on very much, and I think he's crazy to still be out there, but pray for him. He's out there somewhere still doing what he's always done...."

Yea, we might be crazy, but we are Christ's and he loves us. And that is reason to rejoice.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Handy Dandy Decision Making Sheet-O-Rama!

[NOTE: this is a very abbreviated version of a one hour talk I give; most often to teens or young adults. Use, abuse, edit, or toss as you like. As with everything I do, this isn't copyrighted and you don't have to credit me. Or blame me. Sorry there isn't room to do all the stories that go with this. They're a hoot and a half, sometimes even approaching the rare and elusive double-hoot]

Our lives are a series of decisions. We often fail to make the right decisions because:
1. We think it is possible to make NO decision (but that is, itself, a decision).
2. We adopt the world's standards/definitions of right, wrong, success, etc.
3. We allow others to make the decisions for us.
4. We have never fully committed to God. We claim to be married to Him but we are
flirting with the world.

We need to realize:
1. Every action has a consequence -- now or later. So does every decision.
2. What one person does affects another and another... in a real sense it is NOT your
life, for one life is every life.
3. You don't have to play the world's game. You can opt out of its corporate insanity.

Here are the questions.

Why Do I Want To Do This?
Who -- in the world -- is influencing me? Are they who I want to be? Are they where I want
to end up? Is getting there worth the cost? What are the long term results of being like

Who -- in the spirit -- is influencing me? (Remember Ephesians 6:10-12. Take it seriously)
Am I making this decision with a full understanding that we are not alone and that the
devil has a plan for my life?

Are my reasons for wanting to do this reasonable, valid, and Christian? Could I argue this
before the throne of God? (try it with an empty chair!)

Is This True To God's Dream For Me?

Would Christ be comfortable with this? Would He make the same decision if He were here
with me now? Will doing this advance the cause of Christ or hurt it? Will this violate His
call for me to be distinctly different from the rebellious people of earth? Will doing this
take me where Jesus wants me to go?

What Kind of Place is This?

What kind of environment is it? Conducive for what? Who will control it? Can I control
myself? What is my track record? Can I hear the word 'no'? Could I take Jesus there?

Fashion, Music, Life
Am I looking for the limits? Is my Christianity limited to what is absolutely necessary and
no more? Am I looking to get closer to Jesus or as far away as legally possible (and still
be saved!). Who influenced my choice? Who is behind the advertisement or media push?
Is that influence for my good or theirs?

Am I disguising my Christianity? What am I programming into my mind (thoughts become attitudes which then become actions)? Is that where I want my life to go?

When I pick friends for my life's team, who will I pick first? Where will Jesus come in that

It's all about decisions. Those of us who have put on Christ in baptism have the promised help of His Spirit when we face decisions -- big and small. We also have the right to hand over the decision making process to Him. Whew! That's a relief!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Tub, Two...

Continuing from the last post...

The Tale of the Tub was a broadside against those who did what they wanted to do and then went to the Scripture to find justification for it. Such twisting of scripture is done equally by the religious right and the religious left. This is a form of scholasticism -- we go to the scriptures to bolster our arguments about what we want to be true ("scholasticism" is a broad term and this is only part of what it covers). When Pat Robertson claims that hurricanes are a sign of God's disfavor he may run to the Bible to bring out plague and storm stories, but he doesn't check the passages that show God's faithful people caught in the middle of trials, storms, pain, and disease. He has a point and he wants to push it.

When people want to be seen as erudite and urbane, up to date in their mores and science they can find lots of stuff in the Bible that isn't there! Theistic evolution (and permission to ridicule creationists), elastic views of inspiration (and permission to ridicule those who believe in inerrancy), and so forth can be found in scripture the same way the sons in "The Tale of a Tub" found hidden permission to change their coats for every season, at every whim.

The Amish can find rules against the use of electricity or zippers. Churches of Christ (my tribe) have often found rules against hair styles, song styles, wearing crosses, etc. that change as culture changes. Examples of this abound across the denominational spectrum.

So... if everybody's doing it, is it all right? Not even a little bit. In "The Tale of the Tub" the Father's will was only examined to see if they could find a way to do what they wanted to do, when the will is there to show what the Father wanted done. While we may differ on issues here and there, we must approach scripture -- not to alter it -- but to be altered by it. That will pull us left and right to get us back into position.

An example: a recent poster indicated that changing views of women's roles in the church were due to a more enlightened view of God at work in society. In some churches that may be the case. I know that our elders at Rochester (God bless them!) studied the issue very, very deeply over a two year period. It consumed them. They brought in experts in Greek, in Church History, and in Theology. They read a ton of books. They prayed and searched the scriptures, not for permission to do what they wanted, but to find what the Lord wanted. At the end they decided they had been wrong to place some of the limits we have traditionally placed on women and those were lifted so that they would remain true to the scripture. Other limits remained in place because it seemed that was what Scripture said. It is not a closed issue as they are still studying -- willing to be altered by the Word again.

Some will search the Bible to find ways to condemn more praise centered worship. They scoff and call it "entertainment." In my searching of scripture (I'm not done!) I can find nothing against being 'entertained' by our worship. In fact, even those who rail against entertainment are, themselves, entertained by their favorite songs, favorite speaker, favorite prayers, and favorite subjects. Searching the scriptures for what we want to find breeds division. Searching it to see what God wants allows for greater diversity among us (see particularly Romans 14 and 15) and a more stable community.

If we are to be honest in our dealings with Scripture (and our history and nature) we have to approach God and His Book as students, ready to learn, ready to be rebuked, ready to repent, and ready to rejoice. Ready -- in short -- to be obedient to the will; unwilling to twist it to ours.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Who Makes The Call?

Jonathan Swift is best known for Gulliver's Travels but the old English satirist had another masterpiece which is all but unknown today (outside of English departments where dead European white guys are still studied) entitled "A Tale of a Tub." It is a difficult work with many layers addressing many of Swift's concerns about religion and society. Allow me to take just a part of it to illustrate a point begun in the last post.

In "Tale", a man leaves his each of his sons a coat. It is a perfectly serviceable coat and will not wear out. They also have a considerable fortune but it is tied to the coat: they are never, ever to make even the slightest alteration in the coat or they forfeit their inheritance. The sons agree, the father dies, and all goes well until the coats go out of fashion. In the process of their gaining upper class wives, moving upward in society, etc. they make numerous alterations to the coat... but not without a lot of agonizing over it first. For example, when shoulder pads are popular they hunt their father's will until they find a series of statements each of which begins with the letters S-H-O-U-L-D-E-R. They decide that means that their father really meant that they could add the pads. Ratiocination like this takes place repeatedly until their coats are anything and everything they want them to be and they have satisfied their minds that that is what their father really wanted after all.

Swift was criticizing the church and his tale is still an accurate picture of what we do with Scripture. If God condemns something that we want to accept, we try to find a way to bend the scripture to let us do what we want to do or we find a way to cast doubt on the authenticity of the passage so that we can remove its power over us. Doing this, some churches have removed sin and hell from their teaching, turning the church into a social club with psychological and metaphysical health benefits. Others try to out-Christian Christ by accepting those He told us to correct and call to repentance. They say something like "Jesus loves everybody!" and therefore avoid the question of whether love is the same as acceptance (and whether acceptance of a person is the same as approval of their actions).

The very exclusive nature of the church disturbs and offends many within it. When Jesus said he was THE way, THE truth, and THE life he did not mean perhaps, in some circumstances, he wasn't. He was exclusive. When God gave leadership to Moses He did not set up alternative leaders for those who found Moses irrascible and unpleasant.

Our identity must be limited and formed by the boundaries drawn by God. And to be in God's will means that it is possible to be out of it. To be saved means that it is possible to be lost. If you play for the Red Sox you do NOT play for the Yankees. For us to be us, we must also be "not them."

It's offensive to many, but that doesn't make it untrue. When we examine the scriptures to see how we can bend them to 2006, or to America, or to whatever makes us feel better about ourselves we have altered our coats (in the Swiftian sense). We might be able to convince ourselves that we have pleased our Father by ignoring His will... but can we convince Him of that?

It is hard -- and often terrifying -- to learn the lesson of Jesus' words in the Garden. "Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done."

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Proving It...

Two of the best books I read last year were "Intellectual Morons: how ideology makes smart people fall for stupid ideas" by Daniel J. Flynn and "Hoodwinked: how intellectual hucksters have hijacked American culture" by Jack Cashill. The books detail how people like Ward Churchill can get away with stealing, lying, teaching fantasy as truth, etc. and yet, even after exposure, he will not lose followers, but gain them. Hundreds of other examples are given to illustrate the point that some things trump cold, hard facts. When those things are present, proof is rendered powerless and the best argument will fail.

One of the most powerful trump cards is race. This is not a black and white thing, but a worldwide issue; India's caste system comes to mind as does the Japanese/Korean racial divide. When race is introduced into the equation all other arguments and facts are tossed aside. This week in Detroit a State Trooper was acquitted of murder charges after he shot a homeless man who charged him, screaming and snarling, reaching in his pocket for a weapon. Race was introduced into the situation and people perjured themselves (proven by video tape of the scene) as they lined up divided by race. White people do this, too, when they paint pictures of blacks as lesser, violent, evil, etc. Every time you present evidence to the contrary your proof is trumped by their concept of race (although, have you ever seen a Klan rally or a group of Neo-Nazis stomping down the street and thought "Hey, look, there goes the superior race?" I thought not).

Closely allied to this is identity. We can choose race as our identity, but it is usually more complex that than. We choose identities as sports fans, or intellectuals (while these two are not not mutally exclusive it is exceedingly rare to find a professor of medieval poetry painting his body and wearing cheese on his head in Green Bay), or Christians, or atheists, or movie stars, ad infinitum. That sense of identity trumps proofs offered to us that we might be in the wrong. While in the two books mentioned above the target is the silliness of the left (in the main. Flynn goes hard after the right as well but not as extensively as he does the left) all of us need to do a gut check from time to time to see if our sense of identity (including race and religion) trumps truth. When it does, the results can be comical, farcical, or tragic beyond words.

Think of those who kill in the name of Jesus. Offer them proofs and scriptures and their sense of identity and mission will trump the truth. Offer churches scriptures to indicate that they have misunderstood the gospel and they will turn aside the scriptures as "isolated" and the verdict of two thousand years of Christian teaching as "quaint but outdated." They don't do this because they don't love Jesus; they do it because the Jesus they love is always sweet, always accepting, and always relativistic (relatively speaking). Their identity as Christians is based on that view of Jesus and no proofs offered them will change their mind. Just like a professor being questioned by a student, they assume the other is arguing from ignorance and darkness and that taints the argument before it begins.

It is critical that we get our sense of identity right. It is not enough to say that we are, first of all, Christians and then members of this or that group. We must make sure that the Jesus we are following is truly the one we find represented in Scripture (and in the church and nature -- those other two arrows). We do not get the Jesus we want, but the Jesus who is. We do not get the God we want, but the God who is.

James' word picture of looking into a mirror is still valid. In every argument, in every situation, especially when someone wishes to offer us "proof" that seems powerless or silly to us, we must check to see if our identity is part of the problem. Have we shut out truth to maintain our sense of who we are (including our sense of superiority over others)? Perhaps our prayers should include more "you are the potter and I am the clay" word pictures until we get into the habit of being shaped by God rather than shaping Him by our sense of who He should be, or would be, if He were us.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Twenty Years Later...

I'm sitting in my office, looking out on yet another dark and rainy day in the metro Detroit area. It reminds me of so many days back in Scotland, twenty years ago. Yes, it has been twenty years now since I returned from Scotland to live in the US. I left a lot of friends behind, but I had learned that I wasn't a very good missionary. I didn't have the personal or organizational skills to do the work effectively and, certainly, didn't have training. I went because I loved Scotland and the people. I still do.

And now we have been Stateside for twenty years. Hard to believe, really. I came back to the States determined to be a faithful member -- but never a minister -- of the church. I had had to face some hard things about myself and they revealed that I didn't have the skills or personality to be a minister. But God wouldn't let me go. Time after time I took other jobs only to have to call back and say "sorry, but I need to do this ministry a little longer..." It was ten years ago when I finally realized that God wasn't going to let me leave the ministry. I gave in to His will, even though, deep in my heart, I am shocked He would use me as anything other than a bad example.

And He blessed me. Oh, how He blessed me! I have a wonderful wife, two faithful, godly children who are much, much better people than I ever was. I have twenty years of successful ministries behind me. I served in Lancaster, Ohio for nine years and stay in touch with many of them. I served next in Morgantown, WV for eight years and just got back from a vacation with many of them. We are still the closest of friends. I had one year on the waterfront in South Carolina before God made it plain that we were to come to Rochester. What a strange trip it has been!

I am in awe of God. I was an unexceptional boy who made unexceptional grades in unexceptional schools. I grew up to be a broken man held together by God's duct tape and nothing more. And yet.... and yet... look what God did with it all.

If He turned against me tomorrow, He would still be good; He would have still blessed me far beyond my expectations. But I don't expect Him to turn against me. What He could not do to me via law, guilt, pain, or obligation He did through love: He won my heart.

So I will sit by the window and think of the road and say, quietly, "Thank you, Father."

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Her name is Eva

We are back from the cruise. Ninety of us worshipped together, prayed and laughed with each other. It was good. And then I met Eva. Eva was one of the two young women who were our guides on Jamaica. As the day wore on I saw her rubbing her temples and muttering about having a terrible headache. I offered her some aspirin which she accepted gratefully. After she took them she looked at us all on the bus and said, "Who are you people?"

Before I go on, a cultural note. Jamaica has more churches and more bars per person than any other nation. It seems you can get the spirit -- any kind of spirit -- of your choice on that island. Unfortunately, at least in the area we explored, the island is dark with crushed hopes, poverty, dirt, terrible shanties where children play in the dirt and beg under bridges, and a general anger that is seen and felt and tasted everywhere. I grieved as our bus tore past some knots of angry, bleary-eyed, lost men for it seemed that the happy Christians were all in the bus.

And that took me back to the last post. We are supposed to be in the world but not of it. I fear that we are of the world -- just like it when it comes to lifestyles, possessions, dreams and desires -- but not in it. We just don't make a dent in the lives of those who need Jesus most. We are very good at running churches and programs, but less effective in taking Jesus to the streets that lie outside our holy bunkers.

I told Eva that I was a minister and all the people in her bus were from a church. She asked what church and I told her that all of us came from different areas, but we were members of the church of Christ. "Ahh," she said, "you are the ones who don't use instruments, right?" I was stunned. This young girl who made $50 a month plus tips as a bus tour guide in a very broken country knew one thing about us: we were acapella. I encouraged her to give us a chance to tell her more about ourselves but she went on. [note: this is the gist of what she said. I cannot produce her quote word for word] "I went to the church of Christ. I am pentecostal, but I like to visit churches, you know? I loved hearing the voices. Sometimes in our churches you only hear the band, but I liked hearing the voices in your church. But during the chorus I got excited and clapped." Here, she mimed clapping loud once and then a second time while looking around in a confused manner. "I was embarassed!" she said. "I just wanted to praise God, but they told me they don't clap there."

We had one chance with Eva. She even came into our chapel. We didn't have to search for her; she visited us! And we blew it. No matter what your position on music or clapping, this has to hurt your heart. We at Rochester may use instrumental tracks to back up a video, etc. but we an an acapella congregation and plan to remain that way. Some of us clap, others don't. But our tradition shut out this beautiful, searching person when she found our tribe on Jamaica and visited the local church.

I prayed for another chance with Eva and kept the conversation going. At one point she said she had a Bible, but it was too big to carry. She wished she had one she could carry in her purse at work. I grabbed paper and pen and got her address. We are going to send her a Bible. The other young lady had a penpal in Detroit so we used our Michigan connection to give her hope when she told us that she wanted to go to college, but she had no money. (in Jamaica, all levels of schooling is paid for by the parents. If you don't have the money for kindergarten, for example, your children don't go to school) We are sending her information on Rochester College plus some learning materials. We will do whatever we can to save these two young women.

We pray our tradition has not killed our chances to bring them to Jesus. It was a horrifying reminder that when we call others to "the more excellent way" we might have to do some traveling ourselves.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

There is a Chapel on Iona...

[Due to my being out of email range from this Friday, the 6th, through the 12th I am taking a break from the current discussion. I will not be able to add your comments during that time, either. I am sure you will live well, dance, and enjoy your life even without frequent updates!]

I took the ferry from Oban to the Isle of Mull, drove across that island on single lane roads that hugged the edge of mountains, dodging tourist buses as they roared past, and made it to the extreme western edge of Mull, the tiny village of Fionnphort. From there I took the short ferry ride to the Island of Iona, a small, featureless, yet beautiful island a long, long way from the population centers of Scotland.

A long time ago -- in 563 to be exact -- a Celtic prince named Columba came to this island. He was fleeing his past which was often violent and full of nightmarish battles and internecine warfare. A cadre of friends came with him. He was determined to live his life as an evangelist in the dark, hidden places of the world from then until he died; a penance for his earlier misdeeds. When he landed on Iona he could no longer look back and see Ireland. He turned his eyes on the kingdoms of Alba, Dalriada, and the wildlands of the painted people, the Picts.

Using Iona as a base he and his disciples took a primitive, yet rich, version of Christianity all throughout Scotland and left a living, vibrant faith in his wake. From time to time they would return to Iona and regroup. Iona became such a holy place in the imagination of the people of (what would later become) Scotland that its earliest kings were buried there.

Eventually, Iona ceased being a base for bold and brave evangelism and became a place of hushed pilgrimage. And so it remains today. I walked from the ferry past a few homes and two shops, past ancient graveyards and into the sanctuary of Iona. Tall Celtic crosses, old beyond imagination, stand guard around it. People from all over the world come to pray, to make donations to the upkeep of the building and its cloisters, take pictures by the sea, and then they leave. But not to evangelize.

Iona is a relic. It is a place you visit, commune with yourself and God, and move along. Only three quarters of a mile removed from the Isle of Mull, it sends no ministers there. It is a holy foxhole, a Christian retreat center, and nothing more.

Unless we take seriously the need to revitalize our faith and re-study it in every generation, unless we are fearless in our evangelism and in the propagation of our faith, every church is in danger of becoming an Iona. Columba made do with simple beehive shaped cells in which to live and pray. Iona's building is now beautiful, impressive, and incredibly expensive to maintain. Now, resources must flow in even though they never flow out.

Sound familiar? Sound frightening? So what shall we do about it?

Peace, comfort, and joy to all who call on His Name.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Three Arrows (the tree thing, part three)

I don't care much for long posts so I must direct those who want a lot more details on this to our church website (www.rochestercoc.org). You can click on the streaming audio link on the left side of the website and hear the sermon I delivered yesterday that sketched out our direction and the reason for it.

Remember our earlier mention of Joseph and Mary and Nadab and Abihu? The old adage "just read the Bible" didn't work very well there. This is not to lower our respect for Scripture for it is the Word of God. However, the scripture itself tells us that there is more to our walk than just words on a page. Jesus warned that the people around him erred because they didn't know the scriptures or the power of God (or, via The Message, "the way God works."). How can we know the way God works?

God gives us three arrows, all three of which point to Him. There is Scripture, the gathered community of believers, and nature. God warns us not to try to interpret the scripture in isolation for no scripture is of private interpretation (2 Peter 1). When I get what I think might be flash of insight I run it past a couple of our elders and some of the staff first to see what they think. I will not present my ideas, unchecked or unmoderated, to the larger community. What does the community think? When Jesus (John 5) was defending who He was and what He was teaching He referred people not only to the scriptures, but also to witnesses in the community and to what He had done in the open (nature).

So, we ask "What does the Bible say?" and we also work with the community to say "What does the law say? How do you read it?" As Jesus said, we learn to agree with each other along the way knowing that if we agree with each other, He has promised to agree with us (Matthew 18). THAT is why there doesn't have to be a Book of Worship, a Book of How To Pick Elders, a Book of Acceptable Theologians, etc. ad nauseum. The community works out these details.

Paul also told us that what could be known about God could be seen in what He created (Romans 1). Alexander Campbell told us that two books tell of us God; the Bible and the book of nature. "Nature" consists of more than bugs and beasts; it is the totally of what lies outside of our spirits. We can see right and wrong (re: C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity"). We can see that life is often "nasty, brutish, and short" and "red in tooth and claw." We can see that earth is a temporary home, that everything is either eating or being eaten, and that what we do -- whether we are people or wolves -- is more often learned behavior than eternal principle. We see that groups survive, individuals don't, and that stragglers are taken first. I could go on and on here (and do in my sermon) but the principle is understandable enough already, I'm sure.

Sometimes we get two of these right and not the third. For example, let's say a church reads the Bible in such a way as to allow abortion and the ordination of practicing homosexuals. That church community agrees that that is what God accepts. But nature doesn't accept it. In nature we see that it is repugnant for a mother to kill her child (with some exceptions which do nothing but shock us) and that homosexuality is a dead end that does not profit the community or the species.

Or, let's say they read nature to say that men just can't be monogamous and their community of believers -- like some of the renegade Mormon sects today -- say that multiple wives is a great idea. We can then reference the Bible to show that, while once allowed, polygamy is not God's plan for man and adultery is never acceptable.

Or.... nature tells us that joy is wonderful. Kids clap and dance, otters play, people thrill and chill when their emotions are engaged. In the Bible we see David dancing wearing -- well, let's just say some found his attire and actions shocking -- and when someone complained, God punished the complainer and accepted the over-the-top celebrator. But then you find a community that looks upon any outward expression of emotion to be suspect and unacceptable... and you have a problem.

All three must agree. I would submit that the Bible is the final arbiter, period, but that it cannot be read in isolation, apart from community and observation. Jesus referred to all three arrows that point to God. Only when all three point the same way can we walk confidently towards heaven.

[and about the Democract comment last time... good comebacks, people! I am neither Democrat or Republican. My politics are selectively libertarian and are viewed as mealy mouthed liberal or slobbering right wing troglodyke according to who's looking. Good thing I don't plan to live down here forever....]