Texas Rangers, Captain Kirk, and A Reflective Quaker

I’ve finished three different books in the past week. And yes, I don’t think you could find three more distinct and different books–not only in subject matter but in style and genre. The first is a history book about the Texas Rangers, the second a weird Star Trek book, and the third is Parker Palmer.


9781574416916-usTexas Rangers: Lives, Legacy, and Legend by Bob Alexander and Donaly E. Brice.

I bought this book at a great book store in Kerrville and looked forward to reading it for a long time. The history in these pages is wonderful. I wish the authors would have gone into a bit more detail about some of the individuals and escapades, but their intent is more of a survey than specifics. The main problem with Lives, Legacy, and Legend is at times the prose is not quite clear–as the authors seem to try and write paragraphs in the most muddied way possible to demonstrate their clever way of saying common things.

There are also a lot of digs against “Political Correctness” which I never understood in the text. One reference to it is an indulgence. Two references are pushing it. But by the seventeenth time the authors remind us that political correctness and modern sensibilities have no place in studying Ranger history, the point seems belabored.

There are some great photographs and primary documents, which alone is worth the price of the book.

UnknownThe Autobiography of James T. Kirk: A Story of Starfleet’s Greatest Captain ‘Edited’ by David A. Goodman.

Two things up front: I enjoyed this book and laughed out loud several times. Also, it is a quick, easy read, unlike the Texas Rangers book, which is slow, plodding and laborious. The problem is, I think I enjoyed the book because I enjoy Star Trek, and the writer clearly does as well. But I don’t think the book is that well written.

The best are the early pages where we learn things about James T. Kirk that aren’t covered in the television shows or movies. But about sixty percent of the book is really lame plot summaries of shows. Yes, we get Kirk’s perspective on those things, but nothing  really new is brought to the table.

But the book is funny. That should come as no surprise because it is written by Goodman, called the ‘editor’ on the book cover, who wrote for Family Guy and Golden Girls. What it lacks is emotional depth. The book was given to me as a gift for Christmas by a kind friend, and I looked forward to reading it, thinking it would give more character depth about the famous alpha male. But nope. Goodman is funny, but he is not that good of a writer. He does more ‘telling’ than ‘showing’ and as a result he leaves Kirk shallow.

There are two things that will stay with me a while, though. The first is how Goodman ‘washes’ over Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, the movie almost everyone agrees is the worst ever. It is quite clever, and I must say I like it. The second was this line thrown in to describe the mind-numbing administrative work of being an Admiral that Kirk hated.

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Of course the Obama was over budget and behind schedule. Of course it was.

Parker-Palmer_Hidden-WholenessA Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward An Undivided Life by Parker J. Palmer

I’ve read Palmer before, but not this book. What interests me is that I think Palmer believes he wrote a how-to book, when in reality he wrote about the inner voice, overcoming our fears and paranoias, and the need to learn to trust.

The format of the book is laid out as the steps to forming circles of trust. A circle of trust is a group of people who dedicate themselves to allowing people to hear their own soul in protected communication. It is good material, and I recommend the book to small group leaders of any kind, because the principles he shares are nearly universal.

The book is a gem, but what will stay with you for a long time is the story of the woodcarver. I’ve seen Palmer use it before, but I think his exposition of it in this text is his best.

Of the three books I’ve shared about, this one is the most vital; it is the one I think everyone would benefit from.

Long Shot Supreme Court Nominations

I should be working right now, but I’m taking some time during lunch to share these long shot supreme picks. Solid money has it as one of the four Federalist Society nominees–and of those four I say Amy Barrett has at least a 60% chance of being President Trump’s pick. The reason I say this? She is the one that would cause the biggest fight–and POTUS loves a good tussle.


But this blog is not about the likely choices. This blog post is about what if President Trump goes way off course and does something crazy. It is not outside the realm of possibility. Remember when President Bush nominated Harriet Meyers, then White House Counsel and who had never served as a judge anywhere, to the Supreme Court? Or that time when Franklin Roosevelt wanted to add a lot more judges? Presidents do crazy stuff sometimes, and none more so than President Trump. It’s kind of his brand to go off script. So, here are my long shot predictions.

  • There is a 7% chance he will nominate Jeff Sessions. This is the genius of the day pick. By nominating Sessions, he can get him out as Attorney General without firing him, then put someone else in as Attorney General who can then fire Robert Mueller. Unknown
  • There is a 4% chance he will pick Andrew Napolitano. You know there is. You just know it. If President Trump could pick without any kind of political considerations at all, this would be his guy.
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  • There is a 3.5% chance he picks Jeanine Pirro.images
  • There is 2% chance the pick is Judge Judy. He would lock up the Florida vote forever   with that pick.

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  • There is a .75% chance he picks Ivanka Trump. I know, I know, it is silly to think that, but can’t you see him doing it? TBH, I thought he might pick Ivanka as his Veep.  He needs someone on the court he can count on in case this Russia thing goes bad, and who can he count on more than Ivanka?

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  • I’ve got one more long outsider pick. You know who we haven’t heard from in a while? That’s right, Sarah Palin. Back during the primaries, Palin was one of the first people to back Donald Trump, and that gave him a strong boost, especially in the midwest. It might be time for payback . . .and I predict a .5% chance it is Palin. You betcha!

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I’m glad President Trump is picking, because if I were picking SCOTUS nominees, my first thought would be is to go Doc Hudson. Or Maybe John De Lancie as Q from Star Trek?

 

 

Happy Birthday, America–242 Years Young!

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On birthdays we tend to celebrate and share the things we love about the person having the birthday. So, how about it for our nation? There are so many things about The United States that I love dearly, it would be impossible to list them all. Here are some political, historical, cultural and a bunch of other things that came to mind.

  1. I love that we have three co-equal branches of government.
  2. I love that criticizing leadership, elected officials, and policies we disagree with is an act of patriotism. America was born in rebellion!
  3. I love Election Nights. I’ll take Super Tuesday results over a Super Bowl any day.
  4. I love the Bill of Rights and the fundamental freedoms–religion, speech, press, assembly, personal protection, and trial by jury.
  5. I love that we can amend our Constitution to correct wrongs, like slavery.
  6. I love all of those Lincoln/Kennedy comparisons.
  7. I love that spot in Michigan where I can look south and be looking at Canada.
  8. I love that the French helped us beat the Brits, and then we repaid the favor by kicking the Nazi’s out of France.
  9. I love the ideals of our Founding Fathers–equality, opportunity, fairness under the law, and liberty.
  10. I love that we chose English as our language, because English is so messed up and thus is more fun to play with.
  11. I love that Texas history is pretty much American history.
  12. I love the Southwest–desert, cactus, dry, and beautiful.
  13. I love Puget Sound.
  14. I love the sugar white beaches of Destin.
  15. I love the unique characteristic of each region of the nation, that New Yorkers and Idahoans share the same love of country and national destiny, but not the same culture.
  16. I love how we are an amalgamation of so many different peoples–Germans, French, Mexican, Irish, Iranian, Native American, Polynesian, and so many other rich heritages that add to this unique experience of being American.
  17. I love the classic movies of Hollywood–Casablanca, Red River, North by Northwest, Bullitt, and Mars Attacks.
  18. I love Hamburgers with mustard, onions, tomatoes and French fries doused in ketchup washed down with a cherry Coke.
  19. I love American cars and blue jeans.
  20. I love the American Flag. It has an intrinsic beauty beyond the sum of its parts.
  21. I love baseball at the diamond on a hot day.
  22. Speaking of baseball, I love that our national anthem is practically unsingable–because who wants an easy national anthem!

I tried to keep my list to twenty, but alas, in America I have the freedom to do what I want.

Is our nation a perfect nation? No. Not by a stretch. We have many problems that need addressing and are cause for alarm and calls to prayer, not the least of which is the evil of racism, mass violence by disturbed young white males, childhood hunger, our disastrous health care system, and the squabble over how we will handle the great influx of people from other countries who believe what we already know–that America is the greatest place in the world to be.

Happy Birthday, America!

#Philippians #Iwashavingfun

For various reasons, I’ve always thought that it would be fun to Tweet the book of Philippians. I shared some of this madness with our church yesterday as I preached Philippians 4:10-20 in preparation for our week of vacation Bible school.


Here is what the text could look like, Tweeted.

v. 10 – I thought you had 4gotten me. Whew #justintime

V. 11– #igotthis#contentment #stateofmind

V. 12—I’ve had everything and I’ve had nothing and I know the #secret of both.

V. 13–#icandoallthings #Jesus #winners!

V. 14—You are awesome #generous

V. 15—I can’t believe no one else sent help to me at all – just you, you’ve always been there for me. #thankyou #MacedoniaMissionsTrip

V.16—@baptistchurchofThessaloniki are slackers! Sad.

V. 17–#gifted

V. 18–SHOUT OUT to @epaphroditusset

V. 19-Jesus has mad bank. #blessed

V. 20-#PTL Puts your hands up high!