Yesterday I began a new sermon series on the book of Judges.   I started with Samson because he is the most famous.   I’ve had something come up for February 3, so I’ll have to rearrange a bit–but I originally wanted to cover Samson, Deborah, Gideon, Ehud, Abimelech, and Jephthah.  Now, someone has got to go (It will probably be Abimelech.)

Yesterday I told the Samson’s story pretty straight up–with a few twists–but I did drop a hint on something I’ve been thinking about for a while.  Woudn’t it be fun to rewrite the Judges stories but put them in the old west?  Ashkelon and Gath become Dodge City and Tombstone and Jerusalem and Shechem become San Francisco and Oregon Territory?


In this rewriting the Philistines would have to be the Spanish-Mexicans moving up from the south and the Israelites would be Anglos moving in from the east.  The Canaanites are the American Indians and their various tribes.   I write this to not be racists or judgmental, but only because it seems to match the historical reality of ancient Palestine–two migrating groups (Hebrews from Egypt and Ur and Philistines from Greece) overrunning native inhabitants and their settlements.

Now, if we do that, then each judge becomes “Sheriff” and has control over a region or province.  So, what is the revised plot for Samson?

Sheriff Sam is a supernaturally strong man that has a taste for a good fight and for Mexican women.  He was raised by strict Methodists who told him the key to his strength was avoiding three things–booze, dead bodies, and barbers.  Sam’s first wife, a Mexican woman, is killed when he has a shootout with her family.  In between visits to brothels, he falls for a Mexican woman named Senorita Dee who betrays his trust and double-crosses her lover.  In one final bid for vengeance Sheriff Sam dies in a blaze of glory as he destroys the Mexican Garrison and kills the evil governor.

What about Ehud?

Ehud (Doesn’t the name Ehud just sound like the old west?) and his small town have been overrun by the Mexican army, who have in turn monopolized the railroad and the nearby ore mines–thereby controlling commerce and industry.  After seeing how this oppression has hindered his people, Ehud undertakes a daring and dangerous mission through Comanche territory to Texas to get a shipment of Six Shooters to help him in his cause of revolution.  Upon his return, he hides the powerful pistol under his Sheriff’s coat and sneaks into the Mexican Captains home, a man named El Gigante, and kills him while he is on the toilet.  Sheriff Ehud escapes from certain capture in a thrilling chase scene as the story climaxes.  Ehud rallies the men from every surrounding town and a few Comanche scouts to band together with their new revolvers and fight off the oppression of the occupying army.

When I read Judges, I see the Lone Ranger, Zorro, and Billy the Kid.  Your task as you think about Judges is to figure out who are the good guys and who are the bad guys, and why?


The Greenbean family arrived safely back in Western Washington last night around 11pm local time.  I mean to emphasize that local time issue.  Arizona and parts of Oregon still confuse me.  We had a thoroughly splendid time putting over 8,000 miles on the Altima as well as enjoying our ancestral homeland.  In a previous blog I compared myself to Chevy Chase and listed our itinerary.  Now for some follow-up.

1.  Arches National Park, Moab, Utah:  Arches was a lot of fun.  We arrived late in the evening on July 4th and no one was there to take our fee for entry into the National Park, so it was free which made it much more fun.  We enjoyed just being in the desert.  The unique color of the dirt and the rocks plus their formations were spectacular.  Being there at sunset and then dark gave it all a magical feel.  Apparently you can camp out there and take extended tours; but it was enough for us to drive up and see.  The wind blew hard and knocked my hat off a couple of times, so I have red dirt stains on my Tilly hat.  I may not wash it.

2.  Mesa Verde National Park, Mesa Verde, Colorado:  In many ways this was the park I was looking forward to the most.  I’m an archaeology enthusiast anyway and seeing and learning from the park rangers how these ancient people’s lived daily was very interesting.  The drive up was beautiful and awe-inspiring.  Cool Fact–I had no idea that these people from the distant past used and manufactured cotton!  Of all the national parks I’ve been to, this is the one and only one I’d like to come back to and spend a week or so doing all the tours and taking advantage of independent study on site.

3.  The River Walk, San Antonio, Texas:  We did several Texasy things like the Big Texan in Amarillo and the Cadillac Ranch.  But my favorite was the River Walk.  We rode a boat, walked around, shopped, and ate really tasty Mexican Food.  My daughters and wife were serenaded by a Mariachi band at our table.  Priceless.

4.  Tombstone, Arizona:  I had more fun here than expected.  We didn’t get to see the live show because it was in the afternoon and we were there early in the morning, but we did visit the O.K. Corral and watch the animatronics display.  We also saw neat photos and time period tools.  The best part was the 25 minute diorama story in the theater.  It was so cheesy it was actually fun.  I bought a book

5.  Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona, Arizona:  I posted an earlier blog about this one (CHRIST IN THE RED ROCKS) so here it is enough to say that I recommend it.  If nothing else, the geography around Sedona is spectacular.  The area was well-developed with classy shops and businesses.  Not to kid friendly, but I wouldn’t mind going back someday with a pocket full of money and lots of time.

5.5.  Hoover Dam, Boulder City, Nevada:  The Hoover Dam was not on my original list, but since we were so close we went ahead and saw it.  Got some great pictures and the thrill of “driving over” Hoover Dam.  The only downside was we were late getting there that day because of car trouble.  I met some very, very interesting people in the waiting lobby of the Big O Tires in Kingman, Arizona.

6.  Rachel, Nevada:  Area 51 made this itty bitty town famous.  By itty bitty I mean, one store/restaurant/bar/hotel called the Little Alie’Inn.  They served great pie and it was interesting talking and taking pics.  We did see some interesting things flying in the sky, though, as well as several low (75 ft?) flying aircraft painted all black.  Oh, and we had to come to a complete stop because of a bull standing in the middle of the highway.

7.  Multnomah Falls, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon:  I’d never been there before and had been told it is the greatest waterfall.  I liked it a lot, especially the height of it, since you can stand at the base and look up.  That is different from many waterfalls which only have an observation deck at fall level.  The drawback to it was the nearness to the freeway.  I love the roar of the waterfall; and the speeding semis sorta ruined that for me.

If there is a theme to this years trip it would be mystery.  Mesa Verde and Arches both echo back to a time long ago and seem to point to unknowable aspects of our past.  The Tombstone story is one of mystery because, contrary to most film and literature, it is far from clear whether or not the Earps were in the right or wrong.  The grave for the Clanton’s in the cemetery says they were ‘murdered.’  Then we throw in Area 51 and the deep echoes of a towering waterfall and now we’ve got the makings for deep mystery.

I’ve got some pics to post later and more blogs from the trip including windmills and what I read while I was away; but now my mind turns toward a fresh mystery–the great mystery of God’s presence manifested through the church.  Ahhh, back to work.


This is not a long blog post, but, a fun one.  After I see all my church family this morning at worship the Greenbeans are handing over the keys to the house to our trusty house sitter (thanks Megan!) loading into the car and heading south.  Tonight, if all goes according to plan, we will be spending the nigh this evening at the Best Western in Boise, Idaho.  Here is a brief outline of the things we hope to do.

1.  Arches National Park, Moab, Utah.  I’ll try to post a pic or two from there.

2.  Mesa Verde National Park, Mesa Verde, Colorado.  I’ve always wanted to see these cliff dwellings.

3.  The River Walk, San Antonio, Texas.  Last year while at he lake house we went to Sea World.  That as okay, but this year I just want to stroll and eat great Texmex.

4.  Tombstone, Arizona–On the way home I want to drop by.  I’ve been told it is kind of boring; but really, I just want to go there.

5.  Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona, Arizona–I’ve been told this is worth the stop.

6.  Rachel, Nevada.  Last year we drove through Roswell and ate at a UFO shaped McDonald’s.  We thought we’d complete the trek by adding Area 51 this year.

7.  Multnomah Falls, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon.  Although this is close to home, I’ve never been there and I am a sucker for waterfalls.


We have learned that it is never the things on vacation you expect, but the unexpected that make it truly great.  Whenever we hit wi-fi, I’ll try to keep my blog updated on my impressions of how things are going.