Thursday, August 30, 2007

Still more news

We went to see Superintendent Ed Heatley, and when he saw Bill Zeman and Dan Titus with us, he said they couldn't join us for the meeting, because if they were there with us he would need his lawyer with him. So when he gave us the choice of meeting without our witnesses or rescheduling so his lawyer could join us, we rescheduled. Stephen won't feel safe with his tormentors unless these witnesses are present, so without them no can do. I'm glad their lawyer will be with us next time, because there is no hope of our being able to negotiate anything unless he is there.

Asked for his view of what happened, Stephen said (edited to conform to FCC regulations), "He was pooping himself, so he told us to bug off." Hard to top that analysis; it certainly obeys Will Strunk's advice in The Elements of Style - "Omit needless words!" Stephen isn't getting any schoolwork done at the moment, but he is seeing real-world educational bureaucrats without their clothes. He's learning about the real world.

Heatley's secretary called later to say the 5th won't do either, because Nancy Harms has to be there too. She set us up for the 13th. That won't do. They're stalling, so we go to the next step. If they want delay, it has to uncomfortable for them, if we're to resolve this, and I can't just let them run out the clock. Besides it will strengthen our case to find any others in our situation, so we'll have a stronger lawsuit if they really do want to try the case, as it seems they do.

Monday, August 27, 2007

"Those who sow in tears will reap in joyful shouting" (Psalm 126)

When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with joyful shouting.
Then they said among the nations, "The Lord has done great things for them."
The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.

Restore our captivity, O Lord, as the stream-beds in the Negev.
Those who sow in tears will reap with joyful shouting.
He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed,
Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves.

- Psalm 126

In our pride we like to take satisfaction in how we gained our liberty. Whether the Cuban Revolution or the American Revolution, it's the pride of life. We like to take the credit for what was done.

But here we read, "The Lord has done great things; we are glad." It's a great secret, but we find more satisfaction in being able to ascribe success to God than in being able to claim credit for ourselves. We find more consolation in being rescued because we are cared for than in being tough enough to rescue ourselves.

The parallel here between the shout of joy in returning from captivity and the shout of joy in the reaper returning with his sheaves tells us that these are one thing. We shout for joy in escaping from captivity, and God the reaper shouts for joy in so bringing us back.

That shows us another parallel, the grief in the sowing that leads to this harvest of deliverance. The sowing in tears is parallel to the bondage in which we are ground down while the word of truth that sets us free is growing in us. Deliverance from captivity is only through the growth of the word of truth in us, not by some exercise of our own power. Jesus said, "If you remain in my word, you shall be my disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."

There is much weeping and heartache in sowing this word of truth, not only as it grows in us but as we give it to others. Most is lost, falling by the side of the road, sprouting and withering in the stony ground, choked among the thorns. We want to be rescuers, imagining we'll have something to boast of and that we will be appreciated by grateful people. But if indeed we join God in sowing in order to bring freedom we can expect lots of heartache and humiliation. By the time their children are naming streets after us, our corpses will have been planted, and we will have pushed up a lot of dandelions.

We will love people and put a lot into their lives, and then they will throw it away for a single meal. There is no honorable way to avoid this disappointment, because even God has to suck this up.

When God consoles us with a harvest, we'll see nothing in it to praise us, and all our joy will have to be in the truth, which does not flatter us. It has taken a lot of years to get me to the point that I can write this with conviction and acceptance of its reality, but it is true, and life this way has less useless pain and futility. God does resist the proud. He gives the grace spoken of here in Psalm 126 to the humble. Again this song of ascents teaches us that we ascend as we humble ourselves.


Wedding news

Gayle and I got married as scheduled on Saturday. About 75 people said they were coming, but many didn't show, so we wound up with the 30 or so we expected in the first place, including some uninvited and most appreciated guests.

Since we had lots of leftover food, Gayle spent some time today giving it away. Homeless shelters were not available to take it, so she found some homeless people and gave it away, including our wedding cake. I find this lady more of a class act all the time.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

News break

I got a phone call from a reader because, like, what's the news on Stephen?

Ed Heatley - so he introduced himself - called Monday on my cell phone to say he had met with Linda Casas and that her story was not at all like mine, and that we should meet again so we can hear it. He said he was going to call me the next day to schedule it.

Well, duh. If she was ready to lie about Stephen to certify the 5150, she wouldn't lie to protect herself afterwards? Does a bear dump in the woods?

Like someone who did that in the first place would get a stricken look on her face when asked about it and say, "Well, yes, Dr. Heatley. I did make a false statement, a criminal offense, a tort against this kid and his parents, and an ethical violation that can cost me my license - my livelihood. Now I'm going to stand up and tell all so that your thing is caught in the zipper too, 'cause I know you'll love me for being so honest! I cannot tell a lie - I was lying back then!"

I didn't say all that, but I sketched it briefly. Would she say anything else but the self-justifying tale she gave him? But sure, let's meet and hear it. And I have not yet heard from him.

I was reading how Gideon got in a lot of trouble by asking for a gift he was entitled to, and which they were happy to give. But he should have let it go. It was clear to me that I should concentrate in this case on getting what I really need from this - safety for Stephen and a way forward. And I need to concentrate on discerning what my adversaries really need and giving it to them if I can, so that if they want to fight me it really is wickedness and not necessity that I am unjustly imposing upon them.

For one thing, they need to know I won't take advantage of any admission of wrongdoing to punish them, just as God doesn't punish me when I admit I'm wrong, but the contrary. Of course, they can't believe that, and I can't expect them to, but we have to solve this problem somehow.

He knows what he's got - a cynical administrator that wanted to solve a kid not doing his schoolwork by having him drugged up by force and terrorized into submission along with his refractory father, and a school nurse sent with a school psychologist to do the job and doing it, dishonest as it was, just because she was a loyal flunky. And it didn't work out as planned, but now they have to hold their story together, hoping that no one will believe a kid and his father against the bare word of these degreed and supposedly responsible people.

I know what I've got. The sworn statement of my son, who knows what happened and isn't backing off. The history of pressure to have him drugged, and the lack of any real interest in his condition, as shown by their complete indifference to his being suicidal when he really was at the coming of their home-school teacher, and by their complete avoidance of Stephen's psychologist. And then, their suddenly getting interested a month later in his having been suicidal back when because he wasn't doing his school work. All of this corroborates Stephen's deposition, as well as what I heard myself.

Linda Casas has a reputation at her high school as an officious supervisor of other people's business who pressures kids to get counseling, whether they need it or not - she likes to play psychiatrist. If she acted this way with Stephen, it's habitual. Those who sent her felt sure they could count on her. So if this isn't resolved by the opening of school, I can be at Don Lugo in the morning with leaflets to tell how Casas and MacEntire came to my place and treated my son with cruelty and treachery, and it won't be long before I hear stories from others, and a few may be willing to testify. So around Halloween, if they really want to try the case, we'll be better fixed to file the paperwork. Can they really be dumb enough not to see that this is the way we're headed?

I don't think they really want to go there, and I don't either. I just will if they make me. My job right now is to give them a way out if they want it, just as they would be wise to do for me.

In wedding news, Gayle's female advisors pronounced her wedding dress unacceptable and documented this by taking a pic with a phone and showing it to her. They said that's what happens when an autie shops for clothes, and they will be taking her to buy something under their close supervision. Then I too will be dressed in the same fashion.

I did have to verify that the yogurt was indeed Lebanese-style labneh. I have nearly destroyed one container and will presently polish off the other - after all, we can't have it sit around almost two weeks. Wouldn't be fair to our guests! So I'll have to go back and get more goodies, especially since we have more people coming. While I'm in the neighborhood anyway, I'd better get another bottle of arak, too, just in case.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


I was lying on my bed listening to the Dixie Chicks and reading 2 Timothy, and I remembered Alexandr Tvardovsky, the editor of Novy Mir, beginning to read Alexandr Solzhenitsyn's "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch." Tvardovsky, seeing the greatness of this work, felt that to lie in bed while reading it was insolent, and so he got up and went down to the kitchen, made himself a cup of tea, and sat at the kitchen table to read.

And there I was, lying on my bed, reading the word of God and listening to the Dixie Chick's "Easy Silence," praise to God that is so true and profound that it too deserves careful attention.

Well, I dunno, but God let me see something important in each, even lying on my bed.

Paul wrote to Timothy concerning the gift of God that was in him through the laying on of his hands. This raises a question: what if there is no one like Paul available to lay hands on you to impart such a gift? Then I realized something important. The church doesn't necessarily lay hands on its ministers to confer a blessing that it has for them. It may also do so to acknowledge its own poverty and its need to be blessed by its servant. And this is very empowering, because God gives grace to those who need it, and he withholds it, and his servants, from those who don't, as we see in Laodicea. So the minister is truly empowered by the church because the church is humbly declaring that it recognizes God working in him and that it needs that service.

Meanwhile Natalie was declaring how God keeps the world at bay for her, and I realized that this is the victory - God keeping evil at bay in our relationship with him, not us accomplishing something.

So Tvardovsky was right from a certain point of view. And I was right to listen to Paul and the Dixie Chicks even while I was lying on my bed. The truth deserves to be gotten up for, and the truth deserves to be heard even when you don't get up. Any job worth doing is worth doing right - but any job really worth doing is worth doing any way you can, too.

The next time you see contradictions in the Bible, you may want to think about these things. As it is written, sound wisdom is double.

"Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion" (Psalm 125)

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
So the Lord surrounds his people from this time forth and forever.
For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the lot of the righteous,
Lest the righteous put forth their hands to do wrong.

Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts.
But as for those who turn aside to their crooked ways,
The Lord will lead them away with the workers of iniquity.
Peace be upon Israel.

- Psalm 125

The proud will never want to be like Mount Zion, a small hill, dwarfed by the "mountains that surround Jerusalem." Even the biggest of these, the Mount of Olives, is really no more than a large hill.

That's the way it is to trust in the Lord. It will cost you fame and distinction in the world, because trusting in the Lord means not trusting in the sorts of things that make us famous in the world.

That takes us further, to the promise that "the scepter of the wicked will not rest on the lot of the righteous." But in fact the scepter of the wicked rests on our stuff all the time - our money, our land, our kids, our wives, perhaps, when they're seduced by other men.

None of these things are the lot of the righteous. The Christian Zionists are mistaken to think God gave real estate to the Jews. Moses in Psalm 90 says that the Lord is "our dwelling place in all generations." Our lot is the birthright rather than any meal we might sell it for, the relationship with God which belongs to whoever thinks it's worth having and is taken away from anyone who thinks something else is worth selling it for. It is true that God may give us land, wives, kids, and stuff - but is it God giving it to us if we sell our birthright to get it, if we put forth our hands to do wrong so as to hold on to it? The lot of the righteous is that treasure which is not held by doing wrong, but by abandoning wrong with all its benefits so that God can rule over us.

The world will not praise us for that choice. We're being suckers, freiers, as the Israelis say.

Turning aside to our crooked ways is how we hold on to our stuff in this world. We're exalting ourselves against the truth when we do that, and we get abased for it. By means of those crooked ways, God leads us away with the workers of iniquity, no doubt joyfully congratulating ourselves on our wisdom as we go.

The way is broad and easy that leads to destruction, and many go that way. It is the way of those who are turning aside to their crooked ways, being led away thereby. Readers, let's learn from God not to be in that number!


Monday, August 06, 2007

The Feast of the Transfiguration

Today, August 6th, is celebrated in every Christian liturgical tradition as the Feast of the Transfiguration, in which Jesus was transfigured before his disciples so that his face shone like the sun and his garments flashed like lightning.

On August 6th, 1945, the US Air Force celebrated the feast of the Transfiguration with a competitor - a bomb that flashed like lightning and shone like the sun. 200,000 civilian targets died horribly and black rain beat down on the ruined city.

Three days later, another bomb, using different technology, was dropped on Nagasaki, the most Christian city in Japan. The drop point was Saint Mary's Cathedral, the largest church in East Asia, and the bomb exploded a third of a mile from it, instantly incinerating the Christian community which had survived 250 years of persecution that had ended only at the beginning of the 20th century.

Jesus reminds us that God numbers every hair of our heads. How much more does he keep track of every drop of blood shed by us and the empires we adore?

But if we join him in searching out the innocent blood on our hands, we will be cleansed from it - as John wrote: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness." John doubtless had in mind what Isaiah wrote: "Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool."

Paul writes that he wants the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands without wrath or doubting (1 Timothy 2:8). This is addressed specifically to men, whose hands are most likely to be defiled with the blood of innocent people. Hands are not holy when they are defiled through pledging allegiance to an empire of slaughter and rapine, which in these very acts impudently proclaims its exceeding righteousness and godliness in comparison with others. The prayers of such are offensive to the holy God of truth - it's better to shut up and pull our hands down. There's plenty of wrath and doubting in hands committed to remaining ignorant of these things or at least given to carefully not thinking about them and impatiently blowing off those of us who bring them up.

We know that Germans who participated in or at least went along with the death camps and Hitler need to get a few things straight if they're going to lift holy hands to God without wrath or doubting. If that applies to people facing a dictatorship, it sure applies to those who so far face nothing worse than ostracism from fellow professing Christians or name-calling by flag-wavers.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

"Our help is in the name of the Lord" (Psalm 124)

Had it not been the Lord who was on our side, let Israel now say,
Had it not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us;
Then they would have swallowed us alive, when their anger was kinded against us.
Then the waters would have engulfed us,
The stream would have swept over our soul;
Then the raging waters would have swept over our soul.

Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us as a prey to their teeth.
Our soul has escaped as a bird out of the snare of the trapper;
The snare is broken and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

- Psalm 124

Here we humble ourselves by confronting and repudiating the pride of life. Like Lamech the sixth from Cain, we like to show the world that we're kickass, that our assailants have messed with the wrong person. But here the sheep in the midst of wolves takes notice that his assailants were too much for him and that they were the wrong people to mess with according to the flesh. He survived only because God was the wrong person to mess with.

Now the pride of life regroups. Now we can say we're special because God was on our side. But that's nothing special about us. God is on the side of people that are prey, because he is against people who are their predators. He may back up those that have wronged us if we find in that wrong an excuse to prey on them, or even if we rejoice in their fall as though their misfortune, rather than God himself, is our salvation (Proverbs 24:17).

There's nobody like a predator and violent aggressor to brag that God is with him in his aggression and pillage. The SS belt buckles said "Gott Mitt Uns" - "God With Us" - and I'm sure they were convinced it was true. The wanton aggression against Iraq, so like the German invasion of Poland in 1939 in its lying and in its effects on human beings, was likewise accompanied by enthusiatic assertions that it was God's will.

"Christians" led the way in this delusion, like their fathers in this world-loving nationalistic "faith" - so at enmity with God - who in 1914 cheered on the suckers that eagerly marched off to World War 1. The butchers of Fallujah in 2004 "worshipped" to "Christian" music before driving 250,000 civilians into the winter cold and slaughtering thousands more, even with white phosphorous and Mark-77 napalm bombs.

Jesus said that he sends us out into the world as prey - sheep among wolves - not predators. We have to hope in God who made the heavens and the earth, as Joshua's army trusted at Gilgal in the midst of their enemies when they were completely helpless after being circumcised.

People ought to be afraid of God's truth in our lives - and so should we - but not of our guns and our wrath. God stands against predators, because God resists the proud, and one who gives himself the authority to plunder and dominate others is always exalting himself, always proud.

Here in Psalm 124 we humble ourselves to hope in God and in his deliverance because of his character, not to rejoice in our prowess or our imagined virtue which we think is why God is with us. If we truly abase ourselves before the truth in this way, we will be exalted as Jesus said. We're again being shown the way down which leads up. Psalm 124 is indeed a Song of Ascents.



The superintendent's secretary, Elena, called to say that he actually meant he'd be back to me Thursday week, that is the 9th, not next Thursday the 2nd, and that makes sense. She called again to say he was scheduled with Linda Casas, the school nurse who certified the bogus 5150, at 3:30 that day. Since the dentist will be in my mouth putting in a replacement crown, I won't be available right then either. We're supposed to meet again the next week, and I hope we can come to a mutually acceptable deal.

Gayle and I figured out how to print the labels for the wedding invitations and Gayle is mailing them today. Last week we also got Gayle moved out of her old place to Judy's, where the wedding is to take place the 25th. At least I don't have to get out of here right away; we'll be moving downstairs in the same building into a bigger flat - me, Gayle, and Stephen - September 1.