peace on earth

“If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.” —Martin Luther King, Jr

In my Lutheran worship service, after the prayers, “the peace of the Lord” is extended by the pastor.  The congregants then take several minutes to greet each other with hugs, aCANDLE hand clasp and a repetition of “God’s peace.”  It symbolizes the attitude we are encouraged to assume in greeting the world with a universal message of  love and compassion.

During the Christmas season the words “peace on earth, goodwill toward men” will take center stage in celebratory endeavors.  It is a sentiment which our enlightenment envisions for all of humanity regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof.  It is a dream shared by John Lennon, IMAGINE, Martin Luther King, Jr., millions of pacifists worldwide, and me. Sadly, peace seems to be, in the Christmas season of 2017, the last item on the agenda of the world’s politicians, strident religious leaders, and governments.  Just as a popular song by Lennon in the 1960s anti-war movement laments, “why can’t we give peace a chance”  GIVE PEACE A CHANCE , we also wonder what is so tough about peace?

Indeed, why not give peace a chance?  What is Larry doing today to give peace a chance?  Hmmm, that’s where it starts, does it not?  I can’t change the world, but I can surely, with divine help, change me; if each of the world’s 2 billion plus inhabitants could assume a commitment to peaceful co-existence, we might have a chance.  Yes, I know, it’s a pipe dream, but, the process has to start somewhere with someone.  Let it begin with me.  As the Buddhist would ask, “How is your good heart today?”  As Jesus would say, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  I have within my being the solution to the worldwide pandemic called heart dis-ease.  Lord, bring it on, let the cure begin with me.christmas emoji 3

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men”  Luke 2:14 KJV

 

 

 

stoned

I’m a child of the 1960s.  My formative years as a teenager were spent listening to the music of the Doors, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Animals, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and, of course Bob Dylan.  We got high together, we got drunk together, and we had our first escapades into liberated sex listening to their lyrics.  The times were a delirious mix of rebellious freedom and social ostracism.  Preachers, teachers, and parents warned of the deleterious effects our behavior would have on the sanctity of American society.  And we did not care! Those very same preachers, teachers, and

parents had lied to us about the black man’s plight, the Vietnam War, the murders of JFK, RFK, and MLK, Jr. and we were angry.  Music was our voice and, dammit, America was going to listen!

Dylan came out with “Everybody Must Get Stoned” around 1966.  The ‘over 40’ crowds fumed over such an overt embrace of the drug culture where getting stoned was the hip talk for smoking marijuana.  Had they taken time to listen to the lyrics they would have realized Bob Dylan was referring to the ancient punishment of stoning for a variety of sins committed against society and religion.  Just as Dylan took substantial heat from the status quo of his era, we will always be stoned, perhaps not literally but certainly figuratively, for the stands we take against corrupt government and false religious doctrine.

Stephen, a Greek-speaking Hellenistic Jew and early follower of the teachings of Jesus, according to the Book of Acts became the 1st Christian martyr.  Having been accused of blasphemy against God by the ruling Jewish hierarchy and refusing to recant his loyalty to the Way of Jesus, he was stoned to death by a group of men under the leadership of Saul, later known as Paul upon his conversion.

It doesn’t matter whether I accept this account of Stephen as historical fact or if I see it as a statement of moral compass, a spiritual lesson to be gleaned from the Christian scriptures.  What matters is whether this story prompts me to ask of myself,  “What is Larry going to do when he gets stoned?  Will he cave to the pressure or will he stand tall?”

Lord, I’m just a weak traveler in this world trying to make a difference in somebody’s life.  But, today I know from where my strength comes, I know who shepherds me through the valleys, I know who loves me as a Father.  When the stones come hurling towards me because of my loyalty to you, help me remember that everybody must get stoned.smiley-face-2

 

 

 

 

 

Las Vegas

This will not go away anytime soon.  Too many times we have been horrified by the war zone shootings at schools, movie theaters, stadiums, nightclubs and in the streets.  Did you notice the key word in the previous sentence was “shootings”?  These are acts of violence carried out with weapons;  not just pistols, shotguns, and rifles but heavy-duty military style automatic and semi-automatic weapons which can kill scores of people in a few short minutes.

Already the NRA & WH have commented that now in the midst of this tragedy is not the time to open a dialog about gun control.  My reply is “Why the hell not?”  There is no better time than now to confront the 2nd amendment rights people who believe their right to accumulate an arsenal of guns within their homes supersedes the rights of fellow citizens who want to live in a peaceful and safe environment in their hometowns, where they work, where they go for recreation, and most of all where they send their children to learn.

The gun rights people supported by the powerful government lobby of the NRA try to convince us that it is the people, not the guns, who create havoc and grief in our neighborhoods, workplaces, and our schools.  Guess what, gun advocates?  I don’t care anymore who or what is responsible.  I just want it to stop.

We have seen that gun shop owners and vendors at flea markets are not doing a competent job of regulating who buys their guns.  We have seen that law enforcement is ineffective in regulating gun ownership, and we have seen that the federal government is unwilling to displease one of the most powerful lobbies in the country, the NRA.

People, whether they are deranged, drug driven, violent ideologues, or religious zealots, are indeed the propellant in this epidemic of violence, but their solution of choice in carrying out their diabolical schemes and madness is the unlimited array of easily available weapons.  Your 2nd amendment right does not include the freedom to randomly kill one another in order to settle an issue which in civilized countries is resolved with dialog, mental health treatment, and gun ownership restrictions.

You and your doctrines of violence are the festering sore which won’t go away,  you are the cancer which is destroying our country, you are the scourge of a society which needs to find more avenues of peaceful coexistence.  Yes, you, those of you who proclaim, “only from my dead hands will they pry my gun.”  You are directly the cause of America’s great pain today.

Along with millions of others world-wide, I am sad and grieving over the toll in Las Vegas of 59 dead and over 500 injured.  But, I have grieved too often.  The children at Columbine and Sandy Hook, the gays at Orlando, the prayer group at Charleston, the policemen in Dallas are speaking to us now pleading to stop the insanity of the proliferation of guns in America.  The statistics of death by guns shame us, a society which claims the largest Christian population on earth.  America, where are your values and the morals which define your faith?

No, now is the time to be angry and press the gun control dialog.  If our representatives in government continue to sandbag us while pocketing NRA and munitions/arms manufacturers’ money, we must replace them with others who see the long-term necessity for a society free of weapons of mass destruction as used in Las Vegas.  2018 and 2020 elections are just around the corner.  Get to know your candidates and their position on gun control and the 2nd amendment.  Do not believe the cynics who say we don’t have the power to effect changes.  As our illustrious President Obama said, “Yes, we can.”

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