Journey into Joy

Behind the Camera Lens

The preparation of today’s blog became an exercise in joy itself. For days from my devotional porch swing, I watched the rising sun kiss the sunflowers in a daily greeting, accompanied with a chorus of hummingbirds and bees. I felt joy surround me and the impression from God saying, “My joy is this big!”

I felt Joy surround me and the impression from God saying, “My joy is this big!”

One sunflower can hold 2000 sunflower seeds, with some plants reaching 25 and even 30 feet high. Of the 4000 bee species native to North America (the European Settlers brought the Honey Bee), we see two tiny bees enjoying the sunflower’s bounty.

I set the large sunflower on my desk in front of me, started the video camera and told how the flower became a “joy island” for bees, hummingbirds, yellow finches and then all across the desk … Ants. Ants dropped from the severed head of the sunflower like a rain of crazed paratroopers. Crawling over my notes and my hands, do I smack them while speaking of the joy of the Lord? Should I make a disclaimer that, “No ants were harmed during this filming?”

Out the door with the flower and the ants, or at least the majority, gathered up, the shooting continued. Blessedly, the lens was out of focus and you were spared witnessing the ant assault on Pastor Jim. Though I am certain I would have been a better preacher over the years if I were covered with ants during the sermon.

Crawling with Joy

What humor {wait I feel something crawling in my leg} God must have to watch me swinging at ants like a distracted orchestra conductor while speaking about joy. Now I begin to understand the note CS Lewis scribbled about joy tucked inside a used book –“Real joy … jumps under ones ribs and tickles down one’s back and makes one forget meals and keeps one (delightedly) sleepless o’ nights”.  It shocks one awake when the other puts one to sleep. My private table is one second of joy is worth 12 hours of Pleasure. I think you really quite agree with me.”

“Real joy … jumps under ones ribs and tickles down one’s back and makes one forget meals and keeps one (delightedly) sleepless o’ nights”.  It shocks one awake when the other puts one to sleep. My private table is one second of joy is worth 12 hours of Pleasure. I think you really quite agree with me.”

CS Lewis – handwritten found in the flyleaf of a book
Van Gough did a series of 12 paintings on sunflowers. Perhaps we shared the same experience with ants. Certainly with joy he painted not a single painting but two series of paintings entitled “Sunflowers.”

Happy Me,

Pastor Jim

This audio blog talks about a journey to joy islands to find the secret to overcoming isolation, depression and anxiety. When Jesus walked with his disciples between the Upper Room and the Garden of Gethsemane, he spoke with them about joy that comes from God. This joy can be yours today! Some resources mentioned: How to use prayer beads: A Bead and a Prayer.

Blue Jasper and Robles at Unspoken Elements Tell Heather that Pastor Jim sent you.
A Bead and a Prayer from ChristianBooks.com

The Cat Problem

"Judge not ..." - Matthew 7:1

A traveling chicken farmer as tall as his Oklahoma plains, Gene always told ranch yarns and poultry raising tips as I served home Communion in my last church. Confined then most of his days to a recliner and cable TV, his mind rambled freely the cattle and chicken ranches under the endless skies of Oklahoma and Texas. Gene held my ear as I planned our first chicken coop on our 7.5 acre ranch in Rimrock, Arizona. Gene gave me tips on how to bulletproof our henhouse from coyotes which hunt in packs.

“One day I visited an old farmer,” drawled Gene, ” He pulled back the door, and we walked into his wood chicken barn. To my surprise the old farmer kept all his chickens in cages chained a few feet off the ground. And below the cages wandered a bunch of cats.”

Observant, “I see you’ve got your chickens all up in cages? Is that to protect them from the cats?”

“Oh no,” said the farmer matter of fact, “The cages protect the chickens from the rattlesnakes.”

“What are the cats for?”

“Oh, the cats keep the rattlesnakes down.”

Our solution to fix a problem … may create a problem that doesn’t exist.

What we considered a problem today offered us the solution disguised.

Pastor Jim

Tracks around our 15 chicken henhouse in Rimrock, AZ. Coyotes?
Game cam captured the midnight guest. See middle left image. Thanks, Gene, for the tips to bulletproof our henhouse. Did you spot the bobcat?

Apartheid America: A Time to Plant

There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.  But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate ... St. Luke 16

Those who receive justice and those who don’t. Continuing in its present trajectory we would likely see the same tensions that manifested in Apartheid South Africa. Attached is an Income Inequality Map dated pre-COVID 19 (red means lowest upward mobility) –

From Business Insider February 8, 2018

Running on Empty

A driver of unrest in the U.S. is that capitalism fails to believe in the existence of “depletion.” “Once a resource seems to run dry,” says Capitalism, “The Invisible Hand provides a way through our ingenuity to create a replacement.” This is why a pure Capitalist would drill for gas in the center of a National Marine Sanctuary. In truth, this misguided theory depletes the economic soil, leaving communities and even countries unable to conceive a future with what remains. That “Invisible Hand” takes resources out of your pocket and puts them into mine.

To put it as simply as possible, money was created to give government command over socially created resources. Moreover, I hypothesize that the monetary system, itself, evolved to mobilize resources to serve what government perceived to be the public purpose. - L. Randall Wray

Calls to “Defund Police” recognize that the police, we are told exist to protect the public, serve as instruments to keep socially created resources out of the hands of those who need them the most. “We are only here to protect you, ” renders as, “You protect the financial interests of those removed from my community.”

Government under a “Create America Again” program would mandate the need for businesses to invest into the soil of their communities and their country. Before offshoring their wealth and labor, these same companies must demonstrate a plan, like a Risk strategy for banks, to invest in our sustainable community and country.

The Betrayal of “Chill-Can” Economics

Youngstown, Ohio … the future home of the Chill-Can, a self-chilling soda can that cools itself. Homes were bulldozed to gamble on the latest in string of broken promise business developments.

But by the late 1970s, the companies were facing global competition. Hampered by antiquated equipment and high labor costs, they shut down one by one. Within five years, 50,000 people lost their jobs, and, within a decade, Youngstown, a city of 115,000, had shed nearly a fifth of its population. Unemployment spiked to more than 20%. (Today, about
65,000 people call the city home.) - From Propublica 
“Welcome to Youngstown, Ohio, home of Chill-Can, the self-chilling beverage container you’ve probably never heard of. Officials have gambled millions of dollars and demolished a neighborhood for the product. Not one job has been created yet.” –Propublica
From “Dilapidated House in Youngstown, 2009 ” by Greg Habermann

Like a gambler out of chips and “running on tilt,” Youngstown leaders cast their bets on failed ventures – Enviva Materials, Industrial Waste Control, Toys-R-Us, and Chill-Can, companies that took their tax incentives and left Youngstown with an empty hand and more desperation on how to lure other businesses. Like a gambler crazed by losses, city leaders went all in on the next vacant promise of a win. This results in communities feeling the big chill of betrayal regarding policing, justice and business developments.

Employer of Last Resort ELR

The voices to “Defund the Police” react against the forces that protect the “Chill-Cans” while punishing those left to assemble a life with leftover and broken pieces. Inequity is not measured but felt like a cold ache in the old bones of a community.

Inequity is not measured but felt like a cold ache in the old bones of a community.

L Randall Wray in his interview below said – “the U.S. government can proceed directly to zero unemployment by hiring all of the labor that cannot find private sector employment. Furthermore, by fixing the wage paid under this ELR program at a level that does not disrupt existing labor markets, i.e., a wage level close to the existing minimum wage, substantive price stability can be expected. A sizable benefits package should be provided, including vacation and sick leave, contributions to Social Security, and, most importantly, health care benefits, providing scope for a bottom-up reform of the current patchwork health care system. Using the government as an ELR would not be introducing another element of intrusive bureaucracy into our economy. It would simply offer a better utilization of the existing stock of unemployed who are now dependent on the public purse — especially the chronically long-term unemployed.

From Youtube

Regardless of political affiliation, a divide has formed in the U.S. between those who have and those who don’t … Those who receive injustice in the name of justice. Those who are protected from accessing the resources needed to thrive. Patchwork “Chill Can” economics will provide only more broken promises. Let us reframe our country’s legal, political and economic fabric in line with the Founders of the Constitution, who, themselves, addressed the vast inequity of their day.

Humanitarium Government

In the proposed Humanitarium Government model, Government’s role is to create an environment of balance between the extremes of supply and demand economics. A depletion of supply leads to infinite demand and panic. Oversupply creates devaluation and eventual depletion of resources. A Humanitarium model Government exists to create balance in the continual tension of pulling to the center from the extremes.

Production as the End Product

As a child my family enjoyed a second home in the fishing village of Cholla Bay, Mexico. Trucks hauled in water, which was stored in various tanks from old aircraft fuel tanks to cement cisterns that gravity fed the house. A sad trend emerged with the tanks. In a desire to decorate the tanks, the residents mounted on each tank a full-size sea turtle shell. The residents would paint their names or slogans on the shells. At the time, you did not consider yourself part of the community unless you sported a sea turtle shell. I have images of sea turtles being shelled alive, with a local sipping the blood of the dying turtle by catching it in his hand. I remember the paint smell of the vacant lacquered shells. Sadly, the end product resulted in sun burned sea turtle shells and marine biologists pondering the dilemma of a depleted sea turtle population.

One example today is the production of new cars simply to prop up the business of new car manufacturing. The employees and executives sport the shells of their business success by denying the coming of depleted resources and business closure. The executives eventually retire to Florida, while the communities remain like hollow sun-bleached sea turtle shells.

From “Thousands of Unsold New Cars”

Pandemic and Humanitarium Government

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the action of a Humanitarium Government model when the supply of customers depleted due to lockdowns and a Humanitarium Government gave loan extensions and survival checks to keep businesses afloat. Miranda Barker, head of East Lancashire’s Chamber of Commerce, said in response to the now crumbling Rolls-Royce aircraft turbine industry, ” “Everyone’s jobs are dependent on everyone else’s. It’s like pulling a string on a jumper, it’s all going to unravel,” she added. But she believes the crisis threatens not just jobs now, but also the cluster effect that the region’s future prosperity may rest on.” The Scottish government announced a working group will be set up with the aim of protecting jobs at a Rolls-Royce (RR.L) factory.

“Everyone’s jobs are dependent on everyone else’s. It’s like pulling a string on a jumper, it’s all going to unravel.”

Miranda Barker, East Lancashire’s Chamber of Commerce response to save Rolls-Royce plant

Beyond COVID-19 this Humanitarium Government model can provide an Employer of Last Resort Model for communities whose entire future has descended to an economy resting on the brittle shell of minimum wage fast food jobs.

The risk for the U.S. Government is to further isolate depleted communities from resources by police action, resulting in even greater demands. A Humanitarium Government model triages the hurting community with the oxygen of supplies and a secured future.

Onlookers from the upper middle class puzzle over the demands made by “Black Lives Matter” whose economic experience peaked toward infinite demand due to depletion of supply of meaningful employment, health and safety resources and justice. The risk for the U.S. Government is to further separate affected communities from resources by police action, resulting in even greater demands. A Humanitarium Government model triages the hurting community with the oxygen of supplies and a secured future.

Defund Police aka Deploy Resources

The fixing the ills of “Chill-Can” communities is less like the swap of a broken starter on a 1980 Chevy and more like the reforestation of the Amazon slashed and burned for greed.

How one hears “Defund Police” depends on which side of the resource line one sits. Those chanting “Defund Police” see law enforcement and National Guard troop presence as a line of defense to prevent accessing resources the community needs. Past promises of police and justice reform spritzed away like flat soda in an old Chill-Can. The fixing the ills of “Chill-Can” communities less like swap of a broken starter on a 1980 Chevy and more like the reforestation of the Amazon slashed and burned for greed. Perhaps the balance of a Humanitarium Government model was created for such a time as this.

A Time to Plant,

Pastor Jim

With Liberty, Justice and Care for All

Among the Navajo people there is no word for “Goodbye” and parting words mean “Take care of your people.” A good reminder for “We, the People” to take care of all members of the US tribe.

From Youtube

Perhaps it is time among our people to amend our pledge to reflect that without care we cannot be one. Without care there is no liberty or justice. “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty, justice and care  for all.”

Take Care of Your People,

Pastor Jim