Monday, January 31, 2022

Pic of the Day

Some Days…

There are days when this picture is a perfect summary of how I feel. Some days, I just want to come home, lay on my couch, bury my head under some pillows, and just hide from the world. At various times in my life, there were more days like this than not. Over the last few years, there were fewer such days, but the pressure of finding a new apartment has really made me anxious and stressed. Depression and anxiety always want me to retreat from the world.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Pic of the Day

The Power of Words

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
—2 Corinthians 4:17-18


The Indian writer and painter Rabindranath Tagore said, “The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life.” Tagore was a persuasive advocate for Indian independence, though he did not live to see the 1947 milestone achieved. He devoted his years to benefiting future generations. As his quote implies, no legacy is more worthwhile than bettering the world for others.


Paul told the Corinthians the same thing in his second epistle to them. Paul tells them, “For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” There are many things that we do that we will never realize the lasting effect they have on others. Maybe you provide an example for a young LGBTQ+ individual who sees you as a role model, and without knowing it, you provide them with a positive example of acceptance. You might give someone encouragement and tell them how much you appreciate the good job they did or how helpful they were. That can give someone a confidence that you may never see. All of you have probably planted a seed in someone’s mind that changed their life for the better, whether that was through showing someone acceptance or giving them confidence. That seed may grow into a mighty tree, but you may never see it or realize it. 


The opposite can also be true. We also have to be careful with the legacy we leave behind. You may never know when you have said something to another person that it might effect them in a negative way. You may not have meant to, and if that’s the case, you may never know you did it. When I was a teenager, I worked hard to have perfect grades, to be involved in as many things academically as possible, and I was proud of my accomplishments. A lady once told my mother that I “sure was full of myself.” Meaning that I thought a lot of myself and implying that I was a braggart and conceited. When my mother told me that, I was devastated. I had only answered what the woman had asked me. It destroyed my confidence for a long time. If I “tooted my own horn” would others think badly of me. I felt as if I needed to downplay a lot about myself, and that led to me not being confident in my accomplishments. It took a long time for me to be confident again, and I’m still not always as confident as maybe I should be.


Under present social conditions, with the continuous increment in hate speech, be it targeted on grounds of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or religion, we need to consider what we say before we say it. How will what we say effect others? People often speak very comfortably and impulsively without realizing if certain words or the way we use them have an inherent negative meaning attached to them. If such a case causes a miscommunication then it may lead to disastrous consequences. so, thinking before speaking is a necessity for people to be a better person. 


Fran Lebowitz, known for her sardonic social commentary on American life, is quoted as saying, "Think before you before you speak.” The continuous negativity in speech has ended up subjecting humankind to a vicious toxic circle, one that cannot be done away with until we speak consciously and think before we speak. The writer William Arthur Ward said, "Before you speak, listen. Before you write, think. Before you spend, earn...before you criticize, wait." While words have the miraculous power to heal, they also have the power to topple the world. Voltaire said, "Everything you say should be true, but not everything true should be said." We live and breathe in words. Sometimes words make us smile, sometimes they make us cry, sometimes they pierce through us to an extent that we never forget the hurt they caused. The Irish missionary and writer Amy Carmichael, gave this advice, "Let nothing be said about anyone unless it passes through the three sieves: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?"

Friday, January 28, 2022

Pic of the Day


I had a headache most of yesterday, but it was mostly tolerable until last night. My headache intensified and I ended up going to bed at about 6:30 last night. I hate having headaches, but usually they are manageable. Last night’s wasn’t. I hope today is better.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Pic of the Day

The Cat and Creation

On the first day of creation, God created the cat.

On the second day, God created man to serve the cat.

On the third, God created all the animals of the earth to serve as potential food for the cat.

On the fourth day, God created honest toil so that man could labour for the good of the cat.

On the fifth day, God created the sparkle ball so that the cat might or might not play with it.

On the sixth day, God created veterinary science to keep the cat healthy and the man broke.

On the seventh day, God tried to rest, but He had to scoop the litterbox.

* * * * *

If the guy above looks familiar to you, then you might be a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race (RPDR). Bryce Eilenberg is a member of the Pit Crew, a group of male models who appear in various segments of RPDR. Bryce is a sexy redhead who loves cats, and he’s a straight ally (not gay as I originally posted). What’s not to like?

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Pic of the Day

I Hate Snow!

Early yesterday morning before I got ready for work, I went out to shovel the snow off my deck and the steps. Everything went fine clearing off the deck, but as I was cleaning the steps, I took one step down and there must have been a patch of ice underneath the snow because I lost my footing and fell down the stairs. I am bruised and sore all down the right side of my body. Needless to say, I was moving kind of slow yesterday, and as the day went on, I became more and more sore. I suspect I will wake up even more sore today. Sadly, it snowed more last night, so I have even more snow I need to clear off. Shoveling snow is a never ending chore this time of year in Vermont. 

I love looking at snow and watching it drift down when it’s those big fluffy flakes, but I hate shoveling it off my porch and cleaning it off my car. It can be backbreaking work sometimes.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Pic of the Day

Tennis anyone?

Why I Can’t Leave Vermont

Why I Can’t Leave Vermont 
By Anonymous 

It’s winter in Vermont 
And the gentle breezes blow
72 miles per hour at 52 below.

Oh how I love Vermont
When the snow’s up to your butt
You take a breath of winter air
And your nose, it freezes shut.

Yes, the weather here is wonderful 
So I guess I’ll hang around.
I could never leave Vermont
Cause I’m frozen to the ground.

I don’t know who wrote this poem, though it’s been posted in several places on the internet, including the Vermont Country Store’s Facebook page. I initially saw it elsewhere on Facebook, and it made me laugh when I read it. 

While the “ 72 miles per hour at 52 below” is an exaggeration, we did have real temperatures of -21 degrees with a windchill of -30 or lower. During our last snow storm, we got 11” of snow, while that’s not up to my butt, the snow drifts did make up to my knees. The most accurate lines in this poem are:

You take a breath of winter air
And your nose, it freezes shut.

I have had the wind blowing so hard and the temperature so low that my nose did feel like it froze shut.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Pic of the Day


I went shopping in New Hampshire with a friend of mine yesterday. We had lunch and went to several stores. We took this shopping trip because we both needed to go to Target. I also showed her some of the sites down that way, and then we headed back home. When we got back to her apartment, she unloaded her purchases, and we decided it was dinner time, so we had dinner and sat and talked for a while. Time got away from us, and I didn’t drop her back off at her apartment until after 8 pm. While we had been in the restaurant, it had apparently snowed, so it was a slow drive back home. It was only lightly snowing when we went in the restaurant, and the forecast has said we were only expecting snow flurries. This turned out to be more than a few flurries, but it wasn’t so bad that I had to get my snow brush out. However, it was enough snow to slow down traffic, so it took a bit longer than usual to get back home. When I finally made it back home, I was pretty tired, so I wrote this short post and went to bed.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Pic of the Day

The Narrow Way

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
—Matthew 7:13-14


When I was coming to terms with my sexuality, I thought about the above verses a lot. For LGBTQ+ individuals, accepting our sexuality is the narrow gate; going through the wide gate often leads to our destruction. The discrimination and bullying LGBTQ+ individuals often face in life often can lead to suicidal behavior. Policies and interventions that effectively reduce stigma and discrimination while strengthening support networks and community connectedness could help reduce the risk of suicide for LGBTQ+ adults and youth.


Although sharply divided, public attitudes toward gays and lesbians are rapidly changing to reflect greater acceptance, with younger generations leading the way. Acceptance of homosexuality in general also reflects the generational difference in opinion. In 2010, 26 percent of the people surveyed who were under 30 said they felt same-sex behavior is “always wrong,” while 63 percent of the people aged 70 and older held that opinion.


Those in the LGBTQ+ community know that the attitude towards our community is changing. The change toward acceptance of homosexuality began in the late 1980s after years of remaining relatively constant. In 1973, 70 percent of people felt same-sex relations are “always wrong,” and in 1987, 75 percent held that view. By 2000, however, that number dropped to 54 percent and by 2010 was down to 43.5 percent. People of my generation and older, and even today, people in more conservative areas of the country, know that lack of  acceptance made many people deny their sexuality, which is harmful. Lack of acceptance and fear of the way we’d be treated if we came out, led many of us to stay in the closet for too many years.


Research shows that anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination and victimization contribute to an increase in the risk of suicide, and LGBTQ+ people are at disproportionate risk of suicidal thoughts, planning, and attempts. A 2016 review of research found 17 percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults had attempted suicide during their lifetime, compared with 2.4 percent of the general U.S. population. LGBQ people were 92 percent more likely to think about suicide, 75 percent more likely to plan suicide, and 88 percent more likely to actually attempt suicide that resulted in no or minor injury. The statistics for transgender individuals is even worse.  For transgender individuals, 82 percent have seriously thought about suicide in their lifetimes, while 48 percent had done so in the past year. Even more devastating is that 40 percent of transgender individuals have attempted suicide at some point in their lifetimes, and 7 percent had attempted it in the past year.


Acceptance can go a long way in changing these statistics. That doesn’t mean just acceptance from non-LGBTQ+ people, but also accepting ourselves and our sexuality. LGBTQ+ people are a minority. At best, we make up about 10 percent of the population, though in surveys that number is usually lower. Our small section of the population that accept our sexuality put us automatically on the “narrow path.”  But acceptance and journeying down that narrow path leads to much difficulty , but it also “leads to life.” Mark Twain once said, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." 


In life, we are constantly faced with the narrow path and the wide path, it is up to us to chose which one we take. However, just remember that “narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life,” Today, I want to leave you with one of  y favorite poems which gives advice we should all heed.


The Road Not Taken

By Robert Frost


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;


Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,


And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.


I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Pic of the Day


I had a really bad migraine last night. It was one of the worst I’ve had in a while. I wasn’t up for writing anything for today.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Pic of the Day

After a long day at work doing exhibit installs, this is all I want to do: take off my pants and lay on the couch for a nap.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Pic of the Day

The answer to today’s riddle is the poem’s title:

“On Snow”

A Riddle by Jonathan Swift

A Riddle


From Heaven I fall, though from earth I begin.

No lady alive can show such a skin.

I'm bright as an angel, and light as a feather,

But heavy and dark, when you squeeze me together.

Though candor and truth in my aspect I bear,

Yet many poor creatures I help to insnare.

Though so much of Heaven appears in my make,

The foulest impressions I easily take.

My parent and I produce one another,

The mother the daughter, the daughter the mother.


This is a poem/riddle by the satirist Jonathan Swift. I’m going to take a page from BosGuy’s Friday Brain Teaser, and so, I’m not going to post the title of this poem until later this afternoon. I’d like to see if you can figure out the title. BosGuy waits to approve the guesses in the comments until later, I’ve changed my comments, only for today, so that you can comment your answer. After the Pic of the Day posts, I will approve all of the comments for the riddle answers. Any other comments to other posts will be approved as soon as I see them. Don’t cheat and look up the poem. Instead, give it a real shot to see if you can guess the answer to the riddle.


Jonathan Swift was born in Dublin, Ireland, on November 20, 1667, and spent his adult life alternately living in Ireland and England. A satirist known for his sharp wit and unforgiving criticism of politics, religion, and society, Swift is best known for his satirical novel Gulliver’s Travels (1726). Though best known for his prose, Swift also wrote a number of poems in his lifetime, most of which were also humorous in tone and written under pseudonyms. Swift died in Dublin on October 19, 1745.


By the way, I think Swift would have had a field day with our previous defeated, loser, and twice-impeached president. Can you imagine? I’m sure it would have been good, at least for those who did not like the former president.

Monday, January 17, 2022

A Note About Blog Comments

For the next 20 hours or so, all comments will be moderated and need approval before posting. You’ll see why in tomorrow’s poetry post.


Pic of the Day

Decisions, Decisions

Every night, I plan out what I am going to wear the next day. I used to plan things out a week ahead, and while I still have a vague idea of what I’ll wear each day to work, I usually make the final decision the night before. However, when it comes to plans for events, whether at the museum or out with friends, I tend to plan those outfits well in advance. This week, I don’t have any events, and I’ll mostly be installing the new exhibit, so I will dress for comfort. I will also dress for the weather. Today is expected to be quite a snowy day, though the temperatures will be more mild. The rest of the week, the mornings will be significantly colder as I’ll wake up each day with subzero temperatures. 

Some of you probably think I’m silly or shallow because I worry so much about what I’ll wear, but truthfully, I wish deciding my outfit for the day was the only decision I had to make. I’m still looking for an apartment. I’ve found a few that are available but getting someone to answer my inquiries has proved to be quite an issue. Also, I really have to decide what is actually affordable for me because rent has gone up here by quite a bit. I also need to decide how far away from work I want to live. I’m pretty certain I have no desire to live in the same town where I work, which I have done for the past six years or so. It always seemed because I'd lived the closest, then I get called on to deal with more stuff. Take today for instance, the snow is supposed to be terrible and I may be the only one who can make it into work. That can get annoying real quick.

When the time comes for me to make the final decision about a new apartment, I only hope that Ralph Waldo Emerson was right when he said, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Pic of the Day

The Truth Shall Set You Free

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”
—John 8:31-32


For LGBTQ+ Christian believers and non-believers alike, there is no promise more powerful than what Jesus said in John 8:32: “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” When we come out, we live and know our truth and it sets us free to be our authentic selves. In the book The Rock That Is Higher, Madeleine L'Engle says, "If it's hard for us to accept our monsters and love them and free them to become the beautiful creatures they were meant to be, it's even harder for most of us to believe in the happy ending." Many in the LGBTQ+ community may have thought of their sexuality as a monster within them because they were told their sexuality or gender identification was wrong, but once we come out, we can embrace our true self and realize just what beautiful creatures we are. Yet, it is often hard for us to believe that we can experience a happy ending, but we can and will if we can accept ourselves and become comfortable in our own skin and in our own minds.


In her writing, L’Engle recognizes the universal human longings and considers how literature, Scripture, personal stories, and life experiences all point us toward our true home. In The Rock That Is Higher, she also wrote, “We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is.” As we grow up in a world where heterosexuality and gender conformity are considered “normal,” we do feel like we are strangers in a strange land. We long to be normal, and it’s sometimes hard to realize that what is normal is not heteronormative social conventions, but “normal” is being your authentic self. However, L’Engle writes that we get a glimpse of our true self, “…sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes.” We have to learn to grasp onto and accept that sweet familiarity.


If we do this and accept ourselves for who we are, then it is an affirmation of God’s love and truth–an acknowledgment of our longing for a rock in the midst of life’s wilderness. Gay activist and former Jesuit priest Robert Goss wrote in his book Jesus Acted Up, "For queer Christians, the Bible is read intertextually with their own resistance to homophobic oppression. The truth of a particular text requires an interpretation that includes the social context of the text and the truth of their own queer lives.” Contrary to what many conservative Christians want us to believe, God will never forsake us. He is always there for us and wants us to be happy. Isaiah 54:10 says, “‘For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has mercy on you.” Nothing will ever stop God’s love for us.


If we accept ourselves and accept the infinite diversity of humanity, we can become closer to God. He accepts us the way we are, and if we slip up Jesus died on the cross for our sins and salvation. We will all make errors of judgment occasionally. Romans 3:21-26 says:

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

My mother used to sarcastically say about my father, “Only two perfect men have ever existed: your father and Jesus Christ.” This was usually said when my father claimed he was right, and she knew he was wrong. My earthly father is flawed, but my Heavenly Father is perfect. My father (and my mother, as well) hold grudges, but God will never hold a grudge against us, especially if we accept and live our truth, because “the truth shall set you free.” We should celebrate our freedom and live our truth.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Pic of the Day

I Don’t Know

Last night was just one of those nights where I had no idea what to write for a post today. Plus, my brain was just tired and feeling uninspired. We’ll see what today brings.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Pic of the Day

Apartment Hunting

Apartment hunting sucks! It always has. It’s worse when you have a pet because it makes the choices fewer. I looked at an apartment last Friday, but it was very small and the upstairs bedroom and bathroom was was heated by passive heat, meaning there were no heaters upstairs just vents in the floor for the heat to rise from the first floor. 

I was offered the apartment on Saturday, but when I asked to measure the apartment (or get measurements) to make sure my furniture would fit, I was told that an answer was needed by that evening. I had wanted to look at another apartment I’d come across a listing for, but he wouldn’t hold off until Monday or yesterday to give me time to go my and make some measurements. So, I passed on the apartment.

I decided I would concentrate on the other apartment I’d found. It is in a nearby town, but the apartment looks beautiful and has some great amenities. Also, all utilities except electricity, phone, cable and/or internet are included. The rent is also more reasonable than the apartment I was offered. Here’s the problem though, I have called and emailed multiple times, and I can’t get a response. It’s frustrating and infuriating. Why would you advertise an apartment and then not respond to people who inquire about the apartment. I’ll keep trying to get a response. This is Vermont after all. Vermonters work on their own schedule, which is not always what’s convenient for anybody else.

I’ll keep looking. Thankfully, I have time to look, but it makes me so nervous and anxious. It’s really affecting my health at the moment. 

In some better news, I went to see an otolaryngologist on Monday for a consultation for the Inspire therapy device for my sleep apnea. She said that I fit all of the criteria and after examining my nasal passages and knowing my history with trigeminal neuralgia, the Inspire device is my best option. Dartmouth will call me in the next week to schedule a sleep induced endoscopy. They need to see what my throat does when I sleep. If it’s closing front to back, then they’ll start the process of scheduling me for the surgery to implant the Inspire device. If my throat closes side to side, then the Inspire won’t work, and we’ll talk then about what other options are available.

The process is going to take some time. I was told that the endoscopy probably can’t be scheduled until late February or early March. If all goes well, it will be a couple more months before they can do the surgery. At best, it will be late April or early May before I can get the surgery. At least it gives me hope for something to look forward to.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Pic of the Day

The Fluffer Talks of Eternity

The Fluffer Talks of Eternity

By D. A. Powell


I can only give you back what you imagine.

I am a soulless man. When I take you 

into my mouth, it is not my mouth. It is

an unlit pit, an aperture opened just enough

in the pinhole camera to capture the shade.


I have caused you to rise up to me, and I

have watched as you rose and waned.

Our times together have been innumerable. Still,

like a Capistrano swallow, you come back.

You understand: I understand you. Understand

each jiggle and tug. Your pudgy, mercurial wad.


I am simply a hand inexhaustible as yours 

could never be. You’re nevertheless prepared to shoot.

If I could I’d finish you. Be more than just your rag.



About the Poem and the Poet


I featured W. H. Auden’s “The Platonic Blow” a few weeks ago about a blowjob. Though much longer, D. A. Powell’s “The Fluffer Talks to Eternity” deals with the same sexual act, though I am not sure that in this poem it is not metaphorical. I once saw an independent film called The Fluffer about a film buff with a crush on a porn star who is straight, for whom he would end up working as a fluffer in gay porn. Just in case you don’t know, a fluffer is a person employed to keep a porn performer's penis erect on the set. “The Fluffer Talks to Eternity” was published in Poetry in February 2010 along with his poem “Pupil.”


Born in Albany, Georgia, D. A. Powell earned an MA at Sonoma State University and an MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His first three collections of poetry, Tea, (1998), Lunch (2000), and Cocktails (2004), are considered by some to be a trilogy on the AIDS epidemic. Lunch was a finalist for the National Poetry Series, and Cocktails was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry. His next two books were Chronic (2009), which won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys (2012) won the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry.

Powell is known for his syntactically inventive, longer eight- or ten-beat lines in poems that are often untitled. As a teacher at Sonoma State, he noticed that most of his students’ poems were written to fit the demands of the page. His experiments with his students in writing on unexpected surfaces (such as candlesticks or rolls of toilet paper) led to his own breakthrough in “subverting the page”: he turned a legal pad sideways and wrote the first poem for Tea. Powell explains that “by pulling the line longer, stretching it into a longer breath, I was giving a little bit more life to some people who had very short lives.”

Powell has also taught at Harvard University, Columbia University, and the University of San Francisco. He has been awarded the Lyric Poetry Award from the Poetry Society of America, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Paul Engle Fellowship from the James Michener Foundation. His poems have been featured in the Norton anthology American Hybrid (2009) and Best American Poetry (2008). 


D.A. Powell is openly gay, and often explores his sexuality and the body through his poetry. This exploration of the body is noted with some sadness if anyone knows anything about Powell himself. Powell is HIV positive, which is part of the reason why his first three books have been called “The AIDS Trilogy” because of their exploration of the cultural and individual impact of the disease. Too many critics and writers focus just on Powell’s identity as a gay man with AIDS. They spend so much time on that aspect of his life, and they miss the man’s soul seen through his poetry. Powell’s humor is one of the greatest appeals of his work. Despite the moments where Powell is lifting the small details of existence up for reflection, he takes the reader to another place, such as he does in “The Fluffer Talks of Eternity.”

The poem is a monologue of a man who “fluffs” men before a porn shoot. Powell is working in a voice spoken from a sensitivity of life, of its absurdity, or its all tiniest beauties. He is able to conjure sensations and imaginations that real poetry should do. Poetry sometimes should just shock us out of our comfort so that we can then reassess our reality and determine what it actually is. That is often the beauty of poetry.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Pic of the Day

Dinner and Drinks

I went out last night for dinner and drinks with our new curator. I really do like her. She’s very nice, and she’s very easy to talk to. When I first met her in person, I knew I’d get along with her. She’s a very perceptive person and very bright. She just seems to be a genuinely warm and interesting person. I love meeting someone and the conversation just flows. I feel like we’re old friends not like she’s just a new coworker.

She seems to be setting in just fine. Though she’s from the South, she has worked in New England before in her previous job. So, she’s familiar with some of the quirks and charms of New England. She’s also realizing that Vermont weather is not quite like that of other parts of New England. I warned her to make sure to dress warmly Tuesday. Our low temperature is supposed to be -8 degrees Fahrenheit with windchills as low as -35. Our high Tuesday is supposed to be 5 degrees. She’s getting an early taste of how bitterly cold Vermont can be in the winter. I was lucky that my first winter in Vermont was fairly mild.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Pic of the Day

Seek Good and Not Evil

Seek good and not evil,
That you may live;
So the Lord God of hosts will be with you,
As you have spoken.
Hate evil, love good;
Establish justice in the gate.
It may be that the Lord God of hosts
Will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.
—Amos 5:14-15


Whenever I read the Bible, I never know what might stand out to me. That’s how the Word of God works. Yesterday, I opened up the website which always has a verse of the day. The above verses were what I read yesterday. In the Old Testament book of Amos, the prophet Amos spoke directly to the people of Israel about their sins. They thought they were doing fine and that God accepted their worship. Amos had a different message for them.


Chapter five of Amos is filled with thoughts and phrases that seem appropriate, especially as I think of the current state of the world, especially the United States, and the sad condition of Christianity in America—the church that is supposed to be the witness God has placed in the midst of a deceived people who follow ministers and church leadership that is often focused more on hate than the good that God commands us to do.


In Amos 5:7, the prophet said, “You who turn justice to wormwood, And lay righteousness to rest in the earth!” Amos was warning people not to turn justice into bitterness or cast righteousness to the ground. Religious leaders in America focus on verses that they take out of context so they can convince followers of their own hateful politics. Throughout history, religious leaders have used the Bible to justify many wrongdoings. They tried to justify slavery, discrimination, and murder by using the Word of God out of context.


Amos 5:10 says, “They hate the one who rebukes in the gate, And they abhor the one who speaks uprightly.” Here Amos warns against those who hate those who upholds justice in court and detest the one who tells the truth. Those who try to teach love and acceptance as the greatest virtues of God’s Word are scorned by many religious leaders because it goes against their own agenda that seeks power by discriminating against others. They abhor those who try to help the poor and downtrodden, especially when it might cost them some of their fortunes that they have gained by exploiting those less fortunate. Sometimes, truth-tellers are attacked because they refuse to go along with the conventional wisdom (or lack thereof).


Amos then provides this directive stated above: “Seek good and not evil, that you may live…Hate evil, love good; establish justice in the gate.” We have to constantly seek good and turn our backs on evil. We have to work hard to defeat evil at every turn. When Amos said, “Establish justice in the gate,” he is telling us to maintain justice in the courts, because the courts have historically been America’s gateway to freedom. Whether it was a decision like Brown v. Board of Education that stated that separate but equal was inherently not equal. It began a whole slew of Supreme Court cases that established policies to end discrimination and segregation. 


In recent years, the courts ruled in a number of cases concerning LGBTQ+ rights. In the 1996 case Romer v. Evans, the Supreme Court ruled that laws could not single out LGBTQ+ people to take away their rights. In Lawrence v. Texas, the Court eliminated sodomy laws in 2003. In 2013 the Court ruled in United States v. Windsor to eliminate the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) of 1996 that defined marriage as a “legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.” This ultimately led to Obergefell v Hodges in 2015 which legalized gay marriage. Now wi5 a conservative majority on the Court, we are in jeopardy of a backsliding of LGBTQ+ rights along with many other rights, such as control over our own bodies and voting rights.


The hate filled conservative movement in the United States and in countries all over the world are following sociopathic buffoons such as our former twice-impeached President who live off of the power they feel by enforcing hate and discrimination. They are not seeking good but are instead embracing evil. We have to be diligent. We have to take Amos’s and God’s warnings against evil. Amos’s major themes were social justice, God's omnipotence, and divine judgment. He warned against the destruction of Israel if the Israelites did not change their ways and follow God’s teachings. The same is true for us today. 


We are at a precipice where democracy is in danger. A small and very vocal group has been growing in strength. They were once in the fringes but the former buffoon of a president of ours brought them out into the open. Just over a year ago, those fringe elements were encouraged by the defeated president to attack Congress in an attempt to subvert a legal and legitimate election. Authoritarianism has been given a loud voice and we must defeat its evil with our own good, which means getting out and voting. We have to vote blue and soundly defeat the authoritarian elements in our government.