Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Reflections on James 1:19-27

This was our Sunday School lesson on July 26th and I am still smarting over it. I realized how important the message is and how far I fall from the ideal.

Being the teacher of the class sometimes puts us in a position I don’t like. I am placed as an authority when I am the worst of the lot, the one who should keep my mouth shut. “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” is the passage for the day.

What concerns me with this lesson is that it is so clear, yet so difficult. It is easy to get an opinion from anyone, just ask, but what is the purpose of our opinion? Isn’t it to sway others? It seems to me that “opinions” have become more important than theology. The result is that our opinions define our beliefs and who we are. Yet, James says that a mirror gives us the best uncomplicated view of ourselves when we look at it with Biblical intent. The mirror really shows who we are internally if we search for that, which we don’t, it’s so much easier to smile and say what a hearty person we are and go our own way without hearing!

In reality, we are disfigured because we face a delusional world. Everything has an answer and the answer that gathers the most publicity wins. There is no longer room for second place. In response to this, James says, “HUMBLY accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” (v.21) No doubt, the word planted in each of us is different. We read different parts of the Bible, but somewhere God does speak to us. To Dan he says, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” In other words, listen to the spiritual notes that sparkle in your life – or play the song that God puts in your heart.

Unfortunately, for me my life is influenced by the sicknesses which surround me. Not a week goes by but that I am not touched with a “hopelessness” that causes me to tear up a bit. I go away and say a prayer but my spirit feels the loneliness of the person I am talking to, the terror in their lives, and the haunting of death to their loved ones. In reality, the final act of our lives should sum up who we are. And that is the problem. How do we separate who we really are from the “dressed up, clean shaven, image we present to others.” Is facing death the only place we can be honest?

Well, James concludes with some rather sturdy advice for us. From the Dan Phillips translation he says, “look after people who are needy and in distress (hopeless fighting the odds against them) and keep oneself from being polluted by the world (just because MSNBC or FOX News says it does not mean it is the gospel truth.) (James 1:27)

You think about that!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Suffering and Dying

It is strange how one note can change the symphony of one's life. This morning a tweet said a place in New Mexico that specializes in death and dying was following my tweets.

Then it hit me. I do retreats on Merron, meditation, spiritual directions, but never on dying.

Whether or not i acknowledge it, the last decade of my life has dealth with the dying. Rarely a week goes by that I am with someone who dies. I guess i have overlooked that fact that I could contribute by developing a retreat for those persons or caretakers who are facing death.

So, what would a retreat consist of:
Stages of dying one is going through.
Meditation as part of spirituality that relates peace in the process of dying.
Preparing to die with personal examples of persons who left us a gift while they were dying.
Saying goodbye.

Well, it is something to think about. What do you think?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Moon Landing-A Personal Memoir


Forty year seems like a long time. But forty years ago I worked on Apollo 11. I worked for General Electric in Huntsville, Alabama, as a Design Engineer and sub-contractor for NASA. My responsibility included being sure that the wiring in the S-IVB stage of the Saturn V rocket worked!

I had gone to work for GE shortly after the deaths of Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee. Morale was low, but for me it was an exciting time. I can still remember watching the test firings of the Saturn V rocket which was done in Huntsville. Of course, the ground shook just like an earthquake. Every launch became a person experience, it was a participatory event, hoping all went well. And we would do our work with NASA then ride around the tall building where Werner Von Braun’s office was on the top floor. We always looked upward with fascination and awe.

Of particular interest to me, before Apollo 11, was the Apollo 8 mission. It was the first flight around the moon and I was in bed with the Hong Kong flu. On Christmas Eve I got up long enough to hear the astronauts read from the book of Genesis after completing an orbit of the moon. I was very humbled. The next, Christmas Day, I spent time in the Emergency Room, playing $37 (an outrageous price then) to get a shot for the flu. A few months later I received a plaque made for those of us who worked on the program. It included a medal that how been made using materials on the Apollo 8 spaceship.

As Apollo 11 approached we were all anxious. There was so much riding on the event, more so than we realized. I listened last night as Neil Armstrong reminded his audience that the event was a pivotal time for the United States. The Vietnam war was in full swing. Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. had been killed that year. The Democratic National Convention turned destructive. Our nation was in free fall.

On top of that, the Russian Space program was running circles around us. They shot the first satellite into orbit, Sputnik 1, and sent the first life astronaut, Yuri Gagarin, into orbit. They were a success story all around. The cold war was on and the victory looked like they would be the winner.

I did not know this until last night, that three days before Apollo 11 liftoff, the Soviet Union, had launched a rocket, Luna 15, to the moon. “Luna 15 was a last minute Soviet attempt to steal some of Apollo 11's publicity by being the first mission to return lunar soil to Earth.” The mission was a failure, however, after completing 86 communications sessions and 52 orbits of the Moon at various inclinations and altitudes, the spacecraft impacted the lunar surface on July 21, 1969. The mission was important in that it saw one of the first instances of Soviet/American cooperation when the USSR released Luna 15's flight plan to ensure it would not collide with Apollo 11. When the American astronauts blasted off, they did not know about Luna 15. Can you imagine what would have happened if these two spaceships had collided on the moon?

On July 20th, we watched every step. The lunar module landed a little after 3 p.m. that afternoon. An interesting thing happened when Aldrin and Armstrong landed. Aldrin is a Presbyterian, and is known for his statements about God. After landing on the moon, Aldrin radioed earth with these words: "I'd like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way." He received Communion on the surface of the Moon, but kept it secret because of a lawsuit brought by Madalyn Murray O'Hair over the reading of Genesis on Apollo 8.[13] Aldrin, a church elder, used a pastor's home Communion kit given to him by Dean Woodruff and recited words used by his pastor at Webster Presbyterian Church. [14][15] Webster Presbyterian Church, a local congregation in Webster, Texas (a Houston suburb near the Johnson Space Center) possesses the chalice used for communion on the moon, and commemorates the event annually on the Sunday closest to July 20.[16]
At 9:56 p.m. CDST, Neil Armstrong took his first step for mankind. It was a time of pride and amazement and the Americans had won the space race to the moon. If the Americans had crashed and the Soviet Union’s Luna 15 had returned to earth with samples, they would have been the victor. Talk about a close call! No overtime.

Later that night, a group of us left prayerfully for Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, with 20 teenagers for a mission trip. We had participated in the landing, now we were off to participate in a different type of mission.

Forty years later, to me this is a day of reflection. Some have thought it was a hoax, even accusing Buzz Aldrin of being a liar and a hypocrite – yes Buzz, at the age of 72, punched him in the face. A much watched You Tube exclusive!

Some moments define a generation. For some of us this was it, just like September 11th will be for others. Events happen that challenge the world. As Isaiah said, “In the year that King Uzzaih died,” and things were never the same.

So tonight at 9:56 p.m. I will walk outside, look upwards, and remember with thanksgiving, that forty years ago something spectacular took place on a place far far away, and I need not forget it. “The Eagle has Landed.”

Bro. Dan

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Day of Thanksgiving

I went to the chapel first this morning and said a prayer of Thanksgiving, my daughter got a job offer yesterday after being without a job for almost 7 months. Yes, there are times to celebrate. Thank you Lord.

Notes from a hospital waiting area:

I look at the lingering faces of those waiting here. This is part of my prayer walking time. Some people have walkers with them. Usually a friend is near. There is soft music in the background.

There are stops along the way. Dave's coffee shop, the information desk, instructions for entrance.

The room is cold as usual. People waiting ask for a blanket. A mindless tv talks quietly in the background. A man sleeps restless in front of it. A woman worridly tinkers with her compiter with her hands under her chin.

Strangers pass, usually in couples, carrying bags with worried smiles. Some read their Bibles. A woman covered with a blanket naps in her uncomfortale chair.

Prayers are appropriate. Arms are folded. Voices stutter. Phones ring. Often last minute notes before surgery.

The woman's nap is over. She looks vaguely into the distance.

It is a quiet room on a Friday morning. People wait and are waiting and WAITING!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

A Thursday Notebook

All the local news is about Steve Mcnair. As the facts come in, it is easy to become overloaded with questions and emotions.

Why. Why. Why? Why did she do it? Why did he get involved in the first place?

"The treating of worldly affairs is a great hindrance," says the Imitation of Christ. In others trivia dominates our lives. The news of the day compels us to speak up, in defense or just pure speculation. We have had our say, so to speak. But is not silence without comment a more useful component to our spiritual condition?

What are your reactions to our daily noises in our lives?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I am testing Vlingo and talking on my phone and sending this to my blog .this is a new way of communicating for me. I hope this works ok. thank you.

*** Composed with Vlingo for Windows Mobile.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Sunday travail

Busy. Busy. Taught sunday school. Point of Grace during worship service. Bbq luncheon at church, half way nap, raining nicely, Mcnair rumours, twittering and yes, one other thing: no time for meditation. Guess devil is happy tonight.

Saturday, July 04, 2009


Good thoughts on contemplation.

Friday, July 03, 2009

July 3, 2009 - A Friday

Wow, a day off. I am loving it. Spent time studying Psalms 19 in the Liturgy of the Hours. This is Saint Thomas' Feast Day --whatever that means to a Baptist. I am going to twitter my day, so if you want to check it out go to: skeet

I downloaded the new Firefox 3.5 last night so am trying to get use to using it. A lot I do not understand. Now if Verizon would open up GPS on my Omnia I would be in style.

Picture above is from Greece when we were there.

So check out twitter today and see where I end up, ok?

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Thursday, July 02, 2009


Looking forward to a weekend off. Maybe rest some, read some, twitter a bit. Am reading The Noticer, about 1/2 way through. A good point is keeping things in perspective.

Also a thought how each moment is important. The people we contact, the white clouds overhead, the thought of God's presence, an answer to a prayer. In all things be thankful.