Archive for July, 2009

The Death Star

Death Star

I have seen the Death Star,

wandered through the universe —

where I carelessly jettisoned my heart

So many failed attempts at reversing course,

but in my vagrancy I found

the cosmos to be spiral — nearly round

Always bringing my hollow capsule back 

to where it all began —

Somewhere between the flaming start

and the sputtering, gasping end

Lies my heart


Is it too large a thing to ask,

too colossal a task?

To Infinity it must seem infinitesimal

Yes, my heart is small, inconsequential

If you should see it – it looks like this:

It’s shaped like a fist, sorta

With chambers and aortas

And it’s leaving a thin trail

Of red and blue

Unless it’s all bled out

Out there all alone

Somewhere between the Death Star

and its Home

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Where’s My GI Joe?

howell in Iraq 2


Where’s my GI Joe? My two-year old son’s first sentence. The almost-six-inch camouflage green, or white, or black-uniformed soldiers with hinged hips, elbows, and knees, always squeezed by Jonny’s baby-fat fingers. His little regiment of toy soldiers lived in crowded and merciless toddler-service in a shoebox quanson hut under little Jonny’s bed. (more…)

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Gym 3:16


Love God with all your heart,

with all your guts, with all your sweat

and every muscle and pound you pile on (more…)

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To me something is conspicuous by its absence. What is absent from the body of Christ today is the understanding and practice of the millenial truth that Christians are in almost every sense a family, and brothers and sisters in particular.

How long has it been since another believer has called me brother? Many moons, sir and ma’am. If anyone else who knows me and is a believer calls me sir, I swear I’m going to let loose with a tacky non-christian word (more…)

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Rick WarrenThere was something troubling in Rick Warren’s prayer at President Obama’s inauguration. His choice of words for invoking God sounded eerily like something from the Koran: “And you are the compassionate and merciful One.” The Muslim wording is “In the name of Allah, the merciful and compassionate one.”

The phrase he used is also in the Bible, yet I still question the merits of his motivation. That ecumenical inaugural prayer, done for the sake of inclusiveness, subtly and unwittingly betrayed our nation’s sacred trust with the unique God of the Bible. The God of the Bible is not the God of Islam. One example of this is in seen in Indonesia. When Muslims invoke God, they say AL-lah. When Christians invoke God, they say Al-LAH. The choice of stress on the syllables places the religions worlds apart.

 Warren also prayed, “Help us, O God, to remember that we are Americans, united not by race or religion or blood, but to our comittment to freedom and justice for all.”  That’s about as clear as a new law which would suggest that Americans may arbitrarily choose the metric system over US customary, or which side of the street to drive on. Certainly we are not united by religions (plural), but we are united under God. Americans have always been free to worship as they please, but the unwelcome truth is that Americans have historically recognized the God of the Bible as the God acknowledged in the Declaration of Independence, in our national motto, in prayers offered daily in the US Supreme Court, and — until just recently — in the prayers to open sessions of Congress.

Even sadder than the prayer was its reception. Applause broke out during the prayer when Warren mentioned that Obama was the first African-American to be elected to the Presidency. That act by an overzealous audience in effect subordinated God to a man. Let me put it plainly: while talking to Almighty God, people stop to applaud a mortal man. I’m sorry, but a prayer to God should be cognizant of God’s character, not softened to men’s affections. Far from bringing unity to the masses, a prayer which nods to every religion is at best appeasement; at worst, it is schizophrenic.

Religious pluralilsm is the twin sister of multi-culturalism, and both of them are enemies to national unity. If we are willing for the government to endorse religious pluralism, as opposed to the religious freedom all Aemericans and immigrants have always enjoyed, then we must be prepared for the government to act suspiciously toward any group which makes the exclusive claim to religious truth — Christians.

If we buy into that misunderstanding — that religious pluralism is equated to religious liberty — then official religious tolerance (all religions are equal) will lead us down a road to repression of the Christian witness. Christians will be shouted down if they so much as convey insensitivity, and censured if they criticize other religions. They will be labeled first as ignorant whiners, then as intolerant bigots, then as dangerous fascists. That is, if Christians can keep their nerve!

America has always been the nation with the greatest religious freedom. Then why the push for religious tolerance? Whatever the reasons, we must be vigilant, lest something which sounds as harmless as ‘religious tolerance’ softly strips away our rights to an inviolable conscience and to a robust proclamation of the gospel of Christ.

author’s note: This essay was written in January 2009, but it mysteriously disappeared from my blog.

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