November 29, 2018

* There's an inmate here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp who speaks to me every time I see him, even if I see him 12 times in 5 minutes. It has seemed obvious to me that he must really like me. While recently walking behind him in the housing unit, I saw that he said "Hey" to someone in the mop room. When I passed the mop room, I looked in to see who was there. It was empty, as in NOBODY was in the room. The guy was saying "Hey" to 2 mops, a broom, and a wall mounted ironing board. Now it seems obvious that he doesn't like me as much as I thought. I'll admit to being a little disappointed, but it's probably OK.

* I received an application to get a mail-in ballot for the November 6th election from the Republican Party of Texas. I thought inmates couldn't vote, but my name and address was already filled out on the application by a RPT computer nerd. I also thought that Republicans were the ones supposedly worried about voter fraud. Guess not.

* Dietrich Bonheoffer in Life Together writes...

November 24, 2018

Thomas Merton, the Cistercian monk, writes in his book New Seeds of Contemplation that the only true joy in life is to escape from the prison of our false self. That sounds like a great plan, particularly to someone who's in a prison, but how does that work? Merton would say that the way to escape from that prison is NOT to focus on trying to be our "true self." That's because the true self that we'd create on our own terms is just as sick and imprisoning as our false self.

It appears that becoming one with the love of God, what Merton describes as our true self, is a process of not thinking how we can be our best, but to forget about ourselves, and even God, long enough to focus with loving attention and care on those people whom God places right in front of us. Yeah, those people. 

That might seem odd to forget ourselves and our relationship with God even for a moment.  That seems contrary to what we've been taught most of our lives about our need to focus on God.  But this is more abo...

November 19, 2018

I've read two books now by Chris E. W. Green, Associate Professor of Theology at Pentecostal Theological Seminary in Cleveland, TN and Teaching Pastor at Sanctuary Church in Tulsa, OK. He writes with such clarity, inspiration and depth, I'd put anything he writes on my "must read" list. Reading his book Surprised By God has been particularly helpful while training a puppy for Canine Companions For Independence here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp, a process that has caused me to rethink everything I thought I knew about training dogs.

In the book, Green explains that if we genuinely desire union with the unimaginable love of God, we must be prepared to have the illusions of our religious world shattered.  God shatters these illusions "by showing us again and again the image of Christ the crucified one. By showing us the beauty of the one who is undesirable by all our standards. As we with unveiled faces behold the image--in the face of the stranger, in the face of the enemy, in the fa...

November 14, 2018

Thomas, one of twelve disciples, is certainly one of my favorite Biblical characters, and not because he was also called Didymas (a name that's never really gained much traction outside of 1st century Palestine). I just relate to the disciple who needed to see for himself that a dead man named Jesus was now the risen Christ. His story is recorded here in the 20th chapter of the gospel of John, a book that makes frequent reference to seeing and not seeing. 

But what am I to make of the last verse in that passage? The one where Jesus tells Thomas, "You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me." Was that some subtle dig at my homeboy Doubting Thomas? Was he now somehow second rate?

That verse, and what seems to be its mis-characterization of Thomas, has always bothered me because...well, what's wrong with wanting visual confirmation of the crazy notion that a dead man is no longer dead? Thomas did become St. Thomas after all, certainly not a sec...

November 9, 2018

For the last 3 weeks, most of my waking hours and some of my non-waking hours have been consumed by a Labrador/Golden Retriever puppy named Freddy. He arrived here 7 weeks old, weighing 9 pounds, at 6:00am after taking a United Airlines red eye flight from San Francisco. His first night away from his birth family was a little challenging. He woke up at 2:15am, and we went out to "hurry," the term we use for potty breaks. At 3:15am he realized he was in a strange environment and started whining. The whining slowly morphed into a full, howl grandioso. Occasionally the howl would revert to a whine almost stopping, only to crescendo again. Sadly, there was nothing to do but wait it out, for 90 minutes.

Freddy's life here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp has improved significantly after that first night, and he has had a very positive impact on this place. It's impossible for anyone to look at him without smiling. All four dogs are that way, but particularly this little guy who's still half...

November 4, 2018

There's an old joke among Baptists. Do you know why they don't have sex standing up?....It's because they don't want anyone to think they might be dancing. I grew up Southern Baptist, then became just a Baptist, and now I'm a Recovering Baptist. At least for me, the joke rings true. I can barely dance at all, since I was never allowed to go to those sinful shindigs in my dance formative years. In fact, my college nickname was "The Dancing Machine" because I was so bad at it. 

I've had some uncomfortable experiences dancing and clearly remember my last dance. My oldest daughter was my partner and we were dancing at the Community House in Red River, New Mexico. We were on vacation and had been hiking and trail riding all day, and I was wearing a baseball cap. The Community House director stopped the dance and asked me to remove my cap. At first I ignored her, but when the scolding continued, I whispered to my daughter that this wasn't going to end well. I was on vacation, had a serious ca...

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© 2016 by Charles D. Jones