Tag Archives: Jesus

Best Quote of the Week – October 18, 2019

“There is a conflict between the politics of Jesus and the politics of Trump. Racial bigotry is a deal breaker for the Gospel. White nationalism, which Donald Trump embraces and champions, isn’t just racist — it’s anti-Christ. Dehumanizing immigrants isn’t just racist — it’s anti-Christ.  Demeaning women isn’t just sexist — it’s anti-Christ. At some point, Christians have to ask themselves: Are the teachings of Christ going to be followed or not?”

Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of “Sojourners” magazine and Sojourners Community

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Please, Jesus


Cameron Parish, Louisiana – September 23, 2005

I need to pay more attention to my instincts. And to my father. Hurricane Rita was just offshore. Closer to Texas actually than Louisiana. But they kept saying it would move north before nightfall. My father said it would take the same path as Audrey back in 1957. I was surprised when he told me that. But, while his Alzheimer’s seemed to be getting worse, occasionally his memory would let him call out stuff from way back when. Regardless, we were right in the storm’s path. That always sounds so cliché and dramatic, but, in this case, it was more than true. And frightening.

This is just what I need right now, I kept telling myself – a hurricane named after me. Katrina had just hit a month earlier, and now, we have this bitch bringing in the second act. How many other storms were looming out there in the Gulf or the ocean? Just waiting to come in and finish us off. What did the state of Louisiana do to deserve this?

I’d managed to pack my father, Tara, James, both dogs, the computer, the safe and as many clothes and old family photos into my SUV. Thank God the dogs were small. But I still couldn’t believe James, all of 15, managed to wheel that damn safe out to the SUV and shove it into the back by himself. Well, his sister helped – more or less coordinated. “Just stay out of my way!” he kept telling her.

My husband, Eric, was halfway across the globe, stuck in Iraq. My oldest, Carla, was up at Illinois State. They’d each called the night before; frantically telling me to get the hell out of there.

I just told them I was monitoring the storm. The CPA in me was taking a meticulous view of things. I was calm – on the outside. But, inside, I was petrified.

“We’ll be okay,” my father mumbled.

Several years ago he’d said Black people don’t often die in hurricanes because we know what wind and rain do to our hair. People would laugh, and my mother would roll her eyes. But he was actually kind of serious about it. Dealing with his condition now was frustrating – and heartbreaking. It had been four years since mother passed and nearly eight months since I made my father move in with us, until the family could figure out what to do with him.

I looked out the patio door. The dogs stood behind me, trembling. The only good thing about Rita was that it could end this heat wave and bring lots of rain. The bad thing is that folks on this side of the state wouldn’t take it seriously – like folks in New Orleans didn’t take Katrina seriously. Everyone had put too much faith in the levees. And the state government.

“We need to go,” my father said. He donned his gray hat and grabbed an old family bible.

By then, it was getting darker, and the rain was coming in stronger.

I guess we were the last ones out of the neighborhood. But, once we made it to the highway, it looked like we were also the last ones out of the parish. Then, a few cars and trucks made their way past us.

“Mother, let me drive,” Tara said at least twice. She sat beside me.

“No,” I told her. “I’m okay. We’re not going to stop just to switch seats.”

I first headed north, eventually passing under I-10, which sat above us like a parking lot, and then west. There was nothing for us east of Cameron. That part of the state was still a wreck. If we made it to East Texas, I hoped we’d be okay. Please, Jesus, I kept saying to myself. Get us out of here safely.

“We will,” I heard my father mumble.

It was getting darker and wetter. Traffic had thinned considerably. I stayed to the right. The constant thump of the windshield wipers and the heavy beat of the rain were the only sounds. I always loved rain at night. Who doesn’t? Eric often made love to me when it rained – okay, focus on the road, focus on the road.

A thin ribbon of blue-gray hovered in front of us; the remnants of the sun. And the one thing that kept me steady. If we could just make it to that light…just make it to that light.

And, through the dimness, James suddenly jutted his hand over my right shoulder. “What’s that?”

I looked at the dashboard – the engine light had come on. I felt my stomach drop into my pelvis. I didn’t need a hurricane named after me and I damn sure don’t need this shit!

“Watch your language,” my father said.

“Oh, my God!” Tara said, leaning over, almost far enough to block my view.

“Everyone, calm down!” I hollered.

The dogs moaned.

“Are we running out of gas?” Tara asked.

“No, I have a full tank,” I said.

I gripped the steering wheel tighter; a way of saying I was starting to get scared. I wasn’t good with cars. No one in the family was, except for my father and Eric. That’s why they got along so good. James hung out with them, not so much because he liked cars, but mainly so he could get away from the womenfolk.

The engine light remained on – glaring bright orange against the onyx backdrop of the dash. It was staring right at me; like a demon taunting me to do something.

Tara kept leaning over to look at it.

“Tara, would you please stop,” I said.

“But, mother, I’m worried about that,” she said.

“I know. But we need to keep going.”

“Let’s stop at the first gas station we see.”

“Oh, Lord, no! No gas station is still open around here.”

It was just after 6:00 p.m.

Then, a deep rumble came up from beneath the seats, and the entire vehicle began to shudder. Tara gripped the dashboard and looked towards me. I kept my eyes straight ahead; hoping no one would notice if every organ in my body failed at once. My hands were getting moist still holding onto that steering wheel.

The SUV kept rumbling and shaking. And then, started slowing down – while my foot was on the accelerator.

“Mother, just pull over,” said James.

“No!” I told him. “We need to keep going.”

“It’s not going to go much further!” He never raised his voice at me.

The thing was slowing down more and more. Then a loud clanging sound felt like the bottom of it had fallen out and took my sanity with it. I managed to veer off to the right, the windshield wipers still thumping madly. I was surprised to see a few more vehicles come up from behind and then, pass us. I flicked on the emergency lights. Oh, God, this can’t be happening, I screamed to myself.

“We’ll be alright,” my father muttered.

We’d managed to travel less than sixty miles from home and we were just north of I-10; sitting on the side of a state highway. I don’t even remember which one. “Oh, Lord,” I said. “This is just great.”

“Just turn off the engine and let it rest,” James said matter-of-factly. I could see him stroking his chin, like my father did when he went deep into thought.

“No, don’t turn it off!” Tara screamed. Her voice startled everyone and made the dogs bark. “What if it doesn’t start back up?!”

“Tara, do not scream like that!” I hollered.

The sound of the windshield wipers and the rain couldn’t drown out our voices.

“Mother!” cried Tara.

“Tara, stop!” I said. “Please, stop! Yelling isn’t gonna help anything. We’ll figure this out.” I caressed her shoulder, as she looked ahead. Her lips were trembling.

Deep inside my soul, mine were, too.

“We’ll be alright,” my father said.

Oh, Lord, I said quietly, please send your son, Jesus, to help us. I glanced through the driver’s side window, as a few vehicles rolled by, seemingly oblivious to our presence. I kept asking the good Lord to help us; to send his child to get us out of this mess. I don’t know why I kept saying it like that: please send your son, Jesus, to help us. But I did.

It was completely dark now. The blue-gray ribbon had fallen into the horizon ahead of us. The highway lamps on either side of the road bobbed nonchalantly; the light fading.

Tara’s left hand found my right one. She maintained her gaze straight ahead; lips still trembling.

Oh, Lord, please send your son, Jesus, to help us, I screamed into my mind. Oh, please, Lord! Help me get my father and my children out of here. My head began to hurt from hollering inside so much. Please send your son, Jesus, to help us.

I don’t know how long we sat there, alone in the darkness and the ever-increasing rain. At least we were far from the coastline. But, we had nowhere to go.

Lord, please send your son, Jesus, to help us. I let out a sigh and dropped my head down.

Then, I looked out the driver’s side window for what I thought would be the last time, before a wall of water would come rushing up and swallow us whole. And, through the blankets of water pressing against the glass, I saw a pair of headlights in the distance. They were high beams. It was the first vehicle we’d seen in what seemed like hours.

“Well,” I said, “who could this be?”

“Jesus,” I heard my father mumble.

Tara looked up into the rear-view mirror and then, turned around. “Oh, my God! Maybe they’ll stop to help us!”

“I hope so,” I said. I was tempted to jump out and flag them down; my hair be damned.

“Okay, mother,” James said, “if it’s a state trooper, just keep your hands on the steering wheel.”

“Thank you, counselor,” I smirked.


The headlights came closer.

I reached for the door handle. It was now or never. I had to jump out and try to make them stop.

The lights were upon us.

I unbuckled my seat belt.

Then, without warning, the headlights veered off to the right. Whoever it was, had pulled up behind us.

I jumped out, almost falling face down.

“Mother!” Tara screamed. But her voice was drowned out by the rain.

James jumped out of the other side. His sister screamed his name, but again, the rain snuffed her out.

Then, the vehicle – an SUV as large as mine – lurched out from behind us and back onto the road.

“Oh, Lord, no!” I yelled into the wet darkness.

The driver stop right beside me and lowered the passenger side window.

I gripped the doorframe. But, I was already out of breath.

The driver was a solitary young man, his bright green eyes grasping my attention. “Are you alright, ma’am?” he asked.

“No!” I yelled back. I hated to yell at strangers. “I don’t know what happened. This thing just gave out on me! I have my children and father – and my dogs – with me. We’re trying to get the hell out of here!”

“Okay, hold on!” he said. “Let me pull up in front of you.” He inched his vehicle forward, the emergency lights already glowing, and hopped out.

In a matter of minutes, we had everyone crammed into his truck. The back of it was filled with boxes. There wasn’t much room for our own belongings, but the young man even grabbed my box of family photos. I crawled into the back of my SUV and opened the safe, which held our birth certificates, social security cards, a .45 gun and bag of cash. I stuffed all of that into James’ gym bag, which he’d emptied immediately, as if he knew what I was thinking. The other things in the safe would have to stay. Most everything else in my SUV would also have to stay. I turned off the emergency lights, grabbed the keys and hopped into the young man’s vehicle.

Each of us was soaked. “Kind of a bad night,” he said with a chuckle and bright smile, as he moved back onto the road.

“I’ll say,” I told him. “Oh, Lord! I knew we should have left sooner.”

“Yea, me, too,” he said. “I was in Lake Charles on business.”

“Oh, okay. We live out further south.”

“I thought of heading up north. But, I thought, no – better head back to Texas.”

“Oh, okay. Is that where you’re from?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Thank you, sir,” Tara told him. “Thank you, thank you! We thought we’d be stuck there forever.”

“Oh, think nothing of it,” he said. “I’m glad I could get you out of here.”

“That makes seven of us,” James said.

We all laughed.

“I just had that thing serviced,” I said, wiping my face with a damp hand. “It’s only five years old.”

“Oh, I know how that goes,” the man said.

“Well, we – oh, I’m sorry! Where are my manners? My name is Rita. This is my father, William; my daughter, Tara; my son, James; and our dogs, Rocky and Bruno.”

“Pleasure to meet you, sir,” James said.

“Same here,” replied the young man. “My name is Heh-soos.”

“Say again?” I asked.

“Jesus,” my father muttered.

“Heh-soos,” the man repeated. “It’s Spanish for Jesus.”

“Oh, how nice.”

© 2014


Filed under Wolf Tales

Repairing Jesus’ Birthplace

Visitors light candles in the Church of the Nativity.

Visitors light candles in the Church of the Nativity.

Christian lore has it that Jesus was born in a manger in the city of Bethlehem and ultimately died to bring peace and joy to the world.  Looking at the centuries-old violence that has plagued the region now called the Middle East, it seems to have been in vain.  But, Palestinian authorities have set aside their animosity for outsiders by allowing a handful of Italian craftsmen to begin much-needed repairs to the roof of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, which dates to the 4th century A.D.  Water leaks, seismic activity and general weather conditions have taken a toll on a structure classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  The church’s pine and cedar timbers are up to 800 years old and its deteriorating roof was donated by England’s King Edward IV in 1479.

“It’s very emotional to work here,” says Marcello Piacenti, head of a family business that is rejuvenating the structure; something his clan has being doing for six generations.

Workers are applying protective gauze to gold-leaf mosaics, while technicians examine the church’s wooden trusses for hidden damage.

As one might expect, there are internal clashes over the structure’s care.  Monks from Greek Orthodox, Catholic and Armenian churches have disputed who has authority to clean and repair the church.  The three dominions manage the building under a tense arrangement that seems to mirror the overall Middle East conflict.  You’d think they’d know better.

Finally, in 2009, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, fearing the church might collapse, issued a decree to repair the church.  That brought some agreement among its proprietors, and Piacenti’s company was called in to help.

Whatever religious disputes anyone has, I can only hope they drop all that friction and realize how important the church is.  Christian or not, it is a piece of history and it needs to be preserved.

Lieu de naissance de Jésus : l’église de la Nativité et la route de pèlerinage, Bethléem

Lieu de naissance de Jésus : l’église de la Nativité et la route de pèlerinage, Bethléem

Lieu de naissance de Jésus : l’église de la Nativité et la route de pèlerinage, Bethléem

Le Lieu de naissance de Jésus : l’église de la Nativité et la route de pèlerinage, Bethléem

Lieu de naissance de Jésus : l’église de la Nativité et la route de pèlerinage, Bethléem

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Why I Believe in Jesus – But Not Christianity


Anyone who knows me personally, or through my writings, is often surprised when I say I revere Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.  They’re surprised because I usually keep that quiet.  My faith in Jesus is a private matter – as I think all such convictions should be.  The glaring opulence of the Roman Catholic Church, for example, sours me almost as bad as their overt disrespect for women.  The overt arrogance and verbosity of people like Pat Robertson, Robert Schuller and their ilk literally makes me nauseous.

I know I sound like a Tim Tebow acolyte.  But, I have about as much reverence for sports and entertainment figures as I do politicians and televangelists.  In fact, devoutly religious people usually chew up most of my nerves.  They have the tendency to shove their ideology in my face and think they know what’s best for me.  For as long as I can remember, the faithful have asked me to accompany them to (their) church.  Yes, I appreciate their concern for my well-being, but I don’t need it that badly.  Baptists and Pentecostals are among the most aggressive, but Catholics are not that much better.

In February of 1998, my father’s oldest sister, Amparo, died after an extended illness.  She’d been hospitalized for a month, before her frail body finally gave out.  Her death hit our family hard.  She was one of the strongest people any of us had ever known.  She helped care for me when I was a boy.  In fact, Amparo cared for most everyone else in our family; taking her older brother to cancer treatments in the mid-1980s, for example, because no one else – not even his own wife and adult children – could find the time.  Her burial instructions were straightforward: just throw her in a box, toss it into the ground, say a prayer or two and go on with our lives.  And, that’s just what we did.  There was no long, drawn-out rosary preceding an equally long, drawn-out funeral.  We had a brief service at the mausoleum, a quick internment, and then, we were gone.

When I told one of my closest friends, he was surprised to learn there had been no rosary, as Hispanic Catholics are prone to do.  “Oh, oh,” he moaned ominously.  “I hate to tell you this, but your aunt’s chances of getting into Heaven are slim.”

I became instantly enraged.  “How do you know?!” I screamed at him.  Amparo’s commitment to her family far outweighed the pious proclamations of my friend; someone who actually practiced voodoo for a short time in the 1980s, before reverting back to Catholicism.  That one statement almost ended our long friendship.

But, it’s that sort of self-righteousness – the sense of ‘I-know-what-God-wants-better-than-you’ – that sends me into epileptic fits.  I once worked with a woman who often wore a gold ‘Jesus Loves Me’ pin – while strutting about the office talking behind people’s backs and speaking in a condescending tone to others.  I’m just not one to proselytize.  Thus, it’s a stretch for me to express my personal beliefs about Jesus even in this forum.

There’s really no concrete proof that Jesus was little more than an influential philosopher from what is now Israel.  But, I feel that He was a real person; someone who lived a short life, yet has had a grand impact on the world.  I also believe Jesus has manifested Himself in other forms and in other faiths to a variety of people.  But, they’re just that – beliefs.  I never profess to know for certain who Jesus was or what He plans to do.

Some folks have this vision of Jesus arriving on a gilded chariot, amidst a cacophony of trumpets, and sweeping them up into His arms for eternal safekeeping.  They’re certain they know what Jesus will do – and that they’ll be right there with Him.  These are the same people who’ll be horrified when science discovers the center of the universe – and they’re not it!

Here’s something else I believe: the “Second Coming” means Christ will return to Earth, look around at the mess created by many of His devoted followers, and say, “You know, I had a really good idea about love and harmony 2,000 years ago, and you people just fucked it all up.  BAM!”  And, that’s how the world as we know it will end.

If Jesus should return to Earth anytime soon, I’m certain He won’t make his way to visit Pope Francis.  We won’t see Him having dinner with Mitt Romney or tea with Queen Elizabeth.  No, I’m almost positive – if we do catch a glimpse of Him – he’d be on the streets of places like South Dallas, trying to convince prostitutes life has more to offer than streetwalking.  We’d see Him in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, telling kids not to sniff glue; or in the deserts of the Middle East, ordering angry young men to put down their rocket launchers.  He might even show up at an atheists’ convention – if they have such things.  Wherever He’ll be, He won’t be cavorting with the faithful – the so-called “Chosen Ones.”  No, He’d be with the lost souls; the “Forgotten Ones”; the folks the rest of allegedly civilized society declares unworthy and unsaved.

On this Easter Sunday, I only wish for a few simple things – like a few more years with my parents and my dog; to get my novel published; to live as long and healthy of a life as I can.  Yes, I wish for peace on Earth and for the blind to see.  But, those are such grand aspirations.  I can’t save the world alone.  Neither can any one person.  Yes, it may seem strange to many, but I don’t care.  I have little respect for a religion called Christianity, or most other religions for that matter.  But, I still have faith in someone named Jesus.


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Happy Easter!


Buona Pasqua

Cásca sásta

Feliz Páscoa

Feliz Pascua

Frohe Ostern

Joyeuses Pâques

Vrolijk Pasen

Καλό Πάσχα


Image courtesy Mailan Mietteitä.

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Pass the tequila, but hold the picante sauce!


In keeping with today’s theme of saints and popes, I present this piece.  A man in San Antonio, Texas claims he discovered an image of Jesus on a flour tortilla.  As a Hispanic who was raised Catholic, I have some idea of the excitement Arturo Ruiz must have felt when he opened that package and saw the Savior burnished into the compacted lard.

“I thought I was hallucinating, so I showed it to others, and everybody claimed (the tortilla) showed Jesus,” Ruiz told a local TV station earlier this month.  He had been preparing breakfast when the image apparently caught his eye.  Hard times may have blurred his thinking.  He’s facing eviction and expects his cell phone service to be cut off.  I guess that means we’ll see this beauty on Ebay some time soon.

I have to concede I love flour tortillas, too!  Don’t tell me you’re surprised!  Of the thousands I’ve eaten since 1964, though, I can’t say I’ve noticed anything out of the ordinary.  Well…there was one that looked a little like Agatha Christie holding a glass of bourbon.  Hey, what do you expect from a writer?!


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