11 American Soldiers

As of today, June 25, 2007, 3560 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq. Among them, are these 11.

I have not included their service branch or rank; those things are irrelevant to me.


Amanda Pinson, 21, killed 3/15/06


Elizabeth Jacobson, 21, killed 9/28/2005

Juana Navarro-Arellano, 24, killed 4/8/06

Holly Charette, 21, killed 6/23/05

Carrie French, 19, killed 6/15/2005

Tocarra Green, killed 8/14/2005

Tricia Jameson, 34, killed 7/14/2005

Ramona Valdez, 20, killed 6/23/05

Sam Huff, 18, killed 4/18/05

Jessica M. Housby, 23, killed 2/9/05

Leslie Jackson,18, killed 5/20/04

Today is my daughter Darcy’s birthday. She is 31. Which means any of these young women could have been my daughter, too.

I’m crying on my daughter’s birthday, for God’s sake..


The Most Hated Family in America

Just to the right of this post, under “Pages”, you’ll see a tab for this collection of six videos about the Phelps family and their Westboro Baptist Church. I invite you to watch them. Hopefully, you haven’t just eaten..

(The title of this post, is the actual title of the BBC program.)

A Public Service Announcement: How Not To Use PowerPoint

I see PowerPoint being used in more and more places on more and more occasions to illustrate various talks, including sermons. And sometimes they add to the presentation exquisitely. But you and I both know that sometimes it becomes impossible to listen to the speaker because our eyes are so busy with the screen. Here’s a really funny video to pass on to the perpetrators of PowerPoint prattle:


Community is the point. The point: the Image of God in us. “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness,” God said. (Genesis 1:26) I know the prescribed Christian spin I’m supposed to put on all of those plural pronouns. But I’m much more interested in the fact that God is talking in plurals, about Godself, than I am in the acceptable human definitions of that linguistic challenge.

Us. Not us and them and absolutely not us versus them. Just..


Our DNA (one of the languages of God, in my opinion, if you must know), was formed in the million year cauldron of dependence on others. An individual, on his/her own, in a prehistoric environment where animals and weather were both large and unpredictable, stood little chance of making it through the week alive. In a community, however- a family, a band, a tribe- individuals had a chance to live into another year and, in so doing, create new community members.

That was a plan that worked. We know it did, because we are here, writing and reading about their success.

It is in us to be in Community. When we have the opportunity, we will default to it, in fact, under the right conditions. You can read more about it, in five minutes, if you wish; or, you can watch Community happen in this video. It is a small and temporary Community, but it is a real one. Watch it form. Watch it include. Watch its power to make people forget themselves and be in communion with each other (on a subway!):

In a Community, individual egos are not merely shed, they are given over. It is not hyperbole to say they are sacrificed for the good of the whole. It doesn’t happen all at once by merely walking into a relationship with another, or others. It is a gradual movement, a gathering in which the “our image” of the above quote from Genesis becomes the defining mortar of the group (a group of two, ten, or thousands). One by one, individuals discover Community as they look up one day through new eyes and notice a new intensity of colors and movement; they begin to make discoveries about themselves that are..flabbergasting:

“I care for her more, far more, than I care about myself.”

“I want him to be happy at whatever cost there is to myself.”

They are more important than me.”

“I am loved.”

You can see the micro-beginnings of these statements even on that subway, can’t you? Unfortunately, we know that each person eventually arrived at their stop, and had to leave. But don’t we also know that there was a reluctance in each of them to do so?

Nobody wants Community, real Community, to end.

In fact, it is not meant to end.

So don’t let that happen.

(More to come.)

Airplane Crash, Death- A Happy Song by Bright Eyes

Yeah, that’s what this video seems to be about, but just try to watch it without feeling happy at the end. I’ve written the sung lyrics here so you can even sing along if you’d like!

“At the Bottom of Everything” by Bright Eyes

There are some major truths within these lyrics- I’ll write some more about them soon. In the meantime, look for some of those truths yourself. Why are we smiling at the end of the song? Is it just the great graphics or is there more? I’d love to hear your comments. I think many people are wanting to know about death, and be less afraid of it, possibly even learn about embracing it. Maybe you can help them do that.

Or maybe it’s not about death at all, but something else..whaddayathink?

If you’d rather keep your comments private, send them to thefirstmorning@yahoo.com

The sung lyrics:

One, Two, One, Two, Three, Four
We must talk in every telephone, get eaten off the web
We must rip out all the epilogues from the books we have read
And to the face of every criminal strapped firmly to a chair
We must stare, we must stare, we must stare.

We must take all of the medicines too expensive now to sell
Set fire to the preacher who is promising us hell
And in the ear of every anarchist that sleeps but doesn’t dream
We must sing, we must sing, we must sing.

And it’ll go like this
While my mother waters plants my father loads his gun.
He says, “Death will give us back to God,
just like the setting sun
is returned to the lonesome ocean.”

And then they splashed into the deep blue sea.
It was a wonderful splash.

We must memorize nine numbers and deny we have a soul,
And to this endless race for property and privilege to be won
We must run, we must run, we must run.

We must hang up in the belfry where the bats in moonlight laugh
We must stare into a crystal ball and only see the past
And in the caverns of tomorrow with just our flashlights and our love
We must plunge, we must plunge, we must plunge.

And then we’ll get down there,
way down to the very bottom of everything
and then we’ll see it, oh we’ll see it, we’ll see it, we’ll see it.

Oh my morning’s coming back
The whole world’s waking up
Oh the city bus is swimming past.
I’m happy just because
I found out I am really no one.