Friday, November 30, 2007

Update on My DAD

My dad is in a nursing home recovering from his 90 days on a repirator... and 3 operations... It is a miracle that he is alive... thank you to all of you that expressed your care for my journey through your kind thoughts and prayers... and doing your part to hold the clan together.

They say that it takes about 1 week of recovery for each day that one is on a respirator. If you are the praying sort... Our prayer is that my dad will recover enough to qualify for the assited living program at the nursing home where he is at...

Our days are not infinite...
Cease the day for the good that you want to be part of the history of your lives.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My DAD and Family

Dear Praying Friends,

I would like to thank you all for your persistent prayers. The fact that my dad is still alive is a miracle. When I last communicated with you all, my dad was still on a respirator and had just gone through an experimental procedure to repair his lungs. The first miracle is that he is completely off of oxygen. The second is that he is now convalescing in a long term care facility where he can continue his rehabilitation. Pray for this long journey. Some experts say it takes an average of one week of rehab to recover from one day of being on a respirator. This would seem to imply that my dad has 90 weeks of recovery ahead of him.

We have just found out that the doctors believe that his brother Mickey will live only one more year, maximum, due to the lung cancer he is fighting. My dad already misses the friendship and support that Mickey used to offer, and feels badly that he can't be there to support his brother as he would like to.

My sister Sunday, who has carried most of the burden of caring for our dad, is now happily expecting her second child, due in March. I am going to Philadelphia for a couple of weeks to help Sunday and the family in whatever ways I can. This may include helping my dad figure out what he is going to do with all of his stuff that has been sitting in his empty apartment since spring. It is now clear that it will take over a year before my dad would have the strength to live on his own again, if indeed he regains enough strength for that to happen.

During this trip, my half brother Gabriel is getting married. He also intends to join the Marines. This pleases my dad a lot, but raises concerns in my own heart for his safety and well being.

Please keep me in your prayers as we try to resolve my dad's housing and financial situation. If we can't resolve this so that he can get out of debt, he may loss his spot in this care facility. My dad is struggling in his new situation because most of the other residents are 10-20 years older than he is, and many of them are not very talkative, while my dad is an extrovert and thrives in social situations. This makes it more difficult for him to accept where he is and to let go of his apartment. Pray that Dad's friends will visit him, and that he will also make meaningful friendships where he is. Pray also for me, because I feel the weight and the void in this situation.

Also, my cousin Joshua is seeking to restore his relationship with God, and hopes to see me while I am on the east coast. This too would be an answer to years of prayer.

Jude will stay here and be preparing to teach in January, as well as visiting her mom for Thanksgiving.

Thank you again for your prayers.

John TW

Friday, October 05, 2007

Breathing Deeper on Sabbatical

A Sabbatical Reflection on context:

The Sun had set and the evening had begun to darken -- shadows had ceased to be shadows. I sat comfortably reading in an easy chair next to the sliding glass door. I left the door open and closed the screen and was enjoying the fresh evening air while reading a Psalm of David.

An itch in my nose and then the sound of scraping caused me to turn my head to the screen door that was less than 2 feet next to where I was sitting. A skunk was pressing its face into the screen door. I, in a startled panic, suddenly breathe in and choke on the foul smelling air. Just as startled, I imagine, the skunk in a flash had turned and positioned himself to spray me. I fled my seat faster than I have moved in a long time. I could feel my heart pounding. Once I was fifteen feet away, I turned to see the skunk lumber away from the screen door and out of view. I was grateful for having escaped a possible nightmare of accidental encounters… still am reminded that if the skunk had chosen to demonstrate its power, I would have spent the next month trying to eliminate the pungent odor from the living room … a smell so strong that even a small whiff of it made me choke.

I know for sure that I am not in Los Angeles.

Later that week in the woods, Jude and I see two Great Horned Owls. While I fear skunks, these owls enjoy eating them. According to the local experts… There has been a significant increase in the number of skunks in the larger area. Non-indigenous plants that they like to eat are to blame. I have seen a skunk several times since then and I know I am not seeing the same one.

I am learning not to worry or fear… either the skunks get me or they do not… Worry can’t change the color of my hair (except give me more grey hair than I already have…) or change my height (except bend me over with bad posture…) and why cling to that when God offers his gracious kingdom (Matthew 6) – Time to press further in…

Jude is enjoying bird watching. She’s signed up for a class about birds and is learning the names of all sorts of birds…White-tailed kite, snowy plover, Anna’s hummingbird, Wilson’s warbler (en route to Central America), Great egrets, American Kestral. This gift of naming… intensifies awareness and watching increases wonder and enjoyment. How often do we see without seeing.

In this season I find my sensitivity to life and my enjoyment of it all being restored and refreshed. This is part of what “sabbatical” is for; learning, and a restoration of Holy curiosity, wonder and gratitude.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Dear friends — thank you for your prayers. I do not think that I would have been able to handle seeing the challenges that my dad and my family have to face without your prayer support. We are thankful that the doctors have been able to complete one half of the experimental procedure on my dad’s lungs. He now is able to spend more than one half of the day each day off of the ventilator (breathing machine). Also, during this time of intensified prayer, my sister met a doctor at her church that works at Temple University Hospital, where my dad is. The issues related to my dad’s poor circulation in his legs are now also being cared for by some of the top doctors in Pennsylvania. Please continue to pray for the healing of the hole in his lung and for all that needs to happen for the second half of the procedure to be scheduled and completed.
What is most difficult currently is that my sister (who has a two year old) is the only person consistently visiting my dad, and she is weary. His brother Mickey, who is struggling to beat lung cancer, had been visiting, but his health has worsened and he is not able to visit.
Pray that my dad’s extended network of friends and my half brother and half sister (who just had a baby this week) would find it in their hearts to visit him also.
My dad is the kind of person for whom a simple note or card will mean a lot. If you feel inspired to send a note, you can send it to:

John Watson Sr.
C/O John Watson jr.
PO Box 17367
LA. CA. 90017

Thank you again for your standing with us in prayer.
Grace and Peace,
John TW

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Pray for my Dad

If you are reading this blog...

as a request for a minute or two of prayer for my dad on this critical day in his struggle to continue life here on earth. He has a hole in his lungs that is not healing. I spent a week with him before the Fourth of July. He goes on and off a respirator... And is under the care of some of the best lung doctors in Pen. At Temple University Hospital. He has signed up for an experimental procedure. From a medical standpoint... Everything depends on the hole in his lungs healing.

Conversation: John's dad

Hello — we just received a call from John's sister. His dad is finally going to have the one way value procedure today. (This will cut off the flow of air to the area of his lungs that has a leak or could produce one.) The last days have been very difficult, and he has been showing signs of giving up and even moments of feeling very depressed. Please pray for his body and also his spirit and soul, that the procedure would be successful and that God would encourage him today. Please also pray for John's sister Sunday, who is his main social support.
Thanks so much for standing with us in prayer.
John and Jude TW


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wisdom... the Heritage of words...

Dear Friends,

I sit here disquieted. I now have words for what I long for and have not gotten from my father. He currently is ill and may not make it. What I long for is the proper heritage of wisdom that I never got from him.

I now see from reading the models of William Pen and his “Some Fruits of Solitude”, of King Solomon (Proverbs & Ecclesiates) and King Lemuel (Proverbs 31), Brother Lawrence and “The Practice of the Presence of God” and others. That “Proverbs” are horizontal offerings and can be a heritage of love for one’s fellow man. A heritage of wisdom gathered over a life time.

In the Same way Psalms/Songs like those of David are vertical offerings… and so are the great historical hymns to the current songs of praise… Each generation needs to find it’s own voice of Praise.

Like it says in Colossians 1:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

I think that each generation is responsible to capture it’s own voice of wisdom for their generation… as well as their own voice of praise.

"No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:43-45)

We live in a time that is knowledge rich but thin on Wisdom. That is why we know how to do so much stuff… yet struggle with the quality of day-to-day life. We have quantity… Some of us are thirsty for the satisfaction that comes through wisdom that connects us lovingly to each other and causes us to enter into the history that matters.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Proverbs 24 and Weird Al's White & Nerdy

Proverbs 24 provides a context for me to think about Knowledge, Understanding and Wisdom.

Juxtaposed to this the parodies of culture presented in the movie Napoleon Dynamite & Weird Al and his song I'm too White and Nerdy… and you have a cutting edge expose' of how far the collapse socially of the dominant culture is in popular culture. This collapse from dominance is what post-modern folks mean when they say that the center will not hold. I do not have any problem with this to the extent that mainstream culture has also left God out of the picture.

To me this provides a huge opportunity for the people of God… because we live in a knowledge thick world that is very thin on wisdom. It is time for fresh movements of faith to rise up and demonstrate depth… words will not be enough… Let's look back at Proverbs 24 and break down some of the wisdom in it for our times…

3Through skillful and godly Wisdom is a house (a life, a home, a family) built, and by understanding it is established [on a sound and good foundation],

4And by knowledge shall its chambers [of every area] be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

• My First point is to try to get us to grasp where we are in our current times. KNOWLEDGE IS our cultural KING. Whether that is the heady knowledge of the Nerd, The social Elite, The Style Elite, or the Street Knowledge of the Thug. In our current cultural mythos if someone has the right Knowledge he or she will get over in life and be able to get all the "stuff" in life that matters.

The codes of knowledge… that of the academy belonging to the "Nerds" and their domain of the University, and "The Code Of the Streets" belonging to the Thugs of the world and "the hood" both have dire outcomes in terms of ultimate meaning.

As T.S. Eliot observes in this cultural decline now recognized by the academy.

"Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? "
T. S. Eliot

The Hip Hop Group" The Black Eyed Peas" share their Lament with the streets:

"What's wrong with the world mama?
People living like aint got no mamas…

People killing people dying
Children hurtin you hear them crying
Can you practice what you preach
Would you turn the other cheek?
Father Father Father help us
Send some guidance from above
Cause people got me got me questioning
Where is the love?(where is the lovex3)(the love2x)

I feel the weight of the world on my shoulder
As I'm getting older y'all people get colder
Most of us only care about money makin
Selfishness got us followin the wrong direction…"

This is the condition that Cornel West calls "Practical Nihilism" and Neil Postman calls it "Amusing Ourselves to Death".

The Bible Simply calls this the sin of "The Pride of Life"
The Decay in quality of thought is clearly marked out in Romans 1:21-23

21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Our Idols are pop Idols like Britney Speers who is falling from her throne to Thom Cruise and many others…

We are living in a Spiritually dangerous time because our times are stuck on the "precious and pleasant riches"... that Knowledge seems to offer… Your Cell phone and Lap top in the geek world… to your myspace and thumping bad assed tunes to bee seen on MTV that can be high contexted referenced by elaborate ring tones. What makes these days in our culture so spiritually toxic is that we live in a world that teaches people to love things and use people rather than loving people and using things. Things can stimulate, but they can not love. While many people are lacking the character depth to really love (II Peter 1:3-11).

Proverbs says, "Knowledge puffs up a person"
"Pride comes before a fall and a haughty spirit before destruction."

The fruit of knowledge disconnected to the histories and realities that ultimately matter end in ever increasing consumptions and the loss of the role of love at every level of life & society.

By the way ... I really like the use of parrody used by Weird Al in his song "White & Nerdy". Like Bill Cosby he gets us to laugh at the twisted realities too many people are living. If there were not a lot of white people buying HIPHOP... then it would not have such a large market in the US. The fact that selling out fits the old stereotype of "Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll"... or the ancient categories of sin... "The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life". Does not surprise me. But for me exposes why these forms have sold out on their capacity to communicate the deepest realities that inspire true hope and values.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

In response to an open question... "Are organized Religions a Fraud?"

Current mood: contemplative
Category: Religion and Philosophy

[Most of you know that I am very passionate about my faith. I wrote this piece on an open forum that is even somewhat anti-faith... All world views and the actions that flow from them have consequences...]

I would like to suggest that all people have a world view. Part of it is inherited via culture. Part of it is caught through experience. (The basic Nature vs. Nurture debate...)

All people want to understand and be understood. It is human to form groups out of common world views and experiences. (Family Systems theory provide better continuim categories: Rigid to Flexible, Permiable to Impermiable... with evalution being based on the qualities of life produced.)

There is a lot of motivations for organized groups to do both good in the world... like the relief work of "The Salvation Army" and bad in the world... Like the crusades... Good in the world ...Like seeking a cure for cancer ... Or ??? what ??? in the world... Like... why should Britney Speers shaving her head be all that important anyway and on national news???

It is simplistic to blame great evils on being "Organized"... lots more people also die from neglect and disorganization. Rather we should evaluate the delivery system and the qualities of what is being delivered in and through each system.

It is also simplistic to think religion is the problem... Attempts to eliminate religous beliefs as in communist Russia also lead to the death of Many people. Wars have throughout history been more about the competition over resources than a world view... even when the two seem to come togehter... like in World War II...

From an anthropological point of view... Religous experience is part of the human experience. (Denial of soul care according to AA and NA is the core cause of Addictive patterns of behavior.)

Key for me is the room for dialogue, discovery, growth, and change.

Personally, when I was a child I grew up in a family that was atheistic. We encountered as a family experiences that caused us as a family to embrace a Christian World View. I have friends who both share my world view and friends who have very different understandings about the world. (I have not met a person whom I could not learn something benneficial from...)

Personally I am concerned about systems that become too closed and therefore shut down dialogue. The worst of human nature seems to come out when meaningful communication breaks down.

or Systems that become so open that concrete actions can not be taken and evaluated. Not all roads lead to the same place. And not everyone wants to go to the same place or direction. (Kierkagaard is right at this point... All actions and choices have consequences.)

It is this part that is lacking in many human groups...From family systems to Nation States... Economic systems to Systems of belief...

The open honest pursuit of evaluation by groups is what keeps groups healthier and makes for a better learning environment.

For a good but hard read on the religous end: "The Transforming Momment: a Study of convictional Knowledge" by Dr. James Loder

Another hard read... but For a resource to think about systems and to learn how to find your way of making the world a better place that will not impose on you "A religous world view": "Children and their Families in the Social Environment" by Garbarino.

Last but not least... when approaching any faith system... get as close as you can to reading the original sources yourself. The word "Bible" means little books for example... Each little book has it's own historical context.

I like the presentation of the, "Pocket Cannons" as a simple place to explore the Bible:

I am a poet... so I enjoy what Bono says in his intro about the book of Psalms... a rich book for any poet to read... I think I will play his song 40 just for old time sake.

Currently listening :
The Best of 1980-1990
By U2
Release date: By 10 November, 1998

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Holy Week... Now which week is not that???

Current mood: thankful

For Me the Resurection of Christ reminds me that the risk of Loving and the Challenge of living is all worth it...

Here is my word of encouragement to all my friends for "Holy Week"... actually life is a gift... so it is all a miracle...

People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest person with the biggest ideas can be
shot down by the smallest person with the smallest mind.
Think big anyway.
What you spend years building may
be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack if you help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have
and you might get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you've got anyway.
- Anonymous

Friday, March 23, 2007

Madam Guyon, Suffering... and We all get to live the Book of Job

Current mood: contemplative
Category: Life

Today I was reading a book called, "Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians" by James Gilchrist Lawson.

What was striking to me is the difference on how Guyon in her time saw suffering compared to our own time. Her response was rather consistently in suffering to turn to God. I spent a good part of the day considering her response in almost every hardship was to turn with trust to God. I tend to just get angry with God when things do not work out the way I want them to...

Job seems like a trajic story. It is our story. We all will live into it. The loss of everything. Time will eat away at our lives. In Romans 8 it says that God gave the whole of our creation over to decay... So In time we will even have to pass through death's door ourselves. Not everyone gets the chance to wrestle with God. To question him about what in the world is this all about? And to hear God's answer, "These matters are to great for you to fully understand... Did you see when I did X, Y, or Z???"

The difference between many that are great in faith and the rest of us...
is their ability to say "Naked came I into this world and Naked shall I return from where I came." No of us called ourselves into exsistence. The difference is a core trust that whether in Life or Death we belong to God.

Some of us get delusional and temporarily think that we are the ultimate masters of our own fate. I do... and I find today... that this delusion is a sickness called denial that cuts me off from humility and my humanity. God have mercy on my soul -- Amen.

Madam Guyon decided that she would start an intense relationship with God before she had to go from this life to the next. I am asking myself why am I settling for less?

Currently listening :
Blessed Be Your Name the Songs of Matt Redman, Vol. 1
By Matt Redman
Release date: By 19 July, 2005