Author Archives: Joe

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces.


By Edgar Guest – 1881-1959

Gettin’ together to smile an’ rejoice,
An’ eatin’ an’ laughin’ with folks of your choice;
An’ kissin’ the girls an’ declarin’ that they
Are growin’ more beautiful day after day;
Chattin’ an’ braggin’ a bit with the men,
Buildin’ the old family circle again;
Livin’ the wholesome an’ old-fashioned cheer,
Just for awhile at the end of the year.

Greetings fly fast as we crowd through the door
And under the old roof we gather once more
Just as we did when the youngsters were small;
Mother’s a little bit grayer, that’s all.
Father’s a little bit older, but still
Ready to romp an’ to laugh with a will.
Here we are back at the table again
Tellin’ our stories as women an’ men.

Bowed are our heads for a moment in prayer;
Oh, but we’re grateful an’ glad to be there.
Home from the east land an’ home from the west,
Home with the folks that are dearest an’ best.
Out of the sham of the cities afar
We’ve come for a time to be just what we are.
Here we can talk of ourselves an’ be frank,
Forgettin’ position an’ station an’ rank.

Give me the end of the year an’ its fun
When most of the plannin’ an’ toilin’ is done;
Bring all the wanderers home to the nest,
Let me sit down with the ones I love best,
Hear the old voices still ringin’ with song,
See the old faces unblemished by wrong,
See the old table with all of its chairs
An’ I’ll put soul in my Thanksgivin’ prayers.

About the Poet

On August 20, 1881, Edgar Guest was born in Birmingham, England, to Edwin and Julia Wayne Guest. The family settled in Detroit, Michigan, in 1891. When Edwin lost his job in 1893, eleven-year-old Edgar between working odd jobs after school. In 1895 he was hired as a copy boy for the Detroit Free Press, where he would work for almost sixty-five years. His father died when the poet was seventeen, and Guest was forced to drop out of high school and work full time at the newspaper. He worked his way up from a copy boy to a job in the news department. His first poem appeared on December 11, 1898. His weekly column, “Chaff,” first appeared in 1904; his topical verses eventually became the daily “Breakfast Table Chat,” which was syndicated to over three-hundred newspapers throughout the United States.

Guest married Nellie Crossman in 1906. The couple had three children. His brother Harry printed his first two books, Home Rhymes and Just Glad Things, in small editions. His verse quickly found an audience and the Chicago firm of Reilly and Britton began to publish his books at a rate of nearly one per year. His collections include Just Folks(1917), Over Here (1918), When Day Is Done (1921), The Passing Throng (1923), Harbor Lights of Home (1928), and Today and Tomorrow (1942).

From 1931 to 1942, Guest broadcast a weekly program on NBC radio. In 1951, “A Guest in Your Home” appeared on NBC TV. He published more than twenty volumes of poetry and was thought to have written over 11,000 poems. Guest has been called “the poet of the people.” Most often, his poems were fourteen lines long and presented a deeply sentimental view of everyday life. He considered himself “a newspaper man who wrote verses.” Of his poem he said, “I take simple everyday things that happen to me and I figure it happens to a lot of other people and I make simple rhymes out of them.” His Collected Verse appeared in 1934 and went into at least eleven editions. Edgar Guest died on August 5, 1959.

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I’m not really in the mood to write much today. Yesterday was a rough day. I am very worried about a friend of mine who I haven’t heard from in several day. I haven’t been able to get in touch with him, and I’m just afraid something has happened. All I can do at the moment is pray that he’s okay. I tried every way I could to get in touch, but to no avail. Please say a prayer that my friend is fine but just not able to respond for some unknown reason.

UPDATE: I finally heard from my friend. He’s safe and sound. 

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What Would Jesus Not Do?

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

— Mark 10:45

I think we all have heard “What would Jesus do?” or WWJD as the bracelets that were popular when I was in high school said. I recently read a quote from the novel Choke by Chuck Palahniuk, in which he writes, “Just keep asking yourself: What would Jesus not do?” Choke itself seems like an odd book (and was made into what sounds like an odd movie), but it is from the same guy who wrote Fight Club, so take that for what it’s worth. However, the quote had me thinking about what it said.

The phrase “What would Jesus do?” comes from Charles Sheldon’s 1896 book In His Steps was subtitled “What Would Jesus Do?” Many years before Sheldon, the Catholic Church emphasized the concept of Imitatio Christi (imitation of Christ), which is summarized well in the English phrase “What Would Jesus Do?” In Sheldon’s popular novel (it had been translated into 21 languages by 1935), Rev. Henry Maxwell encounters a homeless man who challenges him to take seriously the imitation of Christ. The homeless man has difficulty understanding why, in his view, so many Christians ignore the poor:

I heard some people singing at a church prayer meeting the other night,

“All for Jesus, all for Jesus,

All my being’s ransomed powers,

All my thoughts, and all my doings,

All my days, and all my hours.”

and I kept wondering as I sat on the steps outside just what they meant by it. It seems to me there’s an awful lot of trouble in the world that somehow wouldn’t exist if all the people who sing such songs went and lived them out. I suppose I don’t understand. But what would Jesus do? Is that what you mean by following His steps? It seems to me sometimes as if the people in the big churches had good clothes and nice houses to live in, and money to spend for luxuries, and could go away on summer vacations and all that, while the people outside the churches, thousands of them, I mean, die in tenements, and walk the streets for jobs, and never have a piano or a picture in the house, and grow up in misery and drunkenness and sin.”

This leads to many of the novel’s characters asking, “What would Jesus do?” when faced with decisions of some importance. This has the effect of making the characters embrace Christianity more seriously and to focus on what they see as its core — the life of Christ.

It’s one thing to base your decisions on what Jesus would do in the situation, but “What would Jesus not do?” is also an interesting concept. It’s the same phrase just in its prohibitive (negative) form. It’s all well and good to ask yourself what Jesus would do, but have you ever considered what Jesus would not do? Consider this for the moment, Jesus was known to help the poor and downtrodden when no one else would. Growing up in the Church of Christ, we were taught that if it wasn’t in the Bible then we shouldn’t’ do it. A prime example of this is that musical instruments are not mentioned in the New Testament, so we do not use musical instruments in our churches. All singing is done a cappella. So, asking “What would Jesus not do?” would not be part of the Church of Christ theology. However, I stray from that theology sometimes, though at the heart, I follow the basic tenet of having the New Testament as my guide and not adding to what is not there.

If you look at much of Christianity today, it is very easy to ask, “What would Jesus not do?” In too many churches, we see hatred and prejudice. We see theology that has no basis in the teachings of Christ. We see churches picking and choosing what they want to follow and making up the rules as they go along to justify their warped religious and political ideology. So, what would Jesus not do? First of all, he would not turn his back on anyone because of their sexuality or race. He would not sit idly by and allow the hypocrites to dictate His teachings while breaking everything He has taught. He would not allow modern Pharisees to butcher a religion in His name. He would not ignore the poor or downtrodden. He would not seek revenge on those who wronged him. He would not profit from His teachings or use the church to make himself rich. He would not take ideas that are nowhere in the Bible in order to harm or subjugate women, minorities, or the LGBTQ+ community. He would not condemn someone because they had a problem with drugs, alcohol, or gambling. Jesus would not hide the pedophiles and rapists that we hear about all the time in both Protestant and Catholic churches. There is a lot that Jesus would not do.

Think about the churches today. Too many of them are doing things that Jesus would not do. Too many churches are not welcoming or open to those they perceive to be immoral or against their teachings. They fear truth and intelligence. Jesus would never do this. Jesus would want us to be accepting of all people, to work every day for the betterment of humanity and the earth, and to live by His example, not by the example of men who have twisted His words for their own perversion.

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Moment of Zen: A Good Pillow

I think we can all appreciate a good pillow for a restful night’s sleep. A soft, fluffy pillow is sometimes the only way I can fall asleep when I have a really bad migraine.

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Hanging in there!

Rough Day

I came home from work yesterday at 11 am because I had a major migraine. I had wondered if my migraines would still be triggered by weather when we were getting snow instead of rain. Apparently, they will be. We got more snow last night. 

It was also a rough day because I was feeling depressed. It’s probably because of a number of factors, but mostly, this new migraine medication doesn’t seem to be helping much at all. It’s so disheartening because I feel like I’ll never find anything that will work. I haven’t found anything that will conquer them in nearly 45 years, but I hold out hope that the headache clinic won’t give up on trying to find a solution.

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