Tag Archives: United States

A Song for New Year’s Eve

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A Song for New Year’s Eve
William Cullen Bryant

Stay yet, my friends, a moment stay—
Stay till the good old year,
So long companion of our way,
Shakes hands, and leaves us here.
Oh stay, oh stay,
One little hour, and then away.
The year, whose hopes were high and strong,
Has now no hopes to wake;
Yet one hour more of jest and song
For his familiar sake.
Oh stay, oh stay,
One mirthful hour, and then away.
The kindly year, his liberal hands
Have lavished all his store.
And shall we turn from where he stands,
Because he gives no more?
Oh stay, oh stay,
One grateful hour, and then away.
Days brightly came and calmly went,
While yet he was our guest;
How cheerfully the week was spent!
How sweet the seventh day’s rest!
Oh stay, oh stay,
One golden hour, and then away.
Dear friends were with us, some who sleep
Beneath the coffin-lid:
What pleasant memories we keep
Of all they said and did!
Oh stay, oh stay,
One tender hour, and then away.
Even while we sing, he smiles his last,
And leaves our sphere behind.
The good old year is with the past;
Oh be the new as kind!
Oh stay, oh stay,
One parting strain, and then away.


Moment of Zen: Cuddle Time

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Y’all know how much I love HRH. She stayed groggy from the medication much longer than I expected, but she seems to be doing better. Now I just have to get her to eat. One of our favorite things is our cuddle time together. I found this picture particularly perfect since it was a cute guy with a cat and an ohm symbol tattoo (very zen!).

I’ve always said that I’d get an ohm tattoo if I ever got one. I just don’t know where it would be.


In the Spirit of Christmas

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As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”

So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Romans 14: 1-12

This may sound odd, mainly because I love Christmas, but most members of the church of Christ do not celebrate Christmas as a truly religious holiday. Since the bible does not give us a specific time to celebrate the birth of Christ, we celebrate it everyday of the year. My family has always celebrated Christmas though, and it’s always been a special time of year for us.

We’ve always seen it as a good thing to observe Christmas day. The mere marking of times and seasons, when men and women agree to stop work, spend time together, and celebrate the joys of giving, is a wise and wholesome custom. It helps one to feel the supremacy of the common life over the individual life. It reminds us of the joy that surrounds us.

But there is a better thing than the observance of Christmas day, and that is, keeping the spirit of Christmas.

Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people, and to remember what other people have done for you? Are you willing to ignore what the world owes you, and to think what you owe the world? Are you willing to put your rights in the background, and your duties in the middle distance, and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground? Are you willing to see that your fellow-men are just as real as you are, and try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy? Are you willing to realize that probably the reason for your existence is not what you are going to get out of life, but what you are going to give to life? Are you willing to close your book of complaints against the management of the universe, and look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness? Are you willing to put aside your judgement of your fellow man, and realize that God does not wish us to judge one another? Are you willing to do these things even for a day? Then you can keep the spirit of Christmas.

Are you willing to consider the needs and the desires of of humankind young and old? Are you willing to stop asking how much your friends love you, and ask yourself whether you love them enough? Are you willing to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear on their hearts? Are you willing to do these things even for a day? Then you can keep the spirit of Christmas.

Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world–stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death–and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love? Then you can keep the spirit of Christmas.

And if you keep the spirit of Christmas for a day, why not always? We should open our hearts and minds to all of humankind and be blessed that we are on this earth another day. We should celebrate the love that Jesus Christ brought us each and every day of our lives, not just on December 25. I had planned to expand my post from Friday and discuss more about those who pass judgement on the LGBT community, but I chose to focus on the good that we can do as people. There will always be those who pass judgement on us, but as the passage above states, they will be held accountable for their actions.

At Christmastime we should rejoice and love our fellow man, whether he or she loves us or not. We need to be the better people, for as the angels declared to the shepherds who were watching their flock outside of Bethlehem:

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Luke 2:14


Winter Is Here…

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I think it’s finally decided to get cold for a little while here in South Alabama. For the next few weeks, the temperature is not expected to rise above the low 60s with lows in the low 30s. I have one friend who would say, “Quit your bitchin’!” But then again he lives in the frigid north. To be honest though, I am not complaining. I love the cooler weather. I have three reasons to enjoy cooler weather. First, I prefer winter clothes to summer clothes, because I usually wear long-sleeved dress shirts to work. Second, you can walk outside without breaking an immediate sweat (It was in the mid to upper 80s just a few days ago). Third, it doesn’t get too cold here in the winter, so it’s never that bad. It could be worse. The high could be -3 degrees as it was for my friend up north.

I used to have a teacher in high school who would always say, “I love cold weather. You can always put on enough clothes to be warm, but legally, you can’t take off enough clothes to be cool when it’s hot and humid.” Unless I have a pool to swim in, I do not like the very hot and humid summers here in Alabama.

I’m hoping it will at least stay fairly cool through New Years, but Alabama winters can be quite unpredictable. I’ve known more than a few Christmases and New Years to be quite warm and short sleeve weather. I never have liked warm Christmases. I prefer a cold Christmas so that you can gather around a warm fire.

So I am going to pose a question for you guys: Do you prefer cold weather or hot weather? Why?


Political Negativity

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Yesterday, I spoke about negative attitudes toward religion. Today, I want to address the negative attitudes toward politics. Quite frankly, I have a negative attitude when it comes to politics. I have a quite simple reason for this: politicians are negative people.

Politicians love to tell people what they are against, but they rarely ever tell constituents what they are for. When they do tell people what they are “for,”. It’s generally a prohibition or a cut. They never seem to tell us, “I am for….” Instead, they tell us, “I am against….”

The political cartoon above is a prime example. (Thank you Sean for posting this on your blog Just a Jeep Guy.) Though it shows the negativity of Republicans, it could just as easily be any other political party in United States. The Democrats are not immune to negativity. It’s too often the role of the minority party to be the most negative.

I have been discussing political parties a lot in my civics and government classes the past few weeks. When you teach about a political party’s platform, and you list the many things that political parties are against, students will often ask, “What is the party in favor of?” When you say that they are for cuts in Medicare, food stamps, subsidies for farmers, keeping the minimum wage as is, etc., the smart kids in the class will ask, “Aren’t those all negatives as well?”

When I teach politics, I do my best to remain neutral. It’s the most difficult thing I have to do as a teacher, but I do my research so that I can present both sides of an issue. I believe in teaching my students that they should be informed citizens. If one is well versed in the issues and researches the politicians, then they are likely to be an informed voter.

I know that I am one voice among millions, but shouldn’t we take a more positive attitude in life and hold our politicians accountable for being more positive. If politicians only tell us what they are not going to do, then how do we know what they will do. Politics in the United States has become so negative about what they will not do that our Congress is in a constant state of deadlock. Isn’t it time we tell our politicians to be more optimistic.

I honestly believe that optimism can be contagious. Considering that most people dread Mondays, what better day to start with an optimistic view for the week. Let your optimism spread and maybe by New Years will be a more optimistic place.


Moment of Zen: Boxers

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I love a good comfortable pair of boxers, though I’m not one to ask “Are you a boxers or briefs guy?” Because it will be according to how I was feeling when I picked out my underwear that morning. However, I know this one, very wonderful, guy who loves to see a guy in his boxers (especially those from American Eagle), which I do as well. Anyway, I decided to do this post as a thank you for our friendship. This post is for him. I hope y’all will like it as well.

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Mending Wall

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Mending Wall
by Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’

The image at the heart of “Mending Wall” is arresting: two men meeting on terms of civility and neighborliness to build a barrier between them. They do so out of tradition, out of habit. The poem seems to meditate conventionally on three grand themes: barrier-building (segregation, in the broadest sense of the word), the doomed nature of this enterprise, and our persistence in this activity regardless. But, as we so often see when we look closely at Frost’s best poems, what begins in folksy straightforwardness ends in complex ambiguity. The speaker would have us believe that there are two types of people: those who stubbornly insist on building superfluous walls (with clichés as their justification) and those who would dispense with this practice—wall-builders and wall-breakers. But are these impulses so easily separable? And what does the poem really say about the necessity of boundaries?

Frost’s poem is often listed as one of the great friendship poems, and I believe it speaks wonderfully of some of the intricacies of friendships. I have wonderful friends close to home and some who live far away from me and are part of my camaraderie of cyber friends. My friends closer to home are those I went to school with, work with, or met through family or acquaintances. All of my blog friends, who by the way mean as much to me as my friends who live nearby, live in far away places (with one or two exceptions). I think though that with all friendships we build walls. Just as the speaker in “Mending Wall” asks why we need the wall, I too ask why we need the walls. I don’t know that I have an answer for that, but I think I might have an idea. I know there are certain things in real life that I don’t share with my friends. Different friends I will reveal different things to. It’s not that I’m lying to them, at least I don’t see it that way, but it is because different friends share different parts of my life. Most of my friends know that I a gay, but not all of them. Why don’t I tell them? I really don’t know, but part of it is that the subject never came up. They may or may not know or may think they do know, but it really doesn’t matter to me. It is really not my defining characteristic, so why should it matter.

Yet, I am very honest about myself within the context of my blog. A lot of that has to do with the anonymity of writing a blog. Some people know me personally who read my blog. I am very honest and open with those people. I trust them to be open and honest with me and many of them are. Some have become my greatest friends, and they know who I am talking about. I love them dearly, and I hope they know it. Others I’m just getting to know. I feel as if I can often be more honest with them, but are their still walls involved? Of course there are, usually that wall is the great distance between us, but I still endeavor to be completely honest with them. Some may get to know me and not like my honesty or some other aspect about me. When that happens, I rarely know what it is, even though I wish I did know. If I knew what I said or did I might could mend things. Then again, I might just have a fundamental flaw that they see that I don’t, but I would lie, to fix it if possible. Sometimes, I just want to know what changed so suddenly in the friendship, but that wall is there and my southern upbringing taught me that it is rude to be impolite. The walls are around us, and I know that we don’t need them, just as the speaker in this poem states. Yet, you still have to wonder, do “Good fences make good neighbors”?

Hell, I think I got off the subject here, yet I chose this poem to speak about friendships. I do love the poems of Robert Frost. “Mending Wall” is one of my favorites. I can’t wait until we get to Frost’s poetry in the American Literature class that I teach. I have always enjoyed teaching the poets.

I want to add one more poem to end this post. It is also from a favorite poet of mine and it speaks for itself.

Dear Friends
by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Dear friends, reproach me not for what I do,
Nor counsel me, nor pity me; nor say
That I am wearing half my life away
For bubble-work that only fools pursue.
And if my bubbles be too small for you,
Blow bigger then your own: the games we play
To fill the frittered minutes of a day,
Good glasses are to read the spirit through.

And whoso reads may get him some shrewd skill;
And some unprofitable scorn resign,
To praise the very thing that he deplores;
So, friends (dear friends), remember, if you will,
The shame I win for singing is all mine,
The gold I miss for dreaming is all yours.


Moment of Zen: Alone Time

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I love being around other people. I’m usually a very social person, that is as long as I know the people I’m with (otherwise, I can be quite shy). But sometimes, and I suspect we are all a little like this, I enjoy being alone. Yes, one of my most fervent wishes is to find a man with whom to spend the rest of my life, but I will still most likely enjoy some alone time. Sometimes, that alone time can be quite wonderful and relaxing. I was enjoying such a moment of alone time the other day, when I was inspired to write this post. This may be a bit more risqué than my usual “Moment of Zen,” but since it’s my birthday today, I decided to indulge myself in a more seductive moment.

Now this would certainly be better with some one else, but that’s another scenario. I was lying in a bubble bath, when this began to consume my thoughts, but it could have also, just as easily, been while lying lazily in bed. It’s that moment when you are alone. It may be peacefully quiet, or soft music could be playing. It really doesn’t matter, but it is whatever gets you in your most relaxed state. For me, I was taking a bubble bath, something I love, but rarely do.

I began to think of a certain beautiful young man, and since I was naked, my hand drifted to my penis. This was not a moment that I was intent to bring myself to orgasm, but to merely fondle myself. I began to gently run my fingers around my balls and up my shaft, slowly allowing the blood to rush to the now attentive appendage. I never fully grasped the shaft, but gently used my fingers to stroke my member to its full tumescence. Once fully aroused, I was completely relaxed and began to slowly stroke myself, moving up and down. Occasionally, I would linger around the head, lightly running a finger around, sometimes paying a little more attention to the sensitive underside, before working my way back down. I then took my balls in my hand and gently rolled them around, tugging them lightly before moving back up the shaft.

On lazy days, this is one of my favorite things to do, whether I’m slick with soap in the bath or using some lubricant while lying in bed. It’s a great way to relax. Often, when lying in bed at night, especially after a tiring day, I love to do this. When I’m really tired, I know I don’t want to have to deal with the clean-up after orgasm, so this is a great way to release tension. Just a teasingly slow solo activity that lulls me to sleep. When I do this at night before I fall asleep, I usually dream peacefully of carnal pleasures and awaken with that glorious male event known as morning wood. Taking care of that to a climax is a wonderful way to wake up and get your day started. It’s made even better by the more intense orgasm that results from the leisurely, anticipatory, but non-climactic events of the previous night.


Thanksgiving Poems

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The time has come again to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States. As children, we are taught the story of “the first Thanksgiving.” We are told about the Pilgrim settlers who came together with their Native American neighbors. They shared with each other the bountiful harvests that they had reaped. Tables were filled with favorite dishes from the “new world” (North America) and the “old world” (Europe). It is a heart warming story, and it provides the plot for some really good plays at elementary schools across the country.

Sometimes it is easy to forget what holidays really mean, and just as easy to take them for granted. It is easy to forget that the word “holiday” itself is simply a contraction of the words “Holy Days.” When we acknowledge that holidays are Holy, the Thanksgiving Holy Day can become more special to us as Christians. May we be ever mindful that the thanks offered on Thanksgiving are thanks offered to God.

It is also easy to view holidays only as they affect ourselves. One of this week’s two poems is actually a hymn that can be a lesson in broadening our appreciation for holidays. This hymn, which Americans often associate with their own celebration of Thanksgiving and sing in their Thanksgiving plays, was a Prayer of Thanksgiving brought to the “New World” in the early 1600s by Dutch settlers–not by Pilgrims. It was translated to English centuries later by Theodore Baker (1851-1934).

Thanksgiving is not simply an American holiday. Rather, the American holiday is simply one way to recognize a Holy Day that is acknowledged in the Dutch Prayer of Thanksgiving–a prayer that existed before any Pilgrims celebrated with the Indians. Before that, Hebrew prayers of thanksgiving appeared in the Psalms and other places in the Bible. Indeed, the sacrifices that Able offered to God in Genesis are proof that worshiping and giving thanks to God extends all the way back to the very first family in the scriptures.

Read the words of this week’s featured hymn prayerfully, remembering the blessings that we enjoy every day as people of God in all of the world and in all generations.

We Gather Together
Words by Nederlandtsch Gedencklanck;
trans. by Theodore Baker

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
he chastens and hastens his will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to his name, he forgets not his own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
ordaining, maintaining his kingdom divine;
so from the beginning the fight we were winning;
thou, Lord, wast at our side, all glory be thine!

We all do extol thee, thou leader triumphant,
and pray that thou still our defender wilt be.
Let thy congregation escape tribulation;
thy name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

When we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the United States, we usually think of the Pilgrims and the Indians eating a meal to thank God for helping them survive their first year in America, and to thank the Indians for their help in adapting to these new surroundings. Therefore, I wanted to include this week a poem that was translated from a traditional Iroquois prayer of thanksgiving. The Native Americans saw the near complete destruction of their lives when Europeans settled the Americas, and I think we should honor them as well during this week of Thanksgiving.

The Thanksgivings
By Harriet Maxwell Converse

Translated from a traditional Iroquois prayer

We who are here present thank the Great Spirit that we are here
to praise Him.
We thank Him that He has created men and women, and ordered
that these beings shall always be living to multiply the earth.
We thank Him for making the earth and giving these beings its products
to live on.
We thank Him for the water that comes out of the earth and runs
for our lands.
We thank Him for all the animals on the earth.
We thank Him for certain timbers that grow and have fluids coming
from them for us all.
We thank Him for the branches of the trees that grow shadows
for our shelter.
We thank Him for the beings that come from the west, the thunder
and lightning that water the earth.
We thank Him for the light which we call our oldest brother, the sun
that works for our good.
We thank Him for all the fruits that grow on the trees and vines.
We thank Him for his goodness in making the forests, and thank
all its trees.
We thank Him for the darkness that gives us rest, and for the kind Being
of the darkness that gives us light, the moon.
We thank Him for the bright spots in the skies that give us signs,
the stars.
We give Him thanks for our supporters, who had charge of our harvests.
We give thanks that the voice of the Great Spirit can still be heard
through the words of Ga-ne-o-di-o.
We thank the Great Spirit that we have the privilege of this pleasant
occasion.
We give thanks for the persons who can sing the Great Spirit’s music,
and hope they will be privileged to continue in his faith.
We thank the Great Spirit for all the persons who perform the ceremonies


Thanksgiving Vacation

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I am off this entire week for Thanksgiving and HRH are going to take full advantage of my warm bed and sleep in a little today.


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