Author Archives: Dr. Larry Taylor

God is Faithful: An Audio Teaching on Romans 9-11

Both

Father’s Day or Juneteenth?

June 19, 2022

Father’s Day stirs mixed emotions. 

On the one hand, I love being a father and always had. I became one quite early – I was only 20 when Elliott was born. I have loved every phase of fatherhood. Today, I have four living children and one with God. I’m grateful for all of them. Their personalities and life trajectories are quite different from one another, but I am proud of all of them. I love it when they call me. I love their expressions of love. I love who they are.

I honor my son Josh, who is probably the best father I’ve ever met. I hope his kids recognize that. 

I also honor my own father, now passed these many years. He gave me unique gifts and insights. He was a Naval officer in WW2, an oceanographer, a marine ecologist, a university administrator, a skilled artist and woodworker/furniture maker, widely read, deeply educated, and good at most everything he did, from coaching baseball to gardening to building radios. He was quiet, introverted and deep. I miss him.

But …

I’m also very aware of the many people who had absent, abusive, neglectful, emotionally distant, or disconnected fathers. I realize that Father’s Day is painful for them, that it stirs up horrible memories in some cases and inflicts deep pain. 

So, this year, instead of Father’s Day, I celebrate a more worthy holiday – Juneteenth, African American Emancipation Day. 

Slave owners in Texas chose to ignore President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had become official January 1, 1863. Slaves in Texas had no idea that they were free until Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston on June 19, 1865 with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. 

General Granger issued “Order No. 3,” which read in part: “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.” 

President Biden made Juneteenth an official federal holiday on June 17, 2021 when he signed a bill Congress passed the previous day.

Between 1525 and 1866, 12.5 million Africans were shipped to the New World. 10.7 million survived the dreaded Middle Passage, disembarking in North America, the Caribbean and South America depriving the African continent of some of its healthiest and ablest people.

Slavery began in this country in 1619 when a privateer ship called The White Lion landed at the Jamestown Colony with 20 enslaved Africans. Throughout the 17th, 18th, and half of the 19th centuries, people stolen from Africa were forced to work land, much of which was stolen from Indigenous people. 

Enslaved women were frequently raped; obedience was rewarded, and even perceived rebelliousness was brutally punished. A strict hierarchy among the enslaved (from privileged house workers and skilled artisans down to lowly field hands) helped keep slaves divided and less likely to organize against their masters. 

Marriages between enslaved men and women had no legal basis, but many did marry and raise large families. Most owners of enslaved workers encouraged this practice because it added to their wealth. Many did not hesitate to divide families by sale or removal, however.

After emancipation, Jim Crow, black codes, red-lining, convict leasing, “war on drugs,” mass incarceration, and unabated white supremacy have prolonged oppression and inequality. No follower of Jesus can ignore that.

Yet, in spite of slavery, oppression, inequality, and racism, African Americans have given us a wealth of art, music, culture, inventions, and achievements. Most importantly, they have gifted us all with a deep spirituality and dedication to truly following the ways of Jesus. My African American friends are gifts from God to me. People like Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Harriett Tubman, Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others, are gifts to humanity.

All of us would do well to learn from them.

We Rose

From Africa’s heart, we rose

Already a people, our faces ebon, our bodies lean,

We rose

Skills of art, life, beauty and family
Crushed by forces we knew nothing of, we rose

Survive we must, we did,
We rose

We rose to be you, we rose to be me,
Above everything expected, we rose

To become the knowledge we never knew,
We rose

Dream, we did
Act we must

What then?

What if you slept? 

And what if,

In your sleep 

You dreamed? 

And what if, 

In your dream, 

You went to Heaven 

And there plucked 

A strange and 

Beautiful flower? 

And what if, 

When you awoke, 

You had the flower 

In your hand? 

Ah … what then?

(Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

Clouds

Where does the soft cloud go when it dissipates into mist?

And where does the mist go after it falls on the leaf?

A photosynthesizing factory played out, the dried leaf falls, 

But where?

Decayed now to soil, what great trees will it nourish before it washes to the sea?

Trees honed into ribs and planks, shaped into the hull of

The sloop that is sailing 

– to where?

Coves and ports until swallowed by winds and storms

That came from the hurricane, 

But where does the tempest go?

Is it, perhaps, reincarnated as a soft cloud?

Posthumous praise means nothing to the sailor

Now these many years dead in the sand

Soft white clouds drifting over his bones.

LRT June 2022

Poppa

The shoreline was covered with strange azure shells

Cast off by unknown creatures from a by-gone era

Which once thrived on reefs blanched into oblivion

By daunting forces unknown to Neptunus Rex

It was an age of cherubim swords and chariots of fire

An age of Houyhnhnms, Unicorns, and Pterodactyls

When the gods walked in gardens at dusk

And silver fragrances wafted towards golden peaks

It was a time when planets resonated in harmony,

The music of the spheres echoing

Across time and space warping into

Surreal improvised melodies

And the elder sat conversing with the eagle

While treefrogs and wrens sang together

On branches of mulberry trees laden with blossoms

And waves rhythmically pulsated with serenity

It was a time of thin places and sincere seekers

Of flaming wheels and rainbow flashes

A time when archangels bowed in humility

As colossal sequoias shared their wisdom

A time long ago when in perfect harmony

All creation heard the reverberation of

I AM THAT I AM

And responded, 

“ABBA!”

LRT June 2022

Lake Michigan

Blanketed by cool grey fog mist, a

Throbbing diesel engine driving the

Slowly rotating screws of a

Tug boat more heard than seen

Chugging towards the dredging barge

Undertaking the otiose Sisyphus task 

Of navigability, against the wishes of

Artemis and Demeter who 

Always and forever win

A gnarled cottonwood tree stands

Sentinel in the sand lifting its few

Remaining branches aloft in salute to

Ring-billed gulls circling above 

Directing one another to schools of

Salmon coming to spawn and die

In the temporarily navigable channel

Connecting lake with lake and

Coastline with coxswain 

Blue-grey gnatcatcher and warbling vireo

Mingle songs of gentle kindness in eelgrass dunes

Where deer graze and opossums feast on

Disease-laden ticks hunting like Klansmen for blood

While fascist politicians driven by racist ideology

Affix their parasitical jaws into democracy to

The applause of gun-toting triumphalists

Waving flags of oppression over those of color

While ostensively exalting the Prince of Peace  

And thus the web was broken and the strings of

Time reverberated in dissonance out of

Tune with the resonating symphony of the planets

That sing in harmonious adoration of Mystery.

Eric Garner and Gaia alike cry for breath,

Choking on the greed of those more concerned with

The unborn than with living children scratching for

Food in landfills as their huts wash to the sea

Parents soon to perish with dysentery

Nurses and nuns, aid workers and missionaries,

Médecins Sans Frontières, chaplains and deacons,

A kind old lady, the gentleman on the bench, 

The one stricken with Multiple Sclerosis, 

Salesperson and homemaker, landscaper and sanitation worker,

Quietly connect with Mystery, join the hymn of the cosmos,

Lift their lives in prayer, gird their loins, and wash feet.

The army of God knows no weapon but prayer, service, and

Nonviolent cruciform love.

Relentless, scandalous and slow

Divine love melts hearts of stone

Allowing the sweet honey of grace to

Flow across the blighted waters and lands

Thy will is done

Thy Kingdom comes

As in heaven

So on earth

Omnia Vincit Amor

LRT May 2022

Garden City

The sun rose with gentle enthusiasm after several days of cold rain,

Blowing away gray overcast skies with its golden red glow

Awakening the terns, ducks, gulls, warblers, and cormorants

Beckoning watery sheets to rise and join the skies

And there, as is so often the case, in stillness, while

Campers watch television in million-dollar full-service rigs

Safely isolated from the very nature they profess to love

And the madness of reactionary politics fades (albeit briefly)

From the mind, clearing space for memories to surface – 

Memories of childhood sails, the taste of salt, of days

Becalmed and of days pitching in great storms

Sails reefed, hiking from the gunnel, sheets

Burning hands raw to be kissed with sting of health 

By Salty Sea, which, eons ago joined in

Holy matrimony with Stardust to birth the very

Humans who, filled with prejudice and greed,

Threaten the planet’s ability to sustain life.

In the peaceful sands and waving eel-grass

It is hard to remember the wars, executions, pandemics, 

Gun violence – injustices that grieve the heart of divine love;

Each rusty call of a red-wing blackbird and 

Every lap of wave spraying its foam aloft

Is a reminder that Love is the axis of the cosmos

And Babylon will fall to make room for a Bride and her Groom

In the Garden City of Peace

May 2022

LRT

Again?

Yet Another Mass Shooting

May 25, 2022

Softly, drifting northward along the lake shore

Wispy whites and greys waved to by

The cottonwood with its arms lifted to the heavens

As glistening drops of passing rain dot the windows

And cool breezes lift waves lapping the beach

In anticipation of a time when all manner of things shall be well,

No one will study war any longer, swords to ploughshares,

Spears to pruning hooks, scrapping of ships, banning of bombs,

And Americans will care more about children than guns

Alas, alas! Hear their cry!

The blood of the innocent

Runs in rivers through the land

Babies in classrooms

Shoppers in stores

Students on campus

Elderly Baptists in prayer

Overseer’s whips

Enslaved children sold

Natives slaughtered

Wars based on lies

Just another poor boy

Choaking on pollution

While the rich get richer

And the populace bows and 

Worships it’s gun-god

Wind and rain

Waves and salmon

Ring-billed gulls and snow geese

Redstart and warbling vireo

Trees and grasses, dunes and mountains

Valleys and canyons, dippers in streams

Join the heart cries of the bereaved 

LRT

a little girl i knew

Two strikes against her when she began

Life as a Black child in poverty

Air filled with mercury from the nearby power plant

Burning coal, destroying the world and her brain 

Daddy shot and killed with impunity by a White cop

Because his old car had a taillight out and daddy

Didn’t show proper deference

Momma overwhelmed drowned her sorrows in

Alcohol and forgot she was a mother

Baby girl so hungry she ate the lead-based paint chips 

Peeling off the slumlord’s windowsill,

Cries unheeded while rats chewed off her outer ear

Brain damaged, body damaged, soul damaged,

They mocked her and called her stupid in school

Teachers said she could never learn

Destined for addiction, prostitution, abuse

Until Another came, skin black as night

Eyes shining like the stars

Breasts full of milk

Heart full of love

Temperament characterized by patience

She loved her, nursed her, sang to her, rocked her,

Soothed her, taught her, bathed her, dressed her,

And prayed over her speaking words of tender life

Until poor little Black girl became the

Mayor of the magical city of love

LRT

Home

Home

Warm milk of mercy

Graces the soft breast of

Mother-God as she

Suckles the abandoned and

Binds the heart wounds

No balm in Gilead, but

Healing unguent aplenty 

Radiates from her soft touch

As gentle voice speaks to

Name the nameless

Frescos and façades crumble

To the wails of “Death! Death!”

Screeched from the throats of

Those who forgot themselves

In order to fit in

Yet there beneath the masks

Beats the trembling heart of an

Infant whose only desire is to be

Loved as he is, for he cannot

Be otherwise

Rocking chair softly squeaks

Divine lullaby pure and clear

Fills the air as warm milk

Flows from the breasts of 

Perfect pure love  

And at last, 

All is well

LRT 2022

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