A Blue Jay & The Next Governor

I'M RELUCTANT TO DO THIS because my track record isn’t good, but  I’m so strongly convinced that this is the best thing.

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My late 1960s psuedo-hippyness had an element of political activism, so I campaigned for George McGovern in the 1972 presidential race. He was soundly defeated by Nixon of all people. And thus began my path to cynicism.

A couple of years later, I campaigned for David Boren for governor of Oklahoma. I had known him at OBU where I was a student and he was a professor. He won!

Standing on that success in Oklahoma gubernatorial elections (although my recent efforts to elect anyone other than Mary Fallin failed), I am making this official announcement:

I am willing and happy to meddle, collude, or whatever it takes to get out the word that MICK Cornett is the best choice for our next governor.

The Republican primary is June 26. Here is the lineup:

Christopher Barnett
Mick Cornett, mayor of Oklahoma City
Dan Fisher, former state representative
Eric Foutch
Barry Gowdy
Gary Jones, state auditor
Todd Lamb, lieutenant governor
Gary Richardson
Blake Cowboy Stephens
Kevin Stitt

I don't know any of these guys personally, but I'm sure they are fine persons of conviction. Best I can tell they all exude conservatism, espouse “family values”, exalt religion, want to expunge state government of excrement, and hold the keys to making Oklahoma great again.

You know how, from time to time, there doesn't seem to be a candidate to be excited about, how sometimes it comes down to a choice between the lesser of two evils? This time around, we Okies are so fortunate to have a proven leader to vote for. How cool would it be to have the best governor in the land rather than the... well... not best?! Check this out:

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett is the nation’s most successful Republican Mayor.  He recently completed his one-year term as President of the United States Conference of Mayors and is the longest-serving mayor among the nation’s 50 largest cities. A thoughtful leader in American politics, Cornett was named Governing Magazine’s “Public Official of the Year,” one of Newsweek’s “five most innovative mayors,” and one of Politico’s 50 “thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics”. He was recently named one of Fortune Magazine’s “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.” — www.mick2018.com

I encourage you to watch Mick’s Ted Talk to get an idea of his heart, his innovative genius, his vision as a leader.

Let me tell you what I really like about him. He’s smart, he’s humble, he’s real and unlike most politicians, he actually makes good things happen. But the thing I like most is: he is genuine. 

Years ago, I took our oldest son who was ten at the time to Arlington, Texas for an afternoon game. The Rangers were playing the Toronto Blue Jays. We got to the stadium as soon as they opened the gates because Corey was hoping to get his baseball autographed by Nolan Ryan who was pitching that day. The game had the potential to be momentous. Ryan was one no-hitter away from the record of most no-hitters. 

Corey and I were standing near the Rangers dug out with other autograph seekers, most of whom were very aggressive in seeking autographs. The Rangers players were staying away like we had the plague. An Oklahoma City TV station was on hand to record the no-hitter if it happened. The sportscaster on duty was a young Mick Cornett. Mick came over to Corey and asked him if he would be okay with a Joe Carter autograph. Corey said, “SURE!!!” 

In a few minutes here came Mick with Toronto Blue Jays’ Joe Carter (who is from Oklahoma by the way). Joe smiled at Corey and autographed his ball and made his day. I was a grateful dad to Mick and Joe.

By the way, in the top of the first inning, Ryan struck out the first two batters. The crowd was chanting “no-hitter, no-hitter” as Joe Carter stepped to the plate. Swinging on the first pitch, he hit the ball over the left-center field fence for a home run. The crowd moaned. Corey looked at his ball with Joe’s autograph and smiled. Thank you Mick Cornett.

I have a conundrum. I can’t vote for Mick in the upcoming primary. While I am a lifetime Okie and a registered voter, I have a “D” on my voter registration card, and one must have an “R” to vote. If you have an R, I would appreciate it if you’ll help me out and vote for Mick in the primary, I promise to vote for him in the general election instead of whichever “D” happens to be on the ballot.

It is so rare these days to have a candidate who has proven they can lead above the political fray and serve so well. Please vote for Mick!

 mick2018  (used without permission)

mick2018  (used without permission)

Road Questions

ONE OF THE THINGS ABOUT TRAVELING IN AN AIRSTREAM—people want to ask you about traveling in an Airstream. For people like My Amazing-Missus this is all fine and dandy. She genuinely enjoys visiting with others and they with her. Me too; on a case-by-case basis.

 airstreaming in red rock canyon state park, hinton, oklahoma

airstreaming in red rock canyon state park, hinton, oklahoma

Recently we were camped in a beautiful park on a beautiful day. I looked outside and no one was around. So, I decided to lubricate the gaskets around the Airstream’s windows. A car pulled up and a gentleman got out. I’m guessing he was a bit older than me. He started with the most oft-asked questions of the Airstream-curious:

1.) Are they still making these?
2.) How long is this? (Remind me to tell you that joke I made up in the category of “does size matter?”)
3.) How much does something like this cost (if you don’t mind me asking)?

He looked familiar. Turns out we were acquaintances years ago. I had heard that his lovely wife had been diagnosed with dementia and is now in a nursing home.

He told me that years ago the two of them had dreamed of having an Airstream and seeing the country. That’s why he had stopped to take a look at ours—just to reminisce a bit.

He asked if we were traveling full-time. I told him not yet, that I was still working. He said, “Go to work Monday and tell them you’re retiring. Don’t delay. You never know what tomorrow holds.”

Is this a sign, I wondered. Is he a prophet of some kind?

It’s not like we’re just sitting around. We’re out there. Seeing the sights. Seeking adventure. I’ve taken the sage wisdom of Ferris Bueller to heart:

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. (from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)

Remember that girl, the one from the Beatle’s song: “She was a day tripper, a Sunday driver yeah…”

For now we’re day trippers; long weekend trippers at best. But we’re moving, we’re going, so we can stop. and look around.

Remember that guy, the one from the Beatle’s song, the one they called the “nowhere man”? Funny thing. I used to see him as a sad, aimless, clueless, hopeless shell of a person. But now I feel like I sort of get him.

He's a real nowhere man
Sitting in his nowhere land
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody
Doesn't have a point of view
Knows not where he's going to
Isn't he a bit like you and me?
Nowhere man please listen
You don't know what you're missing
Nowhere man, The world is at your command
He's as blind as he can be
Just sees what he wants to see
Nowhere man, can you see me at all?

Maybe he is a bit like you and me.

Oh yeah, my joke. An old guy and his Amazing-Missus walk in to an Airstream dealer.
Walt (the rv sales guy): How can I be of assistance to you folks today?
Me: We’re thinking of buying an Airstream.
Walt: Great plan! How long do you want it?
Me: A long time. We’re planning on traveling across the country and back again.

I'm With Her

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REMEMBER THAT SONG BY THE NEW SEEKERS? The one the Coca-Cola® marketing department borrowed and mashed up with their own theme song? It seemed so hip in ’71, now it looks like maybe their coke bottles could have been filled with “Kool-Aid”. No wonder the Greatest Generation thought the Baby Boomers were all going to march off the cliff together.

I'd like to buy the world a home
And furnish it with love
Grow apple trees and honey bees
And snow white turtle doves

I'd like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I'd like to hold it in my arms
And keep it company


Let’s dial back the idealism for a minute; forget about the apple trees, honey bees and snow white turtle doves. Let’s just shoot for a bit of harmony, even if it’s not pitch perfect. 

Before we can talk about metaphorical harmony, we need to spend some time listening to the magical, musical world of real harmony. Let me suggest:

Pentatonix: “Can’t Help Falling In Love”
The Beach Boys: “In My Room” and “Good Vibrations”
The Beatles: “Because” and “Nowhere Man”
The Everly Brothers: “All I Have To Do is Dream”
Crosby, Stills & Nash: “Helplessly Hoping” and “Suite Judy Blue Eyes”
Simon and Garfunkel: “The Sounds of Silence”

I want to give a shout out to my main music sage, Gene “Pops” Chapman. The musical tastes of Gene and myself are in near-perfect harmony, so whenever he makes a recommendation like the one to check out this all-girl trio, I did and was amazed. Click and listen to the NPR Tiny Desk Concert of “I’m With Her”.

Now, can we draw some lessons from the beauty of musical harmonies and apply them to our worlds and the world? Here are a few thoughts I’ve had: 

You must have at least one other person to harmonize with, am I right? Sure soloing is great sometimes, but we’re talking harmonies here. All of the people in the group have to sing the same song for a few minutes at least. They have to sing in the same key and at the same tempo. The notes though, while different, the common notes of the correct chord, have to be present. This is the magic. It’s as simple as one note and the note a third above it and maybe the fifth, and somehow it just seems right, and rich. There is a peace to it all, you can sense the beauty of the divine design of it. 

Unfortunately, today, at times at least, it seems people only know one note, and even if they know more, they just want to sing their one note, really loud. I’m that way sometimes. There are some people I just don’t seem to be able to harmonize with and others I have no interest in harmonizing with. I don’t like the song they’re singing. Usually my song is better (or so I think). 

When you watch a really good vocal duet or ensemble singing in tight harmony it’s sublime. They are synched and connected. And, at the end of a song, there is, at least for me, a sense of purpose, of completion, something worthwhile that makes us all better for having been there.

Sometimes though, singing or playing in unison can be harmonius. Yesterday for example, one of our Grand-Girls, Harper, and two of her friends comprised a cello trio. They sang and played “Jesus Loves Me” in “big church”. There was no harmony, yet there was nearly perfect harmony among the three. You could see it in their six year-old silliness before the service started, in their total trust and dependence on their teacher, and in their common mission. Banded together, there was no stagefright or limelight. Just harmony in unison.

Not to say there isn’t a place for occasional dissonance. This is where I often come in—sometimes intentionally, sometimes accidentally. 

One thing about dissonance: it is so sweet when it resolves, steps back into harmony, and even still amazing when it doesn’t. Listen to “Strawberry Fields Forever” by The Beatles. Click this and watch if you want to geek-out on all of this.

One more thing: Watch this video. It’s two sisters from Stockholm, Sweden, singing together a song they wrote, a song about having someone to sing with like Emmylou and Gram Parsons singing “Love Hurts” or Johnny and June singing “If I Were A Carpenter”.

Be Still and March

IT WAS MONUMENTAL. Can we all agree on that? I would even go so far as to say it was momentous.

I wish we could separate the event from the issues that prompted it for just a minute. Of course that’s not possbile; the matter is too emotionally charged.

As if providentially, my watch just pinged, reminding me it’s time to take a few deep breaths. Seriously. Join me. Deep inhale… Exhale. Six more. My watch now tells me my heartrate is at 61 BPM. That’s down from 318 when I started writing this after spending a few minutes on Facebook.

Why does a love for the First Amendment mean you want the Second stricken and vice versa? I love them both. I am happy we have both, and the others as well. I wouldn’t go as far as I heard one citizen opine: “I think the president should switch them and make the Second Amendment number 1, because without guns we wouldn’t have any other freedoms.” But, he has the freedom to say it.

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For me and for this essay, I just want to celebrate the essence of the "March for Our Lives" for a few minutes and words. The “essence”?

Sometimes the most wonderful outcomes of something like this are things that were unexpected and unintended. I worked with teenagers for more than 30 years, and I have to say that any time you can get them to raise their eyes from their smartphones, open their ears and pay attention, something good can happen. It’s an opportunity to awaken a bit, to march on from apathy, narcissism and naivete´.

When you make a poster, join the march, become a part of the conversation, you begin to form a worldview and to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Maybe you take a giant step up Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs from safety and security needs, to belonging needs, to esteem needs, to self-actualization.

I know this from intimate experience of working with hundreds of teens and from my own personal experience.

Similar to the highly charged arguments of the day that fill our common air like so much smog, the causes I marched for and against in my day were equally divisive and misunderstood. I wrote about it in a post a few years back. Here’s a snippet:

The Kent State shootings occurred at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. The Ohio National Guard fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds on unarmed college students on Monday, May 4, 1970, killing four students and wounding nine others.

As a result, student protests were organized across the country. Hundreds of universities cancelled classes and locked down buildings. I was proud to be a part of the event at OBU. But as we sat through the day and overnight on the OBU Oval, wearing black arm bands, discussing the state of our country and world, and wondering whether we could make a difference, it all seemed a little silly and isolated. Maybe we did make some difference though. At least I was different. I wanted to DO something. I still do.

Don't skip this part. Back then, no doubt I had delusions of importance and occasional altruism. The fact is I was pretty self-absorbed; oh, not in a Justin Bieber brand of narcissism kind of way, but in a way that dictates at least this: for all of those who knew me back then, please forgive me. Maybe the Washington Elite was right--maybe I was too stupid to vote at 18. The dean of students who encouraged me not to return to OBU for my sophomore year certainly would agree with that.

My intent here is not to romanticize those days, but if I have, well... After all this was my first Coming-of-Age. It should be a bit romantic, right?


There was a recurring experience in youth ministry that I dreaded and hated. I still do. It is the experience of seeing the passion and enthusiasm of youth crushed or belittled. Let me try to explain with a couple of examples:

Every summer I would return home from summer camp with a group of students recommitted and energized to make a difference. I knew that soon they would be met with an indifference that would suck the wind from their sails. There would be patronization and diminishment and “reality”.

Another example. Numerous times in my years of youth ministry there would be a young woman with a strong sense of calling to leadership in the church. I knew full-well that the predominate attitude among baptists was that the role of women was to be a submissive wife to their husband—not a leader in the church. I hated the moment when they this ugly fact would become real for them.

When you pat an energized young person on the head and dismiss them, you plant a seed of cynicism, hopefully seeds of determination and vision will grow strong and choke those out.

You may see their efforts as being misguided, even dangerous, but I am telling you there is value in the experience for them. And who knows, maybe they will survive, get in line, register to vote and fight for a more acceptable cause someday. 

Look at me: I’m still a rebellious liberal, but I’m a functional liberal. And while I love the First Amendment and the Second, and the rest, I believe there is a higher calling, a higher freedom than any a govenment can legislate. It goes something like this:

Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God. --from the Bible, Micah 6:8, sort of.

I could write that on a poster and march around the capital, the courthouse, the church, and the marketplace; if only I wasn’t so tired and cynical. In the meantime...

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