Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Chaplain I Finally Got to Thank (and His Wife, Too)

I posted the following note the other night to the blog of the wife of the Navy chaplain who officiated at my father's funeral. I "found" him because his wife had linked to a couple of my Flickr photos. This is the officer right here:

and here is the URL to the photo:

Dear Ms. Bush,
See Liza Bush's blog here:
I was checking my Flickr links to see who might have dropped by and I noticed that you had linked a photo of your chaplain husband to Pinterest. Of course I always love it when someone links to one of my photos. This one was all the more appreciated because it was of your husband, apparently the frame where he was saying the final commendation at the niche at Arlington now holding the ashes of my father (and, someday, my mother).
How providential God is, acting in his own time, to give me a forum, your blog, on which I can thank Chaplain Bush for his important role in one of the most memorable occasions in my and my family's like: the funeral for my father.
Even as we returned home I had it in mind that I was going to write a thank-you note to the chaplain for the comfort and courage, and even joy, that he gave us. But somewhere along the way his card got waylaid and my internet searches were for naught. I don't want to bore you, but a couple of things I'd like to say about my dad (my hero's) funeral and your husband's role in it.

1) I knew we would get a dignified funeral, which my father would have countenanced, but we did not get the bland funeral that I also expected. From your blog (to which I have subscribed) I have learned that Chaplain Bush has done as many as six funerals a day, a thousand in a year. With numbers like that, I am even more moved by the personal touch he delivered. He did a good job putting together a picture of a man he will never meet this side of the paraousia, but he also managed to put together a sermon of substance, easily understood, that wove the importance of my father's vocation and of his "coming home" to Arlington to become part of our nation's collective memory, as well as the truth of the gospel that is proclaimed for us all, needed by all, from my father strong and true to those of us who were assembled that day to say goodbye to him.

My father never appreciated namby-pamby (he was a Marine officer); he would have "approved" of (and, more importantly, he would have heard) what your husband had to say.

To put it another way, please thank the chaplain on my behalf for the straight Jesus talk.

(I said this would not be long; I guess I lied.)

2. For all the years my father was an active-duty Marine (27), for all of the men with whom he served (thousands), many or most of whom now also are dead, I had never been to a military funeral. And neither a Marine funeral at that. Set aside the overwhelming emotion I was still feeling after a year without my dad, I still was blown away by the blessed perfection with which everyone performed the job of honoring my father -- and God. Now I know why a liturgics professor at a seminary in Northern Virginia used to send his students to Arlington to see a proper military burial in all of its flawless, practiced dignity: This was truly worship of God, with great thanks given to him as we received great comfort from him. I am grateful to Chaplain Bush for pointing out very clearly why an Arlington burial is so important to the nation (as well as to the families) and how there can be so much life there.

My father's funeral was as good as (or better than) any of the liturgical acts I've seen or participated in. The meaning of all that was done was clear; nothing was superfluous.

Please relay to your husband my thanks for all the work he did when he was at Arlington. I don't think I thanked him enough. He professionally took his leave on that sweltering June 14, 2010, and sped off to change his uniform and go to the next funeral.

Perfection and the personal touch take a lot of practice; I could tell that he and the Marines there that day had made the best of all there practice. Thanks again. Sorry for the length. And my best to you both as you take up your new post at Camp Lejeune. (July and August in D.C. will have prepared you well for summertime down there.)

All best,

John Hudson,

Troutville, Va.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

A Post I Put on Someone Else's Facebook Wall (I Think It Stands Well on Its Own)

I've been ruminating on this lately, in contrast to a lot of things that now are perceived as rights -- "reproductive rights," health care, marriage (whether "equality marriage" or not), etc. -- and I've concluded that I'm still a natural-law kind of guy. Implicit in a "right" is that it is a gift of God, not something decreed by those who are in power. The former is absolute. The latter can be taken away. Furthermore, true rights are universal, meaning they exist even where it is not possible to exercise them. I do not have freedom of speech or religion, etc., because I'm American, but because I am human; Iranians have the same freedom. Rights are not something that are added to. They always have existed. So we can't just make them up when we think they'd be nice. And we can't just do away with them when we don't like them. No right can be absolute if we  cannot conceive of the creator (just one place where Ayn Rand and I disagree) who granted them in the first place.  When they emanate from the whims of people, they can be just as capriciously taken away. Finally, rights have to do with much more than behavior; they go to our core, they guard who we are as beings. This is why the freedom of religion currently is under threat by "freedom of worship." The former implies the latter, but not vice versa, and this is how the Obamacrats are trying to broker into religious organizations their fascistic health care policies. Thanks for letting me exercise my freedom of speech. Do it while you still can.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Peeves . . .

"[Thoughts and] Prayers" "Let us keep the victims and their families in our thoughts and prayers during this time of great difficulty." The 'thoughts and ..." is a sop for the non-theists (aka atheists), the karmists and the telekinetics in the audience, but it sure does take the power out of "prayers." I know, this is a diverse and multicultural society we live in, but aside from Uri Geller, how many non-religious folk are going to find much power in "thoughts"?

'I know it seems cliche, but ..." Not only does it seem cliche, but it also really seems cliche. Like, I mean, y'know? At what point did "cliche" become a freestanding modifier?

'Well' as a midsentence interjection, set off by commas or other "delaying question" to make the reader believe that the writer dimply stating the obvious. "The horse got hotter and hotter as the afternoon on the dusty tral grew longer because it was, well, hot."

"Back in the day"

'Gaffe' It's time to resurrect "mistake."

'Double Down'

'Old school'

'Vintage' (when not referring to a grape crop)

'Iconic' Iconic has a specific meaning that goes way beyond "well-known" or "locally famous" or even plain "famous." It has a metaphysical meaning. This sentence does not need "iconic": "There's a simple reason why she and her husband co-owner Tom Swadley decided to bring new life to the downtown site -- once the home of Bristol’s iconic Woolworth’s Co. store and luncheon counter."

Em dashes where commas to set off clauses work just fine. This sentence does  not need an em dash: "There's a simple reason why she and her husband co-owner Tom Swadley decided to bring new life to the downtown site -- once the home of Bristol’s iconic Woolworth’s Co. store and luncheon counter."

Brackets -- these things: [ ]   [ ]    [ ]   [ ] This sentence does not need brackets: "[The lights will be] a great visual and a great statement." Make it like this: The lights will be "a great visual and a great statement," or somesuch.

Who May Be a Journalist?

Anyone. At any time. Anywhere (in America). Because I'm as much a 1st Amendment Fundamentalist as I can be while agreeing that no one may yell fire in a crowded theater, I know that as a journalist I am no more special than any other American as far as my ability and right to know are concerned. I just have a few skills that help me better to work the angles and keep informed those who don't.

I was reminded of this very sternly by a grizzled, temperamental, fire-breathing, atherosclerotic and not infrequently soused managing editor of a daily newspaper for which I still harbor a fondness even if she is but a shadow of what she once was.

"If you think you're so damn special, you aren't. If you think you're important because you get to waltz into police stations and show up at bloody car crashes and get to carry press card, then get over it or else don't work here."

This was the standard dressing down he gave to all new, young, self-important reporters who forgot that they were getting far less for their work than were most janitors, burger-flippers and convenience store managers. We never connected the fundamental law of supply (young, stupid reporters were a dime a dozen) and demand (there wasn't a whole lot of call for reporters) to our inflated sense of self-esteem. In other words, if we'd thought about the fact that we got to be journalists and still get paid only $90 or $100 a week (in 1976 dollars), we'd have had a whole lot less self-esteem. But, fortunately for newly minted journalists, we never took an econ course in college (nor did we ever take a math course, a foreign language or even the simplest of biology, chemistry or physics classes -- but we could surely by-doggies act like we had -- and we surely could write the hell out of a good tale on a topic about which 15 minutes ago we knew nothing). But I digress.

"Let me tell you the truth, boy," the old ME said as he took a nip from the little bourbon bottle he had stashed in his desk. Newspapers used to have a lot of old-fart characters like this. Where did they all go? "You are no better than the people you're writing for. You don't have any more rights than they do. Your freedom of  the press is their freedom of the press. You're just their representative. If they wanted to go sit in a courtroom all day and see a trial for themselves, they could. If they wanted to go down to the county courthouse and pull their next-door neighbor's property tax bill, they could. There's just two reasons why they don't. So you know why they don't, don't you?"

"I don't guess so, sir," I said, because I really didn't.

"I'll tell you why: First, because they don't know they can. Second, because if they did know they could and they didn't have to work earn a buck, no courtroom would be big enough to hold them all."

He stretched, lit another cigarette, sighed, and continued: "You see, boy, and don't ever forget: You're the people's representative. You report for them, you find out what they need to know know, and you tell them. You better always respect them and you better always remember that you're no better than any of them or I'll kick your cocky ass out of here real quick."

You can tell that I have never forgotten that lecture. And trust me when I tell you that the scene was a whole lot more colorful than I've painted it.

And my point is?

What he said was true, and there are too many journalists in high places who either never got the talk, or else they forgot it. Like that so-called journalist on TV the other night at the GOP convention who said on an open mike that Republicans don't mind partying "while black people drown" (which authorities feared might happen in Nola because of the current hurricane). He not only was a resentful shill for one group of people, he also hated the group of people he'd been assigned to cover. He, like a lot of other journalists, thought he was better that one group of people while being the sanctimonious protector and defender of another group of people whom he also thought were below him.

Heaven help me if I ever forget that talk. And the old editor? He outlasted me by a mile at that newspaper. I think it was his sixth heart attack that finally killed him.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Overrated Content of Daily Newspapers

Following was posted as a quick response on a Washington Post comment board attached to an article announcing the sale of Media General newspapers to Warren Buffett:

I sense a little naiveté about the [general good quality of the] current content of newspapers.

Newspapers [now] do just as good a job as [so-called] new media do in repurposing and multiplying the same content. The AP comes to mind as being one of the 1st to do this, but now it's worse, with local papers:

  • Using crap -- and I mean crap -- from local TV.
  • Local TV using local newspaper people as talking heads and as experts on various topics (as opposed to asking real experts, which are harder to track and are not the attention whores that media types can be).
  • The very same local copy being used by a TV station as a script, and a web site and a newspaper for stories.
  • So-called "citizen journalists" providing "content" for free.
  • More "opinion journalism" stemming from newspapers running blogs and then mining them for "content."
  • Commercial entities providing free content.

I used to have a much higher opinion of newspaper content and told myself, "There will always be a place for serious newsgatherers." Well guess what? Given a chance, struggling newspapers will suck from the same teat of mediocrity where other media outlets feed. (And by the way, real newsgatherers, people with professionalism and integrity, don't come free. Even at strip mines like [some newspapers I know] where even the best journalists are paid chicken feed they're the biggest business expense.)

Friday, March 09, 2012

"At Home in the Heart of Appalachia": A Review

At Home in the Heart of AppalachiaAt Home in the Heart of Appalachia by John O'Brien
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Disgruntled ex-pat returns to his home ground. Misunderstands locals and is misunderstood. Has the same noblesse-oblige toward the locals that he resents in others who've moved to the area and just want to "help." Hopeless liberal trapped in a very conservative backwater and having a hard time just chilling. Another axe-grinding Appalachia book? Yes, but it has made me curious about his region -- Green Bank, Franklin, such areas -- and he's a decent if muddled guy. He has a good wife, good kids, stability. The sad part: The author died a few years after writing this, and even more sadly he died at a hospice in Charleston (learned all this on WikiPedia), which is not the kind of place where he would have liked dying. This fellow really loved his native woods, and I appreciate that. Jack and I will plan a drive or two up there.

View all my reviews

Thursday, March 01, 2012

How About 'Proper Use of the Subjunctive'?

The place where I work, Media General's Consolidated Editing Center in Lynchburg, Va., has an intranet home page with a blog that we're to check daily for notices, reminders, updates, scoldings, admonitions, exhortations, etc. One of the features is 'Question of the Week," to which CEC folks are encouraged to post answers. This week's Question of the Week is . . . drum roll . . . "If the CEC was creating its own library, and everyone were to contribute at least one book, what would yours be?"

Monday, February 13, 2012

It Was Irresistible. I Had to Say It.

The late afternoon temp was barely in the 30s and the wind was brutal; it was a good day for a free cup of coffee to take to work with me.

I stopped in at the Starbucks on Timberlake in Lynchburg with my empty coffee-bean bag. For that I get a free "tall" cup of coffee and I thought I'd go for Starbucks' new blonde roast. (It's mild but still robust and it doesn't taste burned; try it!) In fact, I thought I'd have two cups to go, paying for one. $1.78 for what's essentially a 24 oz. coffee is still a value.

That's the setup. Now the conversation.

Me: Can I get a free cup with this empty?
Barista: Sure, a free tall. What can I get you?
Me: I'd like a blonde with room for cream, and I'd like a second one that I'll pay.
Barista: Two tall blondes, coming right up.
Me: Two tall blondes ... I never thought I'd be asking for two tall blondes, much less getting what I ask for.
Barista: I you think about it, you're getting two tall blondes for the price of one!
Me: Yeah, two tall, hot blondes. I like it!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ms. Littleton's 23 Things: Thing #7

I'm totally flattered that someone finds my Flickr site awesome. Great for my self-esteem!

Ms. Littleton's 23 Things: Thing #7: I thought flickr was a really good website. I had already browsed it for thing 5 or thing 6, I believe, I can't remember which one. I think ...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Three Thoughts on Holy Baptism . . .

These are excerpts of three Facebook posts I wrote that say a lot about my theology of Holy Baptism, which I hope is well within orthodoxy:

What I tell my adulto-baptist friends: There ain't no water baptism, there ain't no paedo-baptism, there ain't no believer's baptism. There's only one baptism and the Scriptures call it -- guess what? -- baptism. Whether it's done to babies, kids or adults, it's all the same baptism. Oh, and to the prissy, fussy types I say there ain't no "christening," only baptism, in which we kill whoever's being baptized and raise him or her in Christ to new life. It's a tough pill to swallow, but it's also glorious. . . .

Walt, what you described as christening I've heard called "dedication." I think it's interesting how adulto-baptist parents are eager to dedicate their child to God, but seem unwilling or unable to give, in faith, their child entirely to God in Holy Baptism. In my world, "christening" seems to be used pretty exclusively by higher-caste folk -- Episcopalians, Presbyterians, UCCers, some few RCs -- who, in my opinion, think the word and concept of baptism are too coarse for their darling little (screaming, squalling, self-centered) little baby and look instead on "christening" as a naming ceremony that coincidentally involves getting a wee bit wet and having to endure a few sin words: "What did you think of little Chauncey's christening, my dear? Wasn't it horrid that thing about sin parson threw in there? The bloodies were good and spicy, though."

From the stooppidd "dedication" link Pr. Snyder offered. Awful! Totally awful! Witness: "God honors their purity and until they understand the meaning of salvation and personal sin, water is not administered. Few argue the purity of a newborn child." I will argue it! "Purity," my you-know-what. A noted Anglican archbishop once said, "Show me two babies in a crib with one ball, and I'll show you original sin." A knowledgeable Anglican he.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Peeves . . .

"Libations" when you mean "drinks," especially when you think "libations" makes alcohol at your event a little more acceptable to the teetotalers. As in "Immediately following the ETSU/North Florida men's basketball game on February 11, the Buccaneer Athletic Scholarship Association (BASA) will be hosting the Buccaneer Bash starting at 6 p.m. inside the Millennium Centre ballroom. Join BASA members and ETSU fans for a night of live and silent auctions, food, libations and fun.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Peeves . . .

Why are all website makeovers "much needed"? Why are all heavy readers "voracious"? And why are all fishermen (or anglers) "avid"?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Thanks for 50K Views

2012.01.14 50K Views by nosduhmj
2012.01.14 50K Views, a photo by nosduhmj on Flickr.

A belated thank-you for 50,000 views on Jan. 14, 2012. Aerial of downtown Jacksonville, Fla., and the St. Johns River in July 2003. Jack and I engaged a pilot and a plane for a one-hour ride around North Florida way back when. Some day I'll afford to do it again.

Brian Lowry's Kind Reply to My Response

Thank you for the thoughtful
response. And as I think I
stated, much of entertainment
is inherently conservative
-- nuclear families, cute kids,
etc. But you fleshed out the
point much better than I did.

I guess I should thank
Cal for classing
up my readership.

Click here for link to 
original article 
in Variety magazine

Brian Lowry
media columnist/
chief TV critic

Please note new email:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My response to "Passion play isn't easy: Religion takes the field""

Dear Mr. Brian Lowry, critic for Variety magazine,

I didn't see any spot available for comments on your Jan. 21 Variety column – "Passion play isn't easy: Religion takes the field" Click here for the link to the Variety magazine article – so I'm sending you an email. I read your column, and appreciated it, because of a reefer from Cal Thomas' Facebook post. I hope you'll indulge me.

Hollywood has been producing "Christian" movies for years without knowing it, though they've been tougher to come by in the past 20 years. I'm not talking about the DeMille extravaganzas, but quiet, excellent movies with "Christian" themes: movies like "Places in the Heart," "Tender Mercies," "To Kill a Mockingbird."

None of these was billed as a Christian movie, but all have sensibilities that draw Christian audiences – and all without the apparent Hollywood self-consciousness and embarrassment about making something that's treacly, mentions Jesus, extols virginity or chastity, or leans too heavily, or at least too plainly, on the other Cardinal Virtues. (Note that a couple of these screenplays were written or adapted by Horton Foote, and all have roots in the South. Let me also, just because it always has affected me, take some space to mention the Lord's Supper scene in "Places in the Heart" – a tableau that evokes the Communion of Saints as well as any I've seen and stirs me with all sorts of growing-up memories.)

Or consider perhaps the Coen movie "O Brother Where Art Thou?" – a movie by Jews, based on a book by some old, blind Greek guy who lived 1,000 years before Jesus and on the other side of the Mediterranean. The T-Bone Burnett music was inspiring, the plot had biblical themes, and someone's view of baptismal regeneration (whether accidental of on purpose) was very, very pleasing to this Lutheran viewer.

And of course there are those movies, like "The Apostle," that had the money and clout of a very powerful, very respected, very rich and Christian-inspired actor, producer of director like Robert Duvall (who was in some of these Foote movies over the years).

Finally, while being not-Hollywood, there is the occasional excellent foreign film, like "Babette's Feast" (probably my favorite movie ever) that touches Christian hearts. Hollywood has been known to adapt these, sometimes well.

None of these movies beats viewers over their heads with warnings of hell and demands for conversion; not featured are people disappearing and empty cars careening on the freeways. What they do have is themes – sin (or "mistake-making"), judgment (or moments of truth and conviction) and redemption. They have experiences of grace, self-sacrifice. Some, like "O Brother," ooze metaphor. And they are complex and sometimes ambiguous in their conclusions (hey, guess what? – some Christians have brains).

And not all of them are G-rated. But not one of them smirks in the least at Christians, when they are portrayed, or ridicules their religion, their faith.

At bottom, Christians are just like moviegoers: They want to be entertained and they generally don't want to be ridiculed or thought of as stupid (and many of the cloddish "Christian" films – some Kirk Cameron vehicles – are as stupid as many Hollywood films, so it's not just institutional Hollywood). We're not looking necessarily, or even at all, for overt portrayals of Christians. We aren't always looking for heavy messages, or climactic separations of sheep and goats. No, we just want our ticket's-worth; we want to be satisfyingly entertained.

Thanks for your time,

John Hudson
Troutville, Va.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What copy editors are for . . .

A section of an editorial in Wednesday's (Nov. 30, 2011) Daily Progress in Charlottesville, Va., read, "and opinions flew about like pin oak leaves in the autumn breeze."

Why did the author of a perfectly good editorial have to use as his similic* foil one of the few deciduous trees that holds onto its (brown, dessicated, dead) leaves throught the fall and winter? In the city of Thomas Jefferson and the always grammatical University of Virgina, one must be careful.

And this is what copy editors are for.

* In the nature of a simile (my coinage)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Talkin' Southern, No. 1

For some of us, Democrats may be icky, but there's still never an "ic" on the end of "Democrat" (at least not when referring to the party).

Sunday, June 26, 2011

2011.06.25 40K Views

2011.06.25 40K Views by nosduhmj
2011.06.25 40K Views, a photo by nosduhmj on Flickr.

Thanks for 40,000 views on Flickr as of June 25, 2011. Funeral for Col. John S. Hudson, USMC Ret., Monday, June 14, 2010, at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia. Died July 7, 2009, in Atlantic Beach, Florida. Semper fi, Dad. (E. Houston Lynch photo.)

Friday, June 03, 2011

Honored to be on The Big Blogroll O' Vark®™©

Just got a note from Orycteropus Afer over at Aardvark Valley that I have been listed on hiBig Blogroll O' Vark®™©

I am most honored, and in response I promise that a) I shall post more to Luther's Deer Leg and 2) I shall be more intentionally Lutheran, or at least that my posts will, I hope, exude Lutheranness. Lutheranity? Lutherality? Whatever, I am honored.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Darlene (cat) throws up under the dining room table and Brunie (doggy) trots over and eats it. Darlene vomits again, and Brunie goes and eats it. Darlene vomits again and this time Brunie does not eat it. I guess she's full.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Clown names . . .

I think "Nipples" would be a good name for a clown. Think about it: "Ladies and gentlemen, Nipples the clown!" Makes you giggle, doesn't it?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Few Thoughts on Freedom

There is something to the sense of obligation that does indeed feel binding, enslaving, down-weighing. Obligation is the downside of commitment. See also "duty." I admit that I do tire of it. Ask me what first comes to mind when I think of retirement and it's "no responsibility." Second is "sleeping in." Third is "doing what I feel like, what I choose." I'm looking forward to it some day.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Who went and made Lauer campaign ethics czar?

Matt Lauer is not the only self-professed journalist to try to impose on others what he thinks are his better ethics. What I want to know is, who asked him?
Lauer, a host of NBC's "Today," was the moderator earlier this week of a debate or forum (or whatever) between the (two major) California gubernatorial candidates. The site was a California "women's conference" (read "liberal women's conference," and reactions from the audience bear me out; it was a lot like watching "The View"). The campaign between Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman has become increasingly hard fought, even bitter. Brown has called Whitman a "whore" (in the political sense, but a whore all the same). I'm sure Whitman has gotten her licks in.
In his usual namby-pamby, Rodney King way, moderator Lauer besought the two candidates, "Could we get the two of you to promise not to run anymore negative [he did not define "negative," natch] campaign commercials?" Brown, the Democrat man, said something like, "Well, I'd sure be willing to try," and got big cheers from the audience. Whitman, the Republican woman (and probably the only Republican woman) at the women's conference, said she would be glad to, but not at the expense of the truth or the issues. Big grumbles, boos and hisses all around.
The responses were totally predictable. But the main question remains, "Who is Matt Lauer to issue such a 'challenge' in the first place?" Put another way, "Why does it seem to be the supposed guardians of free speech who often seem to want to limit it?" because Lauer is hardly the first to decry "negative campaigning."

Friday, October 22, 2010

Piling On: My Little NPR Rant . . .

Gee, I have to "register" to get on the NPR ombudsperson's site to comment? Well, I knew that because I've been commenting for years, but now I wonder if Geo. Soros' people might come after me. Anyway, I will be happy to explain why to your local affiliate when I do not renew my pledge. I'm a daily journalist and so I understand that I "give up" some (most?) of my free speech rights in deference to my customers. Juan was NOT ID'd with NPR. He was following the rules. His contract was no secret to NPR. I don't think he crossed the line, and, wonder of wonders, the man is (was?) a known liberal. Watch out, Mara Liassen (sp?); you're in MoveOn's crosshairs. And now, NPR, will you follow your own standards vis a vis Nina Totenberg? (AIDS humor, ha ha.) And perhaps your CEO should resign for slandering Williams AND the mentally ill. Heck, better yet, why not drop your govt. funding so you can be independently liberal? Fox has proved that fairness (along with conservative commentary) makes money hand over fist. Why not NPR? or PBS? or Air America? or MSNBC? Maybe the liberal drumbeat will prove commercially attractive. Nah.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

There are many ways, but only one best way

Deep thoughts:

We've all been instructed to follow the road signs as we travel along life's way. I took a right turn at this one -- it's in Sullivan County, Tenn., near the Bristol Motor Speedway -- and though it was not a through street, it was a very well kept, very pretty and pleasant street that I think I could be very happy on. But then I had to turn around at the cul-de-sac and head for work. (Well, actually I had to turn around and hurry to a place where I could punch out a quick blog post before I went to work.)

I'm all about metaphors, but I'm also all about the plain sense of things, and the message I received through the radio embedded in my tooth right then was plain -- as plain as the tinfoil hat on my head: "You only think you're domesticated, pal. You're still a barbarian, and you need to listen better to the one God gave you too civilize you."

And her name just happens to be . . .

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Yes, I helped win a Pulitzer Prize . . . No, really! I did!

The real medal is solid gold. Mine's bronze, but it's golden to me. "Underfoot, out of reach" was the name of the series about rich deposits of natural gas right underfoot in Southwest Va., and how millions of dollars in profits have been locked in a state-run escrow, out of reach of rightful recipients.

At least that's the publisher's opinion, so from now on I'm going to take a little more ownership of that prize. I did, after all, design a lot of those pages over the run of the series. Reread the already heavily edited stories. Tweaked the preconceived headlines. Proofed the pages. Asked a few cogent questions. Ran many a followup as new laws took shape in the Virginia General Assembly.

But now I have prize-winning proof! Just as Tin Man has a heart on a chain, and Scarecrow has a diploma, I now have my very own 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service Journalism medal.

The soon-to-depart publisher visited folks in the newsroom today one by one to say thanks and to give each a little bronze replica Pulitzer medal of a paperweight size, mounted on a little slab of polished marble. Classy memento, very classy guy. Makes me proud. And I will most certainly miss Carl Esposito as he and I both move on.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why is John a Lutheran?

Why is John a Lutheran? Posted recently to Yes, I really can write a (nearly) Twitter-length confession.

Going Postal with a really big razor blade (or "USPS Seppuku")

If anyone comes into a post office with one of these, run. Very. Fast. Don't. Yell. Banzai.
The last of Col. Jack Hudson's Mariniana is making its final port of call for this present generation. My mother is downsizing probably for the last time, and in the latest shipment, besides the pretty, girly stuff like the Lismore and the Wedgwood and a cherry-mahogany hutch for Linda, came the "fake Renoir" and the manly things for me -- steel statuette of the Marine Corps Memorial with a bag of Iwo Jima sand tapped into the bottom, the silver and Waterford pen-and-ink set from my dad's fellow officers in Ireland at his hail and farewell in 1943, and "the letter-opener" -- which is what dad said it would be good for.

The Japanese thought it was better for things else, like beheading and gutting and such. Of people. On the battlefield. Or just on oneself if one were having a family-shame and bad-self-esteem day.

Actually, all I can is mythologize on this cute little slicer you see above. I know two things: It's war loot that my father liberated from some dead Japanese soldier on Iwo Jima or Okinawa or in China, the entire package is 18 1/2 inches to 2 feet long, and even though many people brag that this or that thing is "razor sharp," this little sword really is rrrrrrrrrrazor sharp. And it's teeny, tiny, pointy, stick-you-like-a-pig-bleed-you sharp, too. And the weight of the package is heavy, and 7/8s steel, 1/8 wood.

Wait, that's four things. Well, you're not going to argue with me, are you? I have the sword.

Next. I have a letter-opener; now I need pen and ink.
And remember that every Sept. 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dad's Mamaluke Sword . . .

My father's saber, which has seen better days. I need to clean it up.
I never got to see Dad wear his Mamaluke sword enough to learn the intricacies of attaching it and the scabbard to the Sam Browne belt. It was never on display, but kept as close to perfectly shiny as possible in the dark of a soft leather case in the murky rear of a closet, ready for use when rarely needed. I never saw him give commands with it, but I'm sure he had snap and assurance. In later years, but before I got it perhaps 20 years ago, its mission was strictly peacetime and convivial: cutting cakes at Marine Corps Birthday balls, and Dad, usually the senior officer at offbase events, by age and retirement if not by rank, use it to help cut the first slice, which is presented to the youngest officer present.

Today, the saber is on tarnished display. I am not proud of the way I've treated it, though I mean to respect to its former owner. It's just an impossible bear to keep such a bear of a polish job shiny, especially when it leans on the stone hearth of a gas-burning fireplace. Someplace better someday, perhaps, though not likely in this house-with-no-walls.

And yes, the handle is real ivory (still legal and available "back then").

Coming next: My new "letter opener."

Friday, August 27, 2010

Welcome the North American Lutheran Church!

I must confess that I do like this very much. Many faithful people have stuck their necks out for this. I applaud them and may become, if it's God's will, part of them. The North American Lutheran Church.

Monday, August 23, 2010

My Summary of 'The Shack'

Herewith a summary of "The Shack." I finally got around to it, and I surely enjoyed it a lot, lot more than I did "The Fountainhead," which I punished myself with this summer. (I'm now further punishing myself with "Atlas Shrugged," and a I also recently forced myself to read a very sad, confused memoir -- "At Home at the Heart of Appalachia" -- by a man who left urban intellectual life and returned to live in Appalachian West Virginia in his middle age. It's been a serious summer.)

So here's my snapshot of "The Shack." I hope there are no spoilers:

General evaluation? Mixed feelings. Hard for me to evaluate. Will have to give it another read.

What's it about? A man's healing encounter with the Holy and Most Blessed Trinity, One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, after a life-shattering event.

Would I recommend it? Yes. It's nothing to be afraid of. It's not polytheistic. It's nor overly modalistic. It's not unitarian. It falls easily into the realm of Christian fantasy. It's not too stilted. It's not namby-pamby, treacly or too carefully Pollyannish.

Good for kids, teens, youths, young adults? I don't think so. It deals with graphic subjects (serial killing, kidnapping and sexual molestation), the emotional responses are at times visceral, it has tragic loss and it demands a reader with a certain number of years and a certain amount of experience of loss to best relate to it.

Good parts: Didn't have to force myself to read. It moved very quickly and it was not long. It treated a very complex subject with humor and with dignity and reverence. It was plainly fictional; whatever heresy was in there had to be in there for the sake of propelling the story; this was not systematic theology.

Bad parts: Conventional plot device to end the story without too much suspension of belief. Didn't like the story-within-a-story; wasn't sure why the author didn't have the courage or didn't exercise the imagination to go first person or at least try some other POV.

Surprise: How Papa became a "man" figure at a pivotal point because that's what the protagonist needed for the difficult journey he was about to take.

Credibility issues: Dishonest complicity with a deputy to make up a cover story on how he found his daughter. (Also, how they covered it up was not explained to the reader, or else I don't recall.)

Possible sequel: I'd like to know more about the reconciliation between the father and the murderer. Did it happen? Where was Trinitarian love in that?

Best theological moment: Author did a good job of illustrating the intimacy within the Trinity of the three persons.

Theological disappointments: Author did a good job of showing the distinction of persons but didn't do too well in illustrating their oneness and their "likeness"/"sameness"/"equality." Didn't handle theodicy very well; I didn't find Jesus' or Papa's explanation of the lessening of the little girl's fear very satisfying; however, theodicy isn't something I've had a big problem with so far in my own life, so maybe all those "Why does God let these things happen or else he must be an ogre" arguments just bore me; I'm fairly comfortable with the fact that I'm a sinner (of a redeemed sort), that the world and the creation are broken by the fall, and some things are just beyond our power to understand.

Personal disappointment: I would have liked getting to know Suraya (the "Holy Spirit") better.

Refreshing things: Not too preachy. De-emphasized decision theology and emphasized God's sovereignty and grace, but without going hyper-Reformed. It fell well within my Lutheran comfort zone.

These are my gut reactions. It ain't a classic. It's no "Pilgrim's Progress." But at least it's in American English and I'm not slogging through C.S. Lewis.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What a clusterbomb . . . Can anything else go wrong?

Well, a lot, really. But the week has has its frustrations: Big debut ruined by hardware failure, then OS failure, then phone failure when I hit Bristol for the week, then two must-have tires, and a wheel rim that had to be bent back in shape (well, as good as we could get it because money was running out). Yes, life is worse in Somalia, and no, I haven't been losing sleep, but networking for free in McD's, while a handy accoutrement to modern life, doesn't cut it for blogging bandwidth. So here are some more Marines as a teaser. Semper Gumby (Semper Flexibilis), as they say in the Corps. Adapt, Improvise, Overcome. Stay tuned!
Photo by Mike Williamson of part of company-sized honor element and Marine Band for the Old Man. (I'll level it off when I get back on the Mac.)

Monday, July 19, 2010

O Muse, Sing to Me! Arrrrrrgh!

Repurposing a blog is one very huge pain in the you-know-what -- especially when it didn't have a whole lot of purpose to begin with!

Well, I have purpose now.

My father's funeral over a month ago had a huge impact on me. I learned lessons about love, about grief and sadness, about the love of Christ, about loyalty, beauty, liturgy, mortality, memory, eternity and the Communion of Saints.I also found relief. I'll be writing about those. Promise. Meantime, I'm posting a picture of the stern colonel as inspiration.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Now I can breathe again. Whew!

OK, I have a kid who would benefit enormously from "free" health insurance. But when He "ages out" of our plan, we'll be happy to help him find some way to get it -- without a government dole.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Happy Martin Luther King Day!

Happy Martin Luther King Day!

Posted using ShareThis

I've linked this from the Rev. Paul McCain's Cyberbrethren blog because it best expresses my sentiments about MLK Day. If you think this is a dumb holiday, then maybe you need a different skin color and a few slaves in your family tree.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Gee, Is It Really a Right? I Mean, Fundamentally?

This status suddenly is popping up on the Facebook pages of all my lib friends:

"No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree, please post this as your status today."

Gee, will I go to hell if I don't change my status and send this to 25 of my friends?

So I've changed my status thusly:

"Somewhere along the way, some came to believe that "'affordable' (or free), quality health care" for all, citizen and non-citizen alike, is a heaven-granted right that's buried somewhere in the U.S. Constitution. How came this to be, and why at this moment? Seriously. And I'm staking no position here."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

RIP Luther Martin Elvis Hudson

I've not posted to this blog since I created it, chiefly out of sadness, partially from laziness, greatly because I don't have anything that I think is important to say. I'll address only the sadness: Luther, this blog's namesake, lost his duel with a pickup truck on June 11, 2006, and in my grief I put him ignominiously in a garbage bag and dropped him in a hole up by the road and then covered him and the hole with lots of large rocks. Thus endeth Luther Martin Elvis Hudson, my first dog in 30+ years and still, more than 3 years later, a hole in my life.

More later.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Why "Luther's Deer Leg"?

Welcome to "Luther's Deer Leg." I'll have a lot to say about our dog, Luther, here, so it seems appropriate to name this blog for him and for the deer leg that he has buried, dug up, reburied and carried about for the past three months. Sometimes the leg is left lying in the front yard. Sometimes it's left in the driveway. Luther likes to carry it about; he trots with it locked in his tiny jaws of death. He carries it with his head held high. He's proud of his trophy -- and he doesn't want to drag it, since it's heavy to begin with. Luther likes to gnaw on it, of course, and after he has gnawed and slobbered and gotten it good and nasty, he like to rub his face all over it. Then he rolls on it. He rolls and rolls. He stinks. He loves it.

So, Luther and I welcome you to "Luther's Deer Leg." What will you find here? You'll find self-indulgent musings from Luther's dad, of course. You'll also find encomiums to Luther, cairn terrier extraordinaire, laird of LutherLand, lead dog of West Botetourt.

Stay tuned.

John, Luther's dad