There is little doubt in my mind that Trump (I have not been able to write President), being concerned about his lack of popularity and his disastrous poll numbers decided to do only what he knows best and that is create a diversion.  In an effort to get the American people to like him Trump decides to drop bombs instead.  First in Syria and then in Afghanistan. Everyone paying attention knows how egocentric Trump is which requires him to take action to “prove” to the American people and indeed the world that he is not the ill prepared, narcissist and temperamental man many of us have seen hound to be. So what does he do?  He bombs an airfield in Syria and during Holy Week he orders the “Mother of all Bombs” to be dropped on Afghanistan.  The media and some of the American people were very congratulatory to the Donald which boosted his ego which is exactly what he felt he needed to do in order to make people like him. With those two actions Trump has placed America more in harms way and closer to another war.  What is it going to take for America to wake up and see Trump for who he really is: a pathological liar, a bully and an insecure egomaniac.

Is America’s denial about the depth and breadth of racism so engrained in it’s consciousness that it is willing to have a dangerous and ill-prepared bully as its Commander in Chief?  What will it take to make America recognize exactly what made so many like minded Trump supporters elect this man as POTUS?  What will it take for America to realize how the two party system is destroying our democracy?  What will it take for America to admit the election (though fairly) of Donald Trump) is a reaction to America’s election of an African American and highly educated and charismatic man as POTUS for two terms? One need only look at how a Mitch McConnell and a Paul Ryan are gleefully embracing Trump knowing full well their efforts to deter everything positive President Obama tried to do for our country.

Has America forgotten how McConnell refused even to accept Obama’s nomination to the Supreme Court nor allowed the candidate’s name to even be brought to the House?
What will it take for America to see how Trump is playing America like a fiddle?  What will it take for Americans to see how ill-prepared and temperamental Trump is and as a result has placed America in harms way?  What will it take for Americans to see how the Democrats squandered many opportunities to distance itself from “those politicians” who have been in the storm too long and cannot  see a way forward except for their ‘good ole boys?” The setting for bickering and infighting and personal insults and attacks  against one another is now standard practice.  CNN in its effort to be nonpartisan has become the prototype for how one should behave-by slandering, misinformation, arguments and attacks against each other regardless of ones point of view.  How dare Jeffrey Lord a political analyst for CNN and a Trump supporter try to compare Trump to Dr. M.L.King Jr and not expect to receive much deserved criticism? What will it take for Americans to come together to recognize what a terrible mistake was made in the election of Donald Trump to POTUS?  Of course I understand the election is the way of democracy and I have to accept it.  But what I do not have to accept nor give my consent to is someone who is such a flawed person in so many ways. I have long advocated how I am less interested in your being perfect but more interested in your being accurate. With Trump there is neither perfection nor accuracy which has already placed the America he intends to make great in immediate candidacy for another senseless war.

I remain a firm believer that it is not by might nor power but by My Spirit, thus say the Lord.  I am persuaded that America is so toxic and filled with anger and revenge that none of us is safe.  One need only look how two white cops in Georgia brutally attacked a black man with his hands up yet, the Black Lives Matter movement is viewed by too many as being racist.  One need only look at the recent incident on a United Airlines flight where an Asian doctor was physically dragged off of a flight  and ended up with a broken nose and a concussion.  What will it take for Americans to understand that something is terribly wrong with all of us and we need to look more closely at what our respective religious and and spiritual beliefs teaches us to become.  Last week my wife Fran and I were invited to share the Passover Seder with a dear friend along with several members of his family. As l listened to the ancient words from the Haggadah being read aloud by each person seated at the table, I  realized how blessed all of us were in that special moment because we were all celebrating what it meant to be free from any kind of tyranny or threats.  America is already great and America must use its greatness to become better and not bitter.

I leave you with the words of the late theologian and preacher Dr. William Sloane Coffin who expresses what I believe to be my difficulty with Donald Trump.  “The world’s smallest package is a person wrapped up in himself.”

And so it is;    Peace and blessings,   Dr.Paul


    As I was about to turn in from a long day of watching the NCAA basketball games, I turned to CNN (Admittedly a mistake) and overheard a discussion about Donald Trump’s tweet accusing former President Obama personally of wiretapping Trump Tower during the election.  As usual the panel assembled got into a heated argument with a Trump supporter who is a paid analyst for the network and who defended Trump’s unsubstantiated allegations.  In other words, and as of this writing, Trump has yet to provide any evidence of his claim against former President Obama.  How many more times do we, the American people have to keep going down this same road of lies and more lies?  How much longer do the American people wish to keep reading about Trump’s tweets? Some have referred to Trump as a pathological liar among other things.  Others have referred to Trump as a ego maniac. You do realize I am speaking about the POTUS?  As such, I have been prompted to weigh in just a bit on these lies and inuendos spoken regularly by Trump.  Thus, my question is “when does TRUTH matter?”
Each time Trump lies, which is rather frequently, his followers and minions come to his defense.  But what is most appalling to me is how and quite frankly, why the media keeps Trump’s lies alive, knowing full well that is exactly what makes Trump who he is? Why does the media kept its focus on Trump’s multiple lies and accusations when Trump has yet to produce any evidence of his accusations? I recommend the media just stop printing his lies which of course, would make him crazier than he already is?  Trump wallows in the kind of attention he is receiving in his first fifty or more days in the WH.  Everyone knows that so why keep feeding is fragile ego”  Why not stop reporting and debating the merits of his pronouncements?  Trump’s followers would not accept the truth if it bit them in the behind!  His paid supporters on CNN intentionally cause an argument with panelists which is shown on television and viewed by some as it being normal.  Day after day I witness shouting matches between those who believe every or anything Trump says, and those who simply want to present the facts, whether they supported Trump or not.  Kind of reminds me of a television series in the 60’s with the name “Dragnet” where the detective questioning a witness famously says “just the facts ma’m just the facts?   However, in Trump’s world facts nor the truth means anything anymore.  To me, therein lies the American Tragedy: truth and facts no longer matter in the public discourse.  Trump’s world and narrative simply involves saying whatever one wants to say, without evidence, truth or evidence.  I remember one of the sayings of the Religious conservatives when referencing their belief system: God said it, I believe it and that settles it or something like that.  In Trump’s world it goes something like this: Trump said, I believe it and that settles it.”  How crazy is that?
Again I say to the news outlets across the country just stop writing about or printing the lies being tweeted by Trump.  Keep his name out of the news as much as possible for it will drive this man crazier than he is now, if that is possible.  Just think for a moment how easily the Trump supporters are swayed by their illiterate leader?  Staffers scramble to cover up his lies which only makes the lies worse.  The words coming out of the mouths of Kellyanne Conway and Spicer and DeVos and Ben Carson and Bannon among a few, are so egregious and stupid and flat out wrong, one can hardly keep a straight face. I for one am embarrassed by much of what Trump Cabinet appointees spew from their mouths-it is absolutely stupid and ridiculous.  Nevertheless, they keep saying these things and the more they say them the more the Trump followers believe them.  Truth and facts no longer matter to them.  These followers are as zealous and bigoted as is Trump.  Maybe the media should begin shunning Trump and his minions-just isolate their nonsense that has made America the laughing stock around the world.  Maybe the media should just stop feeding the beast and then watch him implode more than he already has.
Finally, there is another quick solution to what the American people are witnessing with our two party system and in particular Republicans in both Houses of Congress. These Republicans and a few Democrats as well, could stop Trump in his tracks if they only had the guts to do it.  Republican and a few Democrats afraid of not being re-elected by showing any sign of support for Trump, should have just that happen to them.  Vote them out of office and do so without begging endlessly for a  dollar here and a dollar there to get elected.  I find these everyday requests for money from politicians insulting and offensive and annoying.  It almost seems they are trying to make us feel guilty if we do not send them money.  When and how did we get to this state of affairs?  When did it require a candidate running for the U.S.Senate to have a war chest of in excess of ten million dollars?  Not everyone interested in serving their country can raise that sum of money and therefore, are forever prevented from running for public office.  Truth doesn’t matter rather money matters and if one does not have that kind of money, it is almost if not impossible to run for office.
I know already those reading this post will wonder what the heck happened to that seemingly and very nice, calm and accommodating minister we knew thirty years ago?  Many will wonder if I am feeling this way it just might cause others to feel that way.  Well let me tell you many others do feel the way I do and too many of us have kept our feelings to ourselves. Someone said a long time ago, to be faithful, to be honest, to be prophetic and to speak truth to power regardless of the circumstances will get you killed.  Well, whoever said that is right and there are many examples of visionaries and prophets and protesters who have lost their lives because of their beliefs. Just yesterday several members along with their new senior minister of the First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn, were arrested for protesting and demonstrating for what they believed in. They were exercising their rights as citizens of a democracy that has unfortunately, become more and more dangerous.  What could we expect when truth and facts no longer matter?
In the meantime, I will not lose my faith, nor my hope nor my compassion for the least of these.  In the meantime, I will speak the truth I know and believe in and I will also be willing to admit when my truth is not truth.  I have consistently, said over and over again in my fifty seven years of my profession as a minister of the Gospel, and as one who tried throughout his ministry to bring people together by building partnerships and strategic relationships with people from all walks or no walks of life “that I don’t have a need to be right as much as I have a need to be heard.”. In the meantime I will not support building walls to shut people out.  In the meantime, I will not bark out orders to ban people because of their religious beliefs.  In the meantime, I will as Scripture instructs me “welcome the stranger, feed the hungry and clothe the naked and release those in captivity, especially those placed there without just cause. In the meantime, I will walk and not get weary and I will run and not faint.  In the meantime, I will welcome you to challenge every word I have written in this blog.  I will invite you into dialogue with me and me with you so together we can all be inside of where the poet invites us into: ” they drew a circle that shut me out, heretic, rebel a thing to flout, but love and I had the wit to win, we drew a circle and took them in”.  And so it is!
Dr. Paul


      A couple of weeks ago I was invited to the swearing in ceremony of Loretta Lynch our new Attorney General and a dear friend.  There was hardly a seat in the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C. where the ceremony took place.  President Obama was at his very best in praising Loretta whom he has known for a long time.  I had not seen the president so happy and it showed on his face and in his interaction with the crowd who had come to witness the ceremony.  Little did any of us know how soon the President’s smiling face would quickly turn to one of grief and frustration upon hearing of the massacre in Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.  The President’s cup like my own had “runneth over.”  What does one do when ones cup overflows with unbearable agony and grief upon hearing the news of the tragedy? That the tragedy occurred inside of a house of worship during bible study is unimaginable and too hard to understand.  So, what do you and I do?  How can we cope with the tragic fact of what happened?  If your cup is running over as is mine then what must we do?
     First, I had to acknowledge that the tragedy did in fact take place.  As painful as it was for me I could not be in denial that it occurred inside of a house of worship, during a bible study and the person who allegedly killed nine people was an integral part of that bible study group.  How could this be I asked myself and no matter how many times I asked the question I had to acknowledge that it did happen. Until we acknowledge that the tragedy did in fact occur we delay the reality of our pain.  Not one of us is exempt from the affects of the killing of nine innocent people.
     Secondly, I had to acknowledge my anger was real, so real that I was ashamed of myself longer than I am willing to admit.  My anger is the same kind of anger all of us have and when it gets out of control we become as dangerous as Dylann Roof.  I confess my anger caused my cup to overflow rendering me null and void and no different than any who are not able to manage their anger.  Allow yourself to acknowledge your anger until you can manage it in such a way that you are no longer a threat to yourself or to others.  While angry I missed the clues awaiting me which would come from a place I had not expected.  However, those clues would provide a way for me to deal with my anger in a way that would not harm anyone.  Here are the clues: acts of forgiveness and faith by those who were hurt and harmed the most: the family members of those who were killed.  How could I stay angry when I heard their testimonies?  How could I even justify remaining angry when I was witnessing such acts of forgiveness and faith?  Think about it!
      Thirdly, I learned about the real essence of forgiveness and faith coming from those who had lost the most and that kept my cup from running over any further.  What I thought I knew about forgiveness and faith I really didn’t know or understand until I witnessed it first hand in the aftermath of the nine deaths.  While my cup continued to run over I soon learned I was about to find a way for my anger and grief to abate.  But, I had to take to heart what I had witnessed from the families who had lost their loved ones.  They were and have always been people of faith and forgiveness.  It was a part of their DNA and even though their cups had run over upon hearing of the deaths of their loved ones they dug deeper knowing the well of forgiveness and faith awaited them.  My flow began to stop when I heard the testimonies and I saw how the God of my life and theirs is the only answer to the experience of the tragic fact.  Scripture tells us:weeping may endure for the night but in the morning cometh joy.  And morning did come.
      You and I must be willing to wait for morning to come because it will surely come. Wait on it!  Wait on it!  Morning keeps coming to me as I watched a group of children and parents of different racial and cultural background enjoying the community pool together. They were laughing and playing together without regard to any differences. Morning comes for you and me when we are given a second chance to say “I’m sorry for hurting you.  Morning will come to you when you say with the song writers of old “its me, its me, its me O, Lord standing in the need of prayer.”  Morning came when one family member faced the accused killer and looked squarely into his eyes and said: “I will never hear the voice of my son again but I forgive you“.  Morning comes when you and I are willing to move beyond life’s tragic facts and move to that place where we see and we hear ourselves in need of each other and in need of God.  Morning came for my dear friend Esther when she held her three month old granddaughter in her arms upon learning of the massacre in Charleston. Right now, find someone to hold, or to hug and morning will come to you.  Morning will come for you and for me when we take time to go deep inside of ourselves and find there the stuff of life that always, always, always stops our cups from overflowing.  Wait I say for morning to come. And remember, there is in God, sufficient strength, whatever our needs may be.  And so it is!


      Where do you and I begin when so much has happened the past couple of weeks?  There were times when my little cup ran over with grief and I thought there were no words of comfort to be found.  There were moments when all I could do was taste my tears as I tried so hard to make sense out of what was happening in places like Nepal and Baltimore, Maryland.  And then I saw a fifteen year old boy being rescued from the rubble of the earthquake in Nepal after five days in darkness and fear. My Lord what a blessing that was!  I saw my spirits soaring as I witnessed one mother in Baltimore publicly chastising her sixteen year old son for throwing rocks at the police during a demonstration. I remembered the words of Howard Thurman: “life is antecedent and consequences, reaping and sowing darkness and light, joy and sorrow.” Yes my friends life is like that! And it is up to us to find a balance.
    So many who respond to my writings on this blog often begin their words with “I woke up this morning. . .” or they write “I was just thinking of something you said. . ..” There is something deeply settling about the very first words from our mouths especially when we are trying to maintain a balance for all that is going on in and around us. When your cup is running over for whatever reason what do you do to turn the situation around?  How long does it usually take for you to find the other side of that which caused your cup to run over in the first place?  And when you get to the other side of what has stopped you in your tracks can you remember how you got there?  I want to encourage you to take time to discern how you felt when you came out of the wilderness of an experience that caused you to wonder how you were going to make it?  I believe by doing so you and I can learn how to maintain the balance between the joys and sorrows of daily living. Life, as a matter of fact is like that!  One day we are riding high and our spirits are soaring with joy and gratitude.  The next day our spirits have forgotten how to soar and joy is no where to be found.  That’s life! I believe we are called to maintain that delicate balance between soaring high and traveling the low road of despair and heartbreak.  Aha, but how to do it?
     Those who begin their writings with “I woke up this morning. . .” have already received the first gift life offers which is simply this: “you woke up.”  What a joy there is in “waking up.”   One faithful friend who reads my entries sent words causing my spirit to soar.  How did she know I needed to hear those words and at that particular time when my own cup was running over?  I submit her words were exactly the balance I needed at the time even though I had no idea she was thinking about me.  As a matter of fact, it was her remembering a time of grace of sharing, listening and understanding which caused her to make contact with me again.  Little did either of us know at that first serendipitous meeting it would become a moment of balance.  Here are the words she shared with me which I now share with you with the hope they may help you to find your balance:
     Let your mind be quiet, realizing the beauty of the world, and the immense, the boundless treasures that it holds in store.  All that you have within you, all that your heart desires, all that your nature so specially fits you for-that or the counterpart of it waits embedded in the great Whole, for you.  It will surely come to you. Yet equally surely not one moment before its appointed time will it come.  All your crying and fever and reaching out of hands will make no difference.  Therefore do not begin that game at all. Edward Carpenter, author.
     Waiting is one of the hardest things for us to do.  When my soul is in the lost and found I don’t want to wait to be found.  I want to be.  But wait I must.  I must believe that I am not alone in my waiting-the God of my life waits with me.  The boy trapped beneath the rubble of bricks and steel waited and waited for help to come.  Surely, he though he would not be found and though tired of waiting he had no other choice.  But he did not lose hope and after five long days of waiting he was rescued.  I believe God was in the waiting with this fifteen year old boy and ultimately, that is why he was rescued.  You may rightly ask about those who waited to be rescued but were not?  I can only say their deaths became the tragic fact for them and for their loved ones waiting for them to be found.  Life is like that!
     My thanks for all of you and for Dianna who reached out to me in a moment of my need for discernment and balance. Come by here Lord, come by here!  Come into our hearts as we seek balance for our daily endeavors.  Fill the lives of those for whom justice has been delayed and not expected. Lord touch the hearts of those who walked the streets of Baltimore with hope for “joy that comes in the morning” and it came on May.1st. Send your Angels of mercy to the weeping souls of those who lost loved ones and friends in the devastating earthquake in Nepal.  Come into the lives of those who have come to expect injustice but continue to hope for justice.  For those in Nepal for whom the experience of the agony is real, please send Your Comforter and Healer into the middle of their unbearable pain and grief.  May we all find a pathway to peace and reconciliation as we try to discern what God is saying to us through natural and unnatural causes.  I ask all of this in the Name of the One who loves us unconditionally, Jesus the Christ and in Whose Name I pray. Amen.  And so it is!
Dr. Paul


         I discovered this morning that somewhere along the way I had put joy on the back burner of my life.  Do you know what I mean? It was during my quiet time that I realized joy was missing from my daily routine.  Have you wondered why you have been feeling overwhelmed by the vicissitudes of daily living?  Have you been in the storm too long not knowing how or when your storm will be over?  I encourage you to read the words of the French poet Apollinaire written here:
 “Come to the edge” he said.  “We can’t, were afraid” they responded.  “Come to the edge” he said. “We can’t ,we will fall” they responded.  “Come to the edge” he said.  And so they came.  And he pushed them.  And they flew.
     I suspect our spirits are so frayed these days it is difficult to believe Apollinaire’s words fit our situation.  We are so over whelmed by life’s vicissitudes that we don’t have confidence our joy can ever be restored.  May I remind you of what Scripture says about our condition: weeping may endure for the might but joy cometh in the morning. I want to encourage you to stop whatever you are doing for a few moments and allow the poet’s words to penetrate your heart and mind.  Put yourself in the group Apollinaire is calling.  He’s calling you to the edge.  Are you willing to step closer to the edge?  If not why not?  Do you wish for restoration of a bit of joy in your life and if you truly do, I invite you to come to the edge with me.  Go deep within yourself. In the quiet moment you have just entered see yourself standing in need of some joy.  Now come closer to the edge you have envisioned with your mind.  Are you ready to be pushed?  Who will be pushing you?  Are you afraid you will fall into the abyss of darkness?  Will you come fly with me?
      Now allow yourself be pushed over your imaginary edge. It is up to you whether you will fly or fall.  I know I can fly because I just did while writing this entry.  My joy was restored because I would not give my consent to fear.  I listened to music on a device given to me as a gift by the choir of First Presbyterian Church.  Whatever was weighing heavily on my mind and making me fearful got lost.  I stepped away from fear and inserted in its place the joy of being alive and being surrounded by a cloud of witnesses who having come to the edge were pushed but now they are flying.  I remembered how beautiful I felt as the music engulfed me with its many melodies. I could feel my anxieties and petty thoughts slowly peeling away.  Joy, joy, joy started lifting me higher and higher.  I could hear my Grandmother sitting in her rocking chair on her wraparound porch singing her favorite songs at the end of each day.  She always sat in her rocking chair on her porch at the end of each day.  It would be many years later that I realized this routine was her way of restoring joy to her life  at the end of each day God had given her life.
     One more thing!  You will have to be willing to practice what I have just described if you want to free yourself from the fears and anxieties that haunt us and try to invade our space.   I am flying now and I am stronger now as the joy keeps lifting me higher and higher.  It is flying time for Dr. Paul.  It is flying time for you.  So, fly, fly, fly.  The God of your life and mine is flying with you. Joy awaits you.  And so it is.


Do you remember what was on your mind before you went to sleep last night? If so, what was foremost on your mind?  I remember what was on my mind last night but when I woke up this morning I tried to remember exactly what I was thinking and could not.  Why?  Because my morning discoveries started me on a new path.  So what did I discover?  First, I realized I woke up.  Yes, I woke up and that in and of itself made me grateful.  Secondly, I could feel the warmth of our home as I listened to the furnace purring away.  I was mindful of so many who did not wake up in a warm place. Thirdly, I discovered whatever was tugging at my spirit before I went to bed last night is still there however, I am not as overwhelmed by it because my body is more refreshed and I had a good nights sleep.  Fourth, I could taste the sweet nectar of the morning’s silence which fueled my spirit in new and amazing ways. I am not prepared to face whatever the day has for me.

      Morning discoveries are good for you and for me especially if we give ourselves a few moments to get centered before we do anything else.  I will approach whatever is on my calendar today with a new sense of purpose because what I was pondering before I went to sleep had become toxic. Now that I am awake and refreshed and truly thankful, I can begin my day with a different narrative.  Morning discoveries is an exercise we should practice as a way of preparing ourselves for what lies ahead.  Surely, we cannot always know what lies ahead but we can ground ourselves in preparation for that which lies ahead of us.  One of my friends sent me an email apologizing for something toxic he had said which he chalked up to not having had his morning coffee.  While this is true for my friend I happen to know that was not the only reason. He has a disciplined routine each morning which includes reading from Scripture, saying his prayers and then he begins his physical workout.  Whenever this routine is interrupted for whatever reasons he knows his day is freighted with poor outcomes.
     As you prepare for your activities today stop for a few minutes to read this entry.  More importantly, prepare yourself by giving thanks that you have lived to see another day.  Simply say “thank you for waking me up this morning. . .thank you for every breath I take. . .thank you for the quiet moment I am about to take. . .thank you for my new discoveries this morning. . .thank you for the voices I will hear this morning. . .thank you for the sound of silence I am about to take. ..thank you for the first person who greets me with a warm greeting.  Morning discoveries are God’s gifts to the human spirit and for that I am eternally grateful.  And so it is.
Dr. Paul



      I should like to remind everyone that a part of my daily spiritual disciplines is reading life’s clues as they unfold around me.  This requires my paying attention and staying focused as “life” goes on around me and you. My personal spiritual disciplines include recording what I feel, sense and discern.  I do this through journaling and by being quiet long enough to discern or to decipher what has just occurred.  I find comfort in writing in my journal especially when I am paying attention to what has caught my attention or has caused me to think twice.  Consequently, I woke up very early this morning because even in my sleeping I sensed the need to journal about whatever was making me restless.  Aha, I thought as I headed to my study to write down what was keeping me awake: acting on the clues of yesterday and beyond.
     I am aware of the clues around me that I have neglected to act upon.  I have followed most of my spiritual disciplines but some clues I have neglected to act upon so my days and nights have been restless.  I am  aware of the physical activity I am engaging in whenever I have not acted upon life’s clues.  For example, I become easily agitated when I have ignored clues or have not stopped to acknowledge them.  When I am agitated I am mostly upset about something I have not done or have not spoken about.  I enjoy spontaneity but it becomes clogged up when I have not acted upon my clues.  There is a churning inside of me that will only stop when I take action on those clues.
     Let me be more specific. I found myself agitated and even angry when I read the Congress waited until the very last minute to take action on the funding of the DHS.  After retreating to my journal I realized it was not just the law makers actions on last Friday that irritated me but it was their inaction for the last couple of years.  I realized how I had been seething because this Congress has done very little to advance the common good. Now that I have identified the ‘real’ clue it is up to me to act upon it.  Clearly, there are some action items for me to take and I am preparing myself to do just that.
     The gift of discernment is especially wonderful when I act upon what I have discerned.  I am reminded again and again of that old spiritual song “its me, its me O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”  I am the one I have been waiting for and I am the one who has not acted upon the plethora of clues life has placed in my path.  Again, I retreat to my journal and I begin to write and slowly my spirit calms me down.  When I have calmed down I see the good I do not do. I realize reading the clues is not enough rather, I must act on those clues.
     To be sure reading the clues is an important and necessary step for my spiritual disciplines.  But I must practice my spiritual disciplines and in doing so I open myself up to hear what God has been saying to me all along.  I feel with a new purpose and intensity because I am no longer in captivity.  In opening up myself to hear what God has to say to me I am now prepared to hear what life has to say to me.  I am prepared to take action on what I neglected to discern in the first place.
     I confess how easy it is to be overwhelmed by life’s clues especially if we are apostles of sensitiveness.  My actions do not necessarily have be heroic or spectacular.  They need only to be real.  I will know its real when I can feel it deep in my soul.
     I  am in solidarity with the poem of the late Maya Angelou “I know why the caged bird sings”. Like the caged bird my spirit longs to be free and that freedom can only come when I am aware of life’s clues and can act upon them.  Take time to observe the many blessings occurring all around you but don’t stop there-take action.  Take time to listen to that still small voice calling you to be better than you are and then take action.  Take time to make an assessment of YOU. Take note of what you have left undone.  Take note of what you would like to get done.  Take time to listen to your own thoughts so you can listen to the thoughts of others.  Take inventory of yourself. Take a note about how you are treating those around you and how you might treat them differently and with more kindness and integrity.  Take time to say ‘thank you’ and ‘I love you’ and you will be amazed at what it does for you.  It will open up spaces and places you have kept closed for a long time.  It will reveal a sense of purpose for you to follow.  In opening up ourselves to others it will also open us up to ourselves.  Stop navel gazing and stop whinnying and complaining and allow your self to taste the freedom which comes when we are totally sensitive and open to hear what the God of life may be saying to us.  Learn how to walk in the light of your own authenticity because it is your roadmap to wholeness.  It will enable you to act upon life’s clues in ways you never dreamed about.  And so it is. 
Dr. Paul


           On March 21,1965 at the invitation of my friend and colleague Andy Young, along with my brother in ministry, Rev. Dr. Carl Dudley, and I went to Selma, Alabama.  Dr. King routinely sent out calls for clergy and others to join him in marches and demonstrations which brought attention to the unjust laws and law-makers throughout the south.  As I remember Carl Dudley earlier had been the only white minister out of 100 invited by Dr. Dr. King to join him in Miami, Florida to address what would become the title of one of King’s booksWhere Do We Go From Here?  There were so many organizations and churches sending representatives to Selma that there were no more commercial flights available for my group of clergy to travel to Selma.  However, the late Cardinal Ritter of St. Louis, Missouri and a champion of civil rights made a call to James S. McDonnell, CEO of McDonnell Douglas Aircraft who made his private plane available to us.  Further, five of the Presbyterian ministers invited to travel with me were given an ultimatum by their Sessions (The governing board of Presbyterian churches) not to go to Selma if they wanted to keep their pastorates. All five ministers accompanied me and Carl anyway.
     One has to remember the movie Selma is just a movie and not a documentary, albeit in my opinion it was a wonderful artistic achievement and I encourage all to see the movie.  A documentary is giving factual material in an artistic form and there were some omissions which might have encouraged many more folks to see the movie.  When we arrived in Selma our airplane was diverted to a small airfield a couple of miles away from the main Selma airport but closer to the local church that served as headquarters for the marchers. Unfortunately the movie did not capture the importance of the role the local churches played in the Selma marches. We went directly to one of the many local churches welcoming us to Selma where we sang, prayed and prepared for the march ahead. The songs steadied our nerves and the prayers gave us courage to participate in the march. In retrospect I could not have put myself in harms way except for the fact of my young age of 30 and the inspiration following Andy Young in Selma.
     It was a beautiful warm and humid day and the crowd was huge as we awaited Dr. King’s arrival to the podium.  I remember the presence of many white protesters who lined the streets as we marched to the center of the area where Dr. King would be speaking.  They shouted at us and called us all sorts of ugly and disrespectful names but they could do nothing more because the White House had sent the national guard to protect us.  Furthermore, the freedom songs, the prayers and the strength of the crowd itself had thoroughly prepared me for such a time as this.  The movie did not give much information about the strong support we experienced from many white clergy and students from around the country. The movie unfortunately did not capture the bravery and sacrifices of the black citizens of Selma who cheered us on and provided water for us and who left their porches to embrace us as we began gathering for Dr. King’s speech.  These citizens had to remain in Selma after all of us had left and that put them once again in harms way.  But they never complained nor did they stop their efforts to “let freedom roll down like a mighty river” in a segregated and hateful city of Selma.  I can never forget how they made all of us marching feel welcomed.  These citizens are the real heroes even though particular names like John Lewis and Andy Young and others were mentioned in the movie and rightly so.
      As the March ended and Dr. King left the podium Carl Dudley and I headed back to the church where we were to meet the clergy from St. Louis who had traveled to Selma with us.  I felt so affirmed and comforted by what had just occurred in Selma defying all of the efforts of Governor Wallace to keep us from marching.  How I wished the movie could have captured the joy and determination and the inspiration of those whites having their first experience of praying and singing and worshipping in a black church. The movie did not show the courageous Catholic Nuns who gave the march organizers their permission to place them at the very head of the marches and demonstrations especially in Selma.  To be clear this decision was a part of the organizers strategy because we believed even the angriest of whites would dare not attack or denigrate the Nuns with national television cameras rolling.  And it worked.
      A few weeks ago I answered a phone call from Nate Dudley, eldest son of the late Rev. Dr. Carl Dudley.  Nate was calling to ask me to speak to his daughter Emerson who had just been to see the movie Selma with the family and he wanted Emerson to hear directly from me about her Grandfather’s experience with me in Selma.  I will remember for years to come my telephone conversation which is further evidence of the importance for everyone to see the movie irrespective of the historical omissions.  I told Emerson the story of her grandfather and I had while walking back to the church where we were to meet our group.  As we were about 150 yards away from the church Carl and I looked up and we were being surrounded by about 50 or more angry white people, mostly men who began shouting at us and calling us names.  They referred to Carl as a “N” lover as they got closer and closer to us.  There was some minor pushing and shoving of us but Carl and I had had nonviolence training which was a prerequisite for clergy like us who were directly involved in the movement.  I was not terribly frightened at first but as they got closer to us it became clear that Carl and I could be harmed. In an instant one of the white men spat in my face which caused me great anger in spite of my nonviolence training. For one moment Carl froze because he knew I had been violated and as well as we knew each other he had no idea how I would respond to this violation of me.  In a nano second I thought to myself “I am going to die or get hurt badly because I am going to knock this guy in the mouth regardless . . and in the next second I saw my pregnant wife’s face and I realized I might never see the birth of our second child.”  I caught Carl’s eyes and he had a sheepish smile on his face that told me we should run which we did and as we looked back having left them in the dust (remember we were very young) we heard them laughing and saying “look at those N run”.  Needless to say this was a defining moment in my life which made me rethink my role for future marches and demonstrations.  It would be several years before I would participate or demonstrate in marches where there was a possibility that I would be personally violated again.
     Selma is worth seeing because it reveals a horrible period of segregation and discrimination and violence and death  of black people.  It reveals how we were treated by a large segment of white people in this country which so many of today’s generation have no knowledge of.  I just read an article about a curriculum known as Advance Placement which is believed to be too negative and critical about American history especially history like the kind represented in the movie Selma causing a State politician to introduce a bill banning AP in the classrooms.  Selma reveals what really happened in America and everyone needs to know about this historical stain in our history.  Selma does just that and I encourage everyone to see the movie and have discussions and conversations about it.  I believe our future generations need to know about the country’s history so they may learn from it rather than deny it really happened.  I had to control my inner feelings in the movie Selma especially the clip on the four girls killed in Sunday school at a Birmingham church.  But that is an historical truth and fact which needs to be known.  The tragedy of 9/11 is revisited every year since it occurred as a reminder of America’s resolve and determination in the midst of that horrific terrorist attack.  Advance Placement is but one way and an important way of assuring the history of America is authenticated.
      As we were preparing to leave Selma that March day in 1965 we discovered via radio that Mrs. Viola Luizzo a white woman from Detroit had been brutally murdered.  After the euphoria of the Selma march and Dr. King’s speech and a coming together of peoples from all around the country her death caught everyone off guard.  There was a pall over the country upon hearing the news of Mrs. Luizzo’s murder making for a toxic and scary atmosphere which engulfed me and Carl.  People are dangerous when they respond out of fear and anger and that was the atmosphere for many more months to come.  The Rev. James Reeb a white Unitarian minister was brutally beaten to death having stopped in a convenience store in Selma.  That incident is portrayed in the movie Selma and as awful as it was it is a part of America’s ugly past and needs to be known.  As I near my 80th birthday in September 2015 I am mindful of how truly fortunate and blessed I am to have lived through this period of history.  I know for a fact that I am alive today because of the nonviolence training I received at the hands of Ambassador Andy Young.  I know for a fact that “trouble don’t last always.”  I know deep in my soul why the songs in black churches were central to my survival and participation in Selma and elsewhere.  And that is why “I don’t feel no ways tired. I’ve come to far from where I started from. Nobody told me that the road would be easy. I don’t believe God brought me this far to leave me.”  And so it is.
     Next Entry: Reflections on the U.S. Congress


     One of Dr. M.L.King, Jr’s  favorite quotation begins thusly:
          Vanity asks the question-is it popular?
          Expedience asks the question-is it politic?
          Cowardice asks the question-is it safe?
          Conscience asks the question-is it right?
          There comes a time when we must take a position that is neither popular, or politic or safe, but one must take is because it is right.
I have learned that life’s questions are far more important than life’s answers. So, I ask you what kind of questions are you asking?  Are you on good terms with your conscience? What are you truly thankful for?  What are you doing for others?   How free are you from fear?  What do you truly hunger for?  Are you listening for the sound of the genuine in YOU?  What constitutes authenticity for you? How do you live each day?  Where do you find joy? Where do you find love?  To whom are you accountable?
These and other questions is what I believe the stuff of life is made of.  The more questions I have the better understanding I have of myself and the world in which you and I live. The more questions you and I have the more we keep searching.  You see, the art of asking questions is the prelude to discernment.  For example, when I ask the question “why is there war in Nigeria and Afghanistan” my question is more about discernment than the question itself.  You and I must always be on the hunt for discernment which is preceded by asking questions. I ask questions about my sorrow in search of discernment about my need for joy.  I ask questions about my fears in search of discernment about freedom from my fears.  Notice that I am not asking for answers as much as I am searching for discernment about my fears.  In my discernment I am led to discovery that allows me to ask more and more questions.
It is important for me to be on good terms with my conscience because it is my conscience that keeps asking me the question “is it right?” Is it right for me to worry?  Is it right for me to remain silent when I know it is important to break the silence with my questions?  I am always, always in conversation with my conscience.  Sometime I am in a tug of war with my conscience because I am not always prepared to accept the consequences of what my conscience is saying to me.  During this “tug of war” with my conscience I am on the hunt for something that is deeper and deeper inside of me.  I know the deep inside of me is speaking to the deep inside of me and I long for some kind of discernment that will enlightenment me.  The more questions I raise about the deeper side of me the more discernment I find,  For example, I keep asking why it is so hard for me to forgive those who have waged war against my spirit.  It is a legitimate question that keeps me working on ways to acknowledge I have more ground on forgiveness to cover.  If I should stop seeking forgiveness for those waging war against my spirit I will have surrendered, thus putting a halt to my discernment.  You see, it is discernment that flushes out the questions for my life and yours.
There is something quite liberating about asking questions.  For example, when I ask questions about some of life’s mysteries I am emboldened by the simple fact of discernment of these mysteries.  There is freedom in the questions because the questions lead me to other questions.  As long as I keep asking questions I am involved in a process of keeping myself open to hear other questions.  From these questions comes discernment and discernment creates other questions that nourishes my spirit.  The purpose of asking questions is to nourish our spirit.  My spirit is the pathway to my heart wherein lies my discernment.  Discernment is also another way of saying I am enlightened.  Enlightenment leads me to an awareness that I am on good terms with my conscience and that allows me the freedom to be me without making it difficult for you to be you.
There is fluidity in the asking of questions which keeps my activities alive.  I am alive and my conscience is alive so long as my life’s questions are fluid.  In journaling I raise questions over and over again that often leads me to an understanding of who I am in the presence of the God of life.  As I wrestle with life’s dilemmas and as I seek understanding for those things I do not understand, I am comforted in the knowledge that I can ask questions from the depths of my heart and find even more questions in my life with God.
My goal is never to grow tired of asking questions. And remember, there is in God sufficient strength, whatever our needs may be.
Dr. Paul


     I have been sitting here thinking about the numerous demonstrations following the Grand Jury verdicts in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York.  I was feeling my own anger welling up inside of me as I helplessly watched the riots and the vandalism occurring in real time on many of the television networks.  If that were not enough I then read about the senseless murder of two innocent NYPD officers as they sat in their vehicles.  The shooter turned out to be a black man with severe mental issues yet causing a huge reaction from cops around the country. More animosity began between the Mayor of NYC and organizations representing the cops. Even now the anger of protestors and the cops has caused a huge divide within city government. How can you call for calm when there is so much anger welling up inside of the NYPD and the community?  How can a truce be forged out of this chaos and bickering?
     I officiated the funeral of a fraternity brother who died at age 93. He was a distinguished law professor at the Howard University Law School.  Testimony after testimony mostly from family members and former students could not say enough about their beloved professor.  As I listened to these tributes I realized the professor’s career path had begun when America was deeply separate and not equal.  Against all sorts of odds and barriers the professor forged ahead and did not allow a repressive and segregated system keep him from pursuing his goals and aspirations.  I know several men and women like the professor whose contributions are well known throughout the country. These giants whose shoulders I stand upon today faced cruelties, oppressive policemen, racist judicial systems and a plethora of other indignities but they never, ever allowed these vicissitudes to stop their forward progress..  They faced obstacles far greater than the ones African Americans are facing today but they never allowed anger or attempts to block their progress from  forging ahead.  So I ask, “why can’t we?”  Why can’t we find ways to come together as “the people” and work towards reconciliation and peace?
      Make no mistake, I know the present road to equality and justice for all is difficult.  I realize the despair and hopelessness of many of the people peacefully protesting what seems to them to be  an unjust system badly in need of fixing. However, vandalism ,destruction of property and attacks against the cops will solve nothing.  NYPD cops blaming their mayor for the violence that occurred following the Grand Jury’s verdicts and their disrespect for Mayor DeBlasio only increases the violence and anger of the community.  Their actions solve nothing!  What needs to happen is this: put aside animosity, accusations and anger and create a space for reconciliation and peace. Most importantly, it must be remembered that we are all victims at some time or another. We are all guilty of harboring racist and insensitive beliefs learned long ago by many of us.  There must be some place where such a diverse and inclusive group of people may come together to work on solutions to the issues now dividing America.
    Creating such a space for reconciliation and peace could be simple if houses of worship were approached about opening up space for dialogue, discussion and soul searching. If not houses of worship then some other space could be opened up.  But this must be done as soon as possible in order for the anger and accusations to subside.  Mounting fears and suspicions following the senseless murder of two innocent cops must be addressed immediately.
      A few years ago I spent six weeks in South Africa as a guest of the Presbyterian Church of South Africa.  I arrived shortly after Apartheid had been dismantled and Nelson Mandela was overwhelmingly elected President.  Consider the brutality and inhumanity of apartheid in SA and the 27 years of false imprisonment of Nelson Mandela who never allowed his incarceration and inhumane treatment to cause him to respond with anger or violence.  I personally witnessed a session of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission formed following the ANC’s political victory.  I saw first hand how reconciliation and forgiveness allowed true freedom for the people of SA.  I realize oppression of any kind is awful and must be eradicated.  But there is no comparison between apartheid in SA and the brutality by law enforcement agencies throughout America.  If SA could create a truth and reconciliation commission then why can’t we?  It is in my humble opinion the most reasonable solution to the seemingly never ending fight against racism, sexism and militarism which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, defined as the three great sins of America. Doing nothing only continues the disconnect between the police and the community which will only produce a negative response and outcome.  Why not give ourselves a chance to confess and forgive so we can be reconciled with each other?  Why not decrease the animosity and rancor and fear by considering such a Commission?  Think about it! “They drew a circle that shut me out, heretic, rebel a thing to flout, but love and I had the wit to win, so we drew a circle and took them in.”  And so it is.
Dr. Paul
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