RANTING and RAVING: the series continues with a short video of contemporary poet @TaylorMali challenging us all to rant and rave with confidence and conviction.

Here’s a very pointed challenge from teacher, teacher-advocate, poet, and creative, concise, challenging expressionist Taylor Mali.

We should probably,like, believe in what we say we believe in enough to, like, speak of it with confidence and assertion, ya know? And don’t forget that loving one another includes speaking truth to one another, with kindness of course.

RANTING and RAVING – about Casey Anthony (including a few thoughts from a lawyer friend of mine)

Regardless whether you are that person who even still has yet to hear about the Central Florida Mom whose been on trial for the alleged murder of her daughter who mysteriously died a few years ago or whether you are that person who bought a plane ticket to fly down to Orlando who then acquired a ticket to actually sit in the courtroom during what has become the 21st Century’s “OJ” trial scenario, it is no wonder that this trial has become international news. People actually do seem to care or at least turn a head when an irresponsible mother neglects her daughter leaving her in a drug-induced slumber in the back seat of her car while she parties her life away (allegedly).

Well, I was not wrapped up in this case by any means. Going sometimes weeks at a time without even stopping to pay attention to the latest news report in the saga. But when the verdict was read, my attention was given. Partly because I stopped into a local business for their specific services and was asked to wait a few minutes while all the employees huddled around a computer screen to watch the verdict. Partly because I was curious.

One of my friends who is a lawyer had kept close eye on the case. Probably because he was interested. Mostly because he is a learner, learning from others in his field. Based on my conversations with him, I was not surprised that Casey was acquitted of “Murder 1.” I was, however, surprised that she was acquitted of abuse and neglect.

I asked my lawyer friend for his reaction. I asked him 7 questions. Here are his responses:

1. can you describe your feelings and immediate thoughts when you heard the Casey Anthony verdict read?

I was surprised, but not shocked and also disappointed.  I believe there was enough evidence to support at least a conviction of manslaughter.

2. was the verdict what you expected, and if not what did you expect?

It was not what I expected, but I have been practicing law long enough to know that you never know what a jury will do.

3. what could the prosecution have done differently in presenting this case? 

Its hard to second guess the prosecution.  Technically they may have over charged the case, but the evidence was what it was and listening to the alternate juror today, they wanted a cause of death.  That’s never going to come out.

4. what do you think the sentencing will be, and does her already-served jail time count in her sentencing? 

Because the four remaining counts are misdemeanors, I don’t think she will get much more if any time. She probably qualifies for some credit at least for time served.

5. what do you expect the reaction of Central Floridians to be over the coming days?

I think Central Floridians, and folks around the country are disappointed.  They feel like justice has not been served and that Casey got away with murder.

6. as a follower of Jesus yourself, how would  you suggest that the church of Central Florida respond to the verdict, to Casey, and to her family?

 I tell people all the time, our system is not perfect, it can’t be.  We have to look to the Lord for justice, not the system.  The judicial system is good, the best in the world, but that can’t be where we look for justice and fairness.

7. how would you suggest that the church of Central Florida respond around water coolers and on office breaks and in bars and over meals as this verdict is being vented about?

I think everyone needs to move on.  The process did what the process does, and that’s it.  Ultimate judgment is not ours, but the Lord’s.

There you have it.

The sentencing came down today. One year for each of the four counts of providing false evidence along with what will probably be a hefty fine. Casey has already served nearly three years in jail. That will count toward the four she must now serve. So, only about a year and a half before she can make public appearances for book signings and movie deals and Casey Anthony bobble-head dolls.

I digress. Seriously though, this is a very serious case. Anytime a child’s life is lost, and especially when it is taken (allegedly), attention is deserved.

Three questions:

:: does anyone who knows Casey know whether she is learning and living the ways of Jesus with someone now? If not, I pray that she will. Not the “North American Go-to-Church and Modify-Behavior” version of Christianity. No. Walking WITH Jesus. Not just living FOR Him. I pray she will be wrecked and restored by the Good News of a God who graciously and loving came near and now wants to walk near with each of us.

:: why has the international media paid such close attention to the case of a negligent mother whose daughter’s life was lost, and yet they pay little attention to the millions whose lives are taken by abortion? This question was posed by a friend of mine. A well-meaning friend, who, like me is not trying to be all holier-than-thou here. I understand that the plight of moms who face the abortion choice is not as simple as some who stand against abortion make it out to be. However, many cases where babies are aborted occur because of a would-have-been mother neglecting a more-than-a-fetus child conceived during a careless, short-lived, indulgent experience. That is worthy of media attention, too.

:: what would Jesus do? Ok. I admit. I went cheesy on this last question. But read me out here. Jesus wouldn’t just show up as a spiteful protester outside the Casey home or a passionate picketer outside of an abortion clinic. He would offer His presence, like He has to all of us, but not in those ways, in my opinion. He would love and befriend.

He loves Casey and every other young mom, including those who labor during sleepless nights to care for a little one as well as those who party late into the night neglecting the care of the little ones given to them as well as those who look for a way out of both scenarios. That’s the Gospel. No one gets left out of this Good News of a God coming near in spite of our selfishness and in the fullness of His love.

May we as His followers love them, too. May we become more attentive to living out the presence of the Gospel than we are about giving our attention to a verdict read about Casey Anthony and a verdict judgmentally passed upon other young mothers who are expected to make “holy” choices without the loving presence of a Holy God through the gracious life of a loving friend.


RANTING and RAVING about freedom – it’s not about being able to do whatever you want.

Here goes on a new blog series that will probably last for July. Maybe a little into August. We will see. I am not convinced that any of our rantings and ravings are necessary. I am almost certain very few of them are even worth reading. Maybe it’s more therapeutic for me.

Regardless, what better day than July 4th to kick off a “ranting and raving” blog series, since today we celebrate the day when those early American ranters and ravers penned us into existence as a country. And why?

For freedom – to do whatever we want, right? I don’t think so.

Freedom is rooted in intention, not impulsion. 

Whether you believe the teachings of Jesus or not, it doesn’t take much intelligence to observe the eventual demise left behind by selfish ambition. Thus, to act day after day only on selfish impulse, excusing self-absorption with the claim of personal freedom, eating and drinking and being merry no matter the effects, never-minding the lives of others, is not worth it. I say it’s “not worth it,” because we claim personal freedom as a matter of worth, at least to self, but it is not worth it either to self or to this beautiful, ugly, majestic, chaotic sea of humanity.

To live as though freedom ensures my opportunity to act on impulsion is to live a life without any worth bigger than myself. And it is certainly not freedom when my impulsive living in turn enslaves others, whether figuratively or literally.

No. Freedom is not rooted in impulsion. Rather, it is rooted in intention. 

Here’s the rub. Some do not believe God made them. But that percentage of humanity is actually smaller than the attention they receive might allow us to believe. So, let’s go with that presupposition together.


Therefore, wouldn’t it make sense that the maker of us all would know best how we live? Would know our optimum function? Would understand our worth and when our lives are lived full of worth?

If so, then doesn’t it makes sense that we would be truly free when we were unencumbered to live fully as God intended us to live?

Thus, the real meaning of Jesus’ words in John 8 come alive:

36 “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. [John 8:36, NASB]

We are free indeed when we live in the way of the One who made us and stand together in the grace of the One who saved us from ourselves. We find freedom when we listen to and love and thus obey that very One from Whom we wandered trying to live fully free lives based on personal impulsion only to find ourselves enslaved to our own impulsiveness and the evil (unintended) activity that followed.


Maybe that’s what drove those early Americans – not a motivation to do whatever they wanted to do but rather to be all that they were intended to be.

I don’t know. I was not there in those riveting conversations around that signing table that established what many still believe to be the best country in which to live in all the earth.

Regardless of your opinion of America, may you at least ask the One who made you what His intentions for you were, respond accordingly to His reply, and then live forgiven and grateful and free in His ways.

HAPPY 4th of July!!! Grateful for a free country and a freedom-giving Maker

For what it’s worth, here’s are the lyrics to a great song about freedom by Josh Garrels. I would suggest that he is challenging us here to actually resist the temptation to live as though personally a king, doing whatever we want, and rather live recognizing Who is King, and find freedom in the love and overcoming. Enjoy…

I was born into a system constructed for failure 
It’s a sinking ship manned by drunken sailors 
An escape artist behind the bars of a jailor 
An asthmatic attack when we forgot the inhaler 
If the shoe doesn’t fit what good is a tailor 
In the midst of a crisis please cancel the gala 
Without a symphony there’s no need for a prelude 
To foreshadow what’s to come. 

See the secret committees, commence with their meetings 
To make red tape in response to simple questions 
Questions threaten the perception of the beneficial systems 
A pyramid scheme with its cogs and its pistons 
Mechanization of men, making more and more 
Live in a miserable exhistance 
How can so few, claim so many victims
And this begs the question 

My rest is a weapon against the oppression 
Of mans obsession to control things 
Look at the long line of make believe kings 
The lord of the flies wants you to kiss his ring 
Follow new rules with invisible strings 
And become a puppet in the diabolical scheme 
How do good men become part of the regime 
They don’t believe in resistance. 
Hold fast like an anchor in the storm 
We will not be moved 

Lesson number one, overcome 
Every fear of regret and confusion 
It’s all illusion, delusion 
Sent to disconnect the holy fusion 
Of spirit and the flesh 

Every mortal breath, is meant to bring forth fire 
But only when the fear of death, gets consumed 
On the funeral pier 
So let the flames rise higher 
Let every man be considered a liar 
If he doubts the goodness and faithfulness of God 

Itching ears will compulsively nod in approval 
When unbelief is taught in all our temples and schools 
But God can restrain the madness of a fool 
He can bring His truth through the mouth of a mule 
You can move an mountain without any tools 

It just takes the faith of a little seed 
to make a way through what might seem to be 

And the ability will match the occasion 
The outcome will defy explanation 
The liberation will not be televised 
When it arrives like lightning in the skies 

Hold fast like an anchor in the storm 
For your love, we will rise and overcome 
Through the fire 

Hold fast my people and sing 
Through peace and through suffering 
All for the joy that it brings, to be free 
It’s gonna cost us everything 
To follow one Lord and King 
True love endure everything 
To be free 

Hold fast, like an anchor in the storm 
We will not be moved