Last week I suggested that there is a better way to live than always trying to get even. I asserted that retaliation for offenses or injuries is not the best way to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

The wisdom of the Bible offers the following advice: “A gentle answer quiets anger, but a harsh one stirs it up” (Proverbs 15:1, Good News Translation). Jesus told his followers to “not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:38, 44).

The day after last week’s post I heard a story of one person who followed this course of action with dramatic results. What I learned about this man has stayed with me all week so I am passing it on to you- partly to purge my mind and also to share the dynamic witness of Jacob DeShazer.

Jacob DeShazer, was a bombardier in the storied Doolittle raid over Japan in World War II. At age 27 he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corp wanting to be a pilot but was assigned to be a bombardier instead.  He was among the small group of men selected to be a part of what has become known as Doolittle’s Raiders.

On April 18, 1942, crewmen in 16 Army Air Forces B-25 bombers, commanded by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle (a Ph.D. from M.I.T) flew from the carrier Hornet on a daylight bombing raid that brought the war home to Japan for the first time since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Corporal DeShazer was among the five-member crew of “Bat Out of Hell”, the last bomber to depart the Hornet. His plane dropped incendiary bombs on an oil installation and a factory in Nagoya but it ran out of fuel before the pilot could try a landing at an airfield held by America’s Chinese allies.

Take Off Order  16  Tail # 40- 2268  "Bat Out of Hell"-- Target: Kobe -- Pilot Lt. W.G.Farrow, Co-Pilot Lt. R.L.Hite, Navigator Lt. G.Barr, Bombardier Cpl. J.D.Shazer, Engineer Gunner Sgt. H.A. Spatz --- Crash landing, China coast, Japanese POWs

The five crewmen bailed out over Japanese-occupied territory in China and all were quickly captured. In October 1942, a Japanese firing squad executed three of the captured crew. Corporal DeShazer and the other survivors were starved, beaten and tortured at prisons in Japan and China. He endured 40 months in solitary confinement living in 6×9’ concrete cells with no heat or light and with only starvation rations.

Holy Bible Closeup. Holy Bible on the Small Aged Wooden Table. Stock Photo - 36163238

Although he was not a Christian he asked his captors for a Bible. Later he wrote, “In the month of May 1944, a guard brought me the book, but told me I could have it only for three weeks. I eagerly began to read its pages. I discovered that God had given me new spiritual eyes and that when I looked at the enemy officers and guards who had starved and beaten my companions and me so cruelly, I found my bitter hatred for them changed to loving pity.”

He began to realize that Jesus was onto something with his instructions about how to treat other people. So, instead of spitting at the Japanese guards, he began to be pleasant and greet them with “Good Morning.” Before long the guards’ attitudes and actions became less violent and angry.

A few days after the war ended he was freed from imprisonment. Upon returning home, he enrolled at Seattle Pacific College (now Seattle Pacific University) and received a bachelor’s degree in biblical literature in 1948. In December 1948 he returned to Japan with his wife as missionaries in the Free Methodist Church.

Fuchida file photo [670]

In 1950, he met Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese naval flier who had led the Pearl Harbor attack and had become a rice farmer after the war. Through contact with DeShazer Mr. Fuchida became a Christian and an evangelist who made several trips to the United States to meet with Japanese-speaking immigrants. After 30 years in Japan doing missionary work DeShazer returned home. He died at age 95.

 

Jacob DeShazer is one who followed the “better way.” God help us all to follow his example.

Jamie Jenkins

Advertisements

When someone does you wrong do you get over it or do you get even? The tendency when you are offended or assaulted is to strike back. Retaliate.picture of retaliation - Revenge rubber stamp - JPG

Justification for retaliation is found in the concept of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” This is a part of Mosaic Law used in the justice system of the ancient Israelites. The principle of jus talionis or lex talionis is that the punishment must fit the crime and there should be a just penalty for evil actions. Justice should be equitable; excessive harshness and excessive leniency should be avoided.

It has been suggested that if everyone practiced “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” the result would be a world of blind and toothless people.

mlk-jr-05

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness…. The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

stock photo of retaliation - Revenge or Forgiveness - JPG

Is there a better way? Perhaps the law of reciprocity offers an acceptable alternative to the law of retaliation. The law of reciprocity means that when someone does something nice for you, you do something nice for them in return. The act of returning a kind gesture or favor basically goes without saying. Unfortunately the all too often mindset is that when someone does something harsh or unkind, we in turn act in like manner.

Jesus in white robes, sitting on a hillside by the sea, surrounded by a large group of people who are listening to His teachings.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus counters the teaching of personal retaliation: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, “Do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:38–42).

These verses may be the most difficult verses in the Bible.

On another occasion Jesus taught that the practice of retaliation would not provide any positive results. Instead, he said “all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”

The Apostle Paul instructed the Christians of his day in this manner: “ Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even… if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:17-21, The Message)

“Evil is powerful, but good is more powerful. In fact, evil is so powerful that only good has the power to overcome evil. Darkness can be driven away only by light” (Jay E. AdamsHow to Overcome Evil). I think Jesus would agree- and so do I.

Jamie Jenkins

 

It has been two weeks since I have posted on this blog. I am sure that you have missed it and wondered what has happened to me. Your life has been greatly diminished because you have been deprived of my musings.

If I believed that, I would be in need of serious therapy. The fact is I suspect that you have not even realized that there has been a two week gap in my Thoughts for Thursday postings. And even if you realized it, there has been no detrimental effect because of it.

dsc_0735

Nevertheless, an explanation for why the hiatus. My oldest son Jason, his wife Keiko, and their two children Jamie and Felicia (my only two grandchildren) have been visiting for the past five weeks. In addition, we have also had a revolving door of guests since they arrived. My grandson’s best friend from Korea, a cousin from California, and another cousin from Japan have each spent 10 days – two weeks with us. It has been so much fun and it has occupied most of my thoughts. So, I gave my writing a rest.

By the way, my son’s family is one of many who live something of a nomadic lifestyle. They are a part of a large community of traveling families. They lived in Japan for 13 years but left there in 2013. Since then they have lived in Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, and Spain. They are on their way to Mexico for their next residence. Jason writes a blog about their experiences and has posted over 100 podcast interviews with other traveling families. If you are interested, check out his blog (www.anepiceducation.com).

Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man. Francis Bacon

I write as a discipline, not because I enjoy it or think that I have anything of major importance to say. World events are not affected by my opinions or advice.  Lives are not drastically altered by my wisdom. I understand that.

Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.

E. B. White

Verbal communication has been my primary method of sharing my thoughts. I am occasionally reminded that I can talk a lot without saying very much. Writing helps me to be conscious of choosing the right word(s) and I am more aware of reasonable limits on the length of my communication. Writing helps me discipline myself in that regard. Writing regularly with self-imposed time/space limitations also has value.

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’Tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”
― Mark Twain

These past two weeks I have chosen not to chain myself to the chair in front of the computer to be sure I did not miss a Thursday entry. That, in itself, has been a discipline and a reminder that it is okay if I miss an occasional self-imposed deadline.

So why am I writing today? For one thing, I want those who read what I write to know that I am still alive and well. Secondly, in the midst of everyday life I need to maintain some sense of rhythm and to continue to work on the art of communication.

You can be certain that this latest installment is not because my sense of self-worth or my ego demands it. I understand the warning given by the Apostle Paul: “I say to everyone of you not to think more highly of himself [and of his importance and ability] than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has apportioned to each a degree of faith [and a purpose designed for service].” (Romans 12:3, Amplified Bible)

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

National League Cy Young Award winner R. A. Dickey

He was born Robert Allen Dickey on October 29, 1974. Like his grandfather, who was called by his initials, he became known as R. A. He knew poverty and remembers his parents stealing flatware from the Western Sizzlin’ restaurant. His alcoholic mother and emotionally absent father divorced when he was three years old.

R. A.’s childhood and adolescence was full of struggle and conflict. He was a fierce competitor and regularly involved in fights. It was not unusual for him to sleep in his car or at friend’s house, or to break into vacant houses and spend the night there. He was sexually abused by a thirteen year old babysitter when he was eight years old and later by a teen-aged boy.

His athletic ability brought satisfaction and a sense of self-worth to this Nashville native as he grew up. He was an English literature major at the University of Tennessee where he had a 3.35 GPA and was named Academic All-American and Academic All-SEC. He was also a star athlete as a football quarterback, basketball forward and baseball pitcher.

R.A. Dickey, with Team USA, signs autographs before

1996 was a banner year for R.A. He was a member of Team USA in the Olympics. He was picked in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Texas Rangers. After being drafted, he was initially offered a signing bonus of $810,000. But Rangers trainer Danny Wheat saw his throwing (right) arm hanging oddly in a picture of him with fellow USA starting pitchers in Baseball America.

Dr. John Conway, team physician conducted a physical examination that revealed a missing ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The UCL is necessary for daily functions as routine as turning a doorknob. As a result of this discovery, Doug Melvin, Rangers General Manager, told Dickey and his agent, “We are going to retract our offer.”

Product Details

In his autobiography, R.A. describes his feelings as he sat in the GM’s office and heard his words.

“I don’t feel devastation, or even  anger. I feel rage. Complete rage. It feels as if it starts in my toes and blasts up through my body like a tsunami, into my guts and right up through the top of my head.

“I have an urge as primal as anything I have ever felt….But I do not lift a finger. I do not leave my chair. It’s as if there is a strong hand on my shoulder holding me back, giving me pause. In that instant I have a self-control that was not there a moment earlier.

“I hear a voice: ‘Relax, I’ve got you. Relax, R.A. It’s okay. It’s going to be okay. I’ve got you.’

“The voice is the Holy Spirit. The restraint is the Holy Spirit… The tsunami passes.”

As he goes to the airport for his flight back home to Nashville he feels “the rage dissipating, replaced by a terrible loneliness. A loneliness that feels terminal.”

On the flight home he searches “for comfort, any comfort at all, and finds it, not in Doug Melvin’s seven words (We are going to retract our offer), but in the Holy Spirit’s three: ‘I’ve got you’.”

Sounds pitcher R. A. Dickey hurls a pitch into the

This is the place where the music swells and you get the feeling that all is well. Not so. The next several years brings momentary success and significant failures for R.A.  He travels a long road filled with disappointments and struggles- 11 years in the minor leagues. One writer said, “Despite being twice consigned to baseball’s scrap heap Dickey battled back. Sustained by his Christian faith, his wife and children, and a relentless quest for self-awarenes” he finally achieved his life-long goal of being a Major League baseball player. In 2012, Dickey was selected to his first All-Star Game, won the Sporting News Pitcher of the Year Award, and became the first knuckleball pitcher to win the Cy Young Award.

As a conventional Major League pitcher R.A. was marginally successful. After advice from his manager and pitching coach, he focused on becoming a knuckleball pitcher. As of the 2017 season, Dickey (now with the Atlanta Braves) and Boston Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright are the only two active players in the majors who use the knuckleball as their primary pitch.

R.A. Dickey Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves

The Holy Spirit’s words, “I’ve got you,” in 1996 was not a promise that everything would be easy. However, they were words of assurance to R.A. that he was not alone and no matter what happened it would be okay.

The promise made to R.A. Dickey is given to everyone: “Relax, I’ve got you. It’s okay. It’s going to be okay. I’ve got you.”

Jamie Jenkins

hallmark: SPRINGFIELD, OR - OCTOBER 28, 2015: Hallmark greeting cards selection at a grocery store supermarket.

Hallmark Father’s Day card: “Dad, thanks to your lectures I never change horses in the middle of a job worth doing, I know the squeaky wheel gets the worm, and I never count my chickens until I’ve walked a mile in their shoes … And you thought I wasn’t listening.”

It is easy to “hear” something different from what is really said. Sometimes it is because we are distracted and we simply misunderstand. On other occasions we “hear” what we want to hear; our mind is already made up. Language, culture, experience, age and a variety of other things facilitate or prevent good communication.

The Burning Bush

I believe the same things that make it difficult for us receive messages accurately from human sources also come into play when God speaks to us. God conversed with Adam in the first garden. God told Noah to build an ark. God spoke to Moses in a burning bush. Paul heard His voice on the way to Damascus.

And I believe God speaks to us in these modern times.

Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When He Speaks by [Shirer, Priscilla]

“Hearing God speak” may mean different things to different people. God treats each of us as unique individuals. None of us are cookie-cutter people. Because of that, God doesn’t “speak” the same way to all of us. Throughout history God has spoken to people in many ways.

My wife is often the voice of God to me. Oh, she is not some mystical creature with a special connection to God but I am convinced that her opinion and wisdom has provided divine guidance, comfort, and assurance. There are others throughout my life that have also served that role.

Product Details

Hearing the “voice of God” through another human being can be most effective and most difficult. It seems illogical that mere humans would be the medium for the Divine Other to communicate with creatures like us. The psalmist asks ““Why do you care about us humans? Why are you concerned for us weaklings?”(Psalms 8:4, CEV).

An interesting story in the Bible is found in the 18th chapter of Genesis. “One hot summer afternoon Abraham was sitting by the entrance to his tent near the sacred trees of Mamre, when the Lord appeared to him. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. He quickly ran to meet them” and offered hospitality. As they relaxed and enjoyed the refreshments one of them told Abraham that he and his wife Sarah were going to have a son. Sarah overheard the conversation and laughed to herself because both of them were very old.God had promised Abraham and his wife Sarah that they would have a son and their descendants would become a great nation as numerous as the stars. The problem was that both were now too old to have children. (Genesis 12:1-3, 15:14, 17:15-22, 18:9-15). – Slide 1

Remember that at the beginning of the story we are told that “the Lord appeared” to Abraham but the narrative said that Abraham “saw three men” standing nearby. I don’t know what either of them looked like but apparently they looked like ordinary human beings to Abraham. The guest who predicted that Sarah would have a baby is identified as God. Responding to Sarah’s laughter the guest says, “I am the Lord! There is nothing too difficult for me.”

The author of Hebrews in the New Testament admonishes us “to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” And who knows, God might even show up.

Jamie Jenkins

I have become increasingly concerned over the “Us vs. Them” attitude that I see and hear regularly. Too many groups and individuals operate on the basis that anything different is bad. “We” must oppose “them.”  More than that, we see “them” as the enemies of “us” that must be stopped or destroyed.

I understand that there are people who espouse harmful philosophies and I know that all ideas are not for the benefit of the larger community. However, I find it impossible to believe that “we” are always right and “they” are always wrong. Whoever the “we” or “they” are.

There are many people who subscribe to the “Us vs. Them” approach to all matters. I am not one of them.

Some folks see anyone whose culture or language as different and probably dangerous. I am not one of them.

Many people believe that everybody is out for themselves. Wanting something for nothing. I am not one of them

Many politicians and John/Jane Does propose that Red/Blue States have the right perspective on all political issues and the other will lead the country to ruin. I am not one of them.

The attitude of a lot of people is that if your skin color is different from mine, I have to keep an eye on you. I am not one of them.

According to conversations I hear and read from individuals in leadership as well as common ordinary citizens, it seems that it is alright to use demeaning terminology and derogatory words to describe others. I am not one of them.

It is common for people to assert that anyone who holds a different position on religion, politics, social issues or virtually anything is your enemy. I am not one of them.

Us vs. Them

Sports fans often depict fans of an opposing team as bad people to be avoided. I am not one of them.

Someone always wins and someone always loses. That is the attitude that I sense in many people. I am not one of them.

Old Way and New Way signs, Life change conceptual image

I know people who always see change as bad. It is better to keep things the way they are. I am not one of them.

There are Christians who believe that they alone interpret the Scriptures correctly and know the mind of God  I am not one of them

Jeff Chandler, writing about working relationships says, “On the surface, we discuss compassion, empathy, and understanding but down at a personal level, there are grudges, alliances, and interactions that are the complete opposite. There is a growing contingency of US vs THEM which doesn’t seem like a good way (to work together).”

“Unless we are very, very careful,” wrote psychologist-turned-artist Anne Truitt, “we doom each other by holding onto images of one another based on preconceptions that are in turn based on indifference to what is other than ourselves.”

Loving and gracious God, help us to see our fellow human beings as brothers and sisters and treat everyone with respect. Enable us to understand that “we” might be wrong and “they” might be right on some things. Help us to work side by side with each other to  “guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride.” So that others “may know we are Christians by our love.”

Jamie Jenkins

Perhaps you have enjoyed dinner and a movie at one of the places where a restaurant and movie theater combined in one facility. Or maybe you have been to a “dinner theater” (sometimes called dinner and a show) that combines a restaurant-style meal with a staged play or musical.

If you are a baseball fan in Atlanta you might want to check out the Chop House at the Braves new Sun Trust Park. Situated in right field of the stadium, it has three levels, including two party decks and a new field level which can be turned into a large group area directly behind right field. A full menu affords many choices of food while you enjoy the hometown team win the game (at least that is what you hope for).

Waffle House photo of: The Sign

Although each of the aforementioned experiences may be good, I have a better, and more economical  alternative. Go to any Waffle House and sit where you can see the food being prepared. I guarantee that you will be entertained and amazed as you watch the skills of the short order cooks. Don’t tell Waffle House but I think they should charge extra for seats that allow you to be so well entertained.

Waffle House® restaurants are not intended to be entertainment venues but they certainly can be. The “unbeatable combination of good food with outstanding service” have made it a “beloved icon of the South” the first Waffle House opened on Labor Day 1955 in the Atlanta suburb of Avondale Estates. The original restaurant, which was sold by the chain in the early 1970s, has been restored using original blueprints and is now open as a museum.

Image may contain: food

Don’t let the name fool you. The menu includes many choices not just for breakfast but lunch and dinner as well. And all Waffle House restaurants are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year- the doors are never locked.

The original founders of the Waffle House brand both died in 2017 within two months of each other. Joe Rodgers Sr. passed away on March 3, 2017. Tom Forkner passed away on April 26, 2017.[9]

All food is prepared fresh, cooked to order and served on real china at every Waffle House. The kitchen is out front and in full view- and that is the where the entertainment comes in.

Waffle House photo of: The crew

On a recent visit to a Waffle House near my home our party of four enjoyed pecan waffles, bacon, eggs cooked to order, grits, raisin toast, and hashbrowns scattered, smothered and covered (one of many combinations available), and coffee. Two cooks and three servers provided excellent service- and good food- to us and the other 20-25 customers.

We sat at a booth close to and with a good view of the food preparation area. To fully appreciate the scene you must understand that nothing is written down. The servers shout out the orders in a language only understood by the grill operator and they use a system to make sure orders are right that is too complicated for me to understand or attempt to explain.

Carlos Whittaker describes his experience as a Waffle House short order cook this way: “Being a Waffle House cook was without a doubt, the hardest, most mind consuming job I have EVER had. 5 days after training on the grill in the afternoons from 2-4, they threw me into the fire. 6:30 am, that next Monday morning…’Bacon egg and cheese plate on 2 like 1! Waffle Up! Hashbrown scattered covered smothered chunked topped and diced. Ham and Cheese Omelet with extra cheese on 2 like 1! Pull a Ham!’ This was the first 90 seconds.” 

Good short order cooks/grill operators must have skills in many areas including communication, customer service, hand-eye coordination, sense of taste and smell, stamina, and teamwork (http://www.snagajob.com/job-descriptions/short-order-cook). In spite of the requirement of being multi-talented, these people are not highly compensated for their labor. The Board of Labor Statistics reports that the mean annual wage is $23,130. Servers make even less.

Consider Waffle House for your next dining out experience. You don’t have to dress up. The environment is pleasant. The entertainment is free. The service and food will be good and you won’t spend a lot of money. You won’t regret it, but be sure to leave a generous tip.

Jamie Jenkins

 

Last week I write about my recent visit to Cuba and my plans to return in October (you are welcome to join me). I spoke of the enjoyment of the experience and mentioned a few of the places we visited.

I could expand on the sites and people. There is much that could be said about the economic condition of the island nation just 90 miles from the United States. The pros and cons of the U.S. embargo could easily provide fodder for a long political discussion. I could compare and contrast the economies and governments of the two countries.

Instead, I want to share something which spoke to me about poverty and wealth and transcends the understanding of these two particular cultures.

image of worship - priest and worship at the catholic altar - JPG

On Sunday morning group leaders on the ship provided worship experiences for both Protestants and Catholics. Although attendance was voluntary, I am glad that I went. While Father Damien celebrated mass with the Catholics on board the ship, Rev. Bob Brown, one of the Protestant ministers, led a worship service in which we were introduced to a new song.

Cuando el Pobre (When the Poor Ones) is a Latin American hymn from 1971 written by J. A. Olivar and Miguel Manzano.  The English translation is by George Lockwood.

Bible

The hymn is a meditation on Matthew 25: 31-46, the parable of the great judgment, focusing on verses 34-36: “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me’” (NIV).

The United Methodist Hymnal editor Carlton Young notes: “The central teaching (of the hymn) is the classic liberation motif that God in Christ is seen and experienced in the plight of the rejected of society: the homeless, the poor, and the parentless. In life’s journey, we are closer to God when we love them and share from our abundance of food, clothing, and shelter. Those who choose the alternative—greed, hate, and war—will ‘go away into eternal punishment’” (Matthew 25:46a).

CUANDO EL POBRE (UMH #434)

When the poor ones who have nothing share with strangers,

When the thirsty water give unto us all,

When the crippled in their weakness strengthen others,

[Refrain]

Then we know that God still goes that road with us,

Then we know that God still goes that road with us.

When at last all those who suffer find their comfort,

When they hope though even hope seems hopelessness,

When we love though hate at times seems all around us,

[Refrain]

Then we know that God still goes that road with us,

Then we know that God still goes that road with us.

When our joy fills up our cup to overflowing,

When our lips can speak no words other than true,

When we know that love for simple things is better,

[Refrain]

Then we know that God still goes that road with us,

Then we know that God still goes that road with us.

When our homes are filled with goodness in abundance,

When we learn how to make peace instead of war,

When each stranger that we meet is called a neighbor,

[Refrain]

Then we know that God still goes that road with us,

Then we know that God still goes that road with us.

 
Jamie Jenkins

 

Map of Cuba

I have just returned from a trip to Cuba- a wonderful experience.

On October 17, 2016, President Obama announced that Cuba and the United States were formally reestablishing diplomatic ties with the opening of embassies in each other’s capitals. This agreement is the most sweeping change in U.S. policy toward Cuba since President John F. Kennedy proclaimed an embargo on trade between the two countries in February 1962.

Tourists from Europe, Canada, and other countries have been visiting Cuba for the past 50 years. Now that travel to Cuba is available to Americans, I wanted to see for myself what this island nations was like.

I flew from Atlanta to Havana where I joined others aboard the Celestyal Crystal which would serve as my floating hotel for the next seven days. This ship has a capacity of 960 passengers but there were significantly fewer than that since this is the low season for tourism. Havana is the only Cuban harbor that can accommodate larger ocean going cruise ships that carry thousands of folks. However, on our smaller ship we were able to dock in three cities in Cuba in addition to Montego Bay, Jamaica.

One of the ship’s publications described Cuba as “a continuing education. Just when you think you have figured it out, it confounds you with another brow-beating riddle…Twenty-first century Cuba promises to be like no other place you have ever visited: culturally rich, visibly mildewed, architecturally magnificent, infuriating, and at the same time uplifting.”

Havana- Christ Statue

 

We toured the old city of Havana, visited the stunningly beautiful National Theater, and stood before the huge statue of Jesus standing high above the city providing a wonderful panoramic view of the harbor and the city. The Spanish influence can be seen in the historic castles, fortresses, cathedrals, mansions, and public buildings of the capitol city. And, of course, the classic American cars were everywhere.

Havana- Old Cars

The coastal city of Cienfuegos, in the middle of the island, is known to Cubans as the “Pearl of the South.” Near the entrance to the bay stands the imposing fortress Castillo de Jagua, built in 1745 to protect the city against pirate attacks and the main square is stunning.

Cuba- Cienfuego

Our third Cuban port was the city of Santiago de Cuba on the eastern end of the island. The Cuban Revolution began here on July 26, 1953 with an ill-prepared armed attack on the Moncada Barracks by a small contingent of rebels led by Fidel Castro. A visit to the fortress Castillo del Morro and the National Cemetery where Fidel Castro’s Ashes are interred served as bookends to Cuba’s history.

Cuba- Castros Tomb.JPG

In addition to enjoying the beauty and history of Cuba we had the opportunity to meet the people. I found them to be friendly, welcoming, and hopeful. We visited an artist’s workshop, a community project, and five churches.

Cuba- artist

My visit to this fascinating, perplexing, paradoxical nation was so enjoyable but I need another visit to fully enjoy the beauty and culture of the country, the food, and the music. So I am planning to make another visit to Cuba in October. You are welcome to join me. If you would like more information, contact me, jjenkins1943@gmail.com

Cuba- Music and Culture

Jamie Jenkins

Body, mind, soul, spirit in old wood type

We tend to think of our bodies and minds as separate systems that function, for the most part, independently. Yet instinctively we know that is not the whole story. The way we think affects how we feel. If we think we are in danger, our body tends to experience stress, our hearts beat faster, and our palms get sweaty. If we think others love and appreciate us, our body responds with positive feelings.

The mind-body relationship has been a topic of conversation and research for centuries.  Scientists and philosophers have debated and attempted to explain mind-body interaction but there is disagreement about whether there is a rigid distinction between the mind and the body or are they uniquely unified.

Image of Human Skeleton Human Skeleton Front En Svg Diagram of

‘Wikipedia states that most modern philosophers maintain in their different ways that the mind is not something separate from the body. According to one academic journal, “The problem of the relationship between the mind and the body, is one that has always fascinated humanity across all cultures and in all times.” The next two sentences of explanation in that journal contain 104 words, 571 character and takes 10 lines of space. Two sentences- and the wording left me completely befuddled.

Researchers are continually finding evidence that the brain has a distinct power to manipulate the body’s physiology.  I cannot fully understand the debate but it appears to me they are much more entwined than we might assume. Thought processes and physical responses appear to be interrelated but I cannot offer a scientific or philosophical explanation.

Brain

Robert Jones is not a scientist or philosopher. He runs 3 successful martial arts schools, He says, “The mind is the master of the body. If we train and discipline our minds, the body will follow. Once the body and mind become focused and in tune, you will see that your whole life will seem to flow; like you are in the zone.”

 

Recently I heard an athlete talking about his conditioning routine. His belief was that if you train the brain the body would follow. He talked about both mental and physical exercises and suggested that the brain (mind) determined what the body could/would do.

Healthy concept, Spirit, Body and Mind

Ernest Holmes, author of The Science of Mind says, “Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it.” If he is correct, then how we think is very important. What our minds focus on will determine our character and our actions. Perhaps that is what the Apostle Paul knew when he gave this advice: “Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8 Common English Version).

Philippians 4:8 Inspirational Image

Jamie Jenkins