Saturday, October 29, 2005


Just got back from a relaxing few days in Laughlin, NV. Its a cheap little town on the AZ NV border. Went to a working gold mine in AZ it was quite interesting. Other then that did very little. I spent today watching football and working on our bathroom. Tomorrow we will enjoy our last day of vacation.

I guess I find myself in a state of wonder. I wonder what T and I are doing. I mean going to have a kid and all. It is frightening.

I wonder about the work I do. Does it really matter? Or am I just in the way? I guess I am wondering and maybe questioning the whole chaplain thing. I mean its good but I don't know. I go back on Monday will I have been missed? Will it have mattered? I guess I need to be needed. If everything can be done well without me then why am I there? I need to know that what I am doing is of value that its meaningful. I guess I'm just asking if there is a point.

I help people find their higher power and council and give suggestions on life and everything else. But I wonder why, what makes my words or lack there of worth anything?

We had diner with some friends yesterday and they asked if we would ever be corps officers. We both said no. We do enjoy social services. My point is that if I wanted to be a pastor (that is really all they do) I would not do it in the Army because institutionally we suck at doing church. We build so much baggage on the church side of things but little on the Social services. In short I do not like more Army churches. But to be honest I don't want to be a pastor at all. A chaplain is a very different role. As a chaplain I respond to others need as the come to me. A pastor has a clearly defined people group and clearly defined expectations by his or her congregation. Furthermore in today's world a pastor is a program initiator and leader. (this is where officership and pastorate are in common) I hate programs. I mean hate. Most are pointless. Programs keep people busy. Very rarely do people grow in love for God and others through programs. We learn the right words and right actions but do we ever grow in love?

On another note over the last few months I've realized that I really don't like church as we know it. That doesn't mean I want to change it it just means that for me church (get up on Sunday sing songs, take offering, listen to someone preach or preach myself) is usually meaningless. The closest I ever experienced to church was senior year at CCU when we would ditch chapel (church without offering) play chess, eat lunch and talk about life, the universe, God, and football. That was church. There was no music and no sermon (except someone on their soapbox) just respect and a common theme-sucks chapels. I guess for me church would look like that. Since I may never find it again I am content to have church over blocs and via free night and weekend phone calls. As for church and preaching--Its not about me anyway, is it?


Funny, that is what I call church too, and I don"t play chess. That was a good year.

By Anonymous Rebecca, at 7:37 AM  

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Urban Army

I posted this over on Ian's blog in response to this comment.

Out of the light
Into darkness
Out of the city
Into the burbs where the darkness lies
Shake of the dust
lower the flag
The Army is no more
into the burbs where the darkness lies
They see the city thinking its so dark
From where I am all I see is light
So they leave in search of brighter pastures
unaware only darkness is there
Like all other churches is the battle cry
And so they die
And so they die
Out in the burbs where the darkness lies.
Out in the burbs where the darkness lies.

I pains me whenever this great urban ministry leaves the inner city in exchange for the burbs to be like all the others.

I've been all the others most suck. I mean God meets people there but its full of middle class sameness.

Besides are we not raised up and called to be with the poor?

Where we not incarnational before incarnational?

Weren't we just a rag tag group of poor people who were being redeemed?

No cadets?

I wonder why.


I followed the link. It already happened to our Corps and we grieve over it every day. I posted this on my blog October 6,

" It is time for the LORD to act...
(Psalm 119:126). Okay, Lord. No one can anticipate what You will do, but teach me!

"Why do You make me see iniquity, and why do You idly look at wrong?" (Habakkuk 1:3).


"I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me". (Habakkuk 2:1).

Lord Jesus, why did You allow men to move a Salvation Army Corps to the rich and new part of town? Once we were a Corps Community Center. Now we are a Corpse Center. The poor must drive here at $3.00/gallon for gasoline when they used to be able to walk to us. Perhaps our critical donor has a point when he says we only serve to enable poor kings.

"Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, Yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places." (Habakkuk 3:17-19)."

In our case, our Corps Council resigned and our fifty member advisory board also. Made no difference. We did a Winter Day Shelter last winter and it cost us $900/month for gasoline to transport people to our rich side of town location. We haven't had an advisory board for years, now. Do I sound bitter? Habakkuk bitter!

By Blogger glorybound9, at 7:33 AM  

At least one good thing came from our location here, though:
Tolani came and we got to send her to Crestmont. God is working through even our worst nightmares, which i guess is the point of Habakkuk.

By Blogger glorybound9, at 8:23 AM  

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Today we did some marriage counseling. Normie and an addict.
Not sure which has more issues.
Neither communicate.
Gets you down sometimes seeing all the pain.
But I see people trying and seeking to get well.
Talked to the program boss and a guy who has been my chapel beneficiary for six months.
These is the beginnings of a success story.
I guess I'm a little afraid.
An advocate went on vacation called in today he used.
Its just frustrating to see the cycle continue.
Are doing something wrong?
Is there anything we can do better?
I just don't know.
Did we miss something?
Where there signs we just did not see?
I wish I knew.
I wish I knew.
I just wonder when it will happen again.
Who is next?
Who is next?
I hope no one.
But I know better.
I know better.


Bill said,

"Its just frustrating to see the cycle continue.
Are doing something wrong?
Is there anything we can do better?
I just don't know.
Did we miss something?
Where there signs we just did not see?
I wish I knew."

I wish I knew, too. "For it is not an enemy who taunts me...but it familiar friend...within God's house we walked in the throng." (Psalm 55:12,13,14). Crack addict came to church, came clean, I did ministry with him, I ate with him in his home and he in mine, we did Bible study, we played music at open-airs, we gave him a job in our Thrift Store, made him manager. He started using again. Twice forgiven. The next time $600 was missing from the safe. He left because we couldn't let him do ministry anymore. Today he sits in county jail. I ache even as I write this,
"Its just frustrating to see the cycle continue.
Are doing something wrong?
Is there anything we can do better?
I just don't know.
Did we miss something?
Where there signs we just did not see?
I wish I knew."

By Blogger glorybound9, at 10:22 AM  

Incidentally, don't want to leave the wrong impression-he sits in county jail unrelated to the missing $600. That happened last year about this time. He stopped coming to the Corps about February.

By Blogger glorybound9, at 10:53 AM  


In the area of substance abuse, some will recover, some will relapse, and some will die.

Signs may be missed, but it is more than likely the person continues to make poor choices.

Could be that the addiction affects the mind which seems to be where it harbors and waits? Some treatment is able to touch the body, but does not affect the mind.
Even then, the person has to deal with behaviorial modification to end the addiction. Some comes to know Jesus Christ and He fills the void in their lives and they walk away from the addiction never to be bothered again. Others so affected must fight addiction for a lifetime.

To keep from growing cynical, you have to realize that you help all you can to draw that person toward every help to keep them sober and substance free. For some it will take, for others it will not. But, someone, somewhere will become substance free. You are always working toward that end.

As a Salvation Army, you are hoping and praying that they will come to accept Jesus Christ as Savior in the process. He is the real lifechanger and if you have been the one to lead the person to Him, you have provided a lifeboat.

All the helps to maintain sobriety are oars. The person has to use them and not throw them away if they are going to stay in recovery.
You have shown them the oars they need, but they have to decide how and when to use them. They make the final decision.

God bless you, Bill for the ministry you are doing. It does have eternal consequences and God must be pleased because you are doing something very important and wonderfully constructive in the lives of people.

L. Michael Fletcher

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:30 PM  

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

By the way

After the Angels did their part (beating the Evil Empire NNY) they Lost.

Hip Hip hurray

Hip Hip hurray

Hip Hip hurray

Hip Hip hurray

Hip Hip hurray


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Weekends in the fall mean one thing:
USC Notre Dame Game was the best I've seen in ages. USC still undefeated.
Raiders LOST!
Seahawks just got finished putting a whoppin on the Texans (I know t don't mean much but I can rarely see the Hawks play)
All in all a great football weekend.
Only two down sides:
Washington Huskies loosing (but we expect that don't we?)
Denver winning.
But hey Denver has Plummer as a quarterback its only a matter of time before he destructs.

So at 4-2 the Hawks are rolling. Bring on whoever is next to fall to the best offense in the game.

Re-sign Alexander!

Other then that not much is new.

The baby is doing well so far so good. I'm hoping for a boy so I teach him God's game. Tolani threatens that he might like the unsport of soccer (God forbid)

Since no one has commented on Captain Gabriel here are my thoughts:
graphically-worse then original Nintendo
socially-the wife was not even referred to as captain (just Mrs.)
Theologically-Placed; hunger, addiction, disasters, and TV all on the same level as evils needing conquered. I simply can not go here. All these are different. And hunger is not the evil. The cause of hunger is evil. Disasters simply happen. Addiction can not be put here because addiction is primarily and individual one person at a time. We can not conquer addiction only the addict can in their own life.
TV? Simply not evil. (unless TBN is on or something.)


Bill said,

"I'm hoping for a boy so I teach him God's game. Tolani threatens that he might like the unsport of soccer (God forbid)"

LOL. And this,

"graphically-worse then original Nintendo...TV? Simply not evil. (unless TBN is on or something.)"

LOL, again!

I've just been reading Subversive Influence and LOL. He picks up a quote in which Rick Warren compares PDL churches to the Windows OS of the 21st century and comes to this conclusion,

"So in a nutshell, if Rick Warren himself wishes to compare the whole PDL-program with an outmoded (modern) command/control greed-inspired system comprised of second-rate technology presenting a glossed-over veneer of stolen ideas built upon a shoddy insecure foundation…. well, who am I to argue?"

Off topic I know, but hey, Denver won and that's what this post was all about, right?

By Blogger glorybound9, at 4:01 PM  

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Friday, October 14, 2005

Officer Councils

Well we went up to Solvang a town that shuts down at 5PM. Listened to some good stuff on Ethics and stuff. My only issue is that most presenters at OC always try to bite of too much. Lots of stuff with little depth. A day on Ethics instead of 2 hours would have been nice.

We talked about margin and being a redemptive presence. I have to respond to the DC tomorrow so I will post my thoughts tomorrow.

Today we had our social services audit.

I was told to keep a "seekers log" Like I'm supposed to keep track of everyone who "makes a decision" whatever that means. I guess when I, not being an evangelical, interact with this evangelical stuff I go off. I don't intend to but it just infuriates me because it says all I should be concerned about is some sort of decision to be a Christian. Odd that they go out and use the next day. Salvation is being worked out everyday in peoples lives there. And I'm supposed to be responsible for 200 guys spirituality? I thought spirituality was a choice the person made. I can see his heart though. He wants to see people know God I just have a very different understanding of what that means. I've yet to give a salvation altar call. Just a lot of calls to talk with God, grow in recovery, and begin to know God.

But I came home and we watched "Captain Gabriel" some youth DVD the army did. I am purposely not saying anything right now. Any officers who have seen it, what did you think?


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Sunday, October 09, 2005

God; Cause or Response

One of the things I have been thinking about lately is whether is a causer or intitiator of events or a responder to human or ecological events.

The question ultimately is what does God cause?

If God causes all things (and to know is to cause) the God causes good, bad, and evil. Most Christian theology has always treated God as the ultimate cause. God reaches to us and we respond. Its the idea that we are incapable of anything good so God reaches out first and we respond. Carried further God knows all and all things happen with God's blessing. God then is the puppet master or the play write. In short with this understanding everything we do is a response to God. We obey God's will, we respond to the Spirit's leading, and in short we simply live our lives responding to Good's movements.

But, what if God is primarily a responder. What if like firefighters and police God responds to human and ecological situations. What if God acted first but ever since has played the role of "fix it?" What if God is the greatest creative problem solver ever? As I read the OT it seems as though God simply responds the various situations. God's plans (as recorded by humans) changed regularly. God uses various means to communicate his point. When all else failed the greatest problem solving plan was developed and the incarnation came about. As far as salvation what if God is simply there for whoever seeks God? Anyone who seeks will find, no matter what name they know God by. What if God simply responds to humans who are seeking? What if God responds to sickness and disease? What if God responds to catastrophe's in creative ways?

I guess what boils down to is whether we serve a God who is "in control" ie causing all things, or we dwell with a God who is actively presently being the most creative first responder ever?


Hey Bill,

I think that this simplifies the issue too much. Could God be both the cause and the response in some way?

I guess I agree with you that if God is in control of all things that at some level he would then be culpable for everything. So if God allows Satan to kill Job's kids, take his money and his health (maybe even his wife, though not through physical death) then God is at least culpable for allowing Satan to do those things. Sure he didn't cause them, but he allowed another to cause them.

I see you going to back over my child in the driveway. I could stand by and watch (allowing you to do that) or I could react and do everything in my power to get you to stop the car before disaster happens. If I do the later and you still back down the driveway then I am not culpable because I did everything I could to stop it, but if I did the former than I am culpable.

The issue with God is that he should be able to stop any event if he truly wanted to. So if he doesn't then he is culpable on some level.

I would argue that even if all he did was respond to things, because most events have a build up to them that even we can see, let alone God. I just cannot buy that he is somehow let off the hook by only responding to things, because in his response he waits until after the event is finished before he starts to move (c.f. Tsunami's, hurricanes, world wars, genocides, homocides, suicides, etc).

By Blogger Dwight, at 8:30 AM  

Who is in charge of the weather Bill??
it is repulsive to see how you write, "As far as salvation what if God is simply there for whoever seeks God? Anyone who seeks will find, no matter what name they know God by."
If and when you read the same Bible as I do, I would start re-reading again.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:26 PM  

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Seahawks 37 Rams 31

Enough Said!


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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Interesting life

Well you can go over to Tolani's blog to see the news. T is about 9 weeks pregnant. Everything looks good so far. I don't which frightens me more though, miscarriage or delivery. If all goes well in May life will be changed forever. That frightens me a great deal. I mean after years where established patterns where built and all that we will be parents. I will be responsible for someone else. What scares me is my tendency to be controlling. I hope I won't be too controlling. But the other side is that I don't want to be so absorbed in my work that I fail to be involved in its life. I guess I am afraid that I won't be afraid to find balance. I suck at balance anyway and I just hope I will be able to balance it all.

On another note: Seahawks and Rams tomorrow.

Go Hawks they better win this one.

We go to Solvang CA Tuesday for Officers Councils. I wish I could say I'm looking forward to it. But we still don't realize that structured meetings are not the best way to do OC. But I guess because I see the point being re-creation not just education. Hope this will be better then the last.



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Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Well lets start with this yes the Seahawks lost because Josh Brown missed a field goal I choose to say nothing more. But last week was a horrid football weekend.

This has been a major issue around here lately. I don't even know what to say. This system has major problems. Funding is the biggest issue. There is not enough funding dedicated towards helping people get clean. I mean this place has more homeless and the funding has not increased in many years. Reagan really screwed everyone when he closed the institutions. So many who are out here are so gone they can not be helped by most programs down here. Their Co-occurring disorders are just too great.

I had a good talk with a gentleman in the program he has a MA in theology (he studied up in Berkeley at the Catholic seminary up there). We talked about a number of issues but next week we will talk theology. He has met other Army officers and asks the question how can someone as progressive theologically as I am function in the Army with its evangelicalism/fundamentalism. That is a fair question so I think I will flush it out here so I will have an answer for him.

First, it is not easy at times for myself or other officers. I come from things from a social work side not an evangelism side, and yes sometimes I see those at odds with each other depending on how both are done. I argue we are best as an innercity social ministry. This means the traditional Army church means very little to me. I attend the mandatory meetings (often with a good book like last commissioning). However, I do not, never have, and never will believe that those events are what the Army is all about, in fact the detract from the social ministry we are called to. This outlook (not unique among officers) has caused friction, especially in my head! However, like a doctors exam I grin and bear it.

Secondly, I can happily affirm the doctrines of the Army as I understand and interpret them. I know to many Calvinist who are officers to think that there is any kind of agreement on the interpretation of the doctrines. I interpret them relationally and I teach liberal, conservative, and relational interpretations. I am open about my struggles with hell, but we never say who the wicked are. But theology has never been the problem. Oddly enough because I have studied it and love it when anyone has ever really questioned my theology my answers seem to placate them. My politics are a different matter though.

I am not the only officer who sees Bush more as an anti-Christ then a president. Now my words may be extreme, and I am vocal, this blog has got me in trouble before because of how I said the things I said. But while many disagree with me we can be friends. Lets face it we are all wrong anyway.

The biggest theological issue that has divided the Army is holiness. First, most officers do not know what they think holiness is. The give a text book answer that they can't really describe because they have not had the experience (if such a thing exists). I disagree with some because I see it as a process starting at or before conversion ending at death. Salvation I see as a process starting at or before conversion and ending at death. The goal of both is to be perfected in love. We live and have our being in loving God and neighbor. So I see them as synonymous. Perfectly acceptable within our doctrines. I just don't like chopping life into nice neat time periods. Its a lot messier then that.

I can be a salvationist because we have a good grasp of God's mercy and love.

My biggest issue is an internal one that has to put up with all the crap that gets in the way of what God raised us up for namely to meet the needs people in Jesus' name without discrimination. Furthermore, historically we are called to the poorest of the poor the innercities, I get irritated when i see that we have left them.

Salvation is not about creed or even belief its about a transforming relationship with God and other human beings, however God has chosen to reveal his nature to the person.

So I guess it comes to this I be here because I'm supposed to be here now. I really don't know why at times (welcome of cadets, commissioning, and other long boring meetings) but at other times I know why (people changing, moving away from skid row, staying sober, changing) that is why I can be an officer, even though I'm a progressive, post modern, recovering evangelical, caffeine addict, skeptic, who thinks we are all wrong anyway.

Have fun and whenever your convinced you must be right, your not.

Besides I'm rarely right...

And on theology no one is...

So drink your favorite beverage (non alcoholic for salvationists and addicts) sit back and watch some football!


Bill said,
"Reagan really screwed everyone when he closed the institutions."
Is Bill talking about the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill? If so, that process began in the late sixties and proceeded through the seventies before Reagan took office. See deinstitutionalization: "The process of deinstitutionalization was considerably accelerated by two significant federal developments in 1963. First, categorical Aid to the Disabled (ATD) became available to the mentally ill, which made them eligible for the first time for federal financial support in the community. Second, the community mental health centers legislation was passed.

Some clearly recognized that while many abuses need to be corrected, this legislation went too far in the other direction and no longer safeguarded the welfare of the patients. (For instance, Richard Levy, M.D., of San Mateo, California, argued this point long and vigorously.) But these were voices in the wilderness. We have still not found a way to help some mental health lawyers and patients' rights advocates see that they have contributed heavily to the problem of homelessness--that patients' rights to freedom are not synonymous with releasing them to the streets where they cannot take care of themselves, are too disorganized or fearful to avail themselves of what help is available, and are easy prey for every predator." Also here, "Prior to Reinvestment, the money saved from closing psychiatric hospital beds went into the state’s general fund. While hailed as a great accomplishment, the Reinvestment Act has allowed New York State to avoid putting any general fund dollars back into the mental health system. Today, our state simply shifts money around throughout the system." States recognized significant savings in the closing of state mental institutions. The plan was that those savings would be reinvested in the communities the mentally ill were being released to. Instead, state governments (as in the New York example above) elected to covet those savings. As Glenn Reynolds put it earlier this year speaking of the homeless on his blog, "De-institutionalization let states save money while looking compassionate. It was irresistible. But the more difficult (and expensive) follow-through was highly resistible." Incidentally, one of Glenn's readers added this concerning his brother who suffered as one of the mentally ill homeless, "I thank God for the Salvation Army for all the time they spent trying to help him". I'm glad, though, that you are able to be a Salvationist in spite of the difficulties. Good and thoughtful post.

By Blogger glorybound9, at 5:08 PM  


Glorybound is correct. Deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill began in the 1960's. It was a "bill of goods" sold to this country by mental health professionals which has caused problems for us even today.

I worked in the inner cities in the 1980's and realized this program was a failure in many aspects. It was a well-intentioned program with a cost-effective benefit to the goverment. As far as I am concerned, it was a failure then and continues to be today. It makes problems for your organization and others seeking to meet the needs of the inner city.
Most shelters have mixed populations of normal people and those who are mentally ill which causes untold problems and dangers.

If I recall there were three US presidents in the 1960's - one Republican and two Democrats:
Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson.

If there is any fault in The Salvation Army it is seeking to remain a church instead of a mission. By that, I mean, instead of spending nearly all of its money on direct services, it has to maintain infrastructure as a church. I for one believe William Booth would not have continued "church" once other churches began accepting our clients. I think we would do well to go to a mission concept where 98% of our resources go to direct services to help the people actually get out of poverty. Our officers would be Christians who "roll up their sleeves" doing the work in the trenches with the poor and leave church-work and church structure to others. We certainly should do what we can to win the people to Jesus Christ like street evangelism, but guide the people to other churches for long-term care and discipleship. Right now, we are being less effective in social services and church work as the dollars, manpower and resources are limited to do both. In most cases, we have left the inner city and headed for the suburbs, which seem to be a slap in the face to William and Catherine Booth and perhaps to our mission.

I think both you and Glorybound make correct assumptions, but I'm not sure which party started this whole mess. I would suspect that there were people on both sides of the political arena that made wrong choices for the sake of the dollar. God bless you!

L. Michael Fletcher

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:57 AM  

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