“From a Black Hole: Transformed to a New Life,” by Mayor Don Warren (reported by J.D. Meyer)

Don Warren–Mayor of Tyler, Texas—delivered a speech at the Reformation House of Prayer (RHOP) entitled, “From a Black Hole: Transformed to a New Life,” on August 16, 2021. https://allevents.in/tyler/mayor-don-warren-from-a-blackhole-transformed-to-a-new-life/200021473028259 Mayor Warren described how becoming Christian enabled him to switch careers and regain success, including moving all the way in City of Tyler government. He used to have bad dreams that he’d go to a black hole during the 1986 oil industry crisis. Mr. Warren got into debt and got separated from his wife. So, he started a seafood restaurant that he ran for ten months. Then he asked for Christ’s help, got a divorce, and a new house. He was single for five months. He started playing the piano professionally as LOMOC (Little Ol’ Me Oil Company). Don married his second wife in 1994 after dating only six weeks. He worked 12 hours per day. Then he quit his job and golfed and watched movies for a year. He took a test at Green Acres Baptist Church, the largest church in all of East Texas that revealed he showed mercy. 

Now Don turned his interest to the City of Tyler. He worked with a homeless organization, as well as a planning and zoning program with the city government. Mayor Warren was Councilman Warren first. Don helped raise $1.2 M for the renovation of Bergfeld Park, which included a new playground, amphitheater, and tennis court. He led “For All Tyler,” the development of Affordable Housing in Downtown and North Tyler. Tyler had a very cold winter snap in mid-February 2021. Some churches were made into warming centers. A generator on a Brookshire’s Grocery Store got a nursing home turned back on after the electric grid failure.  Warren first. Don helped raise $1.2 M for the renovation of Bergfeld Park, which included a new playground, amphitheater, and tennis court. He led “For All Tyler,” the development of Affordable Housing in Downtown and North Tyler. Tyler had a very cold winter snap in mid-February 2021. Some churches were made into warming centers. A generator on a Brookshire’s Grocery Store got a nursing home turned back on after the electric grid failure.  

Mayor Warren turned his talk to more religious issues. All city council meetings begin with prayer for “In God We Trust.” It keeps things in check. Don Warren gave lists of bad and good words. Bad words include ego, power, disconnected, disingenuous, boastful, angry, and resentment. Sadly, Don’s father was a politician turned drunk, who broke his neck and got divorced. Here are the good words: compassionate, content, accessible, connected, relationships, caring, authentic, prayerful, humility, patience, listen, positive. Here are prayer points for city leaders. God, Family, City. To deal with conflict and realize we can’t make everyone happy. Patience means one is a good listener before speaking. Authenticity means to be ourselves, not chameleons. Finally, for positivity, don’t let others bring us down.  I’ve known Mayor Don Warren since he was a councilman, and I gave him the nickname, Ubiquitous, since you see him all the time in Tyler.

Martin Luther King Day 2021 in Tyler, Texas, by J.D. Meyer

This year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day was held in the front yard of the new location for the Texas African-American Museum–coincidentally on MLK Blvd. in a former fire house. Martin Luther King BLVD is the major East-West Street in North Tyler, a predominantly Black neighborhood in Tyler, which includes Texas College–an HBCU and the first institute of higher education in this city.  The keynote speaker was Rev. Dr. Orenthia Mason.

The opening prayer was delivered by Bishop Laramie Jackson. It included a bridge to the past and a bridge to bring people together—struggles and achievements. Demerick Tezino sang “Amazing Grace.” LaToyia Jordan offered welcome before Gloria Washington announced the occasion. She reminisced about an early MLK Day observation in Jasper, Texas–25 years ago after an ice storm. “So we may be outdoors, socially distant during this coronavirus pandemic, but it was a rougher to hold a big event back then.” Plenty of chuckles responded.

Today included a celebration for having a new-and-improved location for the African-American Museum; it used to be further north in an abandoned elementary school, but now it’s on a major street. The late councilman, Ed Moore, was instrumental in getting the deal between the city and the museum, and a cornerstone has been planned in his honor. Shirley McKellar has become his successor as councilwoman. Some reconstruction is planned, and they will need donations.

Pastor Nicholas McGrew noted that he memorized the famous, “I Have a Dream” speech –so did his daughter! “We stand in the shadow of the Emancipation Proclamation, but 100 years later we still stand in an island of poverty in an ocean of the rich. To be satisfied, we need to have mobility, vote, and have justice. We still have the dream despite frustrations. Let us be judged by the content of our character; that’s one of MLK’s most famous sayings. Let freedom ring! We need to have integration of races and creeds. Then we’ll be free at last.”

Ms. Verlinda Stanton sang, “”Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the African-American National Anthem. She has worked with such stars as George Clinton and James Earl Jones. She has sung at an event for President Barack Obama too. 

Stanley Cofer introduced the keynote speaker, Dr. Orenthia Mason. He observed “the integrated crowd as a dream of Martin Luther King. Esteem others higher than yourself; it’s like giving flowers to those who are still alive. All men are created equal.” Rev. Mason taught in Tyler ISD for 27 years. She was also a principal and on several boards. She retired as minister of St. James Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) church. By the way, Texas College is a CME institution of higher education.

Reverend Orenthia Mason gave a scholarly and “hard-hitting” speech. She noted our continued struggle for freedom and congratulated the museum and city. She asked, “What condition is our condition since MLK’s, ‘I Have a Dream’ speech?  We live through recurring cycle of racism, extremists, and hatred. Malcolm X told us to face reality, not a blurred version of the truth. Justice, whoever says it, benefits humanity.” To me, that sounds like a great critique of the ad hominem argument; ignore the idea because of disliking the speaker. Robert Kennedy asserted, “We should make an effort to understand others,” according to Rev. Mason.

She continued, “What condition is our condition in? When minorities vote more than average, it’s labeled as fraud. We are in perilous times.” Black kids are being threatened again. Reverend Mason recalled walking to school in groups with other Black kids, back in the 60s. That was because they could get attacked anyway—sometimes with baseball bats! She recalled, “You had to be better than best.  How about the average? The struggles and heart aches of the past are still being felt. We have a long way to go to reach the Promised Land. “

Reflecting on the present, Rev. Mason lamented, “Artifacts of the past include menacing white drivers ‘varooming’ their cars behind her on South Broadway! Many Tylerites don’t even know where Texas College is located.” {It’s located at 2404 N. Grand Avenue, north of MLK Blvd]. She felt more respected during segregation. “The ‘haves’ have more. We’re in the ‘midnight of life,’ ‘strangers in a strange land.’ Let’s sit down at the Welcome Table. Listen; look at character, intellect, and ability. All of us should be who we ought to be.”

Rev. Mason is proud to be a resident of north Tyler. She has been a member of Leadership Tyler, an integrated local think-tank. “We’ve never been more divided in the USA, but we’ll overcome some day. United we stand; divided we fall.”  She concluded with a quote by Henry David Thoreau, “It’s never too late to give up prejudice. Speak and listen.”

After another excellent song by Demetrick Tezino, Clarence Shackelford showed a model of the Martin Luther King, Jr. statue in Washington, DC. Leroy Francis donated the statue. Then Mr. Shackelford announced the Award Presentations. Mr. Shackelford, a noted photographer and Army veteran, is the founder of the Texas African-American Museum.  Dr. Donna Pitts, a dentist won an award. She’s a graduate of Prairie View A&M and Howard; both are HBCUs. Our new Vice-President, Kamala Harris, is a Howard grad too; it’s located in Washington, DC. Dr. Pitts works for Franklin Dentists in Tyler, and she’s a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority (pink and green colors). Vicki Betts, a librarian, won an award for historical research. (By the way, she’s a little White lady). Rodney L. Atkins also won an award for historical research by writing two books: Remembering When We Were Colored in Tyler, Texas and The History of African-American Teachers in Tyler ISD. He’s connected with the Victory Temple Church.Andre Crawford won the Golden Eagle Award for being the current director of the Tyler Barber College—the first Black institution of its kind in the USA! Tyler Barber College spread to other states. Barber shops have a long history of being community gathering places in Black neighborhoods.

Mayor Don Warren was invited to give some comments. Mayor Warren noted that when he saw an episode of Good Morning, America, kids quoted Martin Luther King, and then asked, “What’s wrong with America?” Mayor Warren, previously a long-time councilman, “wants to work with all of Tyler, so it will be unified and peaceful. “

The program concluded with miscellaneous remarks. A new Councilman for Section 1 said he used to be a fire chief in Tyler. Ed Thompson will do the construction work, and LLC will be the architect on the new museum. It is 5000 square feet—far bigger than the previous museum. The goal is $300K in renovations, but some of the money would go to outdoors construction–such as a playground and outdoor dining area. I suggested building an urban garden to Stanley Cofer, and I later sent my article on the topic. Lunch trucks would be invited as two were here for the festivities. Somebody was selling an African-American News Journal, based on newspaper articles for over a century. If the Texas African-American Museum gets 10K likes on Facebook, then they can have some advertisements there. TAAM is up to 5K likes at the time of the MLK Festival. Sadly, a minister noted that his kids were threatened in Whitehouse lately, a town just southeast of Tyler.

The 2021 Martin Luther King Day celebration was really different this year because of acquiring a better museum and having a North Tyler program. Due to the pandemic, there wasn’t the usual march down Broadway Avenue, followed by the program at Immaculate Conception Catholic Cathedral. Nevertheless, this year’s program was very uplifting and indicated real opportunities for Northside Revitalization that is now being pursued by the City of Tyler.  

Footnote: You can check out the edited version that was published in The Tyler Loop also. Thanks to Jane Neal. It’s posted at the top under the title.

Meditation in Ruism (Confucianism) by J.D. Meyer

Meditation in Ruism is analyzed as a component of three major concepts. It’s (1) the attention aspect of Reverence, (2) the empathy aspect of Benevolence, and (3) the perspective aspect of Pattern-Principle.

Reverence= 敬  Jìng

Benevolence= 仁 Rén

Principle= 理  Lǐ

……………………………………..

Attention= 注意 Zhùyì

Empathy=  同情  Tóngqíng

Perspective= 透視 Tòushì

…………………………………………………………………

Slice of Life: A Word Game with the Writers Club of Tyler, TX by J.D. Meyer

The writer took the new Dash SALT-free Southwest Chipotle seasoning shaker and shook some in his beer. Not being AMBIDEXTROUS, I used my right HAND. The seasoning isn’t FIERY, just mildly spicy. ….I’ve let my gray hair grow over my EARS during the pandemic, or is it the pantheist epidemic? I have a relatively new black leather BELT with two metal hooks. …..My apartment complex is VOID of women wearing BIKINIS since the pool is closed. I’ve heard rumors that big snakes and alligators, if not CROCODILES, can be found in the woods around here…… My favorite all-cyberspace ALLIANCE is “Friends from afar: A Confucianism Group.” Ir’s great to read articles written or found from your Pan-Chinese Ru CONTEMPORARIES and know them. I posted what I did for the Birthday of Confucius yesterday. I’m glad we Writers Club folks still communicate, albeit ABSENTLY.

My Return to Slice of Life (SOL): The Welcome Dog Figurine–A Present from a Student, by J.D. Meyer

I am returning to Slice of Life (SOL) Tuesdays, for I ran across some old posts on my main Word Press site and became nostalgic–such fine feedback from other participants. I’m going to start with the tale of my dog figurine with a “Welcome” sign; the sign dangles from a chain in his mouth. A student gave me the coffee mug-sized doggie as a present, back when I was a full-time Developmental English instructor at Texas College (2001-06)–the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) of Tyler, TX.

I tutored Spanish for free–not part of my job description–chiefly because our Spanish instructor–Mr. Idrogo–was an adjunct, who taught a couple of nights per week while he taught Spanish full-time for one of Tyler’s two public high schools. We met a few times, and I found him to be likeable, and he approved of my tutoring efforts. I was the main translator for our classroom building’s custodian also; she was basically “Spanish Only.” I also developed a website through McGraw-Hill Pageout with a major Spanish section, but that company ended this program many years ago.

That dog sculpture is white with black spots and is sitting on his /her back legs with the front legs straight. Recently that “Welcome Dog” has been sitting on round table between my futon sofa and the TV. Right now, that doggie is on my desk-top computer desk and may stay there–less crowded furniture. Viewing that dog brings back great memories. I won a few formal teaching awards that normally ended up being a certificate pinned to the wall. Strathmore’s Who’s Who was an entry in a giant book. But that dog figurine from my student is really special. Here’s my current Spanish tutorial website, and it includes links to my main website at Academia.edu. https://spanishtutorialdotnet.wordpress.com/

Stew with Meals-on-Wheels & my Kitchen Goodies.

I made a stew today with ingredients from my daily Meals-on-Wheels meals and my favorite kitchen goodies. I decided to make a stew starting with a rectangular meat patty, hot dog, chopped potatoes, red beans, and green peas–all from Meals-on-Wheels. All of these goodies went into a pot on the stove after I’d sizzled the chopped hot dog with onions & vegetable oil.

Then I added some favorites from my ‘frig: onions, minced garlic, nopalitos (cactus slices), kale, beer, & purple cabbage. The included spices were Italian Mix (oregano and more), Mrs. Dash Southwest, ground cumin, and Mrs. Renfro salsa (spicy tomato). Then I boiled some beef ramen, and I added most of that pot to the mix. The next day, I microwaved a hot link to add to the mix. I hope my recipe helps you from having food waste issues!

Sequel to “The Trooper,” by Iron Maiden By J.D. Meyer

As she tromped through the field, a battlefield, where the lifeless and wounded warriors lay, the now-famous nurse—Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) —tried to help the living while other personnel carried away the dead. The time is the 1850’s; the war is the Russian-British Crimean War (1853-1856); the battle is the Battle of Balaclava in 1854. Alas, The Trooper himself was one of the slain. Ms. Nightingale burst into tears when she saw this soldier dead on the ground, for she heard of his legendary bravery from previous battles.
The Russian musket fire killed our Trooper and even his beloved horse. A couple of bugles lay on the ground amidst the fallen soldiers—no longer to summon the troops to battle. Florence Nightingale and the other nurses had to hurdle the lifeless bodies to reach the wounded—although often mortally wounded. Nurse Nightingale told another nurse, “Such carnage! I’m ready for peace, so we can return to dealing with colds and sprained ankles.” The other nurse agreed, ”Our calling is tough. But it’s really becoming modern science.”
The last round of fire in The Battle of Balaclava got The Trooper; he feared the end was near during this bloody battle. At first, it looked like either side could have claimed a pyrrhic victory. But the British blundered with a final cavalry charge, immortalized in Tennyson’s, “Charge of the Light Brigade,” that wiped out many British cavalry. Ottoman Turk losses were heavy too.
A few Turkish allies lay near The Trooper—some clinging to life. One Turk told Nurse Nightingale about The Trooper’s bravery. “The Trooper seemed like a man possessed. He kept charging toward the Russian lines, dodging many a bullet until the last one felled his horse, then him. We didn’t think he’d last as long as he did.” Nurse Nightingale wept.
No country had more to lose in the Crimean War than the Ottoman Empire—now known as modern Turkey, a smaller but stronger country. Long known as “The Sick Man of Europe,” the Ottoman Empire’s decline was well under way. World War I, some 60 years late, finished the Ottoman Empire’s demise—only to be reborn as the first secular Moslem country in history—Turkey—through the leadership of Attaturk in the 1920’s. Unfortunately, Turkey has experienced “democratic backsliding” under President Tayyip Erdogan in recent years.

Now we have Indonesia as the second predominantly Moslem secular country. It has a constitution that protects non-Moslems, and it’s even had the Confucian Church of Indonesia since the late 19th century through the efforts of Chinese immigrants. Indonesia is also the home of the Jaringan Islam Liberal, directed by Ulil Abshar-Abdallah.
Thanks to the noble Turk soldier and the Battle of Balaclava and Nurse Florence Nightingale, The Trooper is not forgotten and never was alone. Nurse Nightingale even sent a message by telegraph about the tale of The Trooper to her hospital administrator back home in England—just in case she didn’t make it back, but she did.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMyMS-p9YW0 “The Trooper,” by Iron Maiden (with lyrics).

How To Make Sense of the Pandemic as a Ruist (Confucianist) ?

Confucius Academy

Hallo, my name is Bin Song. I am a Ru scholar, therapist, and college professor in the disciplines of philosophy, religion, and theology. This audio is written and recorded by me to help make sense of the cause of this pandemic in light of the spiritual practice of Ru meditation.

Before you start to listen to my words, I recommend you to do a short breathing practice to calm our heart and illuminate our mind. So, please position yourself well, sit, incline, or simply lie down. Using your belly muscles, be aware of the minor movements of your body, and then, focus upon your breath. Breathe in, deeply, slowly, and comfortably. Breathe out, feel the release, and feel the relax. And a short pause. Again, breathe in, breathe out. remember, no matter how bad the pandemic is, how frustrated you feel about your situation, there is always air and oxygen…

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