Thursday, March 30, 2017

Social Pollution

"In this cultural system the destruction of environment goes hand in hand with forms of social pollution represented, for instance, by growing unemployment, dependence of vast human masses on a few centres of power for basic human needs like food and water, the exploitation and degradation of the poor, especially women and children, within a broad and deep commercialization of life, intense human suffering from a sense of loneliness and meaninglessness as people are increasingly cut off from quiet communication with nature, as their mutual relationships become deadened and mechanized, as their native and necessary feel for poetry and mystery are eroded by shallow pragmatism or sheer greed."

Samuel Rayan, 1994; Ecotheology: Voices from South and North

(photography by tiwago)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Messy Room

The first time you enter a room, do you judge the owner?
What new thing does the room tell you about that person?
Is the room chaotic and cluttered and unlike it "should" be?

But please look again, and think more upon what you see -
Diversity is an ordained state, but a non-regimented order.
It is an exuberant celebration of life, potential, and possibility.

It is we, 
If we but let ourselves be, 
As we should be.


(photography by tiwago)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Practical Compassion

"...this kind of compassion is the central disposition of a life-centred ethic for our time, the moral norms which serve the ethic are the following:

- Sustainability, as the ongoing capacity of natural and social systems to thrive together, both for current generations and future ones.

- Participation, as the inclusion of all involved voices in society's decisions, and in obtaining and enjoying the benefits of society as well as sharing the burdens.

- Sufficiency, as the commitment to meet the basic material need of all life possible.

- Solidarity, as the obligation to stand with others, with a view especially to the most vulnerable of every community."

Larry Rasmussen

(From: Theology of Life and Ecumenical Ethics)

(photography by tiwago)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Muted Lines of Euphorbia

Friday, March 24, 2017

One's Place

"One has to be alone, under the sky, before everything falls into place and one finds his own place in the midst of it all."

Thomas Merton

(photography by tiwago)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Future of Man

"I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority."

E.B. White


Wednesday, March 22, 2017


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The World's Economy

"A society in which consumption has to be artificially stimulated in order to keep production going is a society founded on trash and waste, and such a society is a house built on sand." 

Dorothy Sayers

(photography by tiwago)

Monday, March 20, 2017


"I am my surroundings,
and if I do not preserve the latter,
I do not preserve myself."

Jose Ortega y Gasset  

(photography by tiwago)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Naked Alien is Back!

For those who are not interested in musings on faith and religion, I am resurrecting The Naked Alien! This blog (renamed Photography by Tiwago) will continue to exhibit my photography work. Both blogs will share Tiwago's poetry.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Book of Nature

"Jesus set before me the book of nature. I understood how all the flowers He has created are beautiful, how the splendor of the rose and whiteness of the lily do not take away the perfume of the little violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy."

Therese of Lisieux  


(photography by tiwago)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Foul-weather Christians

Throughout the Jewish Bible, our Old Testament, we see time and time again that it is at those times when we are the most prosperous that our faith is the weakest, that we are the most separated from God!

"All these curses will come on you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the Lord your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you. They will be a sign and a wonder to you and your descendants forever. Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the Lord sends against you. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you." Deuteronomy 28:45-48

When things go well, we forget God, or we thank Him/Her for our super-awesomeness, for our ability to be so wonderfully great, for our not being like the poor Poor. Our faith in ourselves, in the "system", in the American-way, is strongest when we feel strongest. But, when things go bad, when we feel weak, we are quick to all of a sudden remember God! (Often however, we return to God only to plead for a return of our own prosperity, our own health and success, to make the Church or America great again.) We listen to the silvery-tongue of the prosperity gospel false-prophets, and ignore the first-shall-be-last Gospels.

Deuteronomy talks to us, not about faith as belief, but as obedience and service. When we are economically comfortable and full of ourselves, our obedience slips - we forget to serve and demand that others serve us instead! We jealously guard our "hard-earned" prosperity from those who "don't deserve" it. And, when we do obey, we obey joylessly. When we do serve, we serve resentfully. What does the Lord tell us about when that happens? "You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life." (Deut. 28:66) How many of us does this describe?

Over and over again, Deuteronomy refocuses us on how we treat these three vulnerable groups: the alien; the orphaned; the widowed. Do we serve the powerless, or the powerful? Do we lift others up, or push them down? Do we serve those who can do something for us in exchange, or do we serve those who God commands us to serve? Do we serve with joy, or is our joy in money, power, and things? Do I serve come rain or come sun, or am I only a fair-weather "Christian"?

(photography by tiwago)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Haiku of Peonies

red bloody fingers
from the grave, grasping for light -
life has its own ways


(photography by tiwago)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Within the Cracks of Life

Within the cracks of life,
Made fertile and fecund by
Rich detritus of past lives; 
In the brief narrow spaces
Between infertile stones -
Permeable islands between
Hard spaces within my life;
Impervious stumbling moments. 

Flowers bloom anyway...



Saturday, March 11, 2017


"Give me fellowship with the beast and bird. Let me enter into sympathy with their hunger, their thirst, their weariness, their cold, their frequent homelessness. Let me give their wants a place in my prayers...

Let me be to them what Thou hast been to me - a protector, a Providence."

George Matheson

Quote from the The Green Bible
(photography by tiwago)

Friday, March 10, 2017

Spirituality Combat

"We need to develop what the WCC's" (World Council of Churches) "Nairobi assembly (1975) called a spirituality combat - a spirituality that will make us move against destruction in this world rather than silence us to tolerate what we see. Spirituality is not something that can be imported or exported. Surely we can learn from each other. But once Christians in their own context live according to the gospel and take up the challenges before them, their spirituality will emerge. That has been the experience of the peace movement, of the human rights movement and now also the ecological movement." Margot Kassmann

Covenant, Praise and Justice in Creation by Margot Kassmann in Ecotheology: Voices from the South and North, David G. Hallman ed.; 1994, WCC Publications, page 36

(photography by tiwago)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Two Feathers

Two signs I saw in the morning,
Two tokens from over-night.
Did a terror attack a Terror?
Are they messages of mortality -
Of the grounding of the wing-ed,
Or a cross amidst flowery hope?
Or treasures to ponder upon?
Or wings for my soul to use?
Or... or... or...

I know not what they portend,
But I know that something big,
Something important happened here.


(photography by tiwago)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Out, in the Prairie

"If it were not for the outside world, we should have no inside world to understand things by. Least of all could we understand God without these millions of sights and sounds and scents and motions weaving their endless harmonies. They come out of his heart to let us know a little of what is in it."

George MacDonald  

(photography by tiwago)

Monday, March 6, 2017


"There are crowds who trample a flower into the dust without thinking once that they have one of the sweetest thoughts of God under their heel"

J. G. Holland 

(photography by tiwago)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Old Nurse

"And nature, the old nurse, took
     The child upon her knee,
Saying, "Here is a story book
     My Father hath writ for thee.
Come, wander with me," she said,
     "In regions yet untrod,
And read what is still unread
     In the manuscripts of God."

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

(photography by tiwago)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Lenten Surrender Part Two

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21 

I love Ash Wednesday's imposition of ashes, the anointment with last year's death. Yet the smudge is so visible, so in other people's faces. Our lectionary reading for this first week of Lent concerns me; in Matthew 6, after the blessed Beatitudes during the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus advises me to be careful that I don't try to appear too self-righteously pious before others - as this is not of the Father, it is not rewarded by the Father. I'm supposed to let my light shine. I am supposed to witness by example. Yet, I am supposed to keep somethings secret? How often did Jesus perform a miracle, only to tell the healed person to keep it a secret? I never understood. Yet this warning on how to practice spiritual disciplines have become more clear as I have observed myself and others on social media: do not humble-brag!

People talk about how much money they give at church (or give an illusion that they give more than they do) to justify their grab for status and control. People shame others by bragging about helping them in their mess ("did you know that she..."). People brag that they gave a dollar to a mentally handicapped veteran living on the street. Are we next to start bragging about breathing, and walking, and sleeping too?

People judge themselves, judge each other, desire to be judged, based upon how well they can whip out a prayer and sling it in public. People remain silent, or wish that others would remain silent. During prayer time at church, the prayers become announcements or gossip masquerading as holiness. (But, I have a friend who really has a prayer closet - WOW!)

We all know people who post a vague comment implying suffering, pain, impending doom, sans any useful detail. They beg we ask, they demand our attention: "well, since you asked, I have a boil on my butt..." Or we see people who fast as though it were man-flu, "Oh, I'm sorry I'm so weak today, I've been fasting for the Lord since breakfast! Do you fast? It's good for you!" Unless you're on a hunger-strike for justice or starving because you can't afford food, we don't care that you're hungry!

"Don't store up treasures on earth." I've preached on that many times, always talking about money and physical things - what good is "stuff"? Yet, I should probably rethink that in context. Since Jesus is talking about spiritual disciplines and our self-appropriating a mantel of self-important holiness, maybe the treasures he mentions are praise, and honor, and recognition. Maybe, he is telling me that all this time, I have been looking in all the wrong places for affirmation?

Maybe, what I need to fast from is not Face Book, beer, pizza, or watching the news. Maybe, what I should be fasting from is myself?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Last Night and Then This Morning

There was no 'in the calm of the night'
last night:

funnel clouds, elephant trunks, and wedges
danced just over the horizon;

hail and twigs and new catkins peppered, pestered,
westside windows;

thrumming thunder and wailing wind drowning out
distant siren howls;

and rain,
an eruption of rain, tempestuous and shrill,
followed by


~ tiwago

(photography by tiwago)