Donald Trump and the Chamber of Secrets, All Things Considered, National Poetry Month, and Other Miscellany

1) There’s zero content about Donald Trump in this post. But, every time I put his name in the title of a blog post people read it. This post is full of poetry because it’s National Poetry Month and I want everybody to read lots of poems. Poetry trumps Trump. You’ve been baited and switched. I’m bad but you’re reading my diary so who’s worse? The person who just wants to share some poems? Or, the person who saw their friend’s diary lying there open on the coffee table of social media and decided to read it. Tread lightly, that’s how Ginny opened the Chamber of Secrets.

Also, Donald Trump is a low-rent Voldermort but ask me how I really feel about him.

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2)
 Did you do your taxes yet? Today is the half way point for National Poetry Month, though you’re more than welcome to keep reading and writing poems the rest of the year.

Poetry Magazine (the oldest English monthly poetry magazine and my favorite) is offering this month’s AMAZING issue for free!

GET IT HERE: April 2016 Poetry Magazine, digital issue

3) From that issue is this heartwrenching poem:

When I Think of Tamir Rice While Driving

BY REGINALD DWAYNE BETTS

in the backseat of my car are my own sons,
still not yet Tamir’s age, already having heard
me warn them against playing with toy pistols,
though my rhetoric is always about what I don’t
like, not what I fear, because sometimes
I think of Tamir Rice & shed tears, the weeping

Source: Poetry, April 2016

You can read the rest of the poem here, and please do: When I think of Tamir Rice While Driving

4)  For National Poetry Month NPR’s All Things Considered is featuring Twitter poems from the #NPRpoetry thread. I had a short poem I liked but wasn’t going to do anything with (too short for the blog, too short to submit to a magazine, and, ironically enough, sharing full poems on Twitter without warrant feels pretentious) but here was this poem I’d written about the Alyssa and Atticus. I thought I’d be pretentious for a moment and share it with the hashtag. I had hoped for maybe a Like or a Retweet, what I expect was nothing to happen. Instead a PA reached out to me a few days later and asked me to record it and I read a poem on NPR’s All Things Considered last Saturday. You can listen to my “interview” and reading here: Love is a Rube Goldberg Machine.

Here’s the poem for your reading pleasure:

Love is a Rube Goldberg Machine

bits & pieces knock together
push down a chute
pins pop & strike
matches & ignite small flames

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5) From McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: SIXTEEN CLASSIC POEMS THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

“This Man Stops By Woods On a Snowy Eve… You Won’t BELIEVE What Happens Next!”
by Robert Frost

“We Should All Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Right? Here’s 10 Reasons Why You’re Dead Wrong”
by Dylan Thomas

“What Happens to a Dream Deferred? The Answer Will SHOCK YOU!”
by Langston Hughes

6) How E.E. Cummings Writes a Poem

7) If you too, like myself, are wondering how to be a poet:

How To Be a Poet
BY WENDELL BERRY
(to remind myself)

i

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.

Source: Poetry, January 2011

Read the rest of this here: How To Be a Poet

8) Christianity Today just launched another branch of their platform called The Local Church. I follow the editor of the project on Twitter and like him plenty, he’s got a son about the same age as mine named Atticus, but I’m not really sure what The Local Church is about yet. Maybe satire? A poet I love, Aaron Belz, wrote a poem for the inaugural issue:

The Temple Market
BY AARON BELZ

III.
SALE. This week only,
buy one male lamb,
get one FREE sheaf
of harvest grain!

Best way to prepare
for the Feast of Firstfruits

SUPPLIES LIMITED

Visit Abe’s Small Ruminants

Read the rest of the poem at The Local Church: The Temple Market

9) Like bacon, Bono is perfectly fine, if not a little overrated. But! Eugene Peterson is a personal hero, a poet and a pastor. His memoir The Pastor and his book The Contemplative Pastor greatly inform the kind of pastor I hope to be one day. Also, The Contemplative Pastor ends with a large section of his poetry. The two of them are prolific artists, both in their own right, and I could not be more excited to watch them discuss the Psalms together.

10) Final lie. This version of Robert Frost’s “Stopping By A Wood on a Snowy Eve” from Rottingpost vis a vis Donald Trump is pretty dang great:

I have a pretty good idea whose woods these are, believe me.
And let me tell you something, my people say he’s a complete nobody.
This guy lives in the village.   So what if he sees me stopping here?
I dare him to sue me!   I dare him!

And by the way, this snow is pathetic.
These are by far, the least downy flakes ever!
I hear they had to import them from Canada.
I don’t know.  Maybe they did.  Maybe they didn’t.  We’re looking into it.

Read the rest of it here: “Stopping By a Wood on a Snowy Eve by Donald Trump

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Donald Trump and the Chamber of Secrets, All Things Considered, National Poetry Month, and Other Miscellany

Worship Review 8.16.15 – Galatians One and The Story of Everything

Sunday was quite the day! Alongside leading worship at Inland Hills I also had the pleasure of preaching at our College/Young Adult Ministry – Elevate. Normally after worship I like to write a review on a theme from the morning, and (this has happened only once, but will happen at least twice more this year – maybe more) after preaching I like to give a few extra resources that coincide with the message. This week I’ll do both, and it’ll be all over the map.

1. At NSIH we sang:

  • “Indescribable” by Chris Tomlin
  • “Man of Sorrows” by David Potter
  • “Forgiven Forever” by Glenn Packiam
  • “The Mighty Hand of God” by Citizens & Saints
  • …and we were going to sing but didn’t, “Glory is Yours” by Elevation Worship.

All but one of these tunes were written by artists that serve in the local church, and the one that wasn’t is writing songs that will be remembered in history alongside Charles Wesely, Isaac Watts, The Gaithers, and more. So, attached is a Spotify playlist but please, please, please purchase these songs and albums so they’ll all continue making great music.

2. After I finishing my study of a particular scripture for preaching I make a playlist that serves as background music and inspiration while I write out my manuscript. For this past Sunday I created a playlist with several songs based on Psalm 23 and a tune for every single pop culture reference I wrote into the manuscript and there were a lot considering that I was talking about everything. It is one of the most fun and the weirdest playlists I’ve ever made. Enjoy!

3. At NSIH we began our sermon series on the book of Galatians which just so happens to be one of my all time favorite books of the Bible. Or, at least it is this year. In the spring, when kings go to war, I had the serendipitous pleasure of studying Galatians (which is great because in a few weeks I’m preaching) and in my study I read Martin Luther’s Commentary on Glatatians. Which had a huge influence on me, check out my post “The Glorious “And Yet!” of God” to see how. Luther’s Commentary is surprisingly accessable considering it was written in 15th Century Germany by a theological titan. Anyways, I found an abridged version by a Lutheran Middle School ministry from Michigan named RJ Grunewald that is available as a free PDF, a $2.99 Kindle e-Book, or a print edition for $14.99.

4. Speaking of abridged versions, earlier this week I wrote an abridged version of my sermon and posted it to the blog. I think it is well worth the read if you’ve not already read it, “The Story of Everything.” Unfortunately, the full sermon was not recorded so I can’t share that. If your appetite is whetted or your curiosity piqued feel free to email me at: tommy.welty@gmail.com and I’ll happily email you the PDF of my manuscript and you can take the approximately 36 minutes it would take to read that. Or, you could read the abridged blog.

5. So, it probably comes as no surprise but I’m particularly interested in writing. My studying creative writing greatly influenced the sermon at Elevate and there’s a handful of books that have meant a lot to me at different times as a writer. None of these are Christian books, or, even remotely Christian, but each is worth reading if you’re curious about the process.

6. Towards the end of my sermon, about the last ten minutes or so, I attempted to teach the entirety of the Bible’s narrative. I did alright, but in that short of time it is really actually impossible to do – so it was mostly just super general themes and events. I missed a lot. I missed most things, but “A+” for effort. Anyways, I stumbled upon this great resource Monday morning after preaching, “The Bible Project.” After checking it out I could not more fully recommend it. They are creating animated videos as overviews to each book of the Bible and different systemic themes of the scriptures. Here’s their intro to “Leviticus” and to “Holiness.”

7. My birthday was this past weekend and my mom flew out to celebrate and to hear me preach, which was wonderful. I read a poem by poet Wendell Berry Sunday night. Here’s another of his from the Poetry Foundation, where you can read many other poems by Wendell Berry and a great magnitude of other poets.

This poem delightfully captures the maternal grace and love of God. I see Alyssa loving Atticus like this, and know that my mom has loved me like this, and all the more that Christ has loved us like this:

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8. Two summers ago I made the attempt to read the book of Psalms each month, I read the psalter three times totally that summer and a few times since. It’s an incredible emotional and spiritual experience. I would encourage everybody to take a few months to reading and rereading the Psalms. The best method in my opinion is in months that have 30 days read five psalms everyday, excluding Psalm 119 because of it’s length. And I’d suggest not reading them in order, though that works too, but rather reading them scattershot so that you can capture the breadth of the book and capture themes. The best way to do this would be on day one reading Psalm 1, Psalm 31, Psalm 61, Psalm 91, Psalm 121; and Day Two – Psalm 2, Psalm 32, Psalm 62, Psalm 92, Psalm 121; etc. So, whichever calendar day you’re on read that Psalm and then add 30 for the next, then 30 more… and so on. Then on the months with 31 days read only Psalm 119 on the 31st.

9. Really, everbody should read Martin Luther’s Commentary on Galatians:

The heart of man finds it difficult to believe that so great a treasure as the Holy Ghost is gotten by the mere hearing of faith. The hearer likes to reason like this: Forgiveness of sins, deliverance from death, the gift of the Holy Ghost, everlasting life are grand things. If you want to obtain these priceless benefits, you must engage in correspondingly great efforts. And the devil says, “Amen.”

I mean… Come on, what’s holding you back?

10. When a sheep had left the flock three times a shepherd would break its legs so that it couldn’t leave, and then carry the sheep the rest of the way. After being broken the location of the bone’s fracture would heal and never break again in the same spot. After a sheep had had its leg broken and been carried through the healing process with it’s ear so close to the shepherd’s mouth it would never leave the safe comfort of the shepherd’s voice.

Before the cross became the preeminate image of Christianity this image was, or a variation on it:

good-shepherd-2

Christ is carrying us in our brokeness, healing us and leaving the fracture stronger than it was before. As we read the Psalms, pray, study scripture like Galatians, worship in song, take communion, celebrate God’s Spirit is whispering in our ears, revealing Christ to us:

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27

Worship Review 8.16.15 – Galatians One and The Story of Everything

You Are What You Eat (No. 1)

The only writing competition I’ve ever done well in, and I’ve tried a couple, was in the sixth grade. I wrote this story about a kid on the brink of death who starts having visions of angels – which he calls “White Outs.” Because… You know. Angels.

Guys that’s the kind of deep stuff that wins blue ribbons.

Now I don’t want to rag on 11-Year-Old-Tommy, he couldn’t help himself he was doing the best he could with the stuff that he had. I grew up in a convservative Assemblies of God church, where an appropriate evangelising tactic was The Casual Death Threat:

Do you know where you’re going to go when you die? Like if you got hit by a bus right now, like right now, what would happen to you?

Of course, my little mind was a bit preoccupied with deathbed conversions.


In highschool my friends and I discovered Monty Python’s The Flying Circus. Fourteen is the perfect age to discover Monty Python’s The Flying Circus.

(What do you think of that?)

Around the same time I began writing short stories. And, you’d never guess, they were mostly absurdities filled with non-sequiturs. My favorite was the adventure of Hobo Joe who was recruited by Adam West to join the Academy of Motion Pictures.

Guys, this is the kind of stuff that will make fourteen year old boys laugh.

Anyways everybody who has played on the Inland Hills worship band has heard me say:

polls_27952_You_Are_What_You_Eat_Posters_0620_877010_poll_xlarge“You are what you eat; what goes in must come out. It’s Newton’s Fourth Law.”

I preach this because we can’t help but wear our influences on our sleeves.

It would be unfair of me to ask a drummer who loves ProgRock to play a Hip-Hop groove (a sin of which I am guilty of), or to ask a classically trained pianist to play free form jazz (I repent!).

This isn’t to say we shouldn’t expand our aesthetic borders – for that matter our borders socially, experientially, emotionally… You get the idea.


A few years back a pastor asked me what a usual musical worship experience at my church was like. My response:

Elton John playing Hillsong covers.


eat-you-are-cover1Now if I were your prom date I can promise you’d have a real good time because I made you a mix-tape. The first of three because I’m just a little eager.

Even though I don’t believe in the sacred/secular divide* these songs would fall under the “secular” umbrella. And because I like to feel special I’m just gonna go ahead and say this is a pretty ecclectic list of tunes but there are some obvious threads running through it:

  • Mostly piano and percusion driven.
  • It’s predominatly pop, jazz, americana, and singer-songwriters.
  • Apparently I believe the best tunes were written in ’73-’85 and ’98-’05.

Oh! And I got you a flower, well a picture of a flower. It’s a tulip not a rose because roses are so cliché. 

red-tulip_300


* Wendell Berry writes: “There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred and desecrated places.” God is above our genres, and categories. Something can only be Christian if it sins and can be redeemed by the blood of the cross. As YouTubers BlimeyCow ask: “Did DC Talk go to Heaven when it died?” As Derek Webb points out when a song, or a book, or a bumper sticker, or a company is labled “Christian” it’s just a marketing term and it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good, beautiful, or true. And Christianity is always good, beautiful and true. I’ll need more space to discuss this.

Also when I did a Google Image search for “You Are What You Eat” this came up:Catfish_hybrid

You’re welcome. Go check out the artist’s Facebook page, there’s a lot of neat photo manipulations of animal that are cheeky and delightful.

Sarah DeRemer Art

You Are What You Eat (No. 1)

“How to Be a Poet” by Wendell Berry

How To Be a Poet
By Wendell Berry

…..(to remind myself)

i

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.

ii

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

iii

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.

I obviously did not write this poem. I also am not sure if I cited it well enough. My goal was not to steal but to share. Please, please, please… Click this link:


Source: Poetry (January 2001).

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“How to Be a Poet” by Wendell Berry