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Tag Archive: religion


Katie Buck and Dan Roark

First of all, it was for about five minutes. And, obviously, I wasn’t really Jesus.

I received an email on Saturday from Tina Thompson-Broussard, the Choir Director at Christ UMC, Farmers Branch, saying that she had asked the staff who they thought would play Jesus, and Pam Capener mentioned me. Tina asked if I would be Jesus during a song in the early service on Sunday – no speaking, just acting. The early service begins at 8:50 a.m. so I was to be there at 8:20.

Katie Buck and Dan Roark

I didn’t have a show on Saturday, but we were to turn the clocks forward. It was doable – needless to say, I don’t usually go to the early service. Besides, how many times do you get the chance to be an Irish Jesus? After a few hours deliberation, I replied in the affirmative.

All I knew was that I was to be Jesus. The sermon series is on Jesus Christ Superstar, so as an old hippie, I knew that what I usually wear would probably work. I did have a pair of sandals, just in case. I thought about having my tie-dyed shirt at the ready, but it is the early service and it might not go over.

Katie Buck and Dan Roark

I was getting ready for my role Saturday night. I knew she was looking for the Jesus Christ Superstar Jesus. But I kept falling back into the Eric Clapton Jesus in the Who musical, Tommy, when he walks down the aisle of the church in a white robe playing a Les Paul. But I didn’t have a white robe. I’m just more comfortable with a guitar.

I walked into the church at 8:15, coffee in hand. The choir was practicing in the choir room, so I just hung out in the hallway reading the bulletin board over and over and drinking coffee. After about 4 minutes, Katie Buck walked in and smiled at me

Katie Buck and Dan Roark

like she expected to see me. I commented that it was really early, and she agreed. Katie and her older sister, Lillian, were in youth with our boys. Her father, Charles, led the confirmation class that all the kids went through. So I didn’t think anything about it.

Then Tina walked in the door, put something in the choir room, and took Katie and I to the sanctuary. Then I learned what the plan was. The sermon was entitled “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.” We were to do our little “skit” during the Anthem -Kyrie – Schubert Mass in G Major by Franz Schubert. (I know, it surprised me, too – and I was Jesus.)

As the music began, I was to walk up the middle aisle of the sanctuary to the chancel. Where I was to step up on the riser, turn, and stand there “looking Jesus-y.” Then, after so many measures, Katie came up. I turned as she was coming up and faced her when she got there. We looked each other in the eye, then Katie “the fallen woman” (I know – I felt better, too when I learned that) would bow before me, look up, and then back down. I patted her on the shoulder, and helped her up. We looked each other in the eye. Then she looked down again, I reached out and raised her chin, and we looked at each other, Katie looking relieved, and me looking Jesus-y.

Katie Buck and Dan Roark

We practiced it once and Tina asked if we wanted to go through it again. We said we were good. Katie had actually brought a sheet fashioned into a tunic. As you see, I wore my shirt with the fish on it, untucked, and jeans. Before the service began, I went to Charles and Rebecca Buck with Katie.

“I’ve gotta be honest with you,” I was telling them, “I don’t think even Jesus would get up this early. I see him strolling down to the synagogue about noon.”

So I went and sat with Cyndy toward the back, and Katie sat on the front row. The service began. After the scripture reading, the anthem began. I walked up the aisle, turned and looked Jesus-y, Katie came up and we did our thing, and returned to our seats.

After the service, people thought we did well, and it all worked – Katie has done some acting – hence the tunic. While Katie and I were looking at each other, we actually had a conversation with our eyes. And then, just like that, I was plain old Dan again. Which is a good thing. Being Jesus ain’t easy!

Peace be with you.

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As I was enjoying Christmas with family, I couldn’t help but think about the families that we delivered food to during the summer and for Thanksgiving and all families like them. I hoped and prayed that they were able to have Christmas dinner and presents of some sort. Or whichever religious celebration they observe. Thanks should be given to Metrocrest Social Services, North Texas Food Bank, churches, and other organizations that make sure families – children and seniors in particular – have the nourishment they need.

Here is the music video of my song, What the Lord Intends (Sack Summer Hunger). Feel free to click on the YouTube logo in the bottom right corner to watch it on my YouTube channel and subscribe to the channel (you will only get an email when I upload a new video).

Peace be with you.

Richard Hunt

Richard Hunt

Sitting at my desk thinking about the last year and planning for the new year, I was looking forward to playing shows more often. Not to mention the upcoming music conferences. Such as the ASCAP Expo in April. Or the Songwriter Symposium hosted by the Austin Songwriters Group coming up in a couple of weeks. Which naturally caused me to relive last years symposium, in a fashion. Which led to recalling an interesting story I thought I would relate to you.

For a number of years, I have been attending the Theological School for the Laity at Perkins Theological Seminary at SMU for a weekend in early March. I took a few classes with Robert Hunt, a professor at Perkins. I have also been to other functions at Perkins and have seen and talked to Robert. He has preached in our church. He also gave a presentation at a meeting of the Religion Communicators Council of which I am a member.

Then at the symposium, I saw Robert and thought it was cool that he wrote songs as well as his theological works. I never heard his name at the symposium, but he seemed to know who I was. We are both a friendly sort of people – when we see people we give a knowing look, as if we are introducing ourselves with facial expressions. Which makes each of us seem as if we knew the other beforehand. But I had no doubt at the time that I knew him.

In October, I played a showcase at eSpiritu in Frisco. One of the other four songwriters was Robert – or so I thought. In the emails from the host, Ryan Michael Galloway, he said Richard Hunt was playing – along with Julie Jean White, myself, and Mudcat Reames. I thought he had Richard’s name wrong. When I arrived, I walked up to him and shook his hand. He said he was glad to see me again. While he was playing, his wife was standing at a table across the aisle from Cyndy and I taking pictures. I asked her if he was writing songs under the name of Richard.

“Yes, he’s a lawyer. Both of us are. And yes, he goes by Richard – his real name.”

Now I was thoroughly confused. Cyndy and I looked Richard up on the internet, since she had met Robert as well, and found our answer quickly. Julie Jean played after him. I went on after her. After my set, I walked up to him and asked if he had a brother.”

“Yes,” he said, with a smile and a nod, “a twin.”

“When I saw you at the symposium, I thought you were Robert.”

“That’s a common occurrence.” Another nod and smile.

I was just thankful I was not going stark raving bananas. Who would have thought I would meet twin brothers in basically unrelated areas of my life? I know quite a few sets of twins, but I met them together. I also know there are a lot of twins – more than you would think.

Have you ever met a set of twins, each at different times, not knowing they were twins? I would be interested to know. I don’t think I am the only one. Let us know in the comments.

Peace be with you.

P.S. This story reminded me of another story I heard years ago. Look for the next post.

Where was God when disaster struck?

God was with the baby who survived
because her window
was the only one in the house
that did not implode.

God was there to comfort
the woman who lost everything
she owned, and most
of her family.

God was with the family
who stuck together
during the tragedy
and survived – together.

God was with the family members
who were separated
before the disaster,
but found each other safe.

God was with the people
who – despite injury and loss –
helped others who could not
assist themselves.

God was there with the families
of the victims
helping them to deal with
the question of why?

God was there with the family
of those who may have caused
the disaster and who are
struggling to understand.

God was there with grace
to pour upon those affected
and help them to carry on
despite unexpected change.

God was there.

Clouds 1When I was growing up, my grandmother on my mother’s side – Grandma Kelley – lived in the other side of a duplex from my aunt, uncle, and cousins in Adele, Iowa. The large screen porch led to separate entrances for each side. But when you went up the stairs in one side, you could walk all the way down the hall and then down the stairs to the other side of the duplex. I don’t remember if there was a bedroom on the first floor of either side, but if there was, there was only one and it belonged to my grandmother, and my aunt and uncle, respectively.

My brother and I slept upstairs. On one occasion, I was sleeping by myself. I don’t know why. We usually slept together at relatives’ houses. I think I was ill, but I wouldn’t swear to it. I was sleeping on one of the old, raised beds, the kind you had to climb into – particularly if you were under the age of twelve.

There were vents in the floor upstairs – or the ceiling downstairs, whichever way you look at it. I assume it was a way to keep the house warm in the winter – letting heat rise to the rooms upstairs. You could see down into the lower floor through the vents. You could also hear everything that was said over a whisper. Which could be embarrassing, but it also kept me from making several unwanted entrances into family rooms.

I remember having a hard time going to sleep with the voices coming up through the floor vent. It was hard trying to go to sleep and still trying to hear what the voices were saying. They sounded as if those talking were in the bottom of a shallow cavern. A head cold or flu would have increased the effect (I don’t remember having anything worse than that away from home).

I have no idea exactly what I was dreaming about. But I do remember the voices guiding the dream on some level. At some point I imagined stepping off of the bed and dropping through the floor. I kept falling, with clouds below me and no earth in sight. I remember actually having a falling sensation.

While I was falling I was frightened, but it never occurred to me that I would hit anything – much less hit it hard enough to die. I was sure that God would save me. As young as I was, I had faith in a loving and just God. I didn’t have all the baggage I have now. Baggage that makes me question something when I should just take it on faith.

I finally woke up, of course. But what one would consider the innocent dream of a naive child was actually an implicit assumption based on unquestioning faith. We all have had a similar type of experience when we were younger. A time when (real or in a dream) we mentally and physically had no control and had to depend on God.

I’ve had numerous experiences since that night – both in life and in dreams – in which I felt out of control. Unfortunately, I wasn’t always as successful as that night in trusting God to help. And I know I am not alone. We need to get some of that naivete back. True, we cannot undo experience and knowledge. But we can return to a childlike wonderment of God. Trusting him to protect us, even in our dreams. He does keep amazing us if we’re paying attention.

What was one of your most memorable faith experiences or “God moments?”

Peace be with you.

Zion UMC 1When I take trips – or even when I am just driving around – I like to take pictures of churches. All kinds and types of churches, but small churches in particular. Churches that have been around for many years. Some are worn and broken down, but show signs of tender loving care and have the appearance of an active church – albeit with a tiny congregation. Other churches have not held services for several years, but still show signs of upkeep by faithful congregants or their descendants. The church buildings resemble souls on the side of the road.

Churches with a past – not the negative sort of past that the phrase ordinarily implies – but a glorious past of vibrant congregations, spiritual worship services, and dinners on the grounds. The church buildings, along with the surrounding property, echo the vocal strains of gospel music, prayers, and praise. I often wonder if the Holy Spirit doesn’t return occasionally to the former churches to bless them one more time for their meritorious service to the glory of the Lord. Roadside reminders of years of faith and praise.                   Preston Road Church

I am rarely traveling on Sunday in order to attend our church. I take pictures and write articles for the newspaper, website, and archives. But one of these weekends when I’m on the road, I’d like to stay over and revisit the churches I’ve seen. Mainly to see if they still have services. I would like to get pictures of the small congregations that have served throughout the years and still faithfully attend.

I’m afraid, however, I would find that they would be closed for good. My next question would be if someone was still tending to the building. Or if it had been left to nature and future real estate developers. Which is why I take pictures of those churches. In some small way, I want to preserve the memory of the congregations and churches that helped develop the society in which we currently live.

But I will not only post pictures of churches with a past and possibly no future. I will also post – in order to celebrate – pictures of ministries that represent the church in the world. Or simply unique churches.

Peace be with you.

[Note: Follow the links for part one and part two.]

“Everyone be quiet and stay calm and no one will get hurt,” the gunman commanded. “The shot was an accident. No sudden noises.”

Antonio knew that if the police were not outside by now, they would be soon. He also knew the gunman was becoming more nervous by the minute and he did not want to get caught in the middle, which was now an increasingly likely situation.

“The police are going to be here soon, if they aren’t here now. I’d like to help you if I can,” Antonio said in the most calming voice he could muster with his nerves on overdrive.

“Why would you do that?

“Because I’m a preacher and it’s my job to help people with their problems.”

“So how can you help?”

“I have a cell phone with the number of the sheriff and he will listen to me.”

“Why would he do that?”

“I helped his family out. Like I said, it’s what I do.”

“Why should I trust you?”

“I’m a preacher, for God’s sake! I don’t have an ulterior motive.”

“A what?”

“A reason for lying to you. Just let me call him. If you don’t like what I say you can shoot me. And I wouldn’t give you a reason to do that. But I need to know why you’re doing this. Are you here to rob them?”

“I’m not here to rob the place. I’m not sure how things got this far. Make the call.”

Antonio could sense desperation in the man’s voice. He hadn’t always been a preacher and he knew the difference between an evil man and a desperate one. He pulled out his phone and called Sheriff Martinez.

“Hello, Antonio. I’m a little occupied at the moment.”

“No more than I, Oscar. I’m in the restaurant with the gunman’s arm around my chest.” He felt the gunman relax his hold a bit.

“Was anyone hurt by the shot?”

“No, someone dropped something in the kitchen which surprised him and he reacted. The bullet went into the counter after going through a chair.”

“What does he want?”

“That’s what we’re trying to ascertain. If you’ll let us get to the chapel, we’ll try to resolve the situation without involving the people in here. We’ll be coming out the main door.”

“You got a line on this nimrod?”

“So far anyway. But remember, he’s one of God’s people.”

“But not one of the chosen, Antonio. Call me when you’re in the chapel.”

“First chance I get.” Antonio hung up the phone and returned it to his pocket.

“What’s the chapel?” the gunman said in his ear, tightening the grip on his chest.

“The semitrailer in the parking lot. I’m surprised you missed it.”

“I wasn’t looking for a chapel.” He pushed Antonio toward the door between the two rooms.

“Point taken,” Antonio said as he reached out with his hand and unlocked the door.

The gunman put the pistol in his pocket and stayed behind Antonio. Antonio nodded slightly to Fred as they passed the cash register. The two men walked out the front door of the truck stop and headed for the trailer. Police cars were parked in front of the restaurant. A group of officers gathered behind the cars watching the two walk toward the chapel. .

As the two men walked up the steps of the trailer, Antonio glanced toward the restaurant. A couple of deputies were coming out of the door looking toward the chapel. The gunman,  followed Antonio into the chapel and locked the door behind him. Antonio walked over to his desk, swiveled the chair around, and sat down facing the gunman.

“So now that we’re here alone, what do I call you?” Antonio asked him.

The gunman held the gun on Antonio and looked confused. He was trying to get straight in his head the significant turn his original, albeit on-the-fly, plan had taken.

“I’m Jason,” he said finally.

“Well, Jason, I’m Antonio. Brother Antonio. Sheriff Martinez is expecting me to call him shortly and have the answers to some questions. Why don’t you tell me your story and let’s figure out how to wrap this thing up, whatever it is. What brought you to the truck stop with a gun?”

“A flat tire, an escapee from jail, a woman, two barbeque sandwiches, and a few bad choices.”

Hotel Room 1bIn the previous post, I was talking about my sabbatical to Marshall that ended up being unlike what I had previously imagined. I checked in to the hotel late Monday night. When I entered the hotel room after checking in at the front desk, I did what I have always done since taking vacations with my parents and my younger brother. Check out every nook and cranny of the room, beginning with the desk and all drawers.

The dresser drawers never had anything in them and they still don’t. Some hotels used to put extra pillows in the bottom drawers of the dresser, but that was years ago. When the desk drawer had hotel stationary. Now the desk does not even have a drawer.

Some things are the same. The book of information about the hotel and surrounding restaurants, shops, etc. A pen, a notepad, survey card, and the usual bathroom items. And the Gideon Bible in the bedside drawer. But when I opened the drawer this time – and found the Bible – the Mormon Bible was next to it. Which was comforting to me – like I said, I was there to quit a bad habit – simply because there is strength in numbers.

But it was also intriguing, because it was a hotel in Marshall, Texas – a town of 24,000 people. As best I could ascertain, there are two Mormon churches in Marshall. I don’t think two churches could afford to supply Bibles to all of the numerous hotels in Marshall. Which raises the question of which hotels and why? But that is a question for another time.

What matters is that the hotel having both a Bible and a Mormon Bible is a step toward understanding our neighbors and living with our differences. Perhaps there will come a day when you check into a hotel and there will be several Bibles or holy books of other religions. More for people of the different faiths who may stay at the hotel than for the proselytization of those faiths. The different holy books would also be available for anyone wanting to learn about other faith traditions.

Which will be a subject we will return to in this blog. One of the main purposes of Chasing After Wind is to write about those times – simple or complicated – in which life and theology intersect. And since I am a member of a few interfaith organizations, another purpose of the blog is to promote dialogue between all religions and faith-based organizations. Join me as we look for God in everyday life, and learn about other faith traditions.

Peace be with you.

[Find part one here.]

Immediately upon spotting the gun, Antonio felt the man’s left arm come around and clamp his chest under his chin, reclaiming his vise grip on Antonio’s right shoulder. Although he  had an urge to turn his head to see where the pistol was pointed, the preacher decided instantaneously that it would not be the wisest choice he could make. His heart was beating so fast that it seemed determined to fly out of his chest. At the same time his brain struggled between telling his eyes to close tightly to feel the barrel of the gun should it be pointed at his head, and telling them to remain open to eliminate the element of surprise.

Francis dropped the coffee pot, which shattered, sending hot coffee and shards of glass onto her shoes and legs. Her fear of the man holding Antonio and the gun offset the pain in her legs. That, and she was praying harder than she ever remembered praying. She wondered if it would matter to the gunman if he knew Antonio was a preacher.

The instant the coffee pot shattered, Fred Martinez, the owner of the truck stop who was still at the cash register, stepped on the floor alarm under the register that signaled the police. He always had unruly customers, but he had the alarm installed when a late night birthday party got  out of control. With the use of credit and debit cards, the truck stop never had enough cash that he thought someone would rob the place at gunpoint. Especially with all the glass and traffic.

“Pull down the shades, and turn the sign around!” the gunman demanded, pointing the gun at Francis – who fought hard against the fainting spell, which along with her fear, was turning her legs to jello.

Francis was not sure how her legs kept moving, but she moved toward the windows as quickly as she dared. As she reached up for the shade on the last window by the door, she spotted Steve Striden at the pump putting gas in his blue Ford F150. He looked around toward the restaurant. Francis tried to catch Steve’s eye as she pulled down the shade. She turned the open sign around in the window, glancing again toward the pump.

“Lock the door,” said the gunman, who had backed up against the wall dividing the restaurant from the store. “Now this one,” he said after she locked the front door, nodding to the door to his right.

The gunman still held Antonio in front of him. Antonio had said so many prayers they had turned into one long prayer. When the gunman had relocated – pulling Antonio with him – the preacher nearly lost his balance. He was sweating buckets and knew the gunman was, too.

Antonio was struggling to keep his bladder in check against the fear and coffee. But that did not keep him from noticing that the man with the gun and arm around his chest was getting nervous. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

Which was when someone dropped something in the kitchen, Antonio felt the gunman twitch as he pointed the gun toward the kitchen, the gun fired, and Antonio’s ears rang.

Brother Antonio opened the chapel – a 52-foot semitrailer in the parking lot of the Traveler’s Treasure Truck Stop – at 6 a.m., as he did on most mornings. He liked to have himself and the chapel available for the truckers who were getting an early start and wanted to pray before heading out. As he walked up the stairs and unlocked the door in the wooden wall that replaced the metal doors of the trailer, Antonio recalled the pain of opening the original doors which would swing around and bang against the side of the trailer, knocking a few pictures off of the wall.

Leaving the door open, he flipped on the two window air conditioning units installed on the left wall. The units were a welcome benefit of the redesigned entrance. Taylor Perkins, a long hauler for a lumber company, donated a batch of leftover lumber to the chapel that the company did not want to pay him to haul back. Fred Mullins, the truck stop owner, paid his handyman, Jeff Purvis, to build the steps, the rear wall with the door, and add supports under the trailer.

Purvis, a deacon at the Community Christian Church, painted “The Church of the Necessarily Significant” on both sides of the trailer as a favor to Brother Antonio. He also was a handyman for the Restful Traveler Hotel across the road from the truck stop. The hotel had upgraded from window unit air conditioners in the past year and the owners were happy to donate two of the units to the chapel. Jeff Purvis attended Brother Antonio’s Thursday night Bible study.

The Mothers of Miracles group at the Community Christian Church sewed blue tarps together to cover the underside of the trailer. The women added crosses alternating with the words Jesus, Forgiveness, Redemption, Faith, and Love. Mavis Monahan, secretary of the group, was the evening shift manager/waitress at the diner in the truck stop.  The Mothers of Miracles met at the chapel on Tuesday evenings to crochet prayer shawls for the sick, the infirm, and babies when they were baptised.

Antonio walked out and closed the door behind him. He straightened the sign hung on a nail in the center of the top of the door. “I’m in the restaurant, 406-224-5893 (ask for Brother Antonio) or stop in.” When he was in the restaurant the waitresses would call him to the phone. It gave the drivers who wanted privacy the chance to pray alone in the chapel. We walked across the parking lot and  entered the truck stop through the main entrance – saying “hello” to Fred at the cash register – and turned left toward the restaurant.

“Good morning, Antonio.” Francis smiled brightly as she served his coffee – one sugar, one cream – while he settled into his usual corner booth.

“Good morning, Francis.”

“Do you want the usual on this beautiful morning?” She went ahead and wrote special on her order pad anyway. He had only been in town for four months, but the order had not changed.

“Yes, thank you. It is a good day that the Lord has made, isn’t it?”

“Better than yesterday.”

“Nature has a mind of her own, so to speak.”

Francis smiled, topped off Antonio’s coffee, and headed to the kitchen to turn in his order, stopping along the way to refill the coffee cups of other patrons. Antonio glanced around the restaurant, smiling at everyone who caught his eye, and nodding to the regulars. He pulled out his phone and checked the Church of the Necessarily Significant’s Facebook page. It was not a church, per se, although that was Antonio’s goal. The church had begun…

“Here you are, Antonio. Two eggs over easy, bacon, toast, and grits.” Francis slid the plate in front of him as he raised his hands to give her room. She filled his coffee, smiled, and walked to another customer.

Antonio bowed his head and said a quiet prayer. He added butter, salt, and pepper to the grits, stirred them, and tasted a spoonful. Then he cut a piece of an egg, broke off a piece of bacon, and put them on the corner of a piece of toast and took a bite. As he was preparing his second bite, Antonio felt the rush of air as the door to the restaurant opened behind him. He was chewing the second bite when he was suddenly jerked out of the booth and to his feet by a vise grip on his shoulder. The piece of toast went flying. Then he saw the gun.

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