Monthly Archives: October 2017

Out & About—Christian Light MBC in Los Angeles

Out & About The World

Whenever I go traveling, I devise a travel plan to get me to my destination by a specific route. Sometimes, though, I find something interesting and unexpected along my route. Such was the case earlier this year when I set out for Fillmore, California, to go to the Fillmore & Western Railway’s Railroad Days Festival. It was the best railroading event I’ve ever been to. Highly recommended.

About halfway there, though, making my way along I-10 in stop-and-go traffic, I saw an interesting church off to the side. The area of town—South Central Los Angeles—generally is not considered inviting to white people like me, and the church had bars and plywood on the windows, but you know me. It’s all about history and photographs, and as my wise old grandmother told me in 1967 when my best friend drowned in the community swimming pool: “When it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go.”

Here’s the church:

Christian Light Mission Baptist Church los angeles framed

Christian Light Mission Baptist Church los angeles framed

Christian Light Mission Baptist Church los angeles framed

Christian Light Mission Baptist Church los angeles framed

The church and its grounds were not accessible due to fences and gates, but I did find the cornerstone near the front entrance:

Christian Light Mission Baptist Church los angeles framed

I know a J.S. Pope but he’s not a Reverend, and if he was head of that congregation in 1944, I’m pretty sure that he would no longer be living in 2017.

I’m familiar with the world’s religions but I had no idea what religion the Christian Light M.B.C. was, so off to Google. While I did not find the history of Christian Light M.B.C., I did find out that M.B.C. stands for Missionary Baptist Church. I’m familiar with the Southern Baptists, having grown up in Texas where the Southern Baptists are many in number, but I had no idea what a Missionary Baptist Church was, although I had my suspicions.

A Google search led me to where I found this:

The Baptist movement has become significantly fragmented over the years, and there are various types of churches that use the label “Missionary Baptist” as part of their name. This article deals with the Missionary Baptist movement within the African-American community; it does not address other groups that may happen to use the name “Missionary Baptist.”

Most Baptist churches, including Missionary Baptists, believe and follow the essential tenets of Christianity. They hold to the inspiration and authority of the Bible, the deity of Christ, and salvation by grace through faith in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus. Also, Missionary Baptists, like other Baptists, teach the autonomy of the local church and practice believer’s baptism by immersion. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the two ordinances of the church. Most Missionary Baptist churches view Sunday as the Christian Sabbath, in which no work or secular activities should be done. Many Missionary Baptist churches also call their pastor’s wife the “first lady” of the church.

Two of the largest groups of Missionary Baptists are the National Baptist Convention USA, with about 8 million members; and the National Baptist Convention of America, with a membership of about 5 million. Other African-American Baptist groups using the name “Missionary Baptist” include the Progressive National Baptist Convention and the National Missionary Baptist Convention.

The Missionary Baptist movement began in 1880, soon after the Civil War. At that time, there were many freed slaves in Baptist churches, and they felt the need to come together in worship and to fulfill the Great Commission. The former slaves formed the Foreign Mission Baptist Convention of the United States in 1880, the American National Baptist Convention in 1886, and the Baptist National Educational Convention in 1893. These three organizations united to form the National Baptist Convention in 1895. About 24 years later, a disagreement within the convention led to a split, and the National Baptist Convention of America separated from the National Baptist Convention USA.

Generally speaking, Missionary Baptist churches place an emphasis on Christian evangelism, promoting missions efforts at home and abroad; encourage Christian education; seek social justice and community involvement; and publish and distribute Sunday school material and other Christian literature. Missionary Baptists embrace their history and maintain a strong connection to the needs in their surrounding communities. As conventions (not denominations), Missionary Baptist groups do not have administrative or doctrinal control over their member churches; such matters are left up to each local church.

One phrase in all that text confirmed my initial thoughts on what a Missionary Baptist Church was: promoting missions efforts at home and abroad.

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Music on Mondays—Lost on a desert island, 1966, part 2

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

My Lost On A Desert Island music collection would have 35 songs from 1966 on it. Here are the first 15, and following are the last 20. Hope you find one to enjoy or one that brings back some pleasant memories for you on Indictment Monday, October 30.

Kind Of A Drag by The Buckinghams
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Leaning On The Lamp Post by Herman’s Hermits
#9 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Lil’ Red Riding Hood by Sam the Sham & The Pharoahs
#2 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Mellow Yellow by Donovan
#2 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Nashville Cats by The Lovin’ Spoonful
#8 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Paperback Writer by The Beatles
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
private video

Red Rubber Ball by The Cyrkle
#2 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Scarborough Fair/Canticle by Simon & Garfunkel
#11 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Secret Agent Man by Johnny Rivers
#3 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

The Sound of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Sunny Afternoon by The Kinks
#14 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

The Ballad Of The Green Berets by SSgt Barry Sadler
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron by The Royal Guardsmen
#2 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore by The Walker Brothers
#13 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Boris The Spider by The Who
John Entwhistle’s first composition for The Who,
and while popular, it was never released as a single.

These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ by Nancy Sinatra
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa! by Napoleon XIV
#3 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

We Can Work It Out by The Beatles
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
The first ever “double A side” single, with Day Tripper
private video

Winchester Cathedral by The New Vaudeville Band
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Yesterday by The Beatles
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
private video

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Picture of the Moment—A personal relationship….

Picture of the Moment

A billboard in San Diego County, surprisingly, or not, out here in the boondocks:

Atheism - A personal relationship with reality

There are five points that I can identify on my journey from religion to atheism, which some say is a religion in and of itself.

The first was a period of seven years attending St. Gertrude’s Catholic Church in Kingsville, Texas, with my wise old grandmother. After church, little groups of people—cliques—would gather and catch up—gossip—on all the news about anyone and anything from the past week. I think I was fortunate that my wise old grandmother was not a member of any of those cliques. I only heard things as we walked from the church to our car. I thought it the height of hypocrisy to be gossiping in the church parking lot after church….

The second was as a freshman at Texas A&M University. I was living Puryear Hall, a ramp-style dorm. Each weekend, a group of us, led by a guy from Nigeria, would visit a different church—Jew, Catholic, Mormon, Lutheran, Methodist, Unitarian, Church of Christ…. No religion was out of bounds. That was when I realized that each of these religions could not each be the true religion….

The third was a couple of years after I graduated from Texas A&M University. I was living in Houston, and the woman I was dating, a senior at Texas A&M, was from Houston. She was a Catholic, so I had no problems saying “Yes” when she asked me if I wanted to go to church with her one weekend when she as home. Her parents lived about ten miles from me but the church was just a couple of blocks away from me, so she offered to pick me up. Mass started at 11:00 a.m., but she didn’t arrive until 11:30. We got to the church in five minutes but she spent ten minutes driving around looking for a parking spot, and when she found one, she backed into it. I asked her why she was backing in since it takes longer to park that way, and she said she could leave faster when church was over. Whatever….

The fourth was when I was dating a woman in College Station, Texas, in 1987. She had a personal relationship with her God, so personal that he was telling her when to call in to work sick, when to take vacation, when to eat, when to come see me. One Saturday she was at my place where I had my home office. Penney and SugarI was working in the living room and she was back in my bedroom on the bed, with my two dogs Penney & Sugar, studying her Bible lesson for the next day. At 11:00 p.m. I decided to take a break. I went to my bedroom and asked her if she wanted to take the dogs for a walk with me. She rolled over, looked at me ever so sweetly, and said, “No. The Lord has not told me to take the dogs for a walk with you.” I broke up with her a couple of days later.

The fifth was a period from April 27, 1993, to February 15, 1994. I arrived in San Diego on April 15, 1993, and spent two weeks orienting myself before deciding to study the world’s great, and not-so-great, religions to determine if there was a religion that was fully accepting of an openly gay man. Only the Metropolitan Community Church came close, but it was based waaaaaaay too much on the traditions and tenets of the Roman Catholic Church. Thus, it didn’t really bring anything new the table, all things considered….

Those 10½ months of intense studying convinced me that I had everything I needed to lead a productive life, to be a viable, contributing member of society. Perhaps I got everything from my upbringing in the Mormon and Catholic churches, but whether or not I did, I do believe I would have learned everything I needed without religion.

Some might say that the people around me, brought up in their own religions, influence me, and that quite likely is true. Thus, as I like to tell people, I have no problems with you practicing your religion if doing so helps prevent you from raping, murdering, and stealing.

For me, at this point in my life, I have a personal relationship with reality and don’t need any religion.

Atheism - A personal relationship with reality

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Out & About—Extreme Sailing Series stop in San Diego

Out & About

I remember the days when I used to spend all my time in, on, or near the water. Now it’s a special event when I get to the coast since I live out in the mountainous boondocks about 25 miles away. This past weekend, though, was the Extreme Sailing Series in the San Diego Harbor. It was a 4-day event featuring GC32 foiling sailboats. They look like this:

GC32 foiling sailboat

When they are going fast, it looks like they are out of the water because all you can see or those little foil thingies.

GC32 foiling sailboat

GC32 foiling sailboat

Along with the GC32 foil sailboat racing, they had foil kiteboard racing, which was won by Johnny Heineken. What a name! All he would have to do is provide Heineken to all the other contestants and get them drunk!

Foil kiteboard racing

And parachutists:

Parachutists at the Extreme Sailing Series in San Diego 2017

According to the program,

The extreme Sailing Series is the ultimate Stadium Racing championship, visiting eight iconic cities across three continents each season. The global series pits teams of the world’s best sailors against each other on hydro-foiling GC32 catamarans. The world-class crews compete on stadium-style racecourses set just metres from the shores of the free entry Race Villages, putting spectators at the heart of the sailing action like never before.

San Diego is the second-to-the-last stop on the 2017 tour. Previous stops were Muscat, Oman; Qingdao, China; Madeira Islands, Portugal; Barcelona, Spain; Hamburg, Germany; and Cardiff, United Kingdom. The final stop is November 30-December 3 in Los Cabos, Mexico.

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Music on Mondays (10-24-17)—Lost on a desert island, 1966 (part 1)

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

My Lost On A Desert Island music collection would have 35 songs from 1966 on it.

Following are the first 15. Hope you find one to enjoy or one that brings back some pleasant memories for you this Monday, October 23.

(Theme From) The Monkees by The Monkees

(You Don’t Have To) Paint Me A Picture by Gary Lewis & The Playboys

And Then Along Comes Mary by The Association

Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) by Cher

Day Tripper by The Beatles
Private Video

Daydream by The Lovin’ Spoonful

Sunshine Superman by Donovan

For What It’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield

Georgy Girl by The Seekers

Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys

Homeward Bound by Simon & Garfunkel

I Am A Rock by Simon & Garfunkel

I Fought The Law by The Bobby Fuller Four

I’m A Believer by The Monkees

I’m A Boy by The Who

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Playing docent for friends at the San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo logo

Remember that if you come to San Diego for any reason and need a personal docent for the day, I’m always up for it. I often have free tickets to the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. They can be YOURS, free, just like I got them!

Yesterday I played docent for two old friends that I had not seen since 1983, other than Facebook, of course. Here are some pictures from our trip to the Zoo:

Grizzly BearGrizzly bear

Panda. Remember that these are not bears. Just pandas.

Baby monkey, although I don’t know what species.
Baby monkey

A female gazelle, looking very pregnant
and being checked on by her previous child.
Pregnant momma

Polar Bear enjoying the San Diego sunshine.
Polar Bear

Reindeer, but not Rudolph, obviously.

Arctic fox. There were two of them yesterday. In 23 years of going to the San Diego Zoo at least once a month, and usually once a week, these are only the second and third pictures I have gotten of the arctic fox.
Arctic fox

Arctic fox

Got a group photo of some well-known people.
Group photo

California Condor. Extinct in the wild as recently as 1987 with only 22 birds still living, all in captivity. The San Diego Zoo’s breeding program has resulted in the re-introduction into the wild. It still is one of the world’s rarest birds, with 446 now living both in the wild and in captivity.
Ccalifornia condor

Hyrax. I got up close and personal with my 150-600 mm lens.

Meerkat. One of my favorite animals. They are so much fun to watch.

Hyrax momma and her two young ones. The look on her face! Is she thinking that some sort of pervert is taking pictures of her young ones sucking on her teats and is going to put them on the Internet?

Squirrel. This is a “local animal” according to the Zoo,
meaning that it is free to come and go at will. Of course, it knows
where the best food is, not to mention lots of friends!

Kookaburra. It’s difficult to get a good picture of these birds because of the tiny mesh surrounding their enclosure. They have to be at just the right distance from the mesh for my 150-600 mm lens to get through the mesh.

Silverback Gorilla, pondering.
Lowland gorilla

Orangutan, also pondering.

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Music on Mondays (10-16-2017)—My “Lost on a desert island” music from 1965

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

My Lost On A Desert Island music collection would have 18 songs from 1965 on it, eight of them by The Beatles.

My wise old grandmother adopted me in November 1965, and I arrived at her home on December 18, 1965. My mom’s oldest brother and his family drove me from Brigham City, Utah, where I lived, to Kingsville, Texas—1,524 miles—where my wise old grandmother lived. Four years after my dad’s suicide and the two sides of the family still were at war with each other, so even though my uncle was driving to Kingsville anyway to see his dad, in retrospect I wonder what was going through his mind as he delivered his sister’s child to her dead husband’s mother….

Nonetheless, I have lots of pleasant memories of the music from 1965. Following are all 18. Hope you find one to enjoy or one that brings back some pleasant memories for you this Monday, October 16. Note that there are not any videos on Youtube of original music by The Beatles. They all have been taken down, so even though I might have found a couple for my blog post here, by the time you try to listen to them, they might be gone. You can find various versions for karaoke, live versions, cover versions, etc., if you care to go look for them. I find it odd that every music publishing entity in the world is now providing music videos directly to YouTube under the moniker “Topic” (such as Herman’s Hermits – Topic)…. except Capitol, EMI, Apple Corps, or anyone else holding copyrights to music by The Beatles.

“Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat” by Herman’s Hermits

“Down In The Boondocks” by Billie Joe Royal
I didn’t learn until a couple of decades later that
where my wise old grandmother lived in Kingsville
was considered the “wrong side of the tracks.”

“Eve Of Destrution” by Barry McGuire

“Get Off Of My Cloud” by The Rolling Stones
Not until 1978 when I started collecting all the #1 albums
and #1 singles from 1955, the start of the rock ‘n’ roll era,
did I give The Rolling Stones a shot. I was a Beatles fan.

“Girl” by The Beatles

“Help” by The Beatles
This was the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100
while I was at the Thomas D. Dee Memorial Hospital
in Ogden, Utah, in the “Troubled Youth” ward.
This is the song that inspired me to reach out
to my wise old grandmother for help.

“I Got You Babe” by Sonny & Cher

“I’m Henry VIII, I Am” by Herman’s Hermits

“In My Life” by The Beatles
I sang this song in Student Government on Valentine’s Day in 1971
to my girlfriend at the time, Lynda Young.

“It Ain’t Me Babe” by The Turtles

“Michelle” by The Beatles

“Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter” by Herman’s Hermits

“Nowhere Man” by The Beatles
It wasn’t until April 1993 when I “came out” after moving
from College Station, Texas, to San Diego, California,
that I didn’t feel like a Nowhere Man anymore.

“Run For Your Life” by The Beatles

“This Diamond Ring” by Gary Lewis & The Playboys

“Ticket To Ride” by The Beatles

“You Were On My Mind” by We Five

“You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” by The Beatles
This was my favorite song from the movie and album.
In retrospect, I wonder if I knew I was gay
long before I accepted myself being gay.

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Picture of the Moment—Thar she blooms!

Picture of the Moment

For last Friday’s Friday Flower Fiesta, I featured a new plant that now is in my garden, the Stapelia gigantea. It is called the “carrion plant” because its flowers smell like rotting flesh, which is important because this plant needs flies to pollinate it. And we all know how much flies like stuff that we humans find pretty much disgusting. Flies are the only creatures that can pollinate these flowers, notwithstanding how large the flowers are.

My plant had three huge flower buds on it when I bought it. This morning two of them decided to open up and show the world how beautiful they are, notwithstanding their smell. Of course, it was only minutes until the first fly showed up, appropriately a huge fly!

Stapelia gigantea

Stapelia gigantea

Stapelia gigantea with fly

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Friday Flower Fiesta (10-13-17)—Stapelia gigantea

Friday Flower Fiesta

Happy Friday the Thirteenth!Master Gardener

When my wise old grandmother adopted me in December 1965, I found that I was moving in with a Master Gardener eight years before there was such a thing as a Master Gardener.

In September 1968, when I came home from my eighth grade plant biology class with Mrs. Bajza, I asked my wise old grandmother if I could have a small area in her yard to create my own little garden.

Earlier that year, my granddad, two uncles, and I had installed central heating and air conditioning in our South Texas home. Such a system comes with a cooling condenser which sits outside and blows hot air around at hurricane force. The wind and heat kills anything near it. So, of course, the area around the cooling condenser is what my wise old grandmother gave me. I was so sad but I didn’t let her see my sadness.

While I was over at a friend’s house—Richard Schmidt—his parents heard me talking about my useless garden. They offered to take me 70 miles down to the Rio Grande Valley and show me just how useless my garden was not. They introduced me to cactus and succulents, and I bought many on that trip.

I created a rock wall around the cooling condenser to force the hot wind upwards and protect the rest of the little area. Then I created little dry stream beds and a cactus/succulent rock garden. The area I was working with was on the south side of the house, so it got a lot of South Texas sunshine and heat to begin with.

Well, the cactus and succulents absolutely loved it there, and one day they all decided to reward me simultaneously with a magnificent display of flowers. I was so excited that I went running in yelling and screaming for my wise old grandmother to come look. She was impressed, and happy, which made me happy, too.

One of the succulents that I had planted was a Stapelia. They look kind of awkward, like me, so I could identify with them. When it bloomed, it was the most magnificent flower I had ever seen, similar to this one from Wikipedia:

Stapelia gigantea

I now know that what I had was a Stapelia gigantea, the largest flower of the Stapelia species. Sadly, I never took a cutting from that plant when I left home for college at Texas A&M University. And I had never seen another Stapelia gigantea…..

….Until yesterday….

I was wandering around a newly discovered nursery out here in the boondocks, Wally’s World Nursery. Wally’s had five of them, one blooming and two fixin’ to bloom. I brought one home with me:

Stapelia gigantea

Stapelia gigantea is known as the “carrion plant” because its flowers smell like rotting flesh, important to the plant since it needs common flies to pollinate it. Have no fear if you want one of these, though, because you kind of have to rub the flower all over your nose in order to smell it. Flies, on the other hand, can smell rotting flesh from half way around the world….

The flowers get up to ten inches in diameter and are fringed with hairs that can be up to three-tenths of an inch long. The flowers of all Stapelia species are star shaped, some having more than one star in them, and many of them are fringed with little hairs.

I have had other Stapelia species over the years but never Stapelia gigantea. I have had the Stapelia grandiflora, which has the second-largest flower (see second picture below), but I have always wanted  another Stapelia gigantea. Now I have one.

Here are some pictures of Stapelia flowers from my gardens over the years:



Stapelia from the garden of Russel Ray


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