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Sunday, May 01, 2016

Why do i talk to this guy?

"Yikes, Sheila cut off all her hair!"
"Woman-hater's hair cut," Seamus stated matter of fact around a mouthful of spaghetti.  I knew when I was being baited.  He knew I would give in.  Eventually.  Damn him.
"Okay, why not a Man-hater's hair cut?"
"Now what about that looks Man-hating to ye?" He gestured to Sheila's bob with his fork.
"I don't follow you.  She had gorgeous long hair.  Men loved it.  She cut it all off.  Obviously she's sick of being eye candy for men."
"Certain men.  Some like that sort of thing, I'm told.  Anyhoo, what's the worst thing a woman can do to a man?"
"Cut off his --"
"Oh aside from that, ye unphilosophical simpleton!"  I shrugged.  "Become a man!  And how can you truly hate a man if you're working so hard to become one?  They cut their hair, they wear men's clothes, they try to be independent, they try to do men's jobs, they talk like men, cuss like men and destroy and distort everything feminine about themselves.  They don't hate men.  They want to be men!  It's themselves they hate."
"So smart guy, what does a man-hater look like?"
"All the rest o' em."
"Jeez!  What do you call this dark, bleak little world you live in?!"
Seamus stabbed a spherical meatball and held it up to inspection.  "Earth."

Sunday, April 03, 2016

A mystery wrapped in an enigma all tied up with paradox

Only my God.  Only Yahweh the mysterious and all knowing could come up with this.  Only He would know that you can teach a dog like me to love by denying me all visible love.  Only He would know that you could make someone an encourager by placing them in a desert devoid of the encouragement they crave.  Only He would know that a drought of kind words, a mouthful of sand and not a drop of joy even in a mirage, could make one a fountain for others.  Only He would hatch such a plan.  Only He would spring it in a moment when at my lowest i was crying out to him and lamenting this dry, waterless waste that i stagger through.

Only He would know i would totally see Him behind it all.

i love Him! 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday

Good Friday. 

Right now you have been up all night, first praying but then dragged to and through a mock trial.  You have been beaten and spit on, derided.  In a few hours, they will drag you up to Pilate, a foreigner, a pagan for yet another farce of a trial.  You will then be dragged to Herod for more of an interrogation.  But there you will be beaten and mocked some more.  Then back to Pilate where he will condemn you upon a political expediency.  Better one man die than many in an uprising.  And he lose his job if not his life.  With great power comes great anxiety.  And so he washes his hands and signs your death bill.  But first, you are flogged, scourged, flagellated.  Your skin torn off.  A crown of thorns, carefully woven by some sadist, is mashed down onto your head.  The king of sin, the king of the fall then tries to carry his own cross but is unable.  A Libyan Jew is forced to carry it for you.  Or with you.  You walk the streets of Jerusalem, staggering from pain and the weight of the all the world’s sin.  You who has never sinned, now is forced to endure the punishment of it, the separation from the Father, communion is broken.  Love is broken.  Now there is only wrath.  The wrath of the Father pours out on you, the faithful and true and undeserving son.  The only flesh born ever that did not deserve the wrath of God from birth. 
 
By around nine o’clock they will have nailed you to the wood and hoisted you high into the sky.  They offer you a drugged wine and you refuse.  Though when you do cry out for drink, they offer you only sour wine.  Vinegar.  Even those in the same predicament as you mock you from their own crosses where they pay for their own sins.  Save one.  Who begs you to but remember him.  Who recognizes your innocence.  Three hours you hang there.  The sky goes dark.  You cry out to God the Father as but God.  You declare it all done.  All the work of all creation finally finished.  And you commit your spirit into your Father’s hands.  The earth quakes, the veil in the temple is torn in two.  There is now no separation between us and you, the profane and the holy, we have been made clean by your finished work. 
By tonight, before darkness falls and the Sabbath begins, they who adored you in secret will finally make public their declaration by coming and asking for your body and preparing it for burial and placing it in their own tomb.  Freshly cut.  Never used.  A stone is rolled over the entrance.  It is sealed with the governor’s seal.  Guards are set and the world wanders away, your followers to hide behind locked doors in confusion and despair, your detractors behind smug self satisfaction, your executioners behind their ignorance.  Darkness falls.
 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Hi there, I AM.

Passover.

Slaves under an oppressive regime, literally worked to death.  And when God comes and introduces himself to them by name, their cultural memory of him and his last communication with them being four hundred and thirty years prior, he tells them something amazing.

Their biggest problem isn't the one they can see.  Yes, they are slaves.  Yes, the government is evil and wicked.  Yes, Yahweh is going to rescue them from their geopolitical and economic reality but what He has really come to do is rescue them from their sins.  From a curse which if they knew it at all was merely a part of their creation myth.  He has come to rescue them from eternal death.  And he even hints at how He's going to do it. 

Somewhere around two thousand years later a man comes to the same people, now subjects under a foreign empire in their own land.  This man sits down to another Passover dinner, now not much more than a religious ceremony that establishes their cultural and racial heritage, and tells them something amazing.  Their biggest problem isn't occupation forces and pagan governors, it is still not geopolitical and socio-economic.

He tells them He is God, and he's what Passover was all about.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

The thoughts of an old soldier

When i was young, i thought i would win the war.
As i aged, i became afraid i'd missed the war.
Now...
   now.
Now i just hope to win this one, little skirmish before i die.


(And in other news, this site, my oldest blog, my first presence on the Wild World of Web, has over ten thousand views now.  i wish that meant something but i suspect, most, if not nearly all, are just spam bots.  But hey, milestones are milestones no matter how you get to them, i suppose.)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Welcome

i hate locked doors.

By extension, i hate being ignored, passively or actively locked out of a conversation, a group, a place where i was hoping to enter, participate in or just listen to.  i don't need to be celebrated, i don't have to have the recognition and delight of every participant, i just want to be included, allowed, given a fair shake. 

Welcome. 

America is locking its doors.  Fear and jealousy is taking over.  Selfishness.  If we share with you, there won't be enough for us.  If we let you in, you might do something violent.  If we let a lot of you in, we may change.  We won't be in charge anymore.  There is danger in welcome.  Guests are not always pleasant.  Hospitality is costly.  Safety is tenuous.  Comfort is more comfortable.  Welcome is vulnerable.

Vulnerable is scary. 

You have to assume damage if you are going to love the damaged.  And everyone is damaged.  None are healthy, no, not one.  Everyone is hurting from something.  And where they've been hurt, they have learned mechanisms to defend themselves.  Where they've been denied, they've learned skills to get what they think they need.  Those mechanisms and skills are broken, they are almost always sinful and damaging, but they work in the short term and that's all that matters to the damaged and the needy.  If you let them in, you are going to be stolen from, you are going to be hurt, your stuff is going to get broken.  They may be ungrateful.  They may lie about you.  They may hurt you.  They might even beat you up. 

They might kill you. 

They might drag you through your own streets, nail you onto a beam and hang you up for public ridicule.  This is what happens if you cross us!  This is what happens when you welcome!  This is what happens when you love! 

People call Christians intolerant.  They accuse us of being exclusive.  Unwelcoming and i'm sure they've got some examples they could hold up.  We are all broken, we are all damaged and some have yet to understand the God they believe in.

But that's not what we are.  Christians are people pointing to a door.  Testifying about a door.  You don't enter a house through the wall.  Only thieves go into a temple through the window.  You enter a kingdom through a gate.  Through a door.  Jesus is the door.  He's literally the way in. 

And for now, he's not locked.

Friday, January 01, 2016

A Night in Nox

In the gray, failing light of the last day of the year, the foot-tired travelers turned there backs to the chilling airs hovering over face of the lake and made for home.  Back, back to the road.  Back to the hard, poured surface of pitch and stone.  The black scythe swathe cut which proved man ruled these woods and went where he willed and did just as he pleased.  If they listened, they could just hear the whispered echoes of the rolling fortresses upon it.  They were not far.  Not far indeed.  The path was clear and hard packed from many feet; the way would be easy.  They would make their own fortress before dusk.

Twisting and twining, coiling and writhing the path led down into a shadow gloom of crouching pines.  Stunted and malformed, an army of ancient children, angry at their maker, keeping counsel with none but themselves, they hid from the light and turned the silent ground below to a moist carpet of needles which gave beneath the travelers’ tread.  Not in soft delight did they place their feet but in eerie dread as if trod upon the very flesh of a sleeping giant.  As if the softness and the blanket might muffle the breaths and they would fall into the very mouth and be swallowed up in darkness. 

Neither had much will to ponder long the spongy earth however as their ears and eyes were hooked and pulled to the gnarled spider limbed branches hanging low over their fearful faces.  A shadow flitted before them.  First one, then two, then three, then fifteen, then fifty, then a countless cacophony of feathers and wing, chirp and screech!  A great squawking, Hitchcockery mob, long overdue in the southlands, hanging here in this wicked wood.  Robins, robbed of their warm reds, cold gray and dull drabs in the gloom, glimpsed only for a moment as their sharp beaks split to cry at the interlopers.  Fear!  Flight!  The impenetrable net above them that strained out sky and light was filled with the wind of beating wings, they could feel it on their faces, it thrummed in their ears, an arrhythmic beat, an erratic madness.  Fear!  Flight!  Flee!  But never far, never far, always one step ahead, one branch further, only to take flight again!  The world around them became a dark, thrumming mass of flashing wing and darting darkness.  Their steps quickened but the path twisted back, this way and that, never free of the copse of malevolent trees and terrified birds. 

Light often comes in strange forms when one feels most trapped by the darkness.  A spell.  The grizzled traveler knew a charm for such times.  He sang an old, throaty song, a song of light in darkness, of warmth in cold, of succor in abandonment.  A melancholy tune of being found when lost.  A song it was, imbued with ancient power, an enchantment stronger than fear, greater than darkness: Hope.  Soon the shadows parted.  The wings drew back, further and further to either side and then fell at last, fell behind.  Joy began to peek out and then…

They froze, the song cut off. 

A call.  A voice of Night.  A sentry’s query.  Ominous and portent.  Who?  Who goes there?  State your business.


A shadow, a silhouette on a dead branch, a horned watchman on his tower.  Who? Who goes there?  They did not answer.  The interlopers dared not speak.  The great watchman lifted up and on moccasin wing and silenced currents went to make his report.  Joy stillborn, hope forgotten, the interlopers pressed on no longer sure of the Road.  No longer sure of Home.  Eyes wide for what may come next. 

What came next were gnomes.  At first the travelers spirits lifted.  At first they laughed at the brightly colored comedians.  The cavorting fools.  The antics of the minuscule denizens of this enchanted wood.  So here, then must be the source of the tricks of light and noise.  Here then was the cause of their folly.  And favored guests they must be to see this village of the fair folk!


But no fair welcome was this.  All they received was course jest and rude name.  Insult and ignominy.  And warning.  The guard made it clear what the natives thought of their grossly oversized intruders.  The dead eyed scavengers gnawing on bones made it clear what the fate of those caught in these woods at night would be.  But fear not us, they mocked, no, no, fear not us!  We are the janitors, we are but the gardeners.  Fear the Parliament!  Aye, they laughed,








    The Parliament, the Parliament,
many wasted minutes spent,
    many fools’ last moments,
wondering what the wee folk meant
    by fear the Parliament!

When they know just what we mean
    split they are from spine to spleen
Too late they see what we’ve seen
    and we will pick their fool’s bones clean
And sing a jolly last lament
    to fools who should fear the Parliament.

And with many more rude noises and raucous laughter at our backs, we quit that place and none too quickly.  And before i and my companion had time to consider the song of the faerie folk, the sentry called again.  From far ahead, between us and the road came the challenge.  It was answered from West.  That challenge was answered from the East.  Then behind.  Again, and closer from before. 

Surrounded.  Hurried we did now.  The gnomes had achieved their fateful work.  It was dusk, we had lost the light.  No silhouette accompanied our warnings from above now.  The sentries hung over us unseen but not unheard.  Now before us.  Now to the side.  Faster and faster we went, as fast as we dared as root and rock sought to trip us in the gathering gloom.  Night fell and still we were fighting the path itself.  This way and that it turned.  Taking us tortuously close to the road, within sight of passing fortresses and then away and deeper into the rolling wood and hollering cataract.  A watery trench between us and the road.  An open maw.  And always the Parliament overhead!  Unseen talons in the dark.  Silent wings at our backs.  The values shifted.  Dark path became ribbon of light. Reflecting leaves became deep shadow.  Trees closed in around us, reached for us, cut us off from the Road and then…

We stumbled and nearly fell down the steep embankment cut by human hands, abrupt, unnatural and oh so welcome at last we came to the Road!  Fumbling for the key, encased in steel and glass, engine roars to life, lights stab the darkness and make it deeper still but outside, outside, blessedly outside.  Escape at pursued impala speeds, they breathed deeper the artificially heated air, they let the chill escape their feet, they tore into sugary chocolate to sweeten the fear from their mouths and set course for home.

The deep raking talon tears along their souls will heal and be forgotten in a week or two.  Or so i’m told.