Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Therefore, topic number one.
i've been aware of the shift for some time. Picture yourself in a room, a gymnasium perhaps, with about two hundred and fifty million other people. You are all facing north. You are all one arms length from your nearest neighbors and evenly spaced to form ranks and files. You form a single entity in some ways, though made up of two hundred and fifty million separate parts. Anything that happens in that gymnasium will effect you all. Now, let's suppose that someone, number three hundred and seventy-eight thousand, two hundred and twenty six over there along the westernmost wall, let's suppose he farts. You didn't smell it but you heard it and the rumor coming along the ranks and files is that it's a bad one. A real stinker. Next thing you know, you look around and no one is near you anymore. Hardly anyone is still in rank and file. In fact, they're all milling about by the eastern wall, pretending they're not in the gymnasium anymore.
On second thought, that's a horrible analogy. Let's toss that one and start over. On third thought. Let's not. Let's turn that offal into the analogy. i, scruffy, have made a bad analogy. My name is now forever tainted with that degrading piece of brussel sprout. If i now CHANGE my name, does it somehow go away? Am i now better cuz i'm going by the name of slovenly? No! It's ridiculous. It's spin. Changing my name neither erases nor disavows me of my earlier cock-ups. A rose by any other name will still reek of cow-pie if you drag it through pasture.
i guess i first noticed this trend in regards to Americans. When did being an American become a sign of disgrace and embarrassment? In this form, the tendency to deny one's identity out of shame only tickled my grumpy bone, i'm not a flag waving jingoist. i'm eight generation American, was born here, will most likely die here and have no problems with that but that's me. You wanna call yourself a Slobovian-American because your great-grandpapa rode over on a boat and loudly proclaim that you voted democrat so everyone will think that somehow your not involved in all the ugliness then fine. Good luck with that. Tell Sean Penn i said, pblbpblt.
When my dander really got up though. (There's an expression that has possibly outlived it's relevance.) When this self-delusion really hit home for me though was when i started hearing it from christians.
No wait, they're Jesus-followers now. Or was it Jesusians? How about cock-a-mamies. When did Christian become a bad word? And how does calling yourself something different fix any of the problems, PR or otherwise, that christians may have? Maybe i'm an idealist but wasn't the entire point of christianity, the whole flippin' grande enchillada carne Jesu about how "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us..."??? Our sins are forgiven, both past and future. The ones we committed before we were followers of Christ or little christs or "christians" AND the ones we committed and will keep committing despite our greatest wishes or most fervent attempts, since we became christians. If we don't like a couple of folk who are abusing the name christian, or if we don't want to be associated with some brothers and sisters in Christ who publicly display un-Christlike behavior, how does changing our name solve this? In point of fact i would venture to say that it sends exactly the wrong message. Cover up your sins, change your name, pretend they never happened...it will all blow over in time. We're not with those people.
We don't cover our sins. God does, with his son's perfect sacrifice. And not when they are hidden, but when our sins, public and private are exposed. The debts they incurred, the damage they did not whisked away with a feather duster but paid in full, healed, cured, completely, fairly adjudicated by The Judge of the Universe. Then and only then do we get a new name, because then and only then will we be a new creation. We're christians because we admitted that we need that and that only Christ can accomplish it. And trying to hide behind a new name only proves the point. i could go on from here but i'd just be repeating things Pastor Billy already has on mp3 files in the Spiritual Stuff section.
Second topic will have to wait...
Monday, December 11, 2006
The mad scramble has begun. When the tree is put up and decorated not on a day chosen by family tradition or greatest symbolic effect but by the iron dictates of the almighty schedule. Christmas is still two weeks away and yet, as i take this one sadly short moment of relative calm to view the river of life as it rages past me in a mud churning, tree uprooting, furious torrent that rails against its banks and carries all with it to the inevitable waterfall at the end...
As i stand here mesmerized by its irresistable force, its overt malevolence, its ruthless efficiency as it carries all of humanity downriver in a primal roar...
As i watch some poor souls tumble, some float face down, others clutch whatever piece of flotsom in their lives that has held them up for this long, while others cling to each other, little colonies using collective buoyancy to form human rafts, other vicious souls climb on top of the weak or the willing...
Every once in a short while, some torpedo, a tree, a rock or car or house, comes ripping through the struggling swimmers and knocks them loose from their securities, proving them false. They scream for as long as their heads remain above water and then begins the terrified search for some other method of staying afloat...
And here i stand on the bank for just a few more precious minutes in my luau trunks, snorkel and rubberduckie floatie ring. i say a little prayer, probably not unlike the one said by Peter before he hopped out of the boat that night. i take a deep breath. Closing my eyes just makes the roar of the mad river that much more vivid, the screams of those who fear losing the fight accost my faith so i open them again and stare eye to uncaring cataract of the beast and as the Lord makes me able...
i step out onto the water.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
That's what i need here. Something witty. Some way of taking the absolutely Jobian day i had yesterday and putting it into perspective. Possibly a comparison to the halcyon days of yester week. Ah last week, when life moved at the pace of a baking pie and was thoroughly laced with spices like hope and contentment. i can almost still smell the heady scent of a week off and time spent writing and working on the station and camping and feasting with family, mfffffffffff, ah. Smells like 'Victory.'
How then can i relate steaming sweet potato, apple or pumpkin pie to the cold metal slivers and broken glass i was fed on a slime-slick stone floor yesterday? Or how do i deal with my shrugging right back into the black rags of spite and self-loathing that i am so used to wearing when crunching such a bloody breakfast. When the only witty response that will occur to my scarlet mind is but one word long and yet all descriptive.
Without a doubt. Without faith how could life be anything but all of the three and then some? Without a firm belief in an Architect/Artist who has His children's best interests in mind, how does one deal with the duplicitous nature of nature? Without an unshakeable, nay, unbreakable, it often both shaken and stirred, but never broken belief in Justice and how can there be Justice without a Judge? How can one forge ahead through what appears to all accounts to be complete and abhorrent injustice? Better yet, if there is no Judge and no ultimate point to the saga then... Why? Why struggle at all? Go out quick and thunderously, flash! Poof! Sayonara suckers! Pass the explosions, a couple of cleverly killed off villians and i'll try to come up with something witty to say as the forces of human "justice" close in.
Job. With a long 'o.'
There are no coincidences and so the Architect structured my life so that i would hear a sermon series on Job before having yesterday. So that today, instead of enviously eyeing the .44 or the local nomad enabler down at the cycle dealership, i can get up, put on the despised rags of rage that go with my job, short 'o,' and forge off into the fog and darkness with my nose being tickled by the faint but unmistakabe aroma of sweet potato pie.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
- Mynk and Happ Hazzard and Rascal
- A couple of days to rest after my latest "vacation."
- Fresh coffee.
- For light at the end of tunnels.
- For Al Gore, for inventing the internet and giving me an outlet for my various surges of creative energy.
- For the ability and skills to work on this massive edifice of endless toil that is the station.
- For football on thursday, especially since i missed it this weekend.
- That my teenage son, so far, likes music that i like.
- That my younger son is starting to come out of his shell a little.
- That since i have not been freed of the need to continue in the construction trade, i have been given a truly excellent company to labor for.
- For MnM's.
- And a good friend and long suffering family that understands or tolerates my addictions.
- For those blessed moments, no matter how brief, no matter how few and far between when i know, deep down in every fibre of my being, i know that this is what i was created to do and i'm exactly where i need to be.
- To God for getting me through the deserts between those moments.
There's plenty more that i will put into my prayers tonight but they don't really make good reading, not that this did but hey, you can, thankfully, skip it.
Toodles and happy Thanksgiving.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
i have started a blog page for The Highwaymen. An old story line that sort of began my descent into the madness that is post writing. Read at your own risk.
Just click on the Journals in the Fly the Coop section and begin your own descent.
- ping-Kow! Nature can be really weird. Proof: underground rivers that you can hear but not see and a river bed of boulders with no visible water in them. Hopefully pictures of both will follow.
- Kapwing! First point is bullet points should have sound effects.
- Pow! Sound effects are even better if you have an eight year old reading them out loud over your shouder. Go get one.
- Bam! Also coincidentally the sound that two cars make when slamming together. My least favorite sound in the world and one i had not heard in a blessedly loooong time, until this weekend.
- Bang! i've heard the complaint made about churches, usually by people who won't step foot into one, that they are full of shiny, happy people faking that everything is wonderful. Now, as a regular church goer i happen to have experienced this phenomenon once or two hundred times and i've come to the following two conclusions: a) when worshipping the God of the Universe, one occasionally experiences a time when God allows one to feel his presence and love. God being all powerful and the King of the Universe and our Creator and such, His love and presence have profound effects, just one being a sense of shiny, happy well-being. " 14Then John's disciples came and asked him, "How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?"
15Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. " Matthew 9 So forgive us if we seem to be riding a high sometimes, trust me, the rest of our weeks usually make up for it. Conclusion number b) some folks are faking it. Can you blame them? i wouldn't, they are usually doing it for your benefit, you wouldn't really want to know what's bothering them.
- Peeyow! Time is a liquid. Sometimes it just flows along at the pace your used to and at others it dams up a little, like when a little red Neon is coming at you and you can see its nose dipping and the smoke coming off its tires and you have enough time to crunch the numbers on the distance between it and you and the distance between you and the turn you haven't finished and know that there isn't time to get your foot from the brake to the gas or turn the wheel back into your own lane but for some reason you could have very easily typed this entire bullet point in that same little dribble.
- Pop! Sometimes, like oh, say, when your hiking, or driving or living your life, you wake up, look to one side or the other and even though it could be a path you've already walked, or a road you drive everyday or the person you've lived with for thirteen years but in that moment you see the sun hit the water on the stream girded with pines or a really cool house that you just never noticed before or the person your spouse, best friend, relative or co-worker is becoming and you realize that you've been so intent on the mode of transportation and the ground you ate up that you forgot why you were traveling in the first place.
- Zango! Putting one's emotional well-being, even if only one day's emotional well-being in a basket held by pro-football team is a poor investment.
- Thud! Particularly if that team is from Phailadelphia.
- Crack! Listening to you children's laughter as they roughhouse inside the tent is one of life's little joys not to be missed. Even if they might be putting a hole in the tent.
- Thump! This is starting to read like an episode of BATMAN.
- Chachink! Bird watchers, i mean real hike-up-to-hawk-mountain-three-or-four-times-a-week-just-to-see-and-identify-a-tiny-tee-shape-in-the-sky-in-library-voices bird watchers, while really nice people, don't make a lot of sense to me. But then they looked at me kind of odd when we scrabbled over the cliff face they were perched on and we had just scaled in our full packs and explained that we had just hiked three miles across the stony dragonbacked ridgeline after spending the night outside in below freezing temperatures. Go fig.
- Rat-! Camp stoves, while eminently convenient and efficient, do not have the same ambiance of a camp fire.
- -atat! Camping without a camp fire is kind of like an imitation Oreo cookie. Good, but just not quite the same as the real thing.
- Boom! If they put any more restrictions and rules and regulations and trail fees on campers and camping soon only tax lawyers will be able to camp legally.
- Crump! i find it difficult to be a scofflaw in front of the rather wide, naive eyes of my children.
- Badadoom! My vacations are often more work than my work, which is very odd considering that my work is slowly breaking me.
- Vadom! The last time i went backpacking was the first time i had gone backpacking and i had to carry everything for my two boys and my pack weighed fifty-five pounds. This time i was packing with that experience under my packstraps and two boys who could help carry more of their own weight. Happ carried a thirty pound pack and Rascal's was fifteen. How much was the wiser, more streamlined scruffy dogg's?
- Dud. Fifty pounds.
- Ack-Ack! Sometimes on top of the mountain, with the trees all slimmed down to their winter weight you can hear the wind coming from a long way off.
- Zapp! A quote from the Rascal while coming near the end of our long day of very grueling hiking, "I wish we had UPS here, they cover more ground faster."
- Brrrrap! My body chemistry is such that while hiking i would have been perfectly comfortable in shorts and a longsleeve tee shirt and as soon as we stopped moving for the day i needed the full Eskimo.
- Eeenyow! My Grandmother spent some time in the hospital recently, my uncle has just died, my family is scattered across the country and i have completely disconnected from all of them. My phone works but my mouth and brain when i'm on the phone does not. Is a letter that really says what i want to say impersonal? The easy way out? Or better than nothing?
- Frap! yeah, i think i know the answer to that one too.
- FFT! (silenced bullet point)
- Buppuppup! Maybe it was the pack weight difference, maybe it was a tired old bones thing or maybe my rather beat up knees but i could not keep up with Happ on the trail. But go Happ go! i have a feeling i'll be looking at his heels a lot in the coming years. Hope i've trained his sense of direction well enough.
- Whoosh! (Technically a rocket point.) To the coyotes that started yelping like the hounds of hell right after i told Rascal not to worry about his dreams of being devoured in the darkness while we slept out under the stars the other night. Not Funny! If i ever see you i will put a .30/.30 bullet point in each of your wee little skulls!
Well, there you go. Think that about covers what's going on in the oblong pumpkin for a while. Or at least until my "Wot i'm tankfoo fer:" post. Till our trails cross...
Saturday, November 18, 2006
If not taken hostage by chipmunks
will return by turkeygiving.
Meteor shower this weekend--look up.
love and grace and number two pencils,
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Step aside Placido,
Here comes Il Scruffo.
When the What-Ifs come a'flutterin, with their whispers of agita, they can add one more could-have-been to their repertoire: Opera Singer.
Yeah, i know, and believe me, i have probed my pumpkin for soft spots just to make sure i didn't whack my braincase against something and lost the memory of the impact in the impact. Nah, it's true, God has given me a rather projectable voice that some strange people are apparently tone deaf enough to enjoy the sound of. And one (who actually had training, what does that say for our education system here in the land of the freaks and the home of the depraved?) one former music instructor actually told me that with training i could have been something. Can you picture that? Me, the very poster child of piratical posery on stage in a tux? That very image is worth the price of admission.
Now, i don't bring this up to toot my own horn. Lord knows i have no room for tooting. Nope, no tootroom here. Nary a toot. (You know what i just realized? Toot is fun to say. Toot, toot, toot, hmm, better check for those mushy spots again.) i bring this up as an intro to the idea that God in his infinite grace and mercy has granted me something that i have prayed for ad nauseum:
Much of my dissatisfaction with life and living has come from my inability to figure out what to do with me. This fleshy lump of raw material and hodge-podge goulash of natural talents that my more mobile soul is chained to for the time being has often been the conundrum that has kept me up late into the wee hours. What was i made for? What am i supposed to be doing? Why am i not happy doing what i'm doing now? How can i use that? What's that mushy spot doing there?
The one question that never seems to occur to me in any way that seems feasable is "What if i'm already on the path?" i'm not saying that i am fully reaching my potential at this very moment. But what if God was more patient than me and more wise and in control of everything?
Where would i be then? What would i be doing?
Probably writing to y'all about it.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Alas, tyrannies. Not in their usual, over-the-top, poorly dressed despotic guise but subtle tyrannies. Ones we, gentle readers, may encounter every day. Little pockets of absolutism that on this election day in the People's Republic of Amerika, may go unnoticed.
i'm not sure when it happened but we as Americans seem to have lost our natural ire, our innate fury, our tobaccy spittin' in the eye of social injustice, our breed defining rebel spirit when confronted by any person, place or thing that tries to dictate to us the terms and conditions of our lives. The fire has gone out to be replaced with, at best, a sort of whiny urge to sue anyone that offends the smoldering cinders of our former glory.
Now we blithely accept tyrannies of all sorts. Our example today is the tyranny of the underdog. An insidious and i would venture, dangerous philosophy that holds the majority back for the sake and precious self esteem of the one. No one may excel at their natural pace because someone may be left behind. We can't teach kids sports in gym because Lefty Gorsewich is uncoordinated and will feel left out. Yes, it'll make Lefty feel so much better when all forty kids spend the entire class tossing a soft, light tennis ball (we mustn't risk injuring anyone in the tyranny of safety!) up in the air to themselves over and over and over again. This will teach them hand eye coordination and keeps them moving and most of all won't make anyone feel singled out and inferior. So basically we are telling Lefty that he is so dumb he won't realize that horses are being chained and hobbled so that the turtle can keep up. I'm sure he'll be the most popular boy at the ball.
Wouldn't it make more sense to take the time to find out what Lefty's good at and aid him in it while letting him play games with other turtles? Everyone's a horse at something. Wouldn't it be nice if we just loved our horses and turtles enough that they would learn to love as well. Who knows what craziness we might see then...horses carrying turtles, their little, laughing eyes tearing in the wind.
SEAL's in training, i am told, are chained, whether figuratively or literally to a telephone pole as a team. Wherever they go, whatever they do for days on end, they take the pole with them and all must bear it's weight as they compete against other teams and their poles. Now i'll guarantee you that not everyone in that team is as fast as the fastest guy nor as strong as the strongest guy but if one loses, they all lose, so they learn to work together, they learn to use each other's strengths AND weaknesses for the good of the team. Along the way they learn to trust each other and a form of brotherhood emerges, some say the strongest form known to men. Could we teach this form of competition to our youth? A form of competition where even the teams that lost still won something valuable.
Instead of say, Survivor?
Now i'm not a political person, i think the ills of the world are not cured in congress but in churches and relationships. i'm all for no child being left behind but what does it benefit us if we just put up fences to keep any child from moving ahead?
Friday, November 03, 2006
- Sangria tastes a little too much like fruit punch.
- Flamenco guitar might be the coolest music in the world.
- No matter what happens in a relationship one should never be so mad nor so upset that they are unable to still write secret love notes to their spouse that they hide.
- If at any time in a relationship one finds oneself too mad or upset to write love notes that they hide, refer to first two idle thoughts.
- There are few things more exciting to me than getting into a theological discussion with the ballyhoo gang. (the ballyhoo gang being my name for my two boys... Happ Hazzard and Rascal.)
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
That's what the Voice of Doubt said to me. Funny, i never think i have enough time. Life is what happens in the time it takes me to dismount the steam belching locomotive of work for the snorting, lathered bull ox of chores and back again. There's never a moment anymore when i don't hear either the scream of the steam whistle or the bellow and thud of chores kicking at its pen. Read a book? Lazy. Take a nap? Are you kidding me? Fishing, camping, Legos? Have you seen the house? Sit and write? You must have too much time on your hands.
Granted, i'm an escapist. i'm not a big fan of life as it come to me and i'm more than willing to find something else to do. Granted, the things i like to do while creative, do not generate income but then again, art wasn't created for practical purposes. Art, in whatever form it takes is worship, it is the created being, created in God's image, mimicking his or her Father. For God, while a real practical guy, is an eye-buggingly extravagant artist with an eye for detail that stretches from the quark to the quasar!
That's not to say that art cannot be practical. True art, art at its most beautiful is not abstract but purposeful, it has a reason to exist. Sometimes that reason is only to give glory back to the Author of Creation but then, that is our first calling and nothing to be scoffed. Continuing with the disclaimers, (for no bold statement in this world can be uttered without a disclaimer anymore* the author wishes it be known that the bold statement in parethesis is uttered while keeping in mind that a bold statement could be made without a disclaimer but the utterer would most likely be sued. Some disclaimers are inferred.) this is not to say that all art glorifies God. Art, like all of creation has been corrupted. "All things are open to me, in Christ but not all things are expedient." But even the most spiteful, God-hating egotist who puts pen to paper, oil to canvas, chisel to stone, smoke from his plane to sky, hot glue gun to sundries from the craft store, mouse to mousepad, dance shoe to hardwood, drumstick to skin, finger to piano key, lips pursed to whistle, eye to cloud formation, chalked hand to parallel bar, as soon as that most vehement atheist sets their mind to creating something that wasn't there before for any other reason outside of raw survival he or she is being true to the image they were created in and art has been done and to God be the glory.
Go forth and waste that time on your hands.