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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

a Glimpse of Hell

i think i had a glimpse of hell this Saturn's day past and no, it wasn't my house. As the savvy might guess, the portal for the glimpsing was in New Jersey. More specifically the gambling mecca of the Eastern Seaboard: Atlantic City. i would ordinarily be more likely to duck under a government quarentine plastic bubble and try and bum a smoke off the machine gun toting gentleman in the bright yellow biohazzard suit and mask than willingly set foot in Jersey, much less AC, much, much less a casino. But you do these things for family and it's good to expose yourself to cultures foreign to your own now and again. Can't find the lost if you never go looking for them.

But these aren't the lost we're talking about here, these are the damned. They bore a lot less in common with the Samaritan woman by the well with whom Jesus struck up a conversation than they did the man posessed by Legion. i could very easily imagine that if Jesus walked into the main floor of one of these joints, kind of an interesting thought in itself, that these folk would have jumped up, ran to him screaming, "What do you want with us, Jesus, son of the Most High God? Swear to God you won't torment us!"

Then again i have an active imagination. Though, it's completely stumped by the slot machine. i just don't get the attraction. The only other time i've seen a critter of flesh and blood just sit at something and push a button that mechanically was in an experiment done on rats. Hmm, or me playing solitaire, maybe it's not so weird after all? Oh i understand the theory...sell the fantasy. Glitz, glamour, the chance to win fortune and fame, that's what the casino's are selling. You are James Bond, you are a movie star, a gangster, you are one pull, one card, one toss of the dice away from dining with the gods. And for some folk it seems to work, you see them walking around like kids in Disney World.

But the shades i see the world in are blue, not rose colored. i see the cocktail waitresses with mascara so dark they might be covering black eyes who can barely walk anymore in their ridiculous heels. i see the wolves, most of them married, who prowl around ogling the women like God and their wives gave them a three day pass. i see stumbling drunks, children who should be in bed, people betting the grocery money to win back the rent money. I see flesh peddlers and girls who for some reason, maybe competition, decided to dress like flesh peddlers. i see the homeless, maybe just trying to get warm or a free drink or find a machine with one more pull on it that will change their fate. But most of all, i see sheep, looking for the very things they were designed to find--meaning, love, glory, an escape from this present darkness and Satan distracting them with colored lights and empty promises to keep them from looking in the right place.

i take heart however in the fact that whether they are seeking Him or not, whether they are more like the woman by the well or the demon possessed man, Jesus saved them both.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

A calling?

Crikey! The month of war. Boreas blows against Persephone and the Coop is a drafty shelter from their battle. Thank the Creator for Prometheus. More to the point however, the Coop is severely lacking in eggs. The last one was almost a month ago. Time to motivate the hens. Time to cattle prod the muse. Time to take the sledge to the writer's block and wring out the pen. In the words of the great television philosopher Hurley, "Time to look Death right in the face and say, 'whatever, dude.'" Time to put on the blues and hit the keys.

Only one problem, i got nothing all that particularly interesting to say.

It's not that i haven't been writing, Lord knows. No i mean that, the Lord knows. Cuz nearly all of my creative juices have been flowing into the Holy Grail of late. The good Reverend William Senyard or as i refer to him, P-Billy has been working through a four part sermon series on J.R.R. Tolkien's four key elements to good story telling and how the Bible has them all. Check them out Mp3 style at the getting Spirtual link. To help illustrate his point i have been taking certain familar bible stories and immersing myself in them. Like a travel writer, a journalist, a tourist, a seeker, a crazy uncle with more time to travel than you, i wander freely over the cobblestones, meet the locals, test the cuisine, feel the heat of the desert sun, snap my fingers out of time to the music and bring all that to the congregation through the medium of spoken word. Think a kid's Bible story book for adults. What the heck, let's throw in an example...

It was the seventh day of the siege. Not very long as sieges go, there was still plenty of food and water within the bolted walls of the city, the fighting men were still at their posts but hope had withered. Fighting spirit had all but wasted away. Rahab could see some of Jericho’s mighty men from her roof and the fists that clutched the spears trembled and worried the wooden shafts smooth. One that she recognized, a frequent customer of hers and a man she had always known to be fearless to the point of recklessness now sat hugging his knees and swaying like a lost child, his cheeks smeared with dust and tears. As she watched him, trying to recall his name the dread horns blew again.
Seven ram’s horns born by seven priests of the invaders. They weren’t even on this side of the city but that was the measure of the crushing pall that had closed over them: the silence of Jericho. On the first days the crowds had gathered at the walls to ogle these scruffy nomads that had wandered out of the great desert and miraculously crossed the Jordon river at its spring flood. They were such a ragtag mob of tent dwellers that the city atmosphere had become one of carnival and comedy. “How many Israelites does it take to change an oil lamp?” had become the question of the day with unnumbered demeaning answers. But the mocking and the jeering were never answered by the marching camp outside the walls. The entire population: fierce eyed fighting men, stern, somehow otherworldly priests in white, bearing an incongruous, ornate chest rumored to hold the relics of the one true God, their womenfolk, strangely hushed children, even the aged and infirm, some born on litters, all marched a single circuit of Jericho’s walls in a totality of silence. Like a company of ghosts they appeared every morning, as if revealed by dawn’s light and marched, the dust raised from their feet the only proof that the earth felt their sandals at all and they were not indeed forlorn specters of the night. That silence had crept like a living thing, a disease passed through the eyes for those first infected with it were those on the walls. But they slunk home they bore it to the heart of the city and now Jericho was ruled by the premature silence of the tomb. So that the threadbare bleat of seven ram’s horns could pierce walls of stone and rattle the bones of empty streets and make grown men whimper and hide their tear stained faces.

Just a slice off the whole but you get the idea.

Which brings me to the closest thing i have to a point...i had a blast doing this. People seemed to really respond to it. Maybe there's a need for just this, a Bible story book that assumes the reader has a pulse and an imagination. Said person may not even be a believer, the Bible is literature. If the story isn't written as a fable with the moral spelled out in italics at the end it could still be good narrative in it's own right. It's something to look into anyway.