Monday, February 13, 2017

Be We Holy?

  I have not posted anything here for weeks now. A young fellow reminded me of this last Friday, and I "intended" (whatever that means) to do so over the weekend. Well, that didn't happen.
  Have you noticed how weekends fill up? There are errands to run, meetings to attend and movies to watch. By the way, you might want to just skip the opportunity to view the LEGO Batman thing. Anyhow, next thing you know, it's Monday. I sometimes mutter; "I need a day off from these days off!".
  As it turns out, today is that day. Old SeƱor Invierno showed up with rain, and instead of marching in and out of new houses, tracking in mud galore, I am taking the day off . . . we think. Something might come up later, but it surely is pleasant to be indoors on a work day with time to spare!
  There has been a topic sorta rolling around in the rear of my cranium off and on for several years now. It is possible that I have touched upon the theme elsewhere in this stack of essays, but (it would seem to me) that such treatment would have been a glancing blow. That is; I have no memory of directly addressing the idea bundle as a topic herein. Now, if I am wrong, feel free to scoff, exit the blog, and get back to playing video games like normal people!
  There was a guy. I think that his last name was "Otto", perhaps it was Rudolph? At any rate, this was the better part of a century ago. His big contribution to the world of theology/philosophy was to link two words. There is a word found in the Scriptures which (by in large) appears to have no good working definition, so Otto supplied one!
  He came up with a word (and may have coined it?), which he declared was the best working definition of the mystery word, and his word was "numinous".
  As I recall, there were two main aspects to the numinous. I don't know if you have ever been in the neighborhood of something deeply strange. People record sightings of ghosts at times. Others film odd objects moving through the sky. Perhaps at some point, you have been playing around with a Quija board (which is a bad idea by the way)? Anyway, there is a sensation, the small hairs at the back of the neck stand up, and an adrenaline rush places you in the fight/flight mode. There is "something there", and the alarms have been tripped!
  So, the concept that Otto was getting at was a (1.) Supernatural phenom and (2.) It was "other". That is, it does not fall cleanly into any known category. Well, I (for one) ain't too thrilled by that sort of definition for the word "holy".
  We see the problem immediately, in that we could (perhaps) attribute that "it creeps me out!" syndrome to the Almighty. But, there is a null set in the converse.
  I mean here, that not only is The Holy One holy, but we too are to (somehow or another) also be holy. So, if Otto is on page, then I should become very very strange indeed, so to trigger the hair on the back of your neck? I don't think so.
  We return thus to this very unusual word. I (in the imperative) announce "You (yes, you!) be holy!" . . . and simultaneously leave the word itself mainly undefined? What is up with that?
  Now, amid the Kirk are several working attempts along these lines, and we won't do well to skip those. As best as I know, the main filter here is to note that the base word means "to cut". We are to make a division between, to differ, to divide. Some things (or people) are holy, and some ain't, so line up already with the holy will ya?
  Along these lines then, we receive exhortation to "come out from", or to "be seperate". And it's not like this is a horrid mish-mash of some Bible teachings or some such. I am not saying that! But, rather, if we apply this sort of analysis "backwards" to the Almighty Who is Holy (In Person), what in the heck does it even mean? It would be affirming (perhaps?) that He is "seperate"? Uhm, not to rude or anything, but, so what?
  In that case, He would be seperate from sin (and hence, sinners I would infer?). So, we just established that the High King is removed from us, who are simultaneously attempting to be removed (at a much lessor range) from sin(ners)?
  There is an expression in English, "I wouldn't touch that with a ten foot pole!". I have often wondered if an eleven or twelve footer might do? But, to return to the discussion, it appears that holiness in this case is a "distancing". He is removed from sinners, and among that group, some have (somewhat) removed themselves from the more heinous offenders? Moreover, this is inherently a superior stance of some type?
  We could return to this perspective later, I just meant to mention it in passing, and kind of got carried away. . .
  Among the reformed presbyhoovians I associate most frequently with, the word "holy" is linked (in usage at least) with the word "pure". It would not be uncommon to hear us say something along the lines of; "He calls us to a pure and holy life". Well, guess what?
  I also have a beef with that angle.
  By our lights, it would appear (to me) that we are talking here about some aspect of the moral/ethical sphere of things? And, if that be a fair assessment, then the road block is that we already have a dandy word for just that sort of behavior. Correct me if I am wrong, but that word would be "righteous". Literally, "His ways are right and pure (which is true)" would mean that an odd duck is roaming the barnyard. It would fall out thereby that "holy" and "righteous" have the same meaning . . . So why use the second word?
  So far then, we either possess a command to get distant or alternatively be something we (by definition) are not? That is; "Be righteous ye sinner!" kinda flies in the face of itself, don't ya think? Be what you ain't! Okay! Will do. Hey, let me get back to you on that eh?
  Don't we have enough fakery, and make believe nice-guy theory out there already? So now, we are ordered to manufacture the stuff?
  Moving right along, we note that I keep getting sidetracked eh? There is a third angle that I am only dimly aware of. Some branches of the Kirk seem to specialize in "holiness" per se. Now, not wishing to brand such with any unfair or untrue accusations, I nonetheless think that these folks go one of two routes.
  There is the (for lack of vocabulary) "metaphysical" leg, and then there is the "perfectionist". The meta-p folk are big time into what might be thought of as a "sacred magic". The eucharist, high liturgy and tradition generate the ideal of a semi-glow-in-the-dark idea. Here, we would note the veil over the face of Moses as "the type". So here, we observe ritual and such things as monks, priests and the like as generating a spin on the holy which hinges mainly upon the concept of "expert opinion".
  It is believed in this school of thought to be an inarguable stance, in that it deflects away critique by re-affirming tradition, the saints of old, and generally speaking offers a "shut your face, Bozo" defense.
  If holiness (in us at least) be nothing more than a "sacred magic", then we must immediately inquire if it be necessary for salvation? If so, then the cadre of the saved would be a very small minority indeed! This would appear to conflict (I would think) with both the Abrahamic covenant ("Go number the stars!") and with that countless throng surrounding the Lamb as viewed by John in The Apocalypse. Somehow (if magic be the case), these many were saved out of earth without holiness, in that they were neither monk nor nun, nor priest nor saint in that system? Well, how did they get there anyhow?
  The final group, those "perfectionists" I dismiss as simply deluded. Perhaps that is harsh sounding to you? But, I have no time here to entertain fairy tales. One of the holiest guys of all time, one of the true heavy hitters in this system (speaking of himself), calls his own self "chief of sinners". So I figure, if he is chief, maybe I could be one of the head flunkies of sinners . . . maybe?
  The clever reader will (by now) be aware that Mike the plumber has yet to unveil his oh-so-superior take on this. I mean, all we have done is go around shooting the competition in the head so far. If I'm writing a crazy pants essay about "be holy"; ought not I have an idea or two to pitch into the mix?
  Well, it just so happens that I do! Uhm, this would be your lucky day then?
  This would be how a fat old plumber in the desert views the topic. In the first place, this whole rant has been (largely) about our lack of a working synonym for the word "holy" (especially as it applies to the Most High). Well, such a word does exist. The single time that I ever saw it in print, I had to go look it up! Guess what, my lousy dictionary did not include it . . .
  The word we search for is "aseity". If you Google it, it will pop right up. It has to do with existence, but a special kind of "is". Okay, are you back from Google yet?
  Did you note the diffrence? Everything, and everyone, and every star and all bacteria, those and uncountable other things and persons fall into the category "extant". But only One falls into the other category!
  I am certainly not the grammarian around here to state (correctly) whether the fuzzy and perpetually out of focus nature of the verb "to be" (in English) is typical of human languages or not. But, my point is (and hear me!), we already know that "The Name is Holy". Uhm, so what would be that Name then? In English, it comes out as "I Am". His is an "Is-ness", an "Am-ness" clean outside of creation, while operating through and in it. And in fact, the am-ness of it (creation I mean), is entirely dependant upon both His generative and supportive Word Author-ity.
  There are only two kinds of "is", He Who Is, and that which is. And that which is, is His doing, His making and coheres due precisely in that He "supplies" the "glue" holding it all together! Aseity is definitely our word here!
  And here, we can begin to view things differently than the four views I so graciously demolished above.
  We mean then, that there are two "holies". There is the genuine article, He Who Be, and then a deriviative, a creaturely reflection or participation in that astonishing reality. He is utterly unique, the True One of the Kind. He ALONE is Holy, and also, there is a counterpart, a response which creatures display which is aligned.
  Are we making any headway? I (for one) think so.
  So then, in response to The Holy (One), how best to lay-out what we mean by our intra-cosmic assertions to each other to "so also be holy"? And (you're not going to like my answer here!), I cannot see how this could escape or go around or forget "Covenant". You just knew that was coming didn't you?
  You'll be glad to know that I will not burden you here with some crazy rambling monologue. Suffice it to say, that the foundation of things, the structure of reality is "contractual"! Moreover, the contracting parties are not some remote "God" contracting with a diffuse "humanity" at the other end. Rather, The Father contracts with The Son, and you are part of "the goods" tossed in to sweeten the deal!
  Legal Ownership of "is" was handed over to God (the Son) if you'd care to know. When once all the cats are herded into their proper spot, the Son presents it all back as a "finished product" to The Father.
  The entire holdup in the affair is that certain blockheads (who shall remain nameless) are being obtuse, and have a remarkably slow learning curve to boot! But as those blockheaded cats are (indeed) being herded the correct direction, they begin to "participate", they reflect a pattern in their lives which inheres and coheres with the much much larger pattern of the Covenant. Have I lost ya?
  Well, let's go back to Leviticus 19. I'm not going to cite the verses for you. Get off your duff already, and go read for yourself! My pont here? I believe that it was Saint Peter who repeats a small section of Lev. 19 as in "Be ye holy, as He is Holy". Now, I might be freely hallucinating there as to whom it is citing this passage in the N.T., but that is neither here nor there to the point we are currently making.
  I (as a journeyman plumber) hereby affirm that "be we holy" has a context, a framework, a regular pattern we might say. And it is NOT a form of magic. It is NOT a nice-guy delusion of having "quit sinning". Nor is it a further nagging about "right living". And it sure as heck has nothing to do with creepy ghost type junk!
  My first grade teacher (God rest her soul!) was Mrs. Corey. What a grand old lady! She must have been by my five year old estimate, about a million years old back in 1963. It was amazing how well she could still get around eh? But that is neither here nor there. . . My point about her, was that she would draw these swell five pointed stars on work well done. It really is too bad that I am so cyber-dense as to have not a clue as to how to insert a star diagram in this essay. Oh well, draw your own!
  The Lev. passage works fairly well with a five point diagram.
  The v2 command "You (yes you!) shall be holy" draws to mind the "volitional". That is you do have skin in the game. If you wish to play, you ante up. We begin by saying "yes Sir!". Now, there is an aspect here which needs correction right away in myself, and I think many others also.
  We have an extended view of monergism in that salvation is not something we contribute to. No sane person (nor I for that matter) have a beef with that, but who is talking about salvation here anyhow? Simply, there is visible in the Church; an unhealthy passivity, a type of drifting along with "the flow", which (although we are not eager to say it) is closely linked with our estimate of "what it means" to be holy. For Him to be saying (in essence) "Get off the fence, and stick your foot in it!" might sound like "a work" to some ears, and as such, to be avoided like the plague.
  And this is why covenant (big C) is so basic here!
  It is speaking an Oath! Upon His Honor, and for His Glory, a vast people from around the world, and across the age SHALL be gathered! The Lev. passage ain't about "coming to Jesus", you've done been drafted already. So, get the lead out! The transfer of goods (you) was negotiated "above your head", and your belief of this, is signal for you to begin to participate. There is an application of "try! do! fulfill!" for us, which is a dim reflection of the actual. So the first step is for us to quit our lousy denial. Your efforts are significant! Deal with it.
  Moving right along with Mrs. Corey then, Item 2 on the agenda is for us to treasure, to revere, to honor our parents? What in heck is that all about?
  You didn't get here from "nowhere" pal. And no matter how screwed up or weird Mom and Dad are (or were), the entry into this world was birth! This means that human institutions of lawful authority (Church, Family and State) are to be acknowledged, as having their set point "above". I think that it was John Cougar Melonhead who sung "I fight authority . . . authority always wins!". So page one says "I'm in!", whereas page two says "I buy the pattern".
  You see? Our problem is that we are in nearly constant denial about reality ITSELF!. We keep thinking that authority is itself nothing but a human tradition which was once upon a time built upon the premise "My war club is bigger than yours!". This aspect of (little h) holy affirms instead, that history is not an accident, and that the lawful structures of governance are truly binding upon conscience and life. So pay your taxes already and quit bellyaching about government, for such behavior is (technically) "unholy" in that it defies the "is" of "am", down in this neck of the woods.
  First "Oath", then "Hierarchy", what would be dinner item number three? Well, according to the text in question, it would be to "keep sabbaths". Uh, do what?
  Well, this might well be the Ethics/Morals area of the big Cov. which we were looking for earlier. After all, it draws us to Law. It reminds us of special creation and destroys the moronic assertions of "chance plus time equals reality". But it also speaks of "rest", and to be fair to those I was just hounding concerning "passivity" that might belong just about here.
  Now, the Adventists and the Jews buy the premise of the O.T. sabbaths as morally binding, whereas sane people affirm a new thing in earth!
  For t'was upon "the eighth day", the day of new beginnings(!); in which our Champion emerged from the dead. His rising is the dime upon which the sum total of "is" rotates! And so, Christians set aside Sunday as a kind of "sabbath", but it speaks of a "rest" from our works, a joining and uniting with The King in both life and death (and life again!). The ethic involved then, is a kind of gladness, a sense of release and a strangely heart-warming sense of being welcomed.
  Have you ever gone to somebodies' house and you are "on egshells"? Don't touch that vase! It is worth a small fortune (and so, apparently more than you are worth at least . . .) The sabbath then, is a kicking down of doors, a forced entry into the prison of my own rotten making. I built walls so to keep you out, and find (incidentally) that they also keep me in? So, there is a renewal, a reviving, a refreshing of which "keeping sabbath" is token. It is but the sane response (on our part) to His going enormously out of His way, so to find, so to call, so to retrieve traitors and fools like you and me!
  Mrs. Corey would be proud, we are already hitting the fourth corner of the star! Our small enactments of oath, authority and ethic has not gone unnoticed! We move then (via the Lev. text) onto the fun part.
  Demolition baby! We are tearing the house down! Okay, maybe I overstated it. I think (personally) that my "dream job" would be to blow stuff up, and so, am a tad biased here.
  We are not to serve, nor bend before, nor grant any validity to "idols". Our problem here is that we ain't got none . . . or so we say, at least! I have harped enough upon this particular topic elsewhere in this collection of essays. I will not weary you further today with yet another round of blather. Rather, and instead, I (today) simply point out that (if I am not freebasing just now), this would line up with the "Transcendant" element of Covenant (big C again).
  It would be just here that I most surely defy Otto.  There are some very real (and might I add disgusting?) entities "out there". No sane human ought be trafficking with these wrecks, who were once a part of "the hosts above". Simply, to run across these monstrosities is NOT to experience the holy! In fact, they are about as far from that as can be.
  These airish "daemons" are real, and they are damned. And we mean that literally by the way. The thing is, with a view to the Cov., The Maker has "found" the only way there could be, so to both condemn these enemies "above" (to below), plus shearing off their human slaves in the process. Uh, that would be the Cross of Jesus then?
  The prohibition against idols is thus an element of focus. That True Covenant affirms, and means to say that; "The I Am (Who Is, and Was, and Ever shall Be) has no true "rival", and certainly no equal nor "opposite"!". On his very best day, the devil of hell is but a sawed-off runt, a true nobody by comparison!
  The gap, the crevass between the loftiest angel, and the lowliest bacteria does not begin to describe the actual gap between The Holy One, and all of creation combined. He is "greater" at an infinite range? Wow.
  So, our participation in the pattern means that we take this distancing seriously, and then gasp at how He has chosen to bridge that very divide! There's your "seperation" pal, and; (It marvelously rejoined, and all to His praise.) say the faithful sons gathered!
  We sum up then, with chow time! The fifth point would be "Sanction", the blessings and the cursings of the Covenant. And at the heart of it, a tremendous "switch"! We, the lawfully accursed, receive the welcome due to the Loyal Son, and He (The Blessed) is sent packing; bearing our condemnation. The picture here in Lev. is "a meal". The offering having been accepted, they extended welcome (by Him) accept it, and so we view a "meal-eaten-together" as our fifth picture of the holy (little h).
  The Apostle determined to preach nothing but Christ, and Him crucified. We might add Him raised, Him ascended, and Him (one day) returning. But we do not wander from the marvel of Calvary and still do well.
  There are consequences, there are repercussions to any and all acts. Our problem is that we could never survive those consequences, and by that; I mean (plainly) Judgement. It is not only then, that our sin is placed upon Him. That to be sure! But His loyalty, His goodness, His clean heart and perfect track record is declared as ours? It is a gift. Or perhaps better, it is THE gift!
  Do you see what this means? Even those loyal champions who of old tossed the foe and his slaves out, and chained them down, (here), even those guys shield their eyes in the stupendous brilliance of "the Presence". We are being "made strong". Uh, why so?
  Believe me pal, you'll be wanting a serious dose of strength and perseverance . . . in order to stand where we are being drawn to.
  And that would be at His side!
  And that is how plumbers (or this one at least) view "be we holy!"

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Ye Olde Type Nativity Type Post

  Back at Thanksgiving, my brother asked if I would be posting a Christmas letter this year. I gave him some sort of non-answer to the effect, that; I hadn't really thought about it yet.
  Back when these sorts of missives were written out longhand, and then photocopied; I was much more likely to give a definitive answer. This year, I am less certain.
  It hasn't been such a very weird year that I could not find it in me to write, but rather; why bother? No major personal crises to discuss herein, but rather a long-haul marathon of endurance. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other! Do we really need yet more words of that kind?
  The world is awash in words, we are clobbered by them through medium after medium. Thousands and then millions (and billions?) of them are flying around at any given time.
  Do mine matter?
  Do yours?
  In the case that they do matter (somewhat), then it seems to me, that we ought speak, and so we end up right back here!
  I can recall quite a few of Christmas time (why "season") assertions to the effect that "the true meaning of Christmas" has been (or at present is being) lost.
  To my ear, these sorts of declarations are weirdly hollow. It might be like saying; "The real secret to driving cars has been overlooked". All right, well perhaps it has, remind me of just what that secret is, will you? And here we get reminiscing on the good old days of dirt roads, and how fun hand crank starting can be. We get horror tales of road accidents, and complaints about cops. We get a lot of attendant mentions, and the secret remains secret.
  The true meaning, the real secret is apparently in a dual function mode here. It is noticed by not being there, and simultaneously remains (itself) undefined. The attendant or parallel manifestations are brought up, and by inference, we are to deduce the thing that fills the void?
  So, the wind in the hair, the roar of the engine act as escorts or companions in this type of discussion. The one main thing which I (stupidly) assumed we were talking about is referred to only indirectly.
   Likewise, evergreen wreaths, candles and food form a similar surrounding cadre. The true meaning of Christmas is rarely if ever laid out in such a fashion that even a blockhead like me could grasp the point which is being made. Rather, the surrounding host of retainers is treated as sufficient "evidence" of the really large "ya know-wha-di-mean" in question.
  Part of this phenomenon is a disjointed or muted grasp of the past. The contrast thus being arrived at is a "now vs. then" comparison. The true meaning (it is affirmed) relates to a "magical" thinking found (usually most obviously) in small children. The nostalgic in us, thus bends the shape of the "then" in question. In our re-created memories, old Christmas time was better than this.
  In my opinion, this is mainly why we make such a fuss over kids at this time of year. They are the present day carriers of "the magic".
  I don't recall when precisely that I became aware of the magical language surrounding the Nativity, but it was no later than in my mid-twenties it seems. The words which we use at this "season" are freighted with "magic". It is a bit difficult to describe just the functionality involved, in that it is (much) moreso a mood, a feel thing. The language is to the effect that there is a "spirit of Christmas" which we are socially obliged to "get into".
  The mental effects of reefer come to my mind. A languid and satisfied, a naive and simple, it is something along these lines we note. This mood is connected to a sort of spontaneity to "do something nice for" (especially strangers) someone. I hope that I am being fair here?
  The language of magic is linked to magical thinking. I sometimes laugh when others ask; "How in the world did you get that plumbing in there?". I sometimes make up crazy little stories about doing a severe compound wink plus incantation. It is more interesting than; "We dug like wild men". That is, the "how of things" which get done; is related to our bent toward magical thinking.
  In the old "I Dream of Jeannie" TV series, she would cross her arms, and do a strongish blink, and that was how things happened. Perhaps similarly, the reason we are so in love with digital devices is that they are a bit like a clumsy weakling of a Jinn! The further developments of Google or Facebook "knowing" where you are at any given time is both food for paranoia, and strangely comforting.
  We as humans "need to" believe in a magic of some kind, and as a community we are both embarrassed by this, and love the heck out of it! So, an annual time has been set aside for such a kind of sentimental frivolty. It just so happens that this annual release coincides with the birth of the Savior. There is no natural connection between Santa Claus and Jesus of Nazareth, except for a sloppy kind of thinking in many. But, is it possible to reunite the two?  
  From over here the situation looks like this. The need in us for magic is a half-remembered link back to The Almighty. Recall that in Moses' day, Pharoahs' court magicians could do similar works as did Moses. But then; they were flatly outclassed, and they appealed to their king. "Hey! Pay attention: these works are the hand of God" said they. The links here are the elements of the Covenant perhaps best deemed; "The Transcendental, and the Heirarchal". We sorta-kinda recall that the Most High is also the lawful King of the realm, and "lives outside of it". Now, (of course!) He is simultaneously operating inside it, and thus immanence is the flip side to transcendance. Similarly, the Power behind power became a completely helpless baby. It is both/and, not either/or.
  My point?
  We have a hunger in us, pointing to a food outside of us. Life itself is rooted in a "magical" context. And until that sad day on which we give up on life, we equate (to some extent) magic with love, and that with life.
  It is therefore no surprise (to me at least) that suicide prevention is very strongly stressed at just this "season". The longing for the "magical" if not satisfied, yields an empty set. No magic, no love. No love, why bother with life? And for many, this time of year is thus downright unhealthy, deadly even!
  Now, the basic problem involved with kings is access. In ancient times, you never, ever turned your back on the sovereign. But, getting into the throne area was for all practical purposes a non-issue, so the etiquette wasn't a burden. Magicians and astrologers attended the king. To unite the two offices requires persons (plural). This, is what Christmas is about!
  Magical thinking in us thus is a type of partial memory that once there was a place, once there was a time where things made sense. It was a rendezvous point which was safe, cozy and fiercely glad!
  But, there is no route back to Eden. You can't get there from here. And because of that, it appears (to some) that the desire in us for "the magic" of that place/time is either a silly dream to be forgottten, or something which we are to ourselves fabricate. In that latter case, the basic "how to" must require a magic of our own making! And that is deadly. I hope I am being clear here?
  The short version of all this, is the end of abstractions. The abstract of Eden, a kind of "Utopia" has been repeatedly tried in history. These attempts at heaven on earth have uniformly been insanely hellish affairs in reality. You can't get there from here. In brief, we require a new starting point! But, along with that we require a new end point.
  It is a bit disorienting to think of somebody as a destination, but it works. To reach the hand of the lifeguard while being dragged out to sea by a rip-tide comes to mind. A lost child is not interested in going home, he wants Mom!
  So then, the thing which made paradise so paradisical wasn't the address or the furniture, it was He Who Is "there". Likewise, the thing which makes heaven so heavenly is Him Who Is "there". And so, where ever "there" proves to finally be, it will be Him-there which is the guarantee of joy. He the goal, He the reward. That is the idea of Christmas.
  This marvel is already begun! Where ever there is life, there is hope. And where ever there is hope, He is "near". Coincidence? I think not. The gift of life is given . . . by her Giver. In the transaction of accepting it, we accept Him. This is the real sticking point for us it appears to me.
  What we say we want is the goods, the stuff of life, and so this bent in us also links with the "season". And we also quickly find that this heap of things was certainly not what we really wanted. We disagree strongly with ourselves in principle!
  The end of abstractions thus allows us to find (or rather, be found of) Him.
  The Christmas story then is Him coming, coming to dwell with, to join. It means then that there are now two races, two kinds of humans. There are those who trust Him, or one day shall. And it means that there are others who do not, and never shall. We ourselves are unable to tell the difference between the two with any real accuracy.
   Thus, He-Himself becomes the cutting edge of the knife dividing the two. And this can only mean that  He-Himself is the only One crossing over into our prisons walls so to visit "in us"! As Author of Life, the Builder of Is, He shines the True Light, and from our perspective it is ever-new!
  And in that marvelous light, we see anew. The reunion between the Nativity and the fat guy with poor taste in winter-wear can begin!
  The ground rules include that we stay real. Our hunger for the magic is to be re-examined. We want the real magic! It turns out, that all along, our desire for it was but a shabby caricature of the Guy for whom weird physics is normal. That is, He the original, next the magician as the lousy copy. There is an order, a sequence to things. The rules are not many, but if we let Santa in the door, we must remember that it is but the weakness of our eyes, and the poverty of our souls which ever mistook the two in the first place.
  You give milk to babies, and so (I think) it is quite all right to tell toddlers of a "Father above" (North on a map) who loves and knows them full well. And if in juvenile minds, that reminder appears as an image, it would be best that the depiction not talk too much.
  A few "Ho, ho, ho's" by the chap and he is off! All is as it ought be. That is, the faith is a large enough tent to let Santa in. But the symbol contains him holding the reins, and that simply will not do!
  The most astonishing magic trick of all time, the Creation of Is, and that being peopled by living souls has recently been superceded! The Author of the story has entered into His own novel?
  If Mark Twain could have pulled off that kind of stunt, how in the world he ever convince Huck or Tom that he was their "author"? How could he get them to buy the premise that he came from a realer and "higher up" world, sorta "above and behind" them? Would it be helpful for Huck if he said; "My world is the actual, and yours the copy"? Would they ever believe that their world only existed because he made it so?
  Well, he would have to find a way somehow to make it convincing for them, that much is sure. But, really the only way for them to convert to his view would be for Twain to write that in as part of his story, eh?
  And so we arrive at our destination . . .
  Merry Christmas 2016!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Hollering At Hillsides (Part XXVII)

  I sometimes think that I ought alter the title of these essays from "Assorted C.P.E.s" to "Installments Of Hollering At Hillsides". In a sense, many (if not most) of these essays are riffs on this very same theme, and so too the one today.
  Looking back at the last posting, we note a ten week hiatus in rambling diatribes of the non-specific kind. It is a bit embarrassing to tell you why so, but it does tie in (eventually) with our theme.
  I do not own a computer; never have, and likely never shall. These posts are done (nowadays) on a phone plus a keyboard.
  Now, for the history lesson. About six or eight weeks ago, my old phone unaccountably committed suicide! It (willy-nilly) lept from my hand, and nose dived into an asphalt parking lot. So, we dutifully moved over to phone insurance land, and the lady (speaking for the insurance people) informed me that they had no Galaxy S-4s, and would I accept an S-6 instead? "Sure, why not?" said the gringo.
  Initially, I could not figure out how to "sync" this phone with this keyboard, and it turns out that I still don't know how. But, the bright young lady down at the store it was purchased from, did it in about eight seconds. To me, things cyber and digital are simply impossible. To your average four year old? not so much . . . Time marches on, and some mysteries go unsolved, deal with it..
  About five weeks ago, I could not get the keyboard to reconnect to the phone even after it being "synched" (whatever that means), and noted a little flashing light on the upper right hand corner of the board. That light has what appears to be a battery logo? Brilliantly, I deduced that my batteries had conked out. One set, and then another set, neither caused either the blink to disappear, or for the two devices to once again talk to each other. So, I did the usual, (which means ignoring it, and wishing it away) and just considered it yet another impossible to solve cyber-digital problem. If you cannot solve this problem, then go find one you can work out.
  Along the way, the thought did pass at several points through my left hemishere of trying out a blog entry via the hamster sized keyboard on the phone screen. But there is a lot of editing to do, and I was not all that excited to sit down for the seven hours such a project would likely take.
  Today, after Kirk; I finally hunkered down! By golly, I will just go and buy a new keyboard! But, on the outside chance that the oldie is salvageable, let's take it along . . . This time, a clever young man was the one who solved the mystery, and again; in about eight seconds. It turns out that for some reason or another my "Bluetooth" thingie on the phone was in the "off" position. How did that happen? Beats me! And how would I have known even what to look for? Again, beats me! What had consistently defeated me for over a month was this tiny hiccup, and this my friend is par for the course.
  We might have expected something of the sort by our observations of reality, yet the bland surprises just keep coming in.
  I see this sort of thing over in plumbing-land fairly often. The phone call from the guy with a master's degree kinda goes:
Him: Well, the toilet is losing water or something.
Me: Do you mean that it is leaking out on the floor? Is water spraying from somewhere?
Him: No, nothing like that, it just makes noises all by itself sometimes.
Me: Are you seeing water appear anywhere then?
Him: No, no I mean that at night I can hear it filling up for no reason, but only sometimes . . .
  For the college edumacated, this is a deep mystery indeed! For me, it is one of two things, and we are talking either a one minute fix, or an hour, but one needn't be brilliant to isolate the problem, you simply observe, use a pinky (and an ear!) and get to the issue at hand. To him he views an insurmountable obstacle, and to me a ridiculously easy fix. The thing is either a mountain or a molehill depending upon who is doing the looking.
  This is us. We have these areas in which to "solve" is an horrendously complex (hopelessly difficult!) labyrinth of pain, frustration and perplexity. And, to others, the very same thing is tossed off as a hardly noticeable bump in the road.
  I think that it was my Mom who used to say things like: "Oh, quit fussing, you're making a mountain out of a molehill". But, what Mom never did say was that my molehill might be your mountain, and vice-versa?
  I don't mean to brag here, but there are at least a couple of destructive behaviors of which I have just had no real problem (so far!) getting past in this life. We have all heard of those addicted to gambling or to pornography for example. And for me, these sins or lapses are simply not all that interesting. They are not worth "solving" in that they are easily avoided. To my thinking, a girl exposing her unlikely topology for money, tells me everything I need to know about her. Move on. In my brain, gambling makes no sense whatsoever unless you happen to be a casino owner. It does not require massive observation powers to deduce who benefits by that "transaction". Again, move on. This is part of what we are really discussiing today. What, to the addict; is a huge roadblock, is (for me) something to simply sidestep. Your mountain is my molehill, but then I have my own mountain, which must appear to you as a childishly simple thing to get past.
  Typically (it seems to me) this "half" of the Hollering At Hillsides theory we are to some extent familiar with. A preacher, a Mom, a motivational type speaker urges us to "overcome", and we are supposed to buy their given "take" on how so to solve. And, whether it is positive patterns of speech, or a gung-ho excitement, or whether a long-haul type of endurance and sticking with it, each proposes a "possible victory" obtainable in a non-specific future. And I am not saying today that nobody benefits from such exhortations, but rather that the picture we view needs to rotate. Our problem is (so to speak) one of perspective. That is, the colloquialism; "You can't get there from here", is (as far as it goes) accurate! We are not aligned with the real.
  Jesus with His outlandish assertion that talking to millions of tons of rock and earth so to banish same to the center of the sea is not (in my opinion) a direct reference to smoking cigars, or to buying lotto tickets. True enough, those given molehills could be viewed as mountains, supposing that my personal impossibility field includes such. But such thinking appears backwards to me at the very minimum. He is using gargantuan language to describe an enormous reality, not to make the puny bigger than it actually is.
  Think with me; if your given mountain was (for instance) shyness, and you just could never get around or over it, would my telling you that a far far more difficult task (go toss Pike's Peak beyond Tahiti) as a warm-up exercise would be so awfully helpful?
  One of the main insights of the N.T. writers was to rotate the view of "The Mountain". The Coming One was to set all things right, to shatter evil and to rule in power and peace. And our Apostles in their training days just could barely conceal the ambition for their own lives when such sweeping change came to be! Can we start throwing our weight around already? Will you name me chief poo-bah, and grand vizier of some key department in the coming administration?
  The mountain was the Mountain Of YHWH. They got that part right enough, and to expect thus a realm of order, a world which makes sense, a place in which rebellion and lies and corruption are strictly speaking history, was never denied by The Saviour, but that same expected rule was added to! The view of the Mountain began to rotate, and for the first time, the Coming One, was seen to have an advent, plus a return, the One Mountain has twin peaks!
  This, my friend; alters everything! The peaks then are proposing an astounding turn of events at least Covenantally speaking. Recall that the covenant is forged not between God and an abstract mass called "humanity", but between God and The Man. This is crucial!
  The Man "wrestles with YHWH" . . . and prevails? Now, wait just one minute! How ever under any circumstance COULD a man win in such a match? He would have to be God Himself to do so! . . . Oh, well; . . . there is that to consider.
  Ordinarily, we hear the "Great Commission" as a kind of nagging white man guilt trip. You know the drill, we are not (at present) quite the evangelizing hot-rods and superstars we ought be? So then, we kinda need to step up our game by about 87,000 notches or so? Normally thus, the GC kinda comes off as a "try harder" type of thing. There are the stars, (the missionairies) and then a few superstars (martyrs and Apostles?) down "on the field", and we are being urged to get out of the bleachers, suit up, put on our helmets, and run a key play, or seven? We hear the rah-rah stuff, promptly ignore it, and come back for another dose of guilt next week? It's weird.
  And the weirdness is that Messiah is making an outlandish statement, just precisely here; which we have completely overlooked. "I POSSESS ALL authority in heaven and earth". Excuse me, what was that again? Is the Guy saying that the Father Almighty has hung up His cleats, just thrown in the towel then? I mean, something humongous is going on here! Could we be a tad more specific?
  In this plumber's opinion, the twin peaks can stand thus for The Father and The Son, or for the two comings. but the key here is news which is alarmingly blasted good! I hate to be narrow minded on this score, but isn't good news supposed to cause some happiness or something of that sort to occasionally break out? But, when it is in my hands, it is just here, which the oaf from the bleachers drops the ball (again). I even against what I believe, end up rattling on about morals or standards, the decline of decency or some other brainless claptrap. We are guilt junkies, and cannot get past this hill! And neither can we admit it.
  I mean by this, just how many iterations of; "We ought be (more) eager to share the Gospel with our neighbors" can we take before we rush down, grab the speaker by the lapels, and shout in his face; "What 'news' are you talking about anyhow?!". The Gospel is not "You can be saved". . . unless we know more precisely saved from what, and unto what. It is just here that our polite desire to spare God from any possible insult runs deepest, I think.
  We are deeply worried that we might offend "Somebody" if we are too crass or blunt about things. Wouldn't want to hurt His feelings and all. . . So "gospel" becomes a kind of  coded speech, in which "Straighten up, and fly right" becomes the implied (never stated) content? Gospel is implied and referred to, and only very rarely put forward unmistakably clearly in this plumber's estimation. What then, is the alarmingly blasted good news?
  The standard set answer is that we are saved from sin. But what if I happen to enjoy sin? Okay then, how's about we are saved from death? The fat gringo objects! "Life has been no garden party for me, and I just want out. I think I would prefer death to more of this misery". What then? Well, what about hell? Surely, no sane person would want that, (would he?). He is saving us from hell, will that do for you Mr. stubborn-pants??
  And the twin peaks are proposing that it is precisely NOT this which serves as token of the news which is good. Scripture repeatedly speaks of a day surely coming. In that hour, people will flee into (!!!) the hell of fire . . . in order to get as far away (as will then be possible); from "something". People will be sprinting into hell in that hour in order to flee the True Terror.
  This is what Christians are afraid to say. It could be construed (I suppose) as insulting to say that He is so dreadful as all that. But, our point here, is not some possible perceived insult; so much as it is the clear reality. The Covenant between the Father and the Son is posing to us a wild, an alarming truth. God is saving us . . . from GOD! The amazing Contract (the "Deal" to end all deals!), in which the Father expends His fury . . . upon the Son, as "The Man", has generated the only bunker deep enough, the sole working bomb shelter stout enough for anyone ever to hide in, on the occasion of that coming great and terrible day. Upon those so sheltered, is the blood of The Lamb! "But He (the Father) has given all judgement to the Son, in order that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father" is Jesus's way of talking along these lines. As far (and farther!) than we can grasp, the Sovereignty has been turned over! A man, nay, The Man; is seated on high! The Mountain has been tossed way way beyond Tahiti. The Man wrestled-with YHWH . . . and prevailed!
  Now then, in light of this, let's us reconsider molehills. What to me is an impassable height, really believing that I am "good enough" has to be re-rotated from a twin, back to a singular peak. In brief, we are learning thus to view our puny struggle through the real lens, and that is a view of a universe turned over to The One Sane Man. Key then, would be our union with that Man, eh? Everything "rotates precisely here". He is The True Believer, and we are just now learning to take hummingbird sized doses of that very same (correct) grasp of the real, so to endorse, so to act upon it.
  I mean, after all, the reason we believe things in the first place, is for the absurdly simple reason that we happen to believe them to be true. Duh? The good news is that the profound thrashing and absolute shattering of all things unholy, untrue and unright, which we in our heart of hearts are deeply aware that we "ought be" joined to, has already occurred? He as our new Head, has taken the blow which we could have never survived. He has faced down the fury of The Maker. . . and WON? Our estimate of ourselves then; "That I am not, and never will be 'good enough'", is both true, and no longer binding. That is, I do not "testify" to my own rightness, but to Another's!
  The art then, of learning to trust, learning to talk to mountains so to make them fly away, is learning (in part at least) to rotate the view, from one, to two, and then back to one.
  We are born, and die in sin and are raised again. This mambo, this stepwise movement which will have its full fruition with a luminescent cadre (uncountable) of immortals made divinely glad, has already commenced. That one, then two, then one again; fancy square dance is already being called. His children are even now bulletproof and unkillable, even if they do lose their lives, for the real Danger, the actual Dread has been "prevailed upon".
  What a Champion! What a Genius this Guy is! Full-tilt-bozo, off the scale Brilliant is He. Good news is supposed to make the hearer glad. But when we one day taste Gladness Himself, we will be able then to identify the true Source of the stuff we kept getting tiny whiffs of, all down the line, of which we wanted some, but couldn't rightly name.
  His name is; "I AM . . . Salvation!" And in that day, even we will be sober enough to say so.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Big Cheese

  Gosh, it has been weeks since my last posting here. If you would like my opinion, a certain plumber (who shall remain nameless, but rhymes with "Ike Ayber") has been playing altogether too much Freecell. . .
   It's kind of like grilled cheese sandwiches. When we were kids, Mom used to make these legendary grilled cheese bombs with Velveeta cheese and green chile, in an electric frying pan. She always slathered a big old slug of Parkay on the whitebread before flopping it onto the heat. After tasting it, a kid could easily conclude; "There must be a missing food group out there somewhere!".
  They told us at school about dairy, poultry, fruits and vegetables. We recall the section about nuts. . . But clearly, they forgot to mention this crucial food group, Velveeta grilled cheese with green chile on white bread! At one point in my life, that was about all I was interested in eating. A type of victual mono-mania perhaps was at work?
  Since then, I have noted this one-food idea in a variety of guises. At one juncture in life, it was all-about-reading, frequently it has rotated into all-about-work. I recall in my early twenties being just about totally absorbed in the fascinating topic of Julie S.
  Clearly (to any impartial observor) the single most whopper-doodle beautiful girl of all time. Life, reality (and everything else) pivoted upon her marvelous face, voice and carriage. As I recall, she considered me a complete lout-loser, and promptly quit responding to my letters. Heck, nowadays if I were so totally fixated on a girl, she would likely get a restraining order with me as a "stalker".
  Yet the point here is that in finding a thing to focus upon, I have always tended toward imbalance. The life load shifts and everything has to make room for cheese sandwiches, or books or Freecell depending upon when we consult the schedule making feature.
  There exists then, also within us, a blowback feature; a rejection of the choosing. For instance, at one point I thought very highly indeed of Cheetos, (the crunchy kind). Just about every day for lunch or for a snack, we were eating . . . quasi-ersatz "cheese which goes crunch". Today, I find them to be nauseating. They are not even food! Who even knows what this artificial cellulose guck is? Now, upon seeing a bag I recall how the orange goo sticks to the side of the rear molars. Ditto with Velveeta on white bread, it looks highly suspect, and I studiously avoid getting next to the stuff. That which was a strong pull in me, has become a decisive push.
  If you are at all like me then, there exists "phases", with "charge". If it is negative charge, then like an outsized vacuum cleaner it pulls the geek in question "in". Once a getting to the bottom of the draw occurs, then one is thrown clear by positive push clean out of that orbit. Upon achieving a certain distance from the old fixation, we wonder what it was which was so entirely compelling in the first place?
  We are mysteries to our own selves. True, we do "do things", and we do seem (at the time) to be awake and at the helm. Later on, it is baffling to say just why such was so "reasonable", or how it made any sense at all for that matter, at the time.
  My guess is that this sort of sleep-walking in broad daylight is fairly normal. I am frequently "hard on myself" for (once again) having derailed into some dumb temporary priority. "What in the heck was I thinking?" is the sound of it. So then, I infer that we are eccentric, or perpetually off balance. And this is not to condemn imbalance, so much as it is to note the surprise feature.
  Little kids when they are first able to hold things and understand some words are very interesting people. You can hand a small guy a set of keys or a coin. Next, you ask for it to be given back. The guy can do this exchange gig all day, he finds it delightful, and mildly surprising (each iteration thereof) that "it works!". Being surprised over and over again by the same activity or exchange is something that small people are clearly better at than we. For us to be sequentially so surprised makes us feel dumb, unobservant or forgetful; none of which qualifies as positive.
  In my book, it is a bit like an amnesiac who has forgotten his own name. Or, perhaps more aptly, like a runner having forgotten his legs? We have (or are) components, and these are not necessarily united in perspective, priorities or capacity. Deal with it.
  In the West, we have concentrated heavily upon the mind, and all things mental. If it were a cartoon, a brain on stilts is "who" we think we are. All social failings, all anger and frustration, all sadness is alleviated by "answers" in our assessment. Learning, education and knowledge thus are the premier values, and the fix for any given error or failing is uniformly to learn-more. In brief, we are in denial that we have (or are) "soul".
  In fact, there is a modern school of thought which adamently denies even the existence of soul, forget about operating out of, or "hearing" that view on things. Soul and mind, and these are but two of several "centers" which are our persons. In one sense then, we are (individually considered) communities. It is just that certain individuals thereof are more equal (in that gathering) than others, and so rage and strength carry the day here, all other voices are muted. We later wonder how we could have exploded like that? At one crossroad, the heart demands to be heard; and we find a type of sweeping compulsion, undeniable and clear. Afterwards we are again surprised and angry with ourselves for having been so "immature and easily fooled" as all that.
  We have forgotten that our selves are a community, a gang of perspectives, a plethora of priorities. We have suppressed the glad exchange as a "dull and meaningless ritual", and so court a true forgetting.
  There are lessons which we repeatedly fail to learn for the silly reason that they are not (mainly) mental/knowing types of lessons in the first place.
  That bright faced little yellow flower is not watered by anybody that we know of. In fact, it is a mere "weed", and still the yellow as (let's presume) a soul-beauty lesson is disregarded as "irrelevant". We are so busy with mental priority junk that heart priority becomes just baggage to ditch at the earliest opportunity.
  I am becoming more confident all of the time that this sort of ignoring of centers within our person is what we imply by the words "old or aging". It might be a bit like a knight which fails to recall that he is wearing armor? The crusty-hard is become the new normal, and so; tracts of inner acreage become abandoned lots inhabited by inner goons. It sounds to us like harsh speech, but it looks like a man afraid of being "late". . . Oldness then is a time-crunch and a desperation.
  We become "old" as we become unable to operate out any center but our favorite stronghold, and it is (as far as I can detect) entirely unnecessary to do so. What next occurs is that a kind of crisis manifests in our lives, a forcing of the issue, and for us to fall back into (for instance) the standard stance of mental grasp at the expense of soul grasp at that crisis point, renders us unable to move. We become rooted in a Velveeta and chile fixation, and also it is no longer what we "must have". In brief, life becomes "empty" for us.
  In my mind, the crusher here is that we are doing the best that we can, and also, this is precisely the problem! No amount of redoubling of effort thus can extricate us out of these sorts of traps. Now perhaps this is all a bit too grim for you? Maybe the author is just a tad depressing to read eh? And isn't it interesting to you, that at just this section of the C.P.E. in question that such thoughts arise? The mono-mania drive within us actively defies the multi-center reality just now being put forward. We are demanding that an inner unifying factor "must be" operational, and simultaneously, we cannot do so. Are we one, or are we many? And we find it difficult to answer that question with a "Yes!".
  So, strength is applied, force is introduced to guarantee a "unity", while we ignore that strength itself is a center in competition with thought and with heart. So then, we "flip" and start talking as if the heart and the mind were so disparate that a walking duality is the best we might ever muster. Simply, unity if ever found must be forced, and such never unifies! Multicenters do not talk the same languages, and a chaos is the inner furniture we build. It is like dreams then.
 In dreams, surprising scenarios appear, and at the same time we do not (while dreaming) find them to be unusual at all. A song, or a riddle, a puzzle or a mystery in the dreamscape is what we are focused upon. It never crosses the mind; "Hey, this is a pointless thing to waste time upon", and we are chagrined upon waking that we could not see well enough to notice the silly loop, nor did we require of the dream that it "make sense" for us. The short version being that the soul is speaking a language which our minds have forgotten, and it sounds like gibberish to the mind.
  If you had an Eskimo from Greenland sitting down to eat with a Wall St. investment banker, even if they both spoke English, there would be little for them to discuss. The two worlds are far from each other, and if dialogue is to happen; each must "try to grasp" the other's meaning, inference and perspective. This much is obvious even to us!
  But, we consistently fail to apply the same sort of method to the varying centers within us. The heart is "just stupid", the strength "is a bully" or fill in the blanks as you like best. My point is that if the banker figures the Greenlander to "be a savage" then nothing the Eskimo says "can" make sense, for the excellent reason that savages are just savage. That's the end of the discussion, prior to commencement. That "is us". The trick then is to gather the excellence from all points of the compass.
  The banker is great at annuities and compounding short term mortgage trading or some darned thing or another. The whale master can feel the earth groaning and soothe her ragged self. There is within us (as individuals) a community of excellencies, and each makes its own contribution, but the unifying feature cannot be a friendly co-operation!
  And I imagine it is just here that we err most eggregiously along these lines. Trying (very hard might I add?) to "make friends with" ourselves, and to "accept" our limitations, can never function as the "one-ness" feature.
  No, never!
  All of the above preaches, it proclaims, nay; it loudly asserts that the center is not "in" us! Gadzooks, this is permanent then? Before you panic, consider with me, the islanders of the South Pacific who (as far as I know) invented "outriggers". Such centers are not "in" the boat, and also they are built from the center of the craft outward. The stability "in" the canoe is "outside" of it. Likewise with us (the inventors of such artifacts), the center in us, is outside-of, and also-in us.
  Time cannot be all there is, for it presupposes; "What came prior to it, and what follows it?". So eternity is in time and also rooted outside of it. We creatures in time find similarly, our center to be an outrigger beyond us, and in us too.
  I would hazard here that such being the case, we ourselves then are functioning as a kind of predictive model of a coming gathering ahead of us in time, founded in eternity, while fully "finished" at present. A serial sort of sets of surprises to come, is the construct we are building? In theo-speak, we are founded and built "in the image". This having been badly defaced and hopelessly shattered, is re-founded in Image! We ourselves then become the predictive model of a marvel to come (having arrived!)?
  Recall the talk. He keeps talking about a gathering together, and a peace. It is a community-coming (and come) in which the True Center (Himself) is made plain. At that point, even we will "get it" and gladly acknowledge that; "No wonder I couldn't make sense of things! I thought I was "one" (and I am!), but here we view the True One (Who Is Many). He in us, and us in Him, we were never built to function "outside" of Him, and just precisely this mess is our "center" . . . in the old man. This center too, is passing away!
  The Father is not The Son, nor is the Spirit either One, and there are not three Gods, but only One. At some point, the mystery which is He, of which we are a depiction, will file. In Him, The One Who Is Many, is not at war. And in that day, it will make tremendously good sense, (even to us!) and we will entirely find it convincing, because it is!
  The hunting of "the thing" which we do in dreams, and in cheese and chile sandwiches while awake, will resolve itself, and of this we are quite certain. In the mean time, we are to learn to listen to the "weak" voice, we are to consult with Eskimos, and learn to recall languages which we have suppressed because they were "stupid".
  The entire array focuses at, and is built upon and is from the Cross of Jesus. The New Man finds his origin (biologically) in the old man, and The New Man completely surpasses the wildest imaginings of the old, both remain true.
  The old was a fief, and a steward of the True King. He was instructed, and was a representative head, but never the True Head Himself. The king entrusts the realm to lessor nobility, and all bow to the Emperor.
  The New Man is the True King in Person! Here we view the creature/Creator divide which was an infinitely large gap; permanently bridged! Baby, this is big!
  Big stuff indeed, in that such peace as all that, what with the thousand and one voices all singing the same song, and joyfully so? Scratch that, make it the millions, no; better even yet, the multiple billions of those outriggered sandwich eaters all singing on key? The real McCoy of "big deals" (Himself!) here with us? Live and in Person? Evermore "In, With, and Over" us!
  And it is The Sure Thing? Yep, for certain; that is big stuff!
  Big, Big, Big!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Hokey-Pokey-isms, The Inside Scoop!

  There are half-remembered tunes rolling around in my brain. Filed under; "miscellaneous trivia" or some such, we find the refrain from an old Campfire Girls T.V. ad., next the "Top it off with Juicy Fruit!" jingle, and from somewhen near third (?) grade, sections of "The Hokey-Pokey", occasionally surface during a work day. This seems odd to me. What is it about what I am doing or thinking during a work day which causes bits of these old songs to arise?
  I really don't know what triggers these neurons to fire. I mean, nothing about digging ditches and playing around with dangerous chemicals especially reminds a guy of the Campfire Girls. I don't even know if they still exist!
  Perhaps you too have some snatches of half-remembered tunes which you were exposed to at an early age? The reason I specifically chose the Hokey-Pokey for the title of today's C.P.E. shall soon surface, but these paragraphs are designed to help us recall that there is "ancient tunery" which is for some reason, yet residing in memory. And my point thus far, is that I have no idea why they rebound to consciousness after being dormant for decades. Mayhaps, that will one day serve as the main idea of an essay, rather than a quizzical intro, eh?
  But for today, I am just dying to ask you; "What precisely do you remember about the lyrics of the Hokey-Pokey?". All that comes to mind over here is; "You put your left foot out, you put your right foot out, . . . you (something or other, 'twirl all about'?). . . And that's what it's all about!". The tune remains fairly clear, and the lyrics are fractured. So, we carry incomplete memories which we amend as need be! We just invent new lyrics.
  As an example of this; the Campfire Girls song, we are fairly confident; does not contain the phrase "Sing Swahili". But, over here it kinda "works" since I have no idea what the actual words were, and frankly don't care to find out. Memory then, is not what we imagine it to be.
 We think of memory as a kind of videotape recording of what actually occurred, and vigorously defend our version of events. In reality, we are "writing" or "fixing" memories as they seem to us to have been. Any police investigator would tell you that "eyewitness" reports often wildly vary, even by people who were standing right next to each other.
  In fact, this sort of variance, or the lack thereof; is often a strong indicator that someone is lying. You see? If two witnesses agree "too much", then collusion may well be involved. So then, we try to record things accurately, and there is some "fog" involved, both are true. This is who we are.
  So, getting to the Hokey-Pokey, the thing is, (see?) the tag line; "That's what it's all about!" has always kinda bothered me. As an existential assertion, isn't this running a few pounds light? I mean, are we thereby affirming that doing some kind of grade school dance, to a silly little song; is (in fact) the sum and total of meaning to be had? Of course not!  Don't be ridiculous. But there is a link!
  Have you ever noticed the oddity that girls appear (at minimum) to honestly enjoy dancing? This feature of the feminine psyche has yet to "file" in my anterior lobe. I just don't get it, but importantly; women do! And what-if, just what-if the central dogma of the Hokey-Pokey functions then, as a workable "one thing" for some of them? As for the reference, "one thing"; we trust that you recall watching a certain movie?
  The movie "City Slickers" was not exactly a great, great film; with an important message for us all to live-by, but it did have Jack Palance in it! If you are not familiar with the flick, well then; you can always watch it on some cyber-digital device or another. My point though, is that the central axiom of Hokey-Pokeyisms are a basically human design. There is but "one thing", and when (or if?) you find it, then it acts as a prioritizing or organizing element to, or for your life. Simply, we require a "one thing" in order to sort out the debris furnished by the  torrent of non-interesting also-rans our world is so eager to supply. And until we achieve certainty on just what that "one thing" is, I feel that the norm is a sense of dislocation, or of "pointlessness". It is who we are.
  We were not designed so to work, such that we can earn the money for food, in order to have the strength to work. . . People do not operate that way. We require a "grand unification" in our grasp of things. At some point, every hinge rotates, and at that "one thing" we ratify the strength to go on, to find reconciliation, and to find hope for gladness. So, using work as an example, I have heard plenty of people (mostly men) agree heartily with the Hokey-Pokeyism; "Evabody's workin' for the weekend!". Something "ahead of us" (in time?) lends itself to this human functioning.
  But beware, we are easily fooled just "here" at the center of things. The cliche' answers, the advertising campaigns, the quick-fix approaches which we are all so fond of trying on (especially upon others!), do not actually fit. We find these "non-central centers" to be husks, shells with no meat inside, and so we keep looking!
  In one school of thought it is this very looking itself (as an ongoing activity) which is reputed to be the true Hokey-Pokey. In others, an abstraction, a non-concrete "set" such as "good attitude", or "building relationships"  has cornered the Hokey-Pokey market. For instance, I often hear people affirm that "the really important thing" is family. Which family? And how far removed are we talking here? Please understand, I am not out (today) to shatter or disabuse anyone of their Hokey-Pokey-ism, of their "That's what it's all about!". Rather, I am noting that for us to "be ourselves" we must reckon with our limits (memory for instance), and organize thought around a Hokey-Pokey, a true-truth which acts for us as an anchor, a compass, a scale by which we weigh importance. It is who we are.
  If you have bothered to read any of these essays of the crazy pants kind, you would be able (I think) to infer what my Hokey-Pokey is all about. And so, I won't tax your patience with a re-hash of old essays. It's just that I have been thinking about this of late, and can (as a friend) highly recommend you finding your Hokey-Pokey as a good thing.
  Instead, I would like to say; "Feel free to cuss in the presence God". Your Hokey-Pokey will not be located as long as you are afraid to say precisely and accurately what you are thinking and feeling. We are already well aware that "glib" doesn't do the job. Well, "polite" fails at the isolating of your Hokey-Pokey function as well.
  If you are at all like me, it would be best to find a place-alone. Go for a long drive in deserted country, or go for a walk in farmland. Get. . . Away. . . From. . . People! At minimum, several hours are necessary for me to "open-up". I like to use "The Lord's Prayer" as a kind of topical guide in these "frank discussions" with our Maker. And be prepared to think!
  There, we find the clean, sober, and sane which contrasts so strongly with the mess that I am. We find "anchor points" which (like it or not) we shall (one day) completely agree with. As an example, He, the Life-Begettor is indeed "high above us" (in heaven). This contrasts nicely with me being in a swamp, ass-deep in alligators at the moment. The Name "I Am . . . Hearing, Guiding, Teaching (you choose!)" has been revealed. I can, and do, call the one Name; "I Am. . . Salvation" (Joshua) fully confident that I ain't talking to myself, and I tell Him that too! "This is, by Your design; a matter of Your Honor, You who have Named Yourself. So listen up! You must (contractionally) be listening!". I hope you get the drift here? We are appearing before, we are appealing to, He Who Is, and of His power all else be. "Be there". Well Sir, I've got a beef with how things are, and no amount of phoney "humility" makes that go away.
  There is, in us; a strong urge to find an answer, to be fixed, and to quickly move on. Long walks cussing my failure, this insane world, and the sheer stupidity of it all,  is (for me) "true". I am "being me" when I rant my frustration, anger and shame. And even I am aware that when this tilts over into me cussing Him, I have "gone too far".
  Oddly then, prayer is a cussing-with (not at) He who rules "Is". And a big chunk of my Hokey-Pokey is very near here.
  See? I actually believe that the message in it's simplest terms is something like; "He is coming, and He is furious!". My cussing is a dim and shady echo of a terribly real and fierce curse. The anger in His case is infinitely stronger, but my puny rage at the folly and evil around, and in me; is "being held in common". Now, we have something we can really talk about! So, that "darkness" which I would prefer not to be made public information, proves to be a very strong link in my Hokey-Pokeyism. In flat terms, the message is; "He is coming. Run. . . For . . . Your . . . Life!".
  And that said, now I can begin to agree with the mild and generous offer of a blood exchange. Now, the horror of the Cross becomes the only working escape hatch for a race sunk in futility and lies. So, I know all of this, and still somehow get lost in "efficiency" repeatedly?
  Apparently then, I am missing something? Or is it that I have forgotten (again?) a crucial aspect of my Hokey-Pokey? And it is just this cussing-with God, which has done me so much good! I hope that I am being clear with you here. The prayer formats as a kind of "key" by which I can examine whether the flaw and goof of today is a "missing of", or a "forgetting of". . . Something. The key is providing the things which cannot (sanely) be forgotten, overridden or ignored.
  So, ordinarily then, I want things to "work right". I want a world which "makes sense", and as such; I am (apparently) expecting that systems, people and events "ought" cohere into patterns of efficiency, or of order. We gather that neither myself nor the world are really very interested in that. So then, this is a clue! One of my usual cliche' forms which I "try" to put upon myself, nevermind that it has never worked, ignore that it is what always bites back so fiercely, just keep trying, is busy haunting me again! And how this racket got into my head, I have no better answer than why old advertising jingles are in there. I don't know!
  As a sort of summary, I would like to disavow any fondness for the darkness itself. All of the thrashing about in the dark or darkness itself is just more junk that is going to be put on the fire one day. There is nothing fun or swell about being miserable. But it requires some very heavy crushing before I will abandon my cliche' and polite solutions. The police drive culprits out of buildings with tear gas. I, likewise must be forced out of my "house". The; "This is hopeless!" remark, must be heard, not by Him, but by me. Even though I already know that my strategies are not working, but usually just making things worse, I have no option but to use them. Through sheer repetition and in intense emotion (cussing with God!) even I, am beginning to "get it".
  Life, as we have tried to make it (minus Him), never did have any hope of either making sense, or working, but we have to be convinced, even though we already know!
  We have to know it on the inside, we must come to know it "by gut". We must have a "one thing", a Hokey-Pokey which is biggger than us, it enduring and welcoming us.
  Truth. . . Is a Sir". Talk to The Man!
  Tell Him who you really are, and be prepared to not-find rejection.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Integrity Of Sin

  Sundays are (apparently?) the day for me to remind myself of a few things. Before I begin, and talk somewhat about those, I would like to set the stage somewhat.
  Have you ever heard of; "a recursive loop"? As I survey my own life, and those peeks I have into the lives of others; the phrase, recursive (or zero-sum), loop keeps coming to mind. I say it this way; "The universe is very accomodating. Whatever you seek to prove, you will (in time) find some evidence for."
  For instance, I was listening briefly last night to "Coast To Coast", an AM radio show in the middle of the night. Don't ask me what it was about, I have no idea. But, a loop sequence was being displayed. It was to the effect that a "galactic civilization", using the Sun as portal (and other stars too?), has "long been known of" by a cabal inside the government. . . Or something? Now, the key problem here is that we can never really know, until such time that the cabal in question releases the secret information. So then, it remains a secret, but a very poorly kept one, and it cannot be either ratified or fully denied, until some future action changes the shape of the discussion. It was a pretty crazy conversation to listen to, but my point here, is that if this formats as a recursive loop (a kind of zero output system), which is based upon itself, we do not get an "alien" construct, but a very, very human one! People love building these things.
  In my opinion, we all have some kind of recursive loop, "down and in" us, which is "prevented" from making any headway until such and such, which is outside of our control, "changes things". And so, we "do laps", the poor, they (mainly) "wait".
  Over and over again, for years and then for decades, we keep making the same kinds of blunders, or offenses, or failures. There is a recursive loop inside us! Now, the fact is, the thing functions as a kind of trap, but the design is so foolproof, that not even the best puzzle-master can find the way out. Do you see my meaning here? The world's best puzzle solver would (by definition) build a much more sophisticated trap!
  Over in Christianity-land, the talk along these lines is often rotating about the axis of "my besetting sin". That is, recursive loops are not morally neutral. People are (at minimum), vaguely aware that their own loop-trap "works", and (incidentally) is never identical with their neighbor's. And just to muddy things up some, many people fail at even noticing that they personally have the disease, and this recurring blindness of their's, formats as a main part of their loop! So, there is a toxic kind of brew cooking here, and I think that most people, for most of the time, would simply rather not open this can of worms. The discussion, as it is thus, (if it even exists!) ends up a kind of recipe for "success", a "three easy steps" for overcoming addictions, or something along those lines?
  All this to say, there is no working solution, because it is a zero-sum. Young men in high powered cars prefer "to do doughnuts" in dirt parking lots. This accelerated spin function, with lots of noise, plus dust, and some excitement; all the while getting precisely nowhere, is a pretty darned accurate snapshot of recursive loops in general. They lead you right back to where you began, and yes, some dust was thrown, true, some rubber was burnt off, with some fuel wasted. We (men at least) build these loops on the outside, because they are present on the inside!
  The thing which needs to change, never changes, and so, forward momentum is not really expected, and sho'-nuf there is none! But, didn't we know that going in? We can spot these types of loops in others, and freely offer "help", only to find a very frustrating "lack of progress" in our victim. And incidently, in our "trying to fix" them, we often note that such "helping", somehow or another causes our own zero-sum loop to come back into service?
  A swimmer in mid-ocean, cannot "get out" of the water, and "effort plus determination" has nothing to do with the situation. His fellow swimmer cannot lift him out of the water, and only makes things worse. Positive affirmation of dryness, goal setting of finding shoreline, and giving it 110% effort; still leaves the guy in the water. Face it, your options are to sink or to swim. Getting dry is not on the menu, and it is just here that we loop. Something "must change before", and we have no control of that something.
  Years ago, I wrote a C.P.E. with either the same or a very similar title. I don't even recall when that was, or what I wrote, but that very same loop sequence; (the integrity of sin) is yet intact within my person, and so I plagiarized my own stuff (title-wise at least). Gosh, I hope I don't sue me! I couldn't afford that. . .
  There are things (I suppose) that a guy would tell his wife, which he would not tell any other person? Self-disclosure being what it is, to openly say certain things is to make yourself appear weak, uncertain, or vulnerable. Well, I have never married, and nearly certainly; never shall. So, to whom do I speak, concerning the integrity of sin? We definitely have here, a recursive loop, with the standard zero-output, so why even bother speaking of it? There is no "fix" available from inside my system. The cage which I built for myself, you might easily escape, but can you escape your own? Ah, now that's the question!
  Before I wax duller yet on the topic at hand, I would like to offer an observation which I believe to be correct. Zero-sum loops have in common "something" or more accurately "Some-One". That is, the moral failure, and the guilt and/or shame involved in our loops are directed "backwards". It might be a bit like firing a bazooka in reverse. We are aiming "above and behind" ourselves. We are "officially rejecting" a truth which others appear quite able to swallow. We are fighting God Himself "somewhere", and the "place" for that battle is (typically) at our weakest point. And that point has a name, it is called; "Where I am right!".Tactically then, it is a hopeless endeavor, it remains a longing to "get dry", by the man about to be swallowed by the deeps . . .
  Moving right along then, the integrity of sin is my name for my own loop. I am guessing here, that you might be able to easily navigate your way out of it? As for me? I'm stuck, and have been so, for the majority of my life, "right here". To get the gist of this particular loop, go back and re-read Romans Chap 7. I am convinced that Paul found his way out of the loop, and simply; I have not. It is about that complex. I don't ordinarily cite scripture in my essays, but this time I make an exception. Look for the words in all caps, and also note the parenthetical comments along the way, to see if you can catch a whiff of my recursive loop, okay?
  "For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate (Bingo Bubba!). But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good (and apparently, that I ain't!). So now, NO LONGER AM I THE ONE DOING IT (What? That is outrageous!), but sin which indwells me." (Uh, sure pal) . I hope that you are getting the idea here? Verse 20 is a lulu! "But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I AM NO LONGER THE ONE DOING IT, (Pul-eeeze!) but sin which dwells in me."
  I can recall reading this for the first time, or at least I think I recall it? My thought both then and now is; "What a cop-out!. And who precisely are we fooling here anyhow? Just how is this going to work over in reality-ville?", a chap might ask. "Yes, your honor I was speeding while drunk, but since I personally reject such behavior, clearly we can see that I was not the driver." What was that? What did you just say? "Yes, I am personally opposed to violence, so the fact that I smack my wife around, demonstrates that it is not I who do so?" Hey, did I miss something over here? What sort of lame-brained, logic-chopping blather is this, anyhow?
  And so, we note, that true to form, "somewhere" I am opposed to God Himself. Not "if", but "since" this passage in Romans qualifies as Scripture, I am at war with the gutless drivel I find in it! What do you mean Mr. Apostle "IT ISN"T "YOU"?" So, a hostility, a warring is present in me, and predictably so, as we warned earlier, all such systems must park near "here". Maybe you can see your way out of this, but at 57, and dealing with it, off and on for decades, I cannot.
  I cannot with a straight face, address the Almighty and with bald faced lies, say; "It wasn't me". Hell no! I will tell You the truth, Sir! And that truth is, yes; of course it was me, who else were we expecting? Yes, I did so, and I did it precisely because I am rotten! Why else would I do so? By this standard, I will never "be good enough" because I am not (in fact) good enough. What else were we expecting? Deal with it already, and quit nagging me to be something I am not; because I am not that "something". Do I have to draw you a picture?
  The only thing that I am any good at at all, is failure, and even that I occasionally screw up, by inadvertently getting something right. But, what this loop is "secretly" about (I think) is the idea of; "Welcome". If love be thought of as a receiving, a welcoming of the other, it is my fixed opinion that I am (instead) "tolerated". And there is a BIG difference between the two! No matter how much "effort" I apply, I simply cannot "shake" this supposition, for the excellent reason, that; I think I'm right! Furthermore, it is by this standard that I estimate all other ideas, in any case. So, to remove it (supposing that were possible), is to remove the "me-who-knows". And just precisely how would the me in question, go about doing that?
  Simply said, I am about work, not play. People invite me over, not because of my stellar charisma and good humor. It is because I do filthy work on the cheap. I am a plumber, and I deal with some pretty gross problems, and do not grump about it. But do you see? I am "not good enough" on my own, such that others would want me around. I am only good enough to deal with dust, sewage and chaos so that they may retain "clean" hands. Furthermore, the integrity of sin predicts just such stuff as this. If I am as bad as I presume to be, then neither God nor feminine society actually wants me around. . .  Unless. Unless I can do for them some small thing, so that they retain their "clean-ness". It is "who I am".
  Well, I can't seem to get a solid rejection from YAHWEH, but polite society more than makes up for His lack, let me tell ya!. If you presume something to be true, then; you will indeed find some evidence to sustain your idea. Even if your premise is that aliens are using the Sun as a portal, you will . . . indeed, "find something"!
  This is one of the reasons that these essays of the crazed-pants variety so frequently end up being written on Sundays. Monday through Saturday, I am "killing rats". I am doing the work that nobody volunteers for, I am fixing the screw-ups, finding the blank spots and solving the problems. It is "who I am". But  Sundays are a different animal altogether! Beautiful girls who find me to be invisible, wealthy success-story guys, hunting an audience to speak down to, and moral success stories, who wish to lecture (again). . . Remind me of why I go to services? The whole "spiritual" environment shouts to me; "You do not belong here. . . But are being tolerated". Which (conveniently enough) ratifies (yet again) "who I am"!
  Now, let me clear something up right away. It is not as if my church was some sort of degenerate country club for those who are rich, white and having only straight teeth. What I am saying is that even in a warm and kind environ, we will ferret out the "evidence" which we went to go find in the first place. We cannot-not-do so! This particular loop of mine is so emotionally taxing that the only way I can get it out of my system (so to prepare for tomorrow's rat killing) is to either take a long, long walk, or. . . Write!
  So, I would like to brag a bit then. Bear with me, eh? The integrity of sin says that I refuse to cop out. It says that I will own up, and say the truth. I tell you, and any who care to listen; that, yes, it was me that screwed up (again!). It was not some mysterious "un-me" lollygagging around here. I did it! And if that proves me a rotten son, or a lousy employee; or a bad neighbor, I accept that verdict, because I am all of those, and far worse. If you reject me, I tend to congratulate you on your good taste in humans! If I am not "good enough" for you, that is because I really am that way! Even I agree. I hope that you are getting the gist here? This is the sound of the brain-racket which I have to deal with, fairly often.
  So anyhow, this basic set, this integrity of sin; revolves around acceptance of my person, and I expecting none; logically, do not find it too surprising when other people validate same. The crux here, is acceptance with God, and I must make a confession.
  Ever since I was a boy, I have heard that "God (or Jesus) loves me". And this is my real bone of contention I believe. You are saying that the Almighty is awfully fond of back-stabbing gutless failures? Why so? You are saying His favorite flavor of creature is the cheating fool? And just how bad is His taste in people anyhow? And where do you get off, going around slandering Him like this? Are you also saying, He is all "ga-ga" over necrophiliac cannibals, murderous tyrants, and "has a thang for" child molesters? What kind of sick revolting criminal are you worshiping anyhow? Does He think The Marquis de Sade would be a fun guy to hang out with, does He play poker with Joe Stalin and Adolph Hitler too? In the Mike-book, this "love" angle just don't cut the mustard, do you see?
  The thousand and one iterations of "Jesus loves you" tend (in my mind) to demonstrate fantastically poor taste in friends on His part. And who among us authorizes such? Not I. Simply, I always understood such assertions about God to be base and unruly lies. He doesn't love the evil, He hates it, and shall one day (Rightly so!) destroy it. I say; "Bravo! And the sooner the better!". I have no beef with The Righteous God thrashing His enemies. But my loop places me (obviously) in that same bunch. If I am not "good enough", nor humble enough, nor wise, nor charitable, nor patient, nor loyal, nor true, (hey! fill in the bank how you like), if I don't meet snuff, that would be because, in fact; I do-not, meet-snuff! That is who I am, and I refuse to blame my bad performance on some "not-me" floating around the neighborhood! So we can narrow the trap down to one basic flaw in me, and (I say!) it remains my flaw! Not some hocus pocus "anti-me" pulling off sin in my name. Never! It is the integrity of sin, I tell you.
  If viewed then, as a case of "welcome home son" (an emotionally live phrase to me) or not, I am forced by orthodoxy to conclude that I am (indeed) welcomed, but CRUCIALLY(!) For "Another's sake". But that only re-enforces the loop!?
  If it must be said that it is only, and purely upon the basis of The God-Man, and upon His obediance that I am welcomed, then I (myself) am apparently not welcome. He is the One-Welcomed, and  we for His sake. This underscores my point, not minimizing or alleviating it!
  It remains a zero-sum, only re-enforced from on-high! If we are accepted by mercy alone, then we (defacto) of ourselves; are indeed unacceptable. I have no bone with that, and this is precisely what I have been saying all along, in any case! Now, even He "get's it"? My testimony is; "No amount of strategy or figuring solves here".
  You would be better served, to try and outrun your own shadow in my opinion. Now I am not overly bothered by all this, except to re-state one of my basic points from early on, in the essay. Whom does one tell this sort of thing to, anyhow?
  You could quite easily attend my church for decades, as I have done; and never once have this basic human knowledge-set even mentioned, much, much less-so, "dealt decisively with". It is as if this silence will somehow cover-for, or negate the reality we bear within? And if the real set of who we are is never even mentioned, tell me again what all this "sweet fellowship" jazz is all about, will you please?
  I don't know how to solve for this, and very likely shall die one day, yet still ignorant. My basic premise is, and has been historically along another track altogether.
  I want to see Justice-Done! I want to see the enemy shattered, and all his works burnt down for good! That is all I really care about. And if, in that great day, the True and Right One finds me to be the enemy of truth, what can I say? "You are thinking of my invisible evil twin brother! You know, the one who was "doing the very thing I hate?". Yeah, it was him, see?" I (for one) say "No! Never!". I shall tell the truth then, even as I do now. Yes, it was me, and of course I did so. Furthermore, it was because I was formed in sin, and being born, I only made things worse. If you find me in error, it is because I AM IN ERROR!".
  I (for one) refuse to pin my failure upon some some invisible kid hanging around here. I want Justice. And that is all! It is "who I am". And if the Almighty rejects me, well that is no surprise, even I reject me!
  I don't like to finish an essay on a down-note, but maybe I make exception also for that today? The way out is down. We can take nothing with us on the route home, not even our identity!
  He is taking away every scrap from us, even "who" we believe ourselves to be! He furnishes (among other items); a new identity! And I must conclude that the object of sanctification is to be thankful as His process of tearing us apart, occurs!
  The early Christian believers were literally torn limb from limb while the drunken Romans laughed their heads off. Those believers were loyal to the death, singing hymns of praise in that fierce assault.
  I know (then) practically nothing at all about being made holy. Yet.
  But that can always be arranged . . .

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Wrestles With God The Inside Dope!

  Sometimes an idea for a C.P.E. kinda lollygags around in my brainstem (or thereabouts) for several weeks, but it is like only half of an idea. A joke minus the punchline is just another oddball story. We require a "coherence' a making-sense-of things for us to enjoy or really grasp content.
  So, it seems to me then, a rule of thumb drops out of this sort of mental wreckage. If part of an idea is present, just keep it on simmer; on a back burner for a few days. Ask questions, and try to figure out what the absent section is. Sometimes it "comes to you"!
  The first half of today's C.P.E. was present and accounted for, and it forms our title. We trust here that you recognize old "Wrestles-With" as one and same with the culprit, "Usurper". Have I lost you?
  Well, way back when, they gave babies names with content, and those handles were descriptive. We don't have much in the way of parallels in our modern world, except in Westerns! You probably have some memory or another about native Americans and the names they are called-by in movies. "Swift Waters" says to "Walking Bear", "Hey, how's about we go hunt us up some bison?". Their birth names might have something to do with the circumstances or hopes or fears which the parents deemed interesting; at or near their conception or birth? Hey, clearly I am making up names here, but what we want to note is that such names as "Brittany and Jessica" which are chosen for fashion sensibility or sentimental connections to others are a modern innovation.
  Young Usurper (Jacob) really did "grasp the heel" of his elder brother "Red", and a "heel-grasper" was roughly equivalent to "con-artist". It would be an odd world if parents named their kids "Stock-Market-Crash", or "Tech-Bubble", but at least we get the idea here. Usurper gets a new name, and he is ever after "Wrestles-With-El", with El being the equal of our generic term "God" here. Talk about a weird idea!
  I can't keep up, but the last I remember hearing, the W.W.F. is nowadays the W.W.E.; is that even correct? I haven't any interest in that stuff, and it makes precisely zero improvement in anyone's lives, as best as I can tell. But, what they do have, is drama, a nice-guy underdog versus the slimy bad guys who cheat like crazy. The apparently blind referee takes a bad situation and makes it worse, and yet, even here; can good prevail? It's a multi-million dollar business, and people love it! In the Usurper vs. The Almighty grudge-match however, it seems backward, and truly odd.
  I mean what is this story even doing in holy writ? "Ding, ding, ding! And introducing tonight's knock down drag out. In this corner, in the black and scarlet trunks, weighing in at 138 lbs., hailing from the back country where he just ripped off his father-in-law for a fortune, Jacob . . . The Uuuusurrrper! Boo, hiss, throw the bum out! And in the opposing corner, clothed in heavenly light and wearing the gold and frankincense trunks, weighing in, at infinite glory, hailing from on high . . . The Allll. . .Migh-ty! Tonight's match will be a no-holds-barred endurance unto surrender match, lllet's ruuumbbbble!"
  Wait a minute, what sort of match-up is this? And worse, you're telling me The Almighty . . . loses? What in heck is that all about? There has gotta be a scoop here, a sraight-skinny which makes sense of the narrative, at least we would hope so!
  Not to get too personal here, but most of the talk I have heard just in this neighborhood, is a bizarro "application" of the story, to the effect; "Are you also wrestling with God?". It ends up a quasi-endorsement for feeling depressed (occasionally), or it is a not-condemnation of doubt per se? And whether delivered in book form or public address, this kind of take on the World's Weirdest Federation of Wrestlers (W.W.F.W.) just rings hollow to me. There ain't any meat on them bones!
  Now, believe me or not, this was only the first half, of the first half, concerning this essay. Recall above, that last week I was pretty clear on the resolution of this story, and I have yet to mention that solving, but how do we get from a redemptive, and earth-changing drama, back to my stupid life? It was in the area of application that the glitch likes to hang out we would infer? So, I propose the back half to be told first, so to begin with another weird story out of my own experience, and then relate that mess "backwards", over to the first weird story! If this attempt falls flat, don't be too alarmed.
  My story is about "wub" or the lack thereof. If you've any experience reading these essays of the crazed pants variety, you ought recognize that I have (at 57) never really dealt well with women, love, relationships and all of that other gory material, which our world finds so astonishingly interesting. I thus consider what I am about to say, uttterly fitting for "VD", which just so happens to be today, 14 Feb!
  By the time I was in my early twenties, my set answer along these lines became; "I don't get it". There is an utterly confounding and very complicated set of unspoken (and real!) rules of the road in regard to marriage, income, social position, security for the future, and all of the other stuff, all somehow being poured into the cauldron of sexual concourse? To my mind, it was a bit like, just when; and at the very moment, that I was least capable of making a rational statement on anything at all; due to the massive dose of drugs, it was then that I was to soberly pledge fealty to the death?
  Bad idea.
  So, in this case, the drugs are naturally occurring brain drugs, so what? You are still stoned out of your gourd. Back when I was still drinking, it was true that after the first 12-pack; it is really not the best time to make an informed decision on whether to go get some more! Take that kind of intoxication, and multiply by about twelve and a half, and change the choice from a road trip around the corner, to a lifetime of service? What makes sense about this? And by the way, why does this seem like such a natural and obvious challenge to all other persons? How come everybody else gets it?
  I don't "get" calculus, and I don't "get" brain surgery either, those guys are just way smarter than me. By "wanting to get it", does this qualify me to cut open your head? By the mere wanting, am I thus somehow qualified to draw up the flight plan for the next Mars rover? NO! You need to know. . . first, so say I! And I just don't know, so leave it alone, and quit bothering people already. In a strong sense, that "was" me, but all of this is founded and built upon a "rightness".
  I mean this, nobody, not the worst felon ever, self conciously builds their life upon premises they do not believe are "right". It's just that nobody else on the planet agrees that their version of the "right" is the actual. This is true of all of us, and so we expect (and find) war is just about mankind's favorite past-time. We are all about competing "rights", and since a person is unable to give up what they believe, for the excellent reason that they are right, force is necessarily applied. It is "who" we are.
  Yet, there exists the driving influence, the normative set, of which the public discourse is only an echo and report of.  I mean, nobody is publically "for" education on the basis that The Almighty has abandoned us here, but that "right guess" might form the secret, of which the hue and cry is symptom. I hope I haven't lost you here?
  In my stupid life, the public and outward was my sobriety gambit, so to (convienently enough) derail any real involvement with females. We would err to presume that the secret driver here was a wild eyed zeal for temperance or tea-totalism. Heck no! My theory on alcohol and drugs is that our world and ourselves are so screamingly butt-ugly, that maybe a little fuzzed-up, three hour vacation, of "not-seeing" of things, might well make sense!
  So what people say is often based upon their "true rightness" and also very rarely a flat declaration of it, since nobody likes the self righteous. It is like a mirror function, there are bounce-backs and echos of what was actually intended. So then; people call you "an amazing friend" if you have any ability at all to filter through this guck. If you can voice back to them, what they intended to say (and did not), out of this sort of matrix, they assume that you like them?
  Cutting to the chase then, the whole sexual schmeer just never filed for me, for one big reason, and that would be; "Why bother?". The output of sex, can end in kids, and I swore even as a third grader, to never-ever, do that! Here was my "rightness", and nobody in the known universe could shake me off of it. And why would that be? Because I was right!
  Carl N.M.I. Labor was my Dad, and I knew (somehow?) that whatever flaws and failures were his, would be heavily shared, and "improved upon" in me. The other third grade boys would say silly things like: "When I get big, I am not going to be mean, like my Dad!". I didn't tell them, but thought; "Nonsense! You will be more like he is, than he is!". And whatever the damage was, whatever that injury was, I simply refused to duplicate it into the next generation. I was "that complex".
  Ours was a strange home, perhaps best typified by what was not-said? Dad never had tirades, in fact it was a mystery to know if he was even angry? Now, Mom, you could read her, but Pop was "remote". Perhaps I did so, but I have zero memories of sitting on his lap. Maybe it happened, but I can't remember a single time we boys were told that he was proud of us, as we grew up. In brief, I just couldn't tell where I stood with the guy. He seemed friendly enough, in a clumsy and distant way, but I as a person, was "a mouth to feed"? Was that it?
  The entire topic of women, sex, money and like related stuff, directly related to marriage was this huge dial-tone, simply another non-topic. I was both attracted and repelled by the feminine in it's various incarnations, and assumed that I alone; out of all humanity; was just too dim to grasp the inneundo. . . or something? It was confusing to say the least, and from a very early age, I did a Harry Truman, (since Dad admired him) and declared; "The buck stops, here!". I say so, this misery, this confusion shall not be duplicated, and transferred down the line.
  So, my "best truth" isn't much at all. It, like the hippocratic oath, is a swearing-first; "Do no harm". My naturally nebbish, bookish and geeky demeanor served me admirably I must say! Dad used to kid me at Art's Barbershop. It was good natured. He would say; "Art, beside Mike's haircut, could you sell me a small billy-club? See, he is going to be so handsome, he will need one to fend off the girls!". I have no idea how many times I heard the joke, but it seemed funny to me, that I was building just that very same, anti-girl device!
  Yes, me; Mike Labor have designed and built the ultimate keep-girls-at-bay armaments and accessories. I will wait politely until the applause subsides. As a boy, I had only the vaguest notions as to where babies came from, and since that was a non-topic at the house, I just figured it out on my own! It turns out (oddly), that women are involved somehow, and (remember this is 1965) apparently, marrying one appears related? Bingo, all I need to do, to not reproduce this misery; is stay the heck away from girls! I was elated. Especially when you toss in the door prize of stiffing Pop! See? The anti-girl device had a dual usage. . .
  Of course, he never told me this, but I became so adept at reading inferred statements out of stated ones, that I am hereby presuming to reveal Dad's secret, and driving "right-ness". The short version is that, it was imperative; to not-fail!
  Forged in the tough years of the Great Depression, fighting in a death struggle with the Nazis, I am convinced the verb; "to not-fail", was Dad. And look at me Pops! You fear failure? Ha! I scoff at it, I drink the stuff for breakfast. Look up the word in Websters, they have got my picture! For me, failure was like falling on a log, easy as cake! You see what I just did there; failing to correctly cite two cliche's? Stunning!
  And for you young and upcoming failures, I tell ya, I could put on a clinic! "To effectively drive off females, Chapter One" . . . The thing is practically writing itself in my head! Ah, the glory of it all. I was right, and succeeded at being a zero, and the proof is (importantly); there are no short persons running around all mystified by the rubbish in my head. I'd like to thank all the nonexisent little people who made this possible. . . Thus we view a manic, a driven and might I add (?), scary weirdo. Just what the doctor ordered, keep your little billy-club Art, I got this one nailed!
  So, I hope (by now) you get the flavor of what it is like living inside this skull, kinda cramped! All this jazz to say, I normally reject the bland assertion of "wrestling with God", because it is way too easy to win! I have had the Guy on the mat for nearly fifty years, and where has it gotten me? He says; "It is not good for the man to be alone". I swiftly counter with; "And the cure is worse than the disease, I win again!".
  No, the Jacob to Israel thing is bigger, better and brighter (by far!) than our petty feuding with our Maker. The covenant lord on the planet, Jacob the Usurper, has a run-in with, and will not let go, "a man", until He blesses him. Our hostilities against each other are rooted in a prior and greater war with "El".
  See? He's got us in spades! You can twist and turn and cheat and hope for the blind referee, but in the long haul, Justice and Righteousness prevail, and His version, is the real deal! When that hammer hits, we are toast. The ultimate smack down cage match is between Him, and man? That is crazy! And crazier yet, the man prevails? What is this all about?
  Well, I am glad you asked! That wild story at the river's edge is the story of the hope of mankind! Each of us, in our twisted little way maintains a "rightness" unto death. We can't give it up, we can't let it go. It's right! There is (actually) less than zero odds of any creature or coalition thereof prevailing against El Elyon in a grudge match. This is true for the obvious reasons. He controls our being (existence), life and future; He's got us surrounded.
  So, this at minimum is preaching that the very first moment in which the enemy first thought of warring upon, and replacing He Above; was strictly speaking, insane. This insane patterning at our root then, thus manifests in our words but only indirectly. We very rarely hear; "I am (apparently) insane". Sin then, can be thought of in this fashion, and the denial of lawless rebellion we are all so expert at, is founded upon this false "rightness" we bear within. Sin then, is an excess of "rightness"! It is merely that our version of such is horribly twisted.
  The covenant is founded upon a to-the-death agreement, not between God and man generically speaking, but between God and the lord of earth, the "Adam". And dig this; He is sworn upon His own honor, to uphold both sides of the agreement? What? Enough with the crazy talk already! But work with me here, and recall that Abraham did not, himself walk through the pieces, and so; he did not swear the curse upon himself. But that is just more craziness! For that to happen, God Himself, would . . . need to be a man?
  Hey! Wait a minute! Where have we heard that idea before? The Coming One, the Anointed of Wrestles-With (Himself?) is the One in the real cage match, of which Jacob is token and emblem of good to come.
  What happens when the irresistible force meets the unmovable object? We get covenant! In truth, in reality and in history, One Man "prevailed" upon God, and was destroyed in the process. Three days later He emerged, all glorious and glad. That's the reality here baby!
  That love, that love all consuming and fierce, that love of the Real Dad for the Real Son, nothing in creation can dim it. It is an eternal torrent of light, a regular super-nova of joy, except really, really bright!
  And you my friend, you the miserable and sculking, have been joined to Him! In, with, through, by, and for Him, that "is" us, the renewed! And from this mighty fine gift of position and True Friendship, you shall share (and indeed already are sharing?), in a feast, a song a soaring yet undrempt.
  The story at the riverside, is the saga of the hope of mankind. The Real Lord of the Real Covenant prevails, and you in-Him also.
  Yes! You-who-hear, ain't heard nuthin' yet! I say so.