Friday, March 28, 2014

Death of an Ambition Salesman

   Those unwholesome fellows, the ambition salesmen, I tell you, they are over-running our landscape! These guys may appear to be "wholesome", (to some observers) but in my opinion; they are at best, overly wholesome. For instance, would it seem wholesome (to you), for me to begin talking about my "one great ambition in life"? Just how sharp are your listening skills anyhow? Not trying especially to sound harsh over here, but aren't you (be truthful) not too awfully interested in my version of that particular discourse? These excessively wholesome chaps, these ambition salesmen (mere motivational speakers!) are giving off a false aroma, and that smell, like that of excessive righteousness, is something we can do nicely without. This fixation of theirs upon "dreams and ambition" are things recommended for you, but not for me! It is lopsided; it is one-legged, in that your ambition is supposed to be a thing for you to cultivate, while simultaneously, that very thing, (your ambition) is a thing for me to ignore, as you blather on about it! The premise then, of those "ambition salesmen" out there, is that your (mine actually) "one ambition in life", your "dream for the future", is a thing to cherish, to fuss over, to guard! These sales folk teach that we are to focus upon, to recall, to fix our attention, and if you didn't get any of that, to PAY ATTENTION! our "dream", a.k.a. our "one ambition". Failure to heed their warnings could well lead to (horrors!) unhappiness, or even worse (if that is even possible) unfulfillment! Is there a problem here? Well, for one thing, and I don't mean to sound rude, but if it is just a matter of you, talking about your one ambition, I (for one) would make a very poor listener; for the simple reason, that I don't care! And not to purposely attempt to sound harsh over here, but I suspect that it is much the same for you. You might for instance, like to discuss your dream, and you (perhaps) might also care to ruminate upon your central life ambition, but for me to have to listen to that stuff is a serious yawner. I can barely stay awake when you start in on that junk. Further, my guess is that for you (likewise), listening to me is hard sledding indeed, and you can barely tolerate hearing mine. So why are we doing we do this to each other anyhow?
   Ambition salesmen aside for the moment, it becomes clear right away, that there are "blocks" in us, and we are naturally or generally, hesitant and reluctant to deal with ambition and dream. We have to be "sold" on it, or else we ourselves will damp down, or even prohibit such talk. Further, the dreadfully careful-care and management of "dream" (itself) is to take a large chunk of your brain space, in that you are "supposed" to focus your attention upon these internal things. Otherwise, you might have been directed outwardly, into your natural interests in life? So, besides being hard to listen to, it is a tax upon your own energy, and you must (must?) repeatedly reapply yourself to it? "Must", or else what? What exactly is the "threat" here? Worst possible scenario of all, if we mock and deride the ambition sales force, and ignore their excited, and enthused demands; our dream...could very well die!
   So, let's go about this backward eh? Why not just begin this topic with a description, and an endorsement of the death of my one ambition in life, shall we? Them Baptists are on a roll, and are often in the habit of singing songs to the effect; "All on the altar I lay". Unseemly Newsflash, this just in! "Things found on altars, are dead". So then, we propose in this C.P.E., the death of ambition, the demise of dream, so to hereby leave off of my fascination with that unattainable "happy, fulfilled, prosperity" in any case. Our Baptist friends, in "laying down their all", for Jesus' sake, are laying it down, as the new reality. We would do well to study, and copy a play or two out of their book.
   The ambition sellers constantly talk about ambition as if it were a good thing, to have it loafing around the house, drinking beer, and eating leftovers. The marketers in question would even go so far to help you feel bad about not having this loudmouth on the couch, making his "demands and priorities". The fat old slob of my ambition, although he does not work, does frequently issue orders. And though he requires constant maintenance, and is always asking for loans that he will repay "someday", I am somehow "required" by ambition salesmen to keep this creep in my life? So says experts.
   Ambition is that thing you are pointing at, with your life energy, and yet never openly discuss. In this sense then, it is a vacuum of some sort, a variety of infinite longing. Basically then, within us, we have (or are?) a large hole, and it is one which by definition, cannot be satisfied. There ain't enough junk in the sidereal universe to "fill us up". Why not just admit it? Unspoken ambition was to have been your "ticket out". Out of what precisely, does it so deliver? Boredom perhaps(?), or poverty was it(?), maybe in your case it is mediocrity(?), the "dream" was to cure? You tell me. On second thought, don't! We have already decided I didn't want to hear that jazz. How about we just kill it? In any case, your ambition was the thing which was designed to "set you (not me!) apart". As such, it is a little bit like holiness, except upside down.
   This wanting in you was to be the one fix, that one thing which was to cure you, and it was going to reorganize every aspect of your life. Troubles are (ostensibly) over, you on easy street! The tiny little glitch, the one baby sized hiccup here, is that the ambition cannot make itself come into being. Secondarily, every single time that we attempt to make the thing exist, this wild (officially "unexpected") blow-back appears. All sorts unpredicted side effects, accidents, and weird flukes begin to manifest. Words like "unforeseen and unfortunate" are heard all too often. The harder and more diligently you apply yourself to "dream", to "ambition", the more singlemindedly we ambit, the weirder and "unluckier" things seem to get. Ambition-dream is just "there" in our lives, like a noisy vagrant. We cannot "make it happen" (that dream I mean) and the higher our diligence in trying to switch this thing on, the more bizarre and unwelcome the manifestations which just keep "showing up" in our lives.
   We infer here that the human heart, as a plumbing schematic, is a "replacement flow" type design. What we require is a new heart, not a reversal of direction of blood flow! We must replace what we love, not with an "unlove", but a better and cleaner delight. We love "dream" because it vaguely reminds us of "something". It hints at a loftiness, a grandeur and dignity that we barely recall. Or is it correct to say "recall" in the first place? Would "anticipate" serve us better here? But, at any rate, the sheer inaccessibility, the unreachable nature of ambition should be taken as "the real". Try as ever hard as you may (and can!), and the lesson remaining is that; we are to die! So we willingly reorient so to die-to our goals, and dreams.
   One poor wretched Man, alone on a miserable hilltop. He dies to all the claims, charms and attractions that exist. On the other side of that colossal failure, He is brought back alive! Now the Inheritor of all, the Governor General of "Is", is He! He, of all who "could have" done so, did not "hang onto the dream". He died to it, and with it.
   Our one ambition gets "subsumed and gathered" under the realm of King Jesus the Resurrected. That naked miserable suffering Man becomes (for us) a far far greater treasure than all the junk that the fat slob of our worldly desire could ever hope to equal. We ordinarily do not speak of our ambition. After all, what if we end up sounding silly? We might embarrass ourselves, or others. So, silently then, and out of the darkness it (our "dream" I mean); directs. An agent in (and of?) the dark, it guides, persistently unwilling to reveal it's face. We die to our faceless ambition, turning away; not from heart at center, but from instead that old-heart which was at center.
   That bloody battered Hillbilly, that deeply sad lonesome Man, it is He whom we love. With new hearts we love better, stonger and higher we could have ever loved the slob, "ambition". This One's face too is hidden, but not because He dwells in darkness. Rather, it is hidden amid the glare, the intolerably bright brilliance proceeding from Him. He too bold, too great ever for us (unaided) to view, and it is just this failure in us...He is busy amending as we speak! His ambition for me is better than my ambition for me. The rule of faith is that we say "yes-Sir" in the midst of our shame and loss. Not "at the top" do we meet Him, but at our lowest, there we find Him waiting!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Scamocracy, A Walk On The Dark Side

  The web is two things at once, it appears to me. The level of business growth through directed advertising is down right scary. Find a demographic group you would care to "reach", denote a region, and then, stand back and watch the the laws of large numbers kick in! The likes of Google, Facebook, and Amazon are increasing at increasing rates. Perhaps an explosion would better illustrate here? Words like "exponential, roiling, and dynamic" come to mind. As business qua busy, there has never been the equal.
   The modern big-businesses, the Rockefellars, Morgans, and Carnegies of today; are these odd looking consortiums, these rafts, these committees of bundled entities. Intertwined, and co-operating in web presence, this new generation of giants; in a collaborative kind of "mutualism" (if that is a word) is altering everything you ever thought you knew about "business". It would be a bit like this; if you desired to reach a market of left handed, female, red headed, golfers, and them could, and easily! This entangled platform of compound effort is awesome, powerful, and more than a bit shady.
   Micro-targeting of demographics is only going to grow, and whether we discuss dogfood sales, or the marketing of presidential candidates, the finding of the audience, and the successful targeting of them, is the new norm. And whether one loves or hates this constant gathering of data on you (so to market-at you), this kind of thing, it is one half of the apple, it is the "apple to come", and also is already here! We would ( I guess) prefer to think in terms of "pro and con", or of "on this hand, versus the other", and such like stuff. The problem here is, if that type of opposition analysis is correct in the first place, then we do not, in fact; get a "light versus dark". Instead, here; a kind of twilight, as opposed to a total black-out is what crops up. If such intrusive and nosy market analyses exist (and they do!), so as to predict nearly all of your purchasing patterns, your voting tendencies, and only God knows what else, then we have only little light left. Rather, it turns out to be a kind of dusk, versus pitch black! What we get then, as a dusky cyber progress theme, is a poorly lit and shady nosiness; and this from the legit half! There remains another half to our apple.
   The "other side" of the web is much darker than any merely questionable, and nosy intrusive corporate snooping. I am speaking of a the lie. How else to describe here? One radio show host I know of, calls the monster in question, a "scamocracy". The host may have coined the word, I wouldn't know. But it is a clever term you must admit, so I shall proceed to borrow it. The weird come-ons, the rip-offs, and the massive fraud occurring, all exist, loosely under the umbrella of the explosive growth of the legit business empires. The chronic scamming, frauds and outright thievery all exist as "just-part" of the "explosive growth" (of legitimate businesses), so allowing (mainly unchallenged) for a kind of P.T. Barnum style "a sucker is born every minute" grifter ethic to flourish. So with "legitimate" explosive growth, we also find it's ugly twin sister, that other half of the apple; which is an explosive growth of shameful misrepresentation, and criminal fraud. If the "honest half" is a dusk and twilight world, in which we deeply distrust the snooping and meddling of today's robber barons, then the pitch black half is downright loathsome. I argue in this, that we need not merely "accept this, as just a part" of the (more-so) desirable changes around us. To think otherwise is to purposely fool our own selves.
   So, let's get this correct for once, shall we? In a "dusk" or twilight world, we keep making the same types of errors. In this world (the one we live in), it has never been a choice between a light versus dark, or black versus white. It is precisely the lack of light that we are commenting upon, or it's low level at minimum. That black and white sort of consideration is ahead of us (in time) and that would be when the Son arrives. Then, in that hour, things become truly polar, and opposites are separated forever. Instead, we deal with a foggy dimness (in which you can barely even recognize friends!), versus a blackness impenetrable. Therefore, our idea that things are a matter of right and wrong, is itself wrong! In this world of shades of grey, and chronic fog, it is wrong to be wrong, and we know that. Further, it is also wrong to be right, and comparatively stated, it is wronger to be right, than it was to be wrong! Almost always, almost all of us are consistently fooled right here. For this reason alone, the grifter ethic flourishes.
   We all want the same things. We desire "greatness", to "go-up" to ascend the ladder, to quit being a working stiff, and become a philanthropist! We desire to become "generous souls", but not just yet. First, we must "ascend" and only afterwards, we, at that time personally having plenty, then; (then!) we will have something to give. Such crap as this, in our heads, is what generates and guarantees the grifter ethic.
   The grift works this way. To be a "failure" in our world is a bad thing, and so to repair or modify ourselves, so to make ourselves "good enough", we just go out and succeed. How hard was that to figure out? The problem with success, is that it works! My humble goal of "me, not being dependent", means that (face it), that when that succeeding happens I no longer need you! And the more I succeed, the harder, meaner and more self involved I become. Think back to the big shots you know. How many of them do you actually like? Men often say; "You're damned if you do, and damned if you don't". They temporize with: "A guy just can't win!". They are correct. It is bad for us to fail, and worse (for us at least) to succeed! The truth of the grift is that in the end, you will not alter the system it will alter you, and we know that, going in! It ain't much, but at least the "failure" has a few friends left. It is out of darkness that our desires arise.
   The thing generates itself! Who does not want to be loved, to be respected in the community? Who does not want to provide "the nice things" for his own? We wish to join the high to the low, the great to the small, in ourselves. Thus we want tons of money, and also to remain "a regular guy". The little fact, the tiny truth, that (News Flash!) regular guys, by definition, don't have great wealth; consistently "eludes" us. More realistically, we are hiding from the heart within us. By "loved" don't we actually mean "loved like those other wealthy guys"? The desire to be that "helper" of the weak, that "benefactor" for the poor, isn't it more realistically true that; we are saying; "Unlike those other rich bastards, I remember my roots!" The grift is arriving into the dusk, passing through our hearts, and coming from the dark.
   The Christian faith has been taken captive right about here. We are "trying our best" and almost always "mean well". In reality we do not express our shame because we have no words in our vocabulary of motive to speak it. We are "taken in" by the scamocracy, and do not report it, because we were wrong to want to be "right". Having ingested the desire to "go-up", having "believed in progress", we are thereby forced by our own inner logic to make the error.
   We "buy" the grift because we ourselves have been previously "bought". The "right" ambition in our heads and hearts seems "somehow" to always go wrong. Meanwhile, we think it wrong to "think too much" about the error. The "aheader" we get, the narrower and harsher we ourselves become. We know this about ourselves, but out of the darkness comes the lies, into our personal twilight. I (personally) "shall not be so", is how those lies all begin. Unable then to believe that others may be "greater yet, than me", we lose vision in the top half of our view. We are prohibited from looking "up", because we are it! Next, we "cannot be pestered" by those petty fools around us. So then we start noting that the blinders also are blocking the  left and right view. Soon, we see but one thing. Alas, it is a delusion.
   That Nobody, Hillbilly Carpenter comes along, rightly declaring the situation. He propounds that: in order to go up, you must go down. The first is last. True "greatness" stands the world upon it's head, and loves the poor. This upside-down feature to the King's words could mean either that He or we (choose one) is upside wrong. I have placed my bet on which it is, have you? Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement! Prayer was designed for us to grow up believing the true. But what is true is that we are wrong. Similarly, it is wrong of us to be wrong. It is true also that (for us) it is wronger-yet to be merely "right"! You, (of yourself) simply "cannot ever win" at this game. Further, we know this to be true, and steadily refuse to say so.
   Friend, reality was designed to break your heart. We thought it was a good thing to have a strong-healthy heart, didn't we? And besides that (after all), isn't it painful to have a broken one?...He is saying that if we do not "allow" breakage now, we have only a grim forecast of a future-breaking to come, of what will be by then, an overly large, overly hardened man, in "that great and terrible day". And the collapse of that house will be a dreadful thing to watch.
   It is bad to be broken, and worse to not be. This alone, with Him as friend, let's in enough light to keep the grift at bay.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Alice In Valhalla-land

   There is mild, and then there is mild! We all know soft spoken souls, those good-hearts whom we describe with; "She wouldn't hurt a fly", and when we say this, we mean it as a high compliment indeed! An older lady I know, who recently passed away; would be my favorite nominee for the "mild medallion" (that imaginary award which I just now invented). I wonder if she wants it?
   Alice was (and is?) a mild soul, at alarming levels. If (perhaps) a bumblebee landed upon Alice's demure nose, she might have (maybe) brushed it off, but my guess is that she would have been "concerned" about whether she had been rude to the bug! I mean, what if giving "Mr. bug-ster" the brush-off, hurt his little insect sized feelings? The meek inherit, whereas; (think we) the bold, the fierce conquer! This type of distinction, which we love to make about people, bends us toward favoring the bold, and discounting the gentle. But that's just because we are blockheads.
   We will (generally speaking) be "nice" to gentle souls, but we reserve "respect" for the fierce! Further, we have been collectively brainwashed upon the topic, in my humbly-ferocious opinion. There is; you must admit, an uncanny streak, an unexplainable aspect to gentleness. People like Alice are wildly, extravagantly, and "dangerously" self composed and sweet! We keep on pretending as if the two ends of the spectrum were disentangled, such that meek is meek, and fierce is fierce, and n'er the twain shall meet. It's just bunk, and not even a little bit convincing. The motor, the very engine of reality is all about connecting these types of "opposites". Meanwhile we (stupidly) insist upon seperating the twins, upon the shabby grounds that: "The kids don't look alike (to me)"! Fire and water "can't be" related, for the excellent reason (think we) that they have no family resemblance(!)...or so we say. This; in part, is what prayer is all about.
   Recall with me that our friend Alice died not too long ago. She is a "newcomer" to that high clean land. The mountain of the LORD is one almighty fresh, gladsome, bright and green place indeed! There (I assure you), one finds the desire of the heart, in fact; one finds the desire of the ages Himself! Nothing is "illegal" in that fine mountain air, no "disappointments" break hearts in that brilliant land. is so very good! So anyhow, Alice made that leap; and dwells in a kind of Valhalla, a kind of "hall of the slain" for the mild! In that vast hall, at a grand wooden table, sits Alice! With a great big wooden drinking cup (mysteriously, always filled!), full of hearty mead, we find her. Seated with her friends, the Viking lords, she (naturally) not wishing to offend, is dressed like them, in a priceless polar bear robe. Wearing only the finest Viking hat, (of course) equipped with whopper-doodle horns, she produces her one foot long, fierce looking dagger, she slamming the butt of the handle on the table, roars "All Hail the King"! As she bellows, and the warrior champions of that mighty congregation of the glad; roar in unison with her, we wonder if this is the same Alice! Are you tracking with me here?
   Recall then the words of our plea..."kingdom (Thine) come, will (Thine) be done, here as there!". We are in prayer; connecting the opposites. Heaven up-high is the genuine article, and  Earth down-low, the copy. Make our world more like Yours (Sir)! The slender bridge betwixt the realms is one person wide. Across that bridge, the fiercely loyal, the fiery and implacable One has come down, to invade the low realm (this is where you come in), so to "convert", to rebuild, reboot and start life all over again. He is beginning from the inside out. Our plea then, for Him to unite the realm (His realm), is to unify all rule under the True King. For us to sponsor (in our bodies) and participate in, that shocking transformation, (that "will being done" jazz); this is seen in the uniting of Alice, with Eric the Red as team mates! Those friends of The High King who have made the leap (let me tell ya), they are stoked to the gills, all doubts "behind them"; they are fired-up, bright-eyed, and ready for action! The "will-jazz" then, is that; in us being rebooted from the ground up, in a life unbreakable, a vigor unshakable, we just walk away from fears, doubts and the failure which "is (was actually) us". Our friend, Alice in Valhalla land, is today a volcano of zeal, a regular torrent of stoked to the gills, "ain't backing down-ness"! The mild and the fierce have become one.
   So in prayer; we approach the new reality. Not only do we discuss a "potential" but the actual, the King has come! Therefore that golden age which we await, is also begun! King Jesus says; "Take my yoke upon you, for my burden is light". We kinda got some issues here Sir... Remember that big ox that Paul Bunyan used to run around with? Was it named "Ox-zilla"? No, we believe it was "Babe". In any case, Lord Christ is the whopper "Ox", to end all oxen. He pulls so hard, so as to move worlds? So, as He says that we are to join him in yoke, we see then an animal nine feet high at the shoulder, six and a half feet wide. The original powerhouse in Person! Paired with Him, we see... Bambi? How weird is that? The fierce, the strong the bold Captain "joined" to... Thumper? And do you know how He fixes the problem with the yoking? He shrinks! Highest of high, the Guy whom Angelic generals salute, He becomes so "low" that even Bambi looks pretty stout beside Him? This is the part where you come in!...
   Have I lost you already? What happened at Eden was that our necks got stiff, and we could no longer look upward. Everything (including heaven and her King) was "below" us, "beneath" our vision (which is but another way of saying that we are standing upon our noggins), in this; Adam's innovation. God bless the King! He was willing to go so low that even we could see Him! He appeared (for a time) weaker than Thumper, so as to let Thumper (you, we mean here) see Him, for the miscreant could only view things downward! "Looking down" on others is normally an insult to them, so it's a good thing that He refused to "take it Personally"!
   In the coming age, in that golden realm (and Alice testifies too!), our energies and His are united. We are "in yoke"; pulling on the same side, and (for once) in the same direction. To enter this friendship we trust Him. He has sworn himself to the task of building a new thing, a new kind of creature. Something called "the many-man", a sort of "compound individual", if you will. And this new "man" ("wild throng" really!) is being called right back out of death. "He", in Person stood up again, this time clothed in immortality, gladness, power and unkillable joy, so too the "many-man" shall be. It is already begun, and no authority CAN halt it! It is life to death, and back again to life. It is the engine of sanctity. He himself our hope, He Himself our light. All is, as it ought be!
   We hear from others more than enough about prayer, worship, and the call upon us. The talk and words aspect of life in Him are everywhere! Enough with the words already. Moreover we observe that the actions aspect, the  "going with" the words part, must be a kind of participation, a "partnership" of sorts. Alice knows. So then, the "missing element" here is the Sabbath "rest".
   The remarkable thing about swiss cheese is that it is mainly "not there". I sold you a piece of cheese, and the stuff is largely "holes"? Death, that ultimate passivity, the veriest quietude, we gladly roar into! We "die actively", we perish aggressively, and victoriously. He is the One joining these, our "opposites", and is Himself calling us into this very thing!
   As Babe the blue Ox shrunk to be a "match" for much smaller, frightened creatures, He makes them thus to grow, to "fill out", until they themselves become scary indeed! Viking lords with skulls hanging from their belts, singing praise to the precious Lamb of God! Just ask Alice, she'll tell ya true.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Fat Farm

   It is (I suppose); considered poor form to refer to "weight loss resorts" as fat-farms, hey, call me gauche! If you go smurf the web, there are places advertising which you can go to, and lose (prepare yourself) 20 lbs in one (?) week! At least, that is what they say. Gosh, I guess that in ten weeks you could end up weighing "negative pounds" at this rate? Doubtless, weighing negative pounds could get a bit dicey. Like a little kid's balloon, you would require a string or tether of some type, so that you wouldn't just float away!
   The last I heard, a pound of fat is worth about 3200 calories. So, losing 20 pounds, would entail (we think) 64,000 calories burned. Bust that by seven, and we get an average loss of 9140 calories per day. I am guessing here, that the typical fat-farm-fare would be (let's say) 1500 calories intake? So, am I correct in saying that with a net gain of 1500 (the food you eat per day); and a desired net loss of 9200, we would need to ADD the numbers? Wouldn't you need to burn a total (in one way or another) of greater than 10,700 calories per day, in order to lose weight at the advertised rate?
   If you jogged about a mile, think of losing about 200 calories. At this rate, two marathons PER DAY, is not enough to yield a 10,700 cal. per day loss! So, 20 lbs per week loss, appears to be a tad optimistic at the very best. I don't doubt that some people do lose 20 pounds in one week, but what, with water weighing in at 8-plus pounds per gallon, we (much more likely) discuss an unhealthy case of dehydration. Realistically (in my opinion at least); if we burned 1000 calories in excess of our intake (add a five or six mile walk) a day; you could drop around two pounds a week. So, possibly 1/10th the advertised rate is humanly reasonable then? Moreover, such a rate of loss is itself optimistic, in that it would be the very unusual person who runs negative calorie numbers EVERY single day...and that is what we must have, for a mere 2 lb loss!
   Why are we even talking about this? Who in their right mind cares? And I think that part of it, is that; as a "modern", there is very little in what we have said thus far, that is even a little "alien", or difficult for us to grasp. The entire idea of "counting calories", so as to "reduce", is readily understood in our world. But, go back and read "the old heads", the minds of the past. Who else ever talked this way? I have read a lot of ancient authors, and do not recall a single example of our kind of discourse here. I am not certain, but my supposition is: If we could travel back in time, and address our great, great, - grandparents, and begin speaking about food as a series of ... "numbers" (?), I think they would laugh in our faces! The hubris and ugly nonsense of speaking about food as "energy units", or as "numbers", is not the historically normal way to consider the topic. No generation but ours, talks this way.
   From another perspective, look at old photos of people in streets, or those at work. How many of those pictured are overweight? How many of those in old photos are grossly obese? So, there is another thing to note. Our elders did not normally think of food as a series of "numbers", nor were they typically overweight. Is there a connection to be made here? And we are just-about "sure" that there could be none!
   The connection that I am making, is an odd one indeed! In the first place, I would like to say that we have been brainwashed. We moderns insist that "over-weight" is one and the same as "too-much-fat", and that is plainly insane. Our elders spoke differently, say I. They said that you were "too big", or that you were "large", and my premise here (that we have indeed been brainwashed); is that we ourselves do not understand that there is a difference! Fat is but one component, one "ingredient" (of perhaps 50?) of your make-up, of which there is just too-much. Our elders recognized, as we also do, that weight and fat are linked. But unlike us, they regarded the problem realistically, whereas we are whimsical, and downright superstitious. In order to "reduce", we need less-of-me, not merely less fat-in-me. They (our elders), "got it", and we ( by in large) just don't. You cannot simply "lose fat", you must also lose "the" weight! Weight includes muscle, add in some bone, toss in a chunk of skin, pitch in a gallon of blood or so, and don't forget all the other sorts of other interesting pieces and parts which are going with them onto the fire! In brief, the loss of "the" weight, is! The modern will not willingly face the truth. To ''reduce", we are (by definition) "eating"...our own selves! And as we are metabolizing ourselves, we are literally shrinking! There remains no room in the modern mind for such thoughts.
   Now the sketchy, (and flimsy) quasi-theological spin I am about to put on all this, is right here in this neighborhood somewhere. We sense, we know, that our body-image is just not right. How do we know this? Beats me! And frankly I don't much care about the epistemological foundation of self-image. And my reason is that the stinker is in a constant state of repair. It's like the interstate highways. They are in constant remodel mode, there is no final product to it! The interstates (like our body image); is by definition, a work in progress. No, rather; this is a discussion of the meaning of food.
   I am likely mixing things up here, but I think C.S. Lewis said something to the effect that: " a pretty good indicator that there is such a thing as "food", somewhere out there in reality". The drive within, corresponds to a reality without. The "in-here", and the "out-there" are talking about the same thing! When we think of "food", the stuff you push down your neck which you believe helps the heart to keep on beating, that "life-stuff" bears an emotional, spiritual freight. Food,..."means"...something.
   In the Prayer, there is a line about "grant us bread today", and then the prayer sails on to another stanza concerning forgiveness. But what if we read the prayer this way? Forgive us, as we are forgiving, so then likewise, grant to us bread, as we also are feeding? Air goes in, and promptly goes right back out. Forgiveness is received, and then, is plainly given away. This "in" then "out" pattern, is that of life! But food, supposedly the very stuff of life; proves to be the ONLY "life-stuff" there is, which goes in...(only to stay in), in our modern model.
   Do you see? Food, in this system has become a swamp, a miniature "Dead Sea" within us! Our receipt of food (with thanks) should also be mirrored in our lives, as a sharing-with the (other) hungry, and in our minds, that second step is just missing! For me to give-away MY food, seems silly, stupid, shortsighted, and merely "idealistic". That is the "why", of why we are fat; but we will never admit it! There are some things yet unspeakable. And as such, it is become "the (supposedly) life saving-thing", this "food-stuff" I mean here, and (in fact); it brings only death! Food has come to"mean" something it was never intended to, nor can it bear the "weight" we place upon it. To "share" my food, (to "lose" calorie-numbers, to "waste" our OWN life-stuff) means that we have come to value others, and so, we love "spending" ourselves, we end up "wasting our substance" upon them.
   And to mildly shift topics one final time, we are afraid. It is just that complex. Our whole fixation with solving the body image, and this bizarre fixation over food, it's our fear, but we cannot speak it! We are afraid that either our gift (to others) will not be received, or that it will, but without gratitude on the other's part. We will either be rejected, or simply used, and so to avoid both bad options we simply keep our "life-stuff" to our own selves! Spiritually then, this fear in us implies that we make no known connection between the "spirit" and food! We end up thinking that, "food can break our heart" and so; we eat junk which in reality, does destroy the heart. In our modern hearts then, not only do we (weirdly) consider food as numbers to be "normal", we never once link the "lack" of food, with the "feasting" of prayer. In fasting, we are metabolizing ourselves, but this shrinking of us, also corresponds to a "growing" of Him! We are wanting Him to live (in us) more-so than we want "us to live in us"! He becomes "more" and we "less". And this shows-up in our diet. This is the real difference between ourselves and our great-greats. We think nothing is more important than life, and they thought that His love was stronger than death! This makes us "conservatives" in the bad sense, (we the "keepers") and them "liberals" in the good sense, (they the "givers"). Unaided, we cannot believe that there are (or were, at minimum, once upon a time) "good liberals"!
   For us to become "liberal" with food, we must see that "their" portion is greater than "ours" ...consistently. We invite others "in" to eat us "out of" house and home(!), and we do so with gladness, for all this "points" somewhere better, cleaner, and far more sane! It points "home".
   Love itself then, is a kind of "devouring". Christ Himself then, a new type of "bread". And so, in that banquet coming (which we gladly await); He Himself is "the main course" and we have become the desert!       Bon appetit!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

At The Speed Of Life

   I don't know why (exactly) this idea keeps recurring in my thinking. There is a good possibility (I'm guessing); that I am simply wrong in this, my estimate. There are worse things out there, than finally being proven wrong, but that kinda says it all, doesn't it? I mean the deep weirdness of "knowledge" is that it is a violation of itself. The "worst" thing that could happen knowledge-wise, would be to have an un-movable truth, a bench-mark implacable, which you personally defend, later shown to be drivel. Yet, isn't that exactly what has happened a 100 times in a row? The new orthodoxy, replacing the old, says in effect: "Ah, we used to be deluded and simple, but now we see! This (new) knowledge shall stand forever, and never (again) shall we be forced to alter our estimates of things!"...except not. Not even a little bit so!
   Have I lost you already? Think this with me then, the whole idea of "knowing" something, is that it is a "settled" type of thing. We get an orthodoxy of thought, a respectable and established frame, such that any "doubt" or efforts at undermining the acceptability of same, become "ridiculous and unthinkable". You, in doubting the "known" become a dunce, an ignoramus, a backward and "dangerous" soul indeed. And this is not the place or time to bring forth the litany of how frequently, (and embarrassingly) the established wisdom of given eras has been turned on it's head...repeatedly. That much, we do (apparently at least) "know"! Nah, all that stuff is broadly commented upon, and doesn't affect us here in this essay a bit. Rather, this intro is just a way to state that today's "known" has a disturbing tendency to become tomorrow's rubbish, but from the here and now, we cannot usually guess which parts are about to morph into their opposites on us, and which sections actually are stable.
   My guess however is that the method we use is (itself) "upside down". Think of a target for archery, You get a nice bulls-eye, surrounded by concentric circles outward. The further from center we get, the less anybody really cares. What draws our interest though, is when Robin hood nails the center point, and then proceeds to split the first arrow with the second! Dare we do a third? Wow, right AT the center then, arrow splitting arrow, how many reps do you care to observe? The outer edge stuff, or when you fail to even hit the target; is forgettable and frankly uninteresting. If you are not even close-to-correct, you lose your audience.
   Knowledge-wise then, to invert, to overthrow the "outer" areas is pretty ho-hum stuff, but to repeatedly nail the center, well now that makes news! If "Dr. So-and-so" tells us next week that the X-chromosome in the Choeropsis liberiensis (pygmy hippo) is not topologically resistant to morphogenic cross enculturation; (contrary to established research thus-far) or some darned thing, let's just face it; nobody cares. This is the outer area of the target. But at the bulls-eye, what have we? Naturally, the "absolute speed limit" of light! Surely (say it ain't so!); we do not mean here, to disagree with we? How could anybody, (anywhere) doubt the "absolute"? Well, to be honest, it's easy! I just use my mind. It appears to be designed for the task!
   Yet oddly, the centerpiece to knowledge is never the boundary, and (also) we ordinarily refuse to note this. The limit, the "edge and the unbreakable" shape of knowing is it's silhouette, it's "shadow". We keep mistaking the outline for the heart! We consistently assert that the shape of things is one and same as it's center. Weird joo-joo have we here. We know-about (the outline) of things, and then we turn clean around to declare this "shape" to be at the very center? So in this example, with a view to the "absolute" speed of light; it is to be inferred (by you I mean) that light moves "swiftly". It is (supposedly) fast-as-fast can be! And, did we mention that you are also obliged to be impressed by HOW very swiftly she goes? So, is it Mr. Einstein himself over here, who is telling us that we are to (dutifully) be duly impressed by the mere rate of motion? I mean if I am busy doubting the "absolute", does anyone notice that neither am I "impressed" by it's terrible and awful rapidity, per se? If knowing (itself) were known; wouldn't we assume the "fast" to be the same as "slow", merely viewed alternately? Consider with me the fighter-bomber; cracking along at mach 3, it is moving "swiftly",... and "slowly", depending upon which yardstick we use. Ditto for the snail! Rapidity itself is non-quantifiable, until we first establish a frame of reference. But rate itself, remains a lessor metric than the purpose of, or direction of the movement. Why then does light fly along so blasted slowly? Who, but me even notices this or bothers to ask?
   Meanwhile, we humans move at "the speed of life", and like all we have just said, that rate is "fast"...and it is also "slow". Whichever you prefer, this lens of your perspective says more about your heart, and any "absolute" you care to embrace; than any grossly inferred clock function. So then, is it known for certain that "time is flying"? Yes, it is. And at the same "time" it is clear also, that time does "drag". The "knowers" among us, come right along,  just about here somewhere; to inform us that "the truth of the matter" must be; that time runs "uniformly" (for so they have decreed it shall!). It "merely-seems" (it is but the untrustworthly "subjective" aspect of your brain); to be otherwise. Consider for a moment with me; what if time actually does flow at differing rates? How would we ever know? If it did run at variant rates, we would observe that "time-rivers" runs riot "here", and then promptly slow to a crawl "there"; depending upon the grade of it's "slope", of course! What could be more "obvious"? And what if our "knowers", in order to clear up any doubts on the matter; then asserted, that all waters "must" run at uniform rates? Well, if they did so (and could enforce that "law"), then it would be (later) "impossible to detect" any differing rate, for such differences "cannot-be" (by definition!). I reserve the right to retain my doubt!
   To expand somewhat our analogy, we are never "finally convinced" of anything about life; simply by virtue of a clock function. Nor are we ever finally convinced of the truth of anything else, by measuring it's speed! Any "speed limit" designed to be "absolute" is just begging to be broken! Or to discuss whether time REALLY flows at differing rates, never once addresses why we "bother" living in any case. The swiftness of time in our experience is for "a reason", and that reason points-at "something" (or more accurately, at a "Somebody"). By paying attention-only to the shadow cast (the outline), we forget the beating heart, we purposely ignore the issue of purpose!
  We never do convince others to believe our views by speaking of "limitations". A limit, is a discussion of "boundary". Such talk never addresses what is being "bound", there remains nothing at the middle! It is crust with no pie, peel minus apple. It would be a bit like discussing only the shape defined thus: "A square base, roughly 3 and 1/2 feet square. About the perimeter, a two foot rise, evenly spaced with durable retaining bars, to be constructed of high tensile composites, and/or wood"...Do we here speak of the babies' crib, the dog's kennel, (the one we ship Fido inside, as he travels by airliner?), or a prison cell in Vietnam? The "known", the "shape" describes "everything" about the enclosure, except it's purpose! The materials it is made of, it's specifications, weight etc., describe the "shadow". We can know it's history; and never yet note the tyke within, much less; to ever smile back at the rascal! I say the only thing such talk can ever do is spawn and feed doubting. What generation "knew" more than ours? What culture ever distrusted and doubted more than we? Is there (perhaps) a connection to be made here? We doubt it! And we have come to doubt the wisdom of such, or at least I have. Life is the gift, the one gift. With it, comes everything, without it, the "shape" of any and moot. Nothing matters, and if that "nothing mattering" were true, I yet retain my right to doubt it's "truth" as well. So if the final truth be a puny speed limit, a mere clock function then there remains no way to care whether it be so or not! I reject such, and if nobody joins me, then I-alone reject it. I am not alone, nor are you.
   The speed of life, is to come up to the improbably "fast rate", of settling-down enough to trust again, it is the "terrific velocity" of rest. The unbreakable limit, is (by definition) more than we know. It is "outside us" and within us as well. Swiftness; an unmeasurably quick run back to be held quietly in our Papa's arms.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Smuggle Up

   Way back during the Cold War, there was a guy. Whatever his real name is (or was?), he went by the moniker "Brother Andrew". Among other things, he was an author, but the only book of his that I can recall; is something called "God's Smuggler". In that book, he told his story. The story was pretty exciting, and it described crossing borders; these were scary ones, leading into places you would not want to go. Those lovely garden spots which our pals Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao so industriously created, turned out to be some seriously murderous, tyrannical ratholes. That; by the way, is an intolerable rats! The old way of describing this fiesta of poverty, darkness and downright dreary crap was "curtain". Back then, there was the "iron" one, and the "bamboo" version to nicely accent. How thoughtful, matching curtains on opposite sides of Eurasia! The misery of Marxism (enslaving whole peoples) was the "progress" which that bunghole Marx gave birth to. Faith, in those countries "adopting" communism, was illegal. You could go to prison, be tortured, and die, for the "crime" of trusting your Maker. Stink-hole governments such as Bulgaria, Romania, and East Germany (as "satellites" of the U.S.S.R.), beat, tormented, and enslaved "criminals" who were practicing Christian faith. Guess what? Andrew was in the business of bringing Bibles INTO the old "Iron Curtain" countries! I don't recall the details here, and can't even tell you which decade he operated in. Was it the 60's, or 70's? Beats me, but just for today, let's keep the idea of "smuggling". Further, let's steal (liberate?) his title, and dub you-also; "God's smuggler"!
   The first thing we should recognize is that aside from the commie-rat-finks who ran those third rate dungeons, not everybody uniformly appreciated his efforts. There were those in the West, who from a "law and order" perspective; frowned upon the (technically) unlawful, illegal and (therefore?) "im-moral" aspects of Andrew's exploits. If my memory is not entirely whacked here,  these folks were "shocked" that (horrors!) he was breaking the law! After all, isn't our behavior supposed to be excellent among the unbelievers, aren't we to be blameless before the gentiles? Yadda yadda, you're killing me with this stuff. Let me get this part...just right. Are we to, (by this standard) think by these rules, that the Almighty is "against" smuggling-in contraband? Is He always, and everywhere thus opposed? Talk to me here.
   Let me tell you a story or two. My departed sis (Polly) had a batch of truly remarkable gifts. Of those, one strikes me as especially memorable, and don't ask me where she got it; (because we were certainly NOT raised this way!), but she used to be able to extend a "welcome field". Now, her life as a believing Christian, included a lot of details. She was among other things; a daughter, wife, mother, sister, and worship leader at her church. Busy? I would guess so. Stressed? Sure, why not? Yet somehow she emitted a weird field around her, and it (the field I mean) "welcomed". She could take an uptight, uncomfortable geek (who shall remain nameless) and actually make me feel "at home"? How was this done? My best guess here is, "it was supernatural".  
   Face it, we live in a harsh, mean, ugly old world. Polly died young, of a mean-nasty disease. Friendliness, open-armed welcome, and acceptance do not "belong" here, here in this harsh, dim, environment! Surely such gladness as hers is "misplaced"; in this world of grief, revenge, laziness and folly. She was "breaking the rules", and smuggling-in contraband! My other sis, (Nan) who is (thank God!) still with us castaways down here; is also a bootlegger, importing "unlawful goods". This sister (that rascal!), has the unmitigated nerve to produce (maybe you should be seated?)...things of BEAUTY? This is outrageous! There oughta be a law, I tell ya!
   This gal could take seven toothpicks, a rock and a piece of swiss cheese, and make a "little ol' thing" of them which would cause you to nearly swoon. Isn't "taking-your-breath-away", as potentially, a violation of "law and order", at least a bit questionable? Is it even "lawful" in this dark, dank, fetid swamp of self-pity, this dump of screamingly butt-ugliness, (called "the world") to allow beauty to just run around unsupervised? I mean isn't there some paperwork; or a license of some kind required? a smuggler, and worse yet; an unrepentant one!
   I hate to be the one to break it to you, but ALL believers qualify somehow, and somewhere as God's smugglers. We are all brothers to Brother Andrew.
   Not to wax too awfully metaphysical over here, but Jesus Christ Himself formats as some sort of "compound portal". Ordinarily, we think of a door, (or window for that matter) as a "fixed" access point. From one room into another, or going from inside to outside, you know? Doors themselves are "simple", not multi-plex. We do not expect doors to "move around" much.  But by virtue of Him ascending to the right hand of the Father, high and low have been united (or linked at minimum). Therefore, He controls the entire spectrum, in that the highest of the high, down to the lowest of the low (this is where you come in...) are accessed "in" Him. The Guy OWNS the bell curve. Some new sort of doorway then is He, in which the clean wholesome light of that other land ends up mysteriously in this sad place down here. Now, as an abtruse (and unnecessary) aside, we could (I think) predict that with Him being this new kind of portal (permanently), such precludes the "need" for spacecraft in that fresh world to come?...From any given point then, to any other, an alternate route, a "shortcut" right through the throne-room on high; "appears"! 
   And however accurate (or not) that guess is, our idea here is that those trusting the King in this world-age have themselves become "windows or doors". Technically, you as a son, are broadcasting a light into this place which actually does not "belong" here. There is no "legal" accounting-for this gladness of yours, which you have been bearing around here in this sorrowful graveyard, in a most-unseemly manner I would add! A light shining out of your life seems to be projecting an unseemly confidence over in your vicinity, let's call it, a frankly strange "victorious-ness", which neither the "god of this age", nor this world itself; nor yet our own rotten selves can "splain", nor authorize; and let's just ignore that Ricky Ricardo riff there, shall we young man?
   Our one hope? To, when we see Him, be made like Him!...I hate to break it to you, but it is already begun! That dimensional portal in Polly's life which admitted into my sad ugly life, an unexplainable welcome, and that same breach of worlds; which (to this day) allows Nan to (apparently, at will?) generate beauty into this grief stricken dump (called "reality"); this very same "portal" is in you, in your body I mean!
   Weirdly, only other people can normally see it in you. Ask Nan about her scary-beauty bomb, and she just pooh-poohs the whole idea! I'm not kidding. She does not "see it" her own self.  And frequently, we find that people become far more arrestingly interesting, after they die, so maybe it's just unavoidable? Perhaps none of us are "truly appreciated" during our lifetime. Who cares? Our idea for today, is that it was NOT "about you" in any case! Appreciated or not, both ends of the spectrum prove moot, if our goal is to find out WHY we are this way. We, in our bodies; have become "an opening", allowing-in a light (which you-yourself, usually cannot see), into a sad dark dungeon? Others see-by your light briefly, but you-yourself are not the source of it! Others are refreshed and girt up again for their long journey, but that journey always points to Another! So, why are we this "illegal" way anyhow? Well, what would the other option be?
   Wouldn't the "opposite" to this unlikely scenario be you-lighting your own way, or the opposite of that; no light for anybody at all? Things are never (yet) as bad as they could possibly be, but it would prove to be a serious degradation of affairs if the King's mercy and good gifts could "find" no other pathway into this grievous house of pain than His folk. See? We keep expecting Him to "immediately" fix, or "repair" things,...isn't that "His job" after all? Meanwhile, He keeps insisting that He always works through a "middle-man", an "agent", something about a "covenant" was it? He does not appear to be willing to negotiate here! Meanwhile, over in our hard cold hearts, are we so very certain that we wish no friend to (ever) be sent? In our cruel darkness, are we really clear on the idea of "no hope...ever coming" as our "answer" here? We shout at Him, in our pain and sadness, "Just leave me alone!", and He has given us time to swallow our pride and retract that. The "reason" that He gives us time... to quit our pointless project, is for us to come back to our senses, and ask for some help!
   Here, I wax quasi-poetic, or at least as close as I am able to! We "bring what does not belong" into this world-age, because we have ourselves, (who do not belong), been "brought in". We assist others "to grasp", in that we have ourselves "been grasped". We help others "to know", in that we have ourselves "become known". We ourselves, though not "lovable" in, nor of, ourselves, have begun to love. We just kept thinking that for me to be loved, I must be "lovable" first, and by that route, lay no hope! He "broke the rules", in knowing us as we are, and also loving us! This then is a new kind of "food" if you will. It is the "thing", which, when put "in" you, makes you grow strong! Food keeps us alive! I hope that your mother did not fail to mention that crucial part to you!...

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Butter Diet

   Have those "get-in-on-the ground-floor" deals ever made much headway in your mind? When you crawled out of bed today, you (likely) did not realize that your ground floor opportunity was today! In five or ten years, everybody will be on this page, trust me on this one. Today, it's just you, me, and the wall. Are you stoked? Are you getting excited yet? Only if you are ready it is! The Butter Diet! Who could have seen this baby coming?
   So, I can see you're not getting this... Think of every diet plan on the face of Earth. What do they all have in common? Carbs?, Protein?, Greens?, Calories?, No, no, no, and no! What they all try to do is limit your intake of fats. Trans, or saturated, vegetable or animal, they all hate fat. Pounce(!) Right here! So, when you are hungry (or think you are, at least); ask yourself what will "satisfy"? And the answer is, "the wrong stuff"! The idea of ice cream, the reality of Fritos, the stunning presence of french fries "talks to you". We don't have a "sweet-tooth", it's a fat-tooth(!); and only grease, fat, lard, Crisco, or (prepare yourself) Butter will do! So you want some fat? Eat some! That was the idea, what do you think? Are you wowed? 
   When hungry, and it is not yet meal-time, just put about a half of a "pat" of butter in your mouth. It's like (maybe) 8 calories or something? A whole tablespoon of butter (never margarine!) is about 20 or 30 calories. I don't know that it's all-so-true, but some woman told me once that margarine is "one molecule removed from being another form of vinyl". Even if it's not true, it's still a good story. After you coat your tongue with a dab of the stuff, your brain (somehow) registers..."Fat requested, fat found, turn off the hunger alarm". Appetite suppression then; is NOT a matter of "will-power" so much as it is simply turning off the "fat-lack alarm" in your head. And the reasonable answer would be to simply coat your tongue with the fat that your body claims it "needs", and thereby fake out the brain... So anyway, there's the future for ya'.
   Now; as an ungainly introduction to the topic of prayer, can you guess where I'm headed with this? I don't know about you, but prayer seems to be (mostly) a uni-directional affair. See? I am talking-to, but ain't hearing-from. It's much more a monologue, than ever a dialogue: and to precisely that degree, is not especially interesting. One sided conversations, are by definition, not-a-conversation. Who knew?
   Not to wax hyper-critical here; but I'm guessing that this soliloquy gig is the (largely) unspoken reason why prayer meetings in general are so poorly attended. A one-sided conversation, ain't much of one, and any "explanations" here to alleviate distress are usually considered suspect. I'm not a very good theologian (heck; I am not that great a plumber!), but as I grasp the answer of why we do not ordinarily expect to hear-back, it sounds something like: "We believe that the canon is closed". And in my opinion, we have the wrong tool for the job. Our fear here, is that we perhaps might (like some others we could name) start up with a load of blather about hearing "a new word", some addendum to the book of Mormon perhaps? In order to keep that fraud at bay, we are to learn to "settle for" just never expecting a response; is that it?
   Consider; if you consistently drive screws with a hammer, you might well conclude: "Driving screws is hard work!"...but so what? Who ever asked you to do the job in that absurd fashion anyhow? To use one tool to do two jobs, might seem like a "good, conservative" thing to do. After all, we have one less thing to lug around! Yet, if it remains a bad fit, and if you keep whacking your fingers, bending screws, and leaving hammer marks all over the work, what part of this fails to tell us to reconsider? The true mess we are making, is with our own lives. When we conclude: "Why bother telling Him anything?", or when we "quit-bothering" to pray, in that we call; and only-ever get a dial tone, this cannot end well for us! The "part" of our own mess that instructs us to reconsider is, "all of it"! If canonicity per se, is what is causing you to just quit praying, thus to blunder through life, feeling all-alone, it isn't thereby a matter of abandoning canon, but of adding to it a new tool! Add to your hammer, a screwdriver already! 
   I mean here, it isn't a matter of "finding God's will" or some darned thing. We already know too blasted much of that; or if not "too much", surely more than we can ever do. You've read the menu: "Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God. Trust in the Lord, lean not to your own understanding...Give thanks in all things. Fear God, and give Him glory!". So, just let me know when you've finished doing that list, okay? And Bubba, there is a whole slug of these. It's the really really big note He left on the fridge, so that you cannot possibly "miss it" that way.
   The moral/ethical divorce is one topic, and canon deals with the sovereign cure for it, but we look for another tool because we are doing another job! How do we hunker down to find the "want-to"; or how do we go about beginning to desire what in fact; we do not? And canon applied here is leaving all kinds of moose tracks on the wood. Quit swinging that hammer in order to drive this screw; you're messing up the wood! So then, "Doing the right thing", can have a secondary meaning; and here the "right thing" is to be "damned glad"(!); to "roar with a joy eternal", and so, a kind of heart surgery to restore ferocity is in order.
   The good news of "hearing-back" from Him, proves to be a kind of communion, a partnership, and is just the rocket-fuel of motivation our sad lives require. Let's face it, we do hear-back. Normally, the Word-preached, is applied to the life, and there, He does "makes contact". Further, within us; the Spirit is faithful to bring to memory all The King taught. Think back, haven't also there been times in the past that friends who know-best your patterns, seem to (briefly) possess uncanny insight on an issue, over which you are being pulled apart...again? So, it is definitely not the case that we must first get our "spiritual act together" prior to hearing-back. It's more like we are saying: "Why (Sir) do You keep talking about that stuff anyhow, can't we just move on to what I'd like to discuss?". Let's assume here, that there are several ways to hear-back; but one of the weirdest is the most obvious. It's like your nose. You never notice that it forms (your nose that is) the center of your field of vision (HOW you see!), until somebody else reminds you.
   Inside Protestantism, a big theme early on was to translate the Bible into "vulgar tongues". Uh, did you say vulgar? Hey I do that! But jokes aside, the premise was that God's word was not "high-toned", and a latin only scripture kept-out the very folk it was intended to draw in, the peasants!
   So skip (for a moment) the idea of content, and recall "tone". Mothers, think back to when the short-dude (your son) had to be told: "Don't you dare use that tone with me, young man!". The nose-feature here, is that we can (to a degree) detect His tone, in voices around us, and even (occasionally) in our own! It's a bit like those testimonies that others have that say: "I can see Jesus in you".
   The grudge match of five centuries ago, included "vulgar tongues" (this is where you come in) giving glory. Things haven't changed much. It remains the deal, and yet; we keep thinking that some expert is going to show up to do it instead. We imagine that pretty speech, inoffensive talk, soft-edged "encouraging" gum-flapping is "godly". You know the drill. Listen to those radio-Christians, those "spiritual-giants" on TV. So, what's with all those rounded vowels? Since when are Bible teachers in the business of "making suggestions" rather than fierce and loyal assertions? Do you notice among the smooth, the near constant use of the rising inflection? Everything is a question? It makes me want to puke over here? It's brainless junk? And finally, do we detect a southern accent, a "soft-indoors" kind of voice there Bub? Is that your official-spiritual voice, or what?
   Now, stand in front of a mirror and you try using the official "spiritual tone" of voice we've noted here. Doesn't that kind of talk make you feel like a phoney? Doesn't all that oozing sweetness make a guy want to laugh and go drink beer? Artificial though it be, just try to picture talking to your Maker with that mouth-racket! But wouldn't we have watch for stray lightning bolts if I break out with all of those "craps" and "damns" that I've grown so fond of using over the years! Okay, point taken, but isn't there room here somewhere to retain "tone", and lose the colorful vocabulary? Try praying that way. How bad could it be?
   So, for today only; hearing-back linked to tone, will describe our orbit. Think disgust, outrage, anger, you know, all that material that is by definition "tone"?. Further, has it ever happened, that you listen to your brother, and you say: "You sound just like Dad!". The ever slenderer premise here then is; that we can hear-back from Him, in OUR own tone of voice(!) least sometimes. We can hear dim whispers of His Outrage, His Anger His Ferocity, in our tiny model of the real-deal! Who knew? Further, we find this sort of thing to be disturbing, and frightening, and so "tend" to minimize here. Not convinced? Try this out.
   Do you recall George W. Bush? Early on in the Iraq affair; he sent word to the Imams, Mullahs and assorted poobahs of Islam. His message? "Tell them we serve the same god". Excuse me, but does G.W. stand "George Walker", or "Gutless Wonder"? Are you trying to tell me, that believers in the Lord Jesus are (with you!)  saying that we serve the "the SAME god" as those murdering cultists? Hell No! Never! We say: "Tell them instead, "Your sawed-off runt 'god' (who denies the Trinity, and therefore the Incarnation) couldn't find his own butt with radar! He, and therefore your moron "prophet", deny the only hope of mankind, the atonement at Calvary! How low CAN you go? You tell those fools, to tell the demon they serve, "Your days are numbered, pee-wee!"
   Did you note the difference in tone? All that pookie about "being careful not to offend our co-religionists" kinda migrated right out the window eh? How about speaking from the heart George? How about a dime's worth of integrity? Face it; that Mohammed guy died, and went to hell (where he belongs!). There is no God but YAHWEH, and there is no hope for us, but His Son. To blatantly lie to the Muslims, dishonors your Maker, plus sending those deceived souls to judgement without a hope in hell! How's about them apples George?
   Bearing (in us) the emotional freight of jealousy over the Name then, allows a hint, a whisper of how He talks! What if learning to do this is one of the big lessons of prayer in the first place? Has anyone, anywhere ever discussed this? No? Then perhaps you are in on two ground floor offers! The taste, the flavor, the aroma of Christ is upon His folk. Sure, it affects what they say, but also HOW they say it. We search not for "new revelation", but for the "want-to", to live our lives oriented toward Him, and precisely here is our problem! To "bring glory", is to "say with gusto", (to possess a pair), to talk that way, and mean it! We thus sound like: "I object! What do you mean by..."If God exists"? Who (in hell) are you mister, to spit in the Savior's face? Take it back!! NOW!". And see, from my vulgar mouth, we can detect a whisper of how He talks, we hear-back, a small token of His tone.
   The gospel of screwdrivers is a bit like the Butter diet. We take a tiny bit, in our mouth, and it serves to satisfy ...until mealtime! The flavor, the coat upon the tongue, reminds you of real food. It is a hint, and for today it's enough, but not forever! Soft speech only, butter in the mouth only-ever, is a tool of the enemy. Our Captain speaks forthrightly, with Him we await a banquet, featuring real food, with real people present, who talk right! Lots of people are capable of vulgar speech. That's too easy, it's like falling off a log. The "trick" is to detect that "no-class Hillbilly", that "unemployed Carpenter's" voice. He is unmistakable, once you've become accustomed to His voice. He talks alarming levels! He does not "make mistakes", and His call upon His own never fails. What a Champ! He is "heart medicine" Person!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Golden Moments

   Not long ago, I was fiddling around on You Tube, and found some music. Glorious stuff, I tell you. Back in the mid 1970's I had an Ozark Mountain Daredevil's album (on vinyl!). How I loved that music... Forty years ago, back when in high school; this was my idea of "beautiful". And after decades of not-hearing; what sort of review have we? Wow, what a great little surprise to hear it all again! Like meeting an old friend, like reliving a time of sanity and peace. It is a "golden moment".
   The Daredevils were never a "big" group, which (to my thinking) was a recommendation in itself. The only song that they ever made any money with, was "Jackie Blue". It stank, and was very unlike most of their stuff. How very "like me", to reject the only "popular" song they ever did! I wasn't a Christian believer back then, but believer or no, you've GOT to love "Beauty in the River", for example. Or; just listen to "Country Girl" sometime, "Whippoorwill" anybody? These guys are great! Okay, "Chicken Train"; we can do without...There is a lot to like about the DDs, but my point is; these beautiful memories, these "golden moments", kinda jump out and surprise us sometimes.
   So what was it in your life? Maybe a hike, and a perfect sunrise? What about that stunning moon-rise over the Grand Canyon, the one that filed so deeply in your memory? I think of times, as a youth; being in the Sandia mountains, outside Albuquerque. Full moon flying overhead, snow, quiet, and wild! Shivers down the back, a vital "presence" is with me! Those nearly "magical scenes" of beauty, that sense of bone-deep rest, just the "rightness" of it all, do you know these too? These times return to us across time, for a brief visit, a wispy reminder, and then they promptly turn to fly away again. Golden moments are those times when the "world was right", almost as-if reality is haunted by an (mainly invisible) over-sized beauty queen? She is a shy girl, who will smile, and nod, but never sit down to visit.
   If you are like me; we find that such moments are best enjoyed from a range of years. Time does us the favor of blurring details. The harsh edges of memory get fuzzy, and the episode is "edited" to yield a friendly soft-focus, a lovely ambient glow. Our problem isn't the lack of focus here, but rather; our recurring efforts to regain "the magic" involved. We (next) attempt to generate, at-will; the warm, reassuring phenomenon. Bad idea; it is nice to run into, by accident an old friend. If on the other hand, you met him at your doorstop every morning, those encounters would surely lose the "enchanting" feature, so don't be surprised that you begin to notice the hair growing out of his nose and ears...
   There is a segment in Lewis' book "Perelandra". Ransom is on a floating island on Venus. Some type of delightful plant has a flower (or some such) which goes "poof" and suddenly released is a brisk, light mist. A popping bubble, all freshness, and the thing is a marvel! As told, the enjoyment (once) is a fine thing, a happy accident, but to go about trying to repeat it, simply for the sake of enjoyment, was "wrong". Hey, go read the book, his version is much better told than mine, and as a bonus, actually makes sense!
   The "point" behind golden moments, is that they are scattered across our lives. We forget them...until we don't! But, at that time, when they come to visit, for us to then attempt to (at will) "recreate" that beauty-moment simply does not work, besides being quite ugly-of-me to even try. Now, why are we discussing this in any case? Who cares?
   Part of it (for today at least) is that we (humans) "anticipate" a golden age (!), and no mere additional golden moment to come. Prepare yourself, in that coming age, (I have to believe) our golden moments (down here) will be entirely swept away, to be remembered no more. After all, who recalls a firecracker after seeing a super-nova up close? Who recalls a drop of water, after going over Niagara Falls in a barrel? Yet, our forgetting of some, cannot negate all remembrance. Some things will always be remembered. Our "hint" here, is to think back; our King's wounds, received in His friends' house, those punctures...never "went away", and they never shall.
   Do you see? The sheer, screaming butt-ugliness of our souls; and of this world-age, is the "outrigger and counter-balance" to golden moments. There you are, on-time at work, doing your job, and living your life.  The ordinary surprise isn't a visit from a (mainly invisible) beauty queen, but a troll! He swings his club; and cancer, or auto-accidents, even death (!) "come out of nowhere". Hey, how can tragedy have the right to just waltz right in here? We need a bouncer who can handle trolls over here, it appears.
   Instead of a placid glorious morning on the mirror surface of the bay in our little sailboat, we are now talking being amid 100 foot waves, crazy turbulence, and it looks like we're going down! Instead of a languid hour on a beach watching the dolphins...hokey smokes (!), the cancer has metastasized...AGAIN! I thought we'd killed that bastard...Will someone please call out the Marines, or just get us some help over here? Somehow, (in the past twelve days?), we have become the ping-pong ball in a game played by lousy titans? And notice; they do not appear to "play by the rules"!
   Thank God, these horror-show aspects of life are not much more enduring than golden moments. The difference is that when a thousand years passes like a day, we enjoy it! But, for that hellish day, that one which feels like a thousand years (will it ever end?), we'd love to forget it, and cannot. Nobody ever waxes wistful, wanting to recall, trying to recreate "here", at the corner of "misery," and "fear"; thanks just the same. In my view, we have it very nearly backward, this business of remembering , and not.
   Recall with me, the King retains the marks in His body, of how he was treated by His "friends"...and this is the part where you come in. Yes, I confess with the saints; "my name is written on His hands"'s written right there beside the puncture mark in His wrist, which was left by my spike and hammer! It was my "goodness" that nailed that righteous Man to the tree from hell. It was I, who swung the hammer, which drove the nail. It's "as good" as I get! Recall with me, that the men who killed Lord Christ (exactly like us!), suffered from a case of "too-much-goodness-of-their-own". They were excessively "righteous". Now, the reason that these wounds are significant; with a view to golden moments being swept away, is like a sandcastle.
   Picture a day at the beach, fun memories being "filed", Dad being "buried" by giggling young girls, and a wonderful sandcastle being erected. The mind expects that sandcastles will be swept away by the tide. It qualifies (I suppose) as a bit sad, that such is so, but the true sadness remains, and it is ours. We ourselves, shall surely be swept away by forces; far more powerful than tides. We ALL go into the ground friend. This world-age breaks...every heart! Life is one hundred percent fatal...
   We await a new day, and a new age. And in that day, when we hear Him roar, we too shall roll away the stone, to stand again, clothed in gladness, immortality and light. In that hour we shall remember, and we shall forget. We shall forget the trip to the mountains and the peace of that hour, seeing that we have (in that "then") Peace-Himself; in Person! And we shall recall to mind, in "that-then", that as the cancer ate me alive, or while they searched the wreckage for our son, or while the dementia set-in, and Pop couldn't remember his children, just as the sadness was about to swamp our souls forever, as that heaviness was about to crush hope out of was then that we called, "Hear me now!", and You heard. God bless the King! He heard, and that changed everything. We were not alone in that dark-then.
   Back in that dark world, it was then that You taught us to thank You, not only when we were sure that You heard, but when we were not! There, smack in the middle of that misery, during those fears, we raised our heads to thank You, FOR this painful episode! No, we did not "understand" the power of that grief (and we may never), and also, we bless You. You taught us this new thing!
   Thank You Sir, for sending the One Sane Man, the True Witness, He who endured. You have joined our small-pain, to His True Pain. You have connected our little-dark to His True-Dark. And in that coming golden age, we shall remember the faithful Captain of our souls who against all opposition, all alone, afraid, and dying; never once faltered! He, and His sorrow, we shall recall at that time, and the fountain of that remembrance (then); shall be the joy that rocks worlds!
   I tell you; He arose! This world, and it's "golden light", will be forgotten, but Him; Him come into our darkness drear; shall be remembered and sung over, forevermore! After all, it's only fitting. After Him, nothing is "the same"...ever. We say-so!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Approaching True Zero-hood

   A friend loaned me a book. It's written by some guy named DeYoung, I guess he is a pastor; or at minimum, was one when this thing was written. By-in-large, I tend to avoid (like the plague!) Christian literature, and if left to myself, almost certainly would not have picked up this book to read. My buddy (Rick); apparently thinks that "Just Do Something", could (possibly) be of some help? I mean, I'm guessing that this is the case. The book in question (b.i.q.) here, is of the "God's will for your life" ilk..."but Not" (so to speak). DeYoung is trying (I think) to clobber the vast indecision, the passive gutlessness, and general unwillingness to (ever) do anything; which Christians are so famous for. For us to extend antennae, and "just sense" His leading, makes me ill, when I hear of it, recommended by others. The b.i.q. is NOT doing that junk, and so it's (at least) sane. Yet, who wants to hear about God's guidance anyhow? If it isn't Him directing me, why would I care? Not to put too fine a point on it, but I don't much care about His YOUR life! "God's will for my life", (I am willing to wager), is that I walk godly in Christ Jesus. That pretty much nails it. His will is that I embrace sobriety, self-control, and say true things; (for a change?)...yawn. The basic problem with Christian literature, in my opinion; is that it's just altogether too cheery, "excessively bouncy" by my lights. To try to make going over this dreck (again), "interesting", you must needs smile too much.
   The b.i.q. has some good stuff in it, so it's not entirely dreary to read, but it; like practically every other Christian text I can recall, skips "zero-hood". Possibly, Blaise Pascal escapes this trap, but that is a weird text to choose. "Pensees", is like going into an eccentric's house after he dies. All over the place are sticky-back notes, with fractions of thoughts. The haphazard collection is published as a "book", and it's one of the few I find interesting? Is this such a great example of "literature" at all?
   I don't know if zero-hood is an inverse, or a converse of the "world system". Whichever is more accurate, no author (except me?) appears to even notice it's existence? Think back to Jesus' teachings. Who even talks this way? "You cannot serve God and mammon, or; the first shall be last, and the last first. The poor...are blessed! Woe to you rich, you've already received your reward". These, and others like them stand the "world" and it's values upside-down.
   Just listen to Christian teaching for about ten seconds, and you (ought be able to) note that Christians invert the inversion. "God's blessing", turns out to be; once again power, money, promotion and influence. See? When you have that stuff, you have "blessing". Ergo, God (ostensibly) "leads-into" such dreck. Altogether too bouncy by my lights...It's not the Bible talking this misery, it's the Bible-believers! Why bother listening; if they are going to talk that way?
   Take Solomon for example. He begins well, asking for wisdom, so as to rule (well) "this great people". Being warned against taking foreign wives means nothing to the guy, and he ends badly. We (believers) issue a generalized warning of "danger" here, and then promptly turn to ignore the danger! Power, money, fame and influence; this type of junk changes the man. Young Sol is not the same man as old Sol. The great Solomon, is bent by the greater-yet force of "success". So, we end up warning of "dangers", somewhere in this area here, and then; proceed to re-endorse the very same "success" (this time, for me!) which blew him out of the saddle in the first place.
  Or think of this, when was it (exactly) that you last heard a sermon, or read a book, or listened to a radio show dealing with Matt. 6:24? Whatever in heck the "mammon of unrighteousness" proves finally to be, it (clearly!) is damned dangerous to your soul. At very minimum, we deal with money, glamour, power and the crud of "up", the guck of status. Yet, this remains a best-case scenario! Like ouija boards, at best, it's a delusion, and so; a near-null set. At worst, the enemy is manifesting! "Mammon" might also be an Agent, an intelligent (and malevolent) foe...Who talks about this?
   The King then is asserting an either/or scenario. We either serve an assortment of slick, empty lies (best case!), or we serve the True God. And regardless of how gruesome a thing; (or creature!) "mammon" finally proves to be, we infer that service to the True God is "directional". That-a-way, we embrace (voluntarily!) weakness, poverty anonymity, and indeed; death! The way of the cross sounds like some truly awful advice, at the very minimum.
   Meanwhile, the world is teaching that there is "no upper limit", or that the sky is the limit. You can (and are morally obliged) to achieve all your dreams. Christians (those experts in directional living); do not appear to noticeably differ from the cadre of the dead. Their writings are (to my tastes) just a tad too chipper, a might "optimistic". Going "up"! Who out there in Christianity-land even notices? Who out there ever comments on this? The King is saying "the first shall be last"...Does this mean, for us to to seek "promotion," we are to "go down"? Certainly almost every author I've read seems to believe (strongly) the reverse, such that said promotion (qua promoting) is always an "upward" motion.
   The result here? We get smart, happy, shiny people. Believers with straight white teeth, and they smell good too! Did we mention that they knock down six figures, drive a Lexus, and are "servants" at heart? The trick here is to stress poverty "of spirit", never poverty of bank-account! A kind of codex, such that "humble" (never despised!) means that we've got a win-win over here. You can KEEP your money, KEEP your power, KEEP your influence, and still be able to re-interpret this up-ness as "blessing," by merely adding a "servant heart" (never servant status!) to your resume.
   King Jesus says "the first shall be last". This implies (I think) that the maid, the janitor, and that dishwasher carry the inverse-status (jobs) which He endorses. Not so much then, a question of how-high you CAN go, in this life; but rather how low DARE you go? But let's face it, nobody that I know, has an "ambition" for their child, such that the kid grow up be a ditch-digger, or busboy. Nobody "aims" for their girl to grow up to become a baby-sitter, or to manage a laundro-mat. Since no money, no advantage, no perks are "there" to draw us in this direction, who (anywhere, or anywhen?) is going to "aim for the basement" motivationally?
   Back in Ezra's day, surely somebody would have noticed such a gaping hole in the wall around Jerusalem. Why is nobody building there? Isn't that big blank spot just "calling" for somebody to take-note? And why this chronic blindness on the part of Christian believers anyway? How can we ALWAYS "not-notice"...our own source material?
   Way back in 1979; I "just knew" that getting out of the military was the right thing to do. Did I get a vision? Hows about "a word from God"? Maybe I got "slain in the spirit"? Nope. It was Sergeant Menjes. He busted me because my shoes weren't "reg". This was insane, in that we had guys walking around in converse high-tops at work. Any kind of sneakers were okay (indoors) because of "black marks" (scuffs) on the white computer floor. John Menjes busted me, because my leather work shoes were not Air-Force reg! They had seams sewn across the toes...I pointed out that, since sneakers were okay, why not leather work shoes with soft sole? I quote: "Those shoes, (the sneakers) were approved, by memo, yours weren't". I was stunned...
   When it came time for the re-up speech, where-in they try to talk you into re-enlisting, I pointed to the episode. The official reply was: " If you think that the military is being poorly run, why not stay in, and work for change from the inside the system?". It was very very clear to me at that time. I will never "change the system" will change me! If I were to stay in, whatever happened to John's mind, could happen to mine too!
    Likewise then, with the mammon of unrighteousness. This sucker eats people! They wander in...and never come out! The "system" bends them. They lose their sense of humor. The sense of wonder, and of thanks...just goes away. The rich, the powerful, they become hard. They begin to complain, and then to nit-pick (to death), and so;"stuff" proves (clearly) to be more important to them, than...(say),you!
   And so, therefore, ergo ( and other transitional phrasing); we embrace "the low". We seek "downward mobility" not because being broke is a "good"'s simply less-bad! You cannot (reasonably) be "for" poverty, anonymity, or weakness. These (like us!), are not "desirable of, or in themselves"; and also like us, are accepted for "Another's sake". The freight of Eden, which our parents smuggled out, was to, each-individually imagine ourselves, as at the center of reality. Mammon, is the corporate, effort at same. To seek "un-mammon" then, is that by-comparison, the ugly-weak of simply-said, less ugly!
   Directionallly, we are drawn to beauty, and dare not trust it. We are compelled to duty, and dare not love it. It's both/and, never either/or. We accept things, for His sake, and for His sake, we are welcomed among the living. It's not "about you" never was.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Best Thing Ever

   Think back to when you were a kid, do you recall ever saying that something or another was; "The best thing ever"? Do you remember what that thing was? If you are male, I can hazard a guess or two as to how you estimated things. If you are female, anything I have to say on the topic (very likely) will appear as a caricature (at best) here.
   In the first place then, things like guns, bombs and tanks are going to be tough to dislodge from the guy-half of the equation. The basic premise of "Boom" is pretty central here. Oh sure, the "phasers" that Captain Kirk carried around were cool enough, but way cooler yet were the "photon torpedoes" occasionally launched by the Enterprise. For some peculiar reason, they both made noise (in outer space?), and the noisier the better! It's just that the "torpedoes" generated a better sound...I mean, let's get realistic here!
   So we are linking "noise" with "weapon" in our early gambit to identify the guy version of "the best thing ever" (abbreviated as 'b.t.e'. in the rest of this C.P.E.). Somewhere along the line, the guy version of the b.t.e. shifts from "boom-kapow" to "gee-whiz-zippy-ow" (so to speak). The hot-rod, becomes a "fast digitized cyber doohickey of indeterminate function. so the, nowadays, (as adults) we suppose that the grown-up idea of same, would involve some terra-byte munching thing-a-ma-bob? And that would be, very likely, one of those modern devices which costs about $400.00, and one in which you never really do figure out what ALL of it's functions are even for? That's my guess. So, let's leave the present for a while, and reset the question back to our starting point.
   The feminine version of the b.t.e., instead of being an intense interest in blowing things up (like normal folks!), seems to involve tables, and tiny dishes. Dolls (?) are set in chairs for a "meal". So, the little girl b.t.e. kinda works out as "lunch-with-stuffed-people"? Oh. that's not all. It is an imaginary-lunch!  These fem-people are fixated also (I think) on pastel colored ponies as well. Not satisfied with wrong-colored animals, these creatures (the ponies I mean) also possess abnormally large eyes, and an excessive hair situation, such that; both mane and tail are out of control, growth-wise... As this devolves, it tends (we infer) toward a "thing" for unicorns. The "one-horn thing" may well prove to be some sort of quasi-Freudian gig (which I'd rather not discuss here). But in any case, unicorns are somehow significant for many a girl. And if they just happen to wrong-colored ones, so much the better!
   As girls turn into women, they go from merely opaque, to entirely incomprehensible. The b.t.e. at adult female level; features intense interests in: A. Their own faces, especially with a view to "not wrinkling". B. in gemstone type jewel stuff. C. Being personally pampered...because they "deserve it". D Personal appearance (we mean; clothing-wise here) as it is appraised by...other women... E. Dancing, thatis to watch other women dance? F. But far and away, the premier valuation of the adult woman is in "Relating". Well, that's not quite accurate. It's not that they are so awfully eager to (let's say) YOU (for instance). Instead, they would like to talk with their girl friends about the POSSIBILITY of relating (in the future?). So, it's (kind of) a matter of being on-the-verge of relating, or being well-nigh unto it, so as to (thus) enter a lively discussion of this nearly-almost-relating...
   So, if the adult version of the guy b.t.e. is some kind of big-wow digital device, which does inexplicable things, then the adult gal version is some kind of over priced resort hotel where they, (for a hefty fee); place this mud guck on your face (or is it lemon slices?), and inform you that the way to lose weight is: "To work more and eat less"...Stuff like face-lifts, diamonds, and designer gowns these fit into the best thing ever category, for our friends, the fems, or their version of it, that is.
   Regardless of how badly skewed my version of the b.t.e. finally proves to be, there remains a "human" ideal of the b.t.e., which we all are aware of. So far, we might amalgamate the two halves, to yield a joint effort at b.t.e., and if so; does this produce the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, painted pink, equipped with not only fighter-bombers, armed to the teeth, but jacuzzis and ball-room dance floors! Do we get a warship with scads of hellfire missiles, yet tastefully decorated with potted-plants and parasols? That ship (having a giant unicorn horn on one end?) possessing top notch restaurants, theatres, as well as 17 inch plate steel (to defeat missile assaults)...And however you picture your version of it, (the b.t.e. we mean), think for a moment of those people that you know (or know-of), who "enjoy" this stuff. Those who "deserve only the very best", those who have the toys, the gizmos, the cars, the shiny rocks, the seventeen face-lifts, (you name it) are these happy people?
   Have you noticed? As the new wears off, the grump sets in. These folk who "have it all" are sorely lacking in...manners, the ability to give thanks, the ability to be satisfied..with anything! They have "stuff", but no real friends! Those feeding upon the b.t.e. in life, keep requiring larger doses, and as the "best" dose increases; the person becomes "worse". The b.t.e. proves (over time) to be the very worst thing you could have, in that it ruins ...YOU! The stuff is poison. It makes you mean, cheap, petty. Like a mirage, miles-wide, and a fraction of an inch "deep", the more you eat, the more you want; that's what this food does for you. So, we come to affirm (by negation) about half of Jesus Christ's view on this.
   You know the drill, all that upside-down talk, "the first shall be last, the greatest shall be the servant of all" type of stuff. We balk at an outright endorsement (like His) which would say; "blessed are the poor". But we are able to (somewhat) infer that "Woe to you rich" might well be worth a second thought or two. Even we can notice that the "good-stuff" of life is a stealth toxin of some type. Rather than going "the whole nine yards" (whatever that means) and saying (with Him) "You cannot serve God and mammon", we keep trying to find some half-way house, a "medium" setting, halfway betwixt enjoying "the nice things", and tossing into the mix some "spiritual" stuff, for good measure. Halfway measures just irritate both sides, and it really just amounts to a lowering of our sights. An amalgamated, dual irritation...
   Such an amalgam does not qualify as an example of b.t.e. We have lost sight of the best thing ever. We are dealing (here) with damage-containment, or being satisfied with merely not letting the plague run wild. The b.t.e. (itself) seems to be permanently out of reach, in that as we pursue "the desirable", such an effort makes us (personally) undesirable! Or as we attempt to "identify" the b.t.e., such work turns me into a "stranger" (and an ugly one at that!).
   Now the truly revolting aspect of this mess is that as a Christian believer, I'd like (very much) to congratulate myself on "choosing the better portion", so that I am free to turn around and lecture you on doing the same...yawn. In reality, I chose right, simply "because" I ran short on bad options of my own! It's not so much that "I chose health", as I was forced to drop cigarettes, to shed beer, ditch the fried chicken;  potato chips, and hot chocolate, in that; they were just too damned heavy! We "put down our burdens", not because we are so very clever as to have realized what a fine idea that would be, with a view to holiness or something. No, it was clearly a case of exhaustion. I carried them as far as I could, and ran out of gas!
   This is all very insulting if we get right down to it, I mean here; insulting to your Maker. If I offered you an invitation to the lake, we could get back to the b.t.e.! Hey, we will barbecue, let's not forget the sunbathing, the jacuzzi, the jet-ski, the fireworks! Did we recall the big dance, the special party (just in your honor!)?...Well, it's either that; or you can stay in solitary confinement, eat bread and water, and sleep on the concrete... It's kinda up to you. And your answer here? "Can you give me some time to think it over before I answer?"! Wait! You want "time to think it over?". Note the active insult to the host,... ME!
   Well, we do this, (and far worse) not a 100 times, not 10,000 times, but more (?), to Him and we never even notice that we are doing so! "Would you care to come join Me? Only the very best wine, joy, gladness, and light!", says He. "This is even better than jet-skis?", says me. "Either that, or you can spend an eternity in a garbage-dump which is on fire"; says He. And we have the nerve to say, "Can you give me some time to think it over?"?.
   We are brain-damaged. Think of Mark Twain. Compare the world of Huck and Tom. Which would you rather "have", that imaginary world, or dinner with it's author? We are asking for "time to choose"? And if we go unassisted, we will always get this wrong. We will (stupidly) think that the b.t.e. is a "thing" or some pile of "stuff"; and densely continue to "not notice" that He has not (yet) "taken offense" at our rudeness. The True best thing ever, isn't a "thing". It's a "He", and He (so far) has worked Humbly(!) to patiently draw us back to sanity, to the reality that He is King, and stuff is stuff.
   In that real world, it is He who glitters, it is He all awesome and powerful, He the True Drink, He the True Food. We will never, (of ourselves), get this part right. To "embrace poverty", we reject our own idiotic assessment of "holding onto stuff now", (as our private version of the b.t.e.), so to embrace the plain sanity of "being held onto then", by Him, The Best Thing Ever, in Person!
   We did not embrace Him out of "good taste". "Good taste" is what we used, in order to define our version of the b.t.e., and that misery has served only to make we-ourselves undesirable! Simply, we ran out of bad habits, and He was kind enough to not reject us. I tried as hard as I could, and arrived at His door, broke, exhausted, blind and dead. He restored me! Why? For His honor, we gather...we have become a kind of "trophy" for His home.
   The best thing ever, is that in "my righteousness," I swung the hammer, which drove the spike which pinned His arm down that day...and He did NOT "hold it against me"? Face it, He is the Best Ever, Author of things, Life (in Person) for the dead, Hope of the hopeless, Friend to the friendless. This is the part where you come in...