Saturday, February 28, 2015

Soul Power (date unknown)

  Driving down Missouri Ave. the other day, I caught (yet another) red light. There isn't much to do while waiting in traffic, except to fiddle with the radio, or look around at the other cars. In front of me was a pick-up truck. It just so happened that as he nudged forward a foot or two, and reapplied his brakes; another light caught my eye. "Interesting", thought I.
  When The guy's brake lights are on, so too a little chrome skull with red eyes lights up where the ball hitch mounts! As I think it over, it's not clear to me that the skull actually was the ball hitch, but I believe it was where the ball hitch should have been. I guess the winking skull kind of distracted me from noticing whether it really could have been used to tow anything. Have you noticed where you live, all the skulls; they are everywhere!
  There is nowadays apparently a death logo cottage industry out there. You've got your basic skull decals, then comes those skull coffee cups, and let's not forget skull tee-shirts. Skull jewelry, skull tattoos, and ball caps, why the symbol everywhere? I haven't checked to find out if underwear comes in lovely skull decorations too, but why not? Hey, how about skull dinner plates? Just as you finish off the tamale and enchilada plate; how's about a grinning death's head; looking right back at you? Do we look forward to skull golfballs, skull tweezers, and next, cute little skull children's building blocks? Skulls appear to be all over the place these days. Why is that?
  One needn't be a Sherlock Holmes in order to deduce that some sort of "death thing" is going on just now in our culture. I surmise thus; "If death is in; life is out". So then, the animating feature in you, that "soul"- thing is just now under assault in our world. To be "for life" (is that so very provocative a stance?) is to be deemed "narrow minded" at best. Babies in the womb aren't babies at all but a "tissue mass". Chopping them to bits and pieces isn't killing, but "reproductive rights" in our twisted world. And when the wheels fall off of the argument, and all the nice guy disguises are dropped; saving babies makes you nowadays "a Nazi". Never mind that Dolf & Co. likewise used the death's head logo. Never remember that in the 30's, euthanasia and death with dignity was "cool" (in Germany at least) and death renditions (skulls plus lots of black clothing) were also at that time quite "trendy". All of the visible evidence for just who best lines up (historically) with the pro-death National Socialism is something you're not supposed to notice, okay? 
  I've never been too awfully clear on the usage of the word "soul". I do recall that during the 60's; certain black folk constantly referred to "soul". Soul music, soul food, and other soul paraphernalia come to mind. But, soul itself, that vital animating "me" which can (due to death) be separated from body, is not an entirely clear idea. Body and soul, the two belong together, we know that much! But just what soul "is", remains difficult to say.  My best guess is that we do not "grasp" soul, because by soul, we grasp all else. One does not look at the telescope with the telescope.
  The new-agey folks, with their "ascended masters", chakras, chi and prana are ostensibly (by their own testimony) expert witnesses on all things soulish. I have my doubts. After all, even if we knew nothing at all about things mystic, we do have some good information on "expert witnesses". The east with their gurus and yogis, are the counterpart over here to psychologists, and statisticians, and those guys are all for hire! But neither flavor of expert, those steeped-in mystery soul guys,  nor our professional knowers can explain skulls everywhere!
  In my opinion, we are discussing four "power centers" within us. The Lord identifies heart, mind, soul, and strength as centers within us. All are to be engaged. We in the west are kinda batting .500. On this side of the planet, we are heart-mind oriented, and generally feel free to minimize or plainly ignore soul-strength. We westies speak of our "passion" (heart) as we seek "clarity and understanding" (mind). The animating feature (soul) we take for granted; except in the old or ill, to whom we "wish" health. Strength, we infer to be almost exclusively an outer and body thing; and so almost entirely disregard.
  Any opinion you care to "prove", can with expert opinion be established. The experts of the west with their flow charts and numbers "prove" that soul mainly does not exist. A whispery and insubstantial ghost in the brain; a lessor aspect of the MIND, mere emotion! Here, it's all about the cranial capacity, the neuron software, and all that "think" stuff. For instance, westerners believe that they possess a freudian "subconscious", a kind of unread substrate to the waking mind. And on a good day, they just might possibly grant that said inaccessible attic of half thoughts could correspond to rumors of soul? I have my doubts. Meanwhile, the east appears (to me at least) to be saying that the mind (if it exists) is a tacked-on and mainly deceptive sub routine of the real deal, the SOUL.
  So in our world, a lopsidedness keeps cropping up. One side of the equation is heavier than the other, and so is no equation at all. A see-saw with a 40 pound kid on one side, and a 250 pound man on the other is "an unequal balance". If either soul-only or body-only "wins" the dispute, we just built another un-fun teeter totter, it "works" but goes nowhere. We may be chasing our tails, but we certainly are doing plenty of laps while at it!
  A popular example of this sort of thing might be the Christiany idea (in some circles) that the entire point of living is to quit it! To speak as if living is all about dying, so to go elsewhere and be a glorious soul, to die and go be with Jesus, is the sound of it. We keep shearing off one aspect of things, in order to make the fraction equal to and then greater than the whole. Body was designed to go with soul. To teach that either body or soul as; "It; the truly important thing", is crazy. And contrariwise, on the other end of the scheme, is skulls.
  Aren't the guys dressed in black, with holes poked in their faces, and skull tattoos; basically saying that life is all about "stuff"? If it's a soul versus body question, their vote (apparently?) is body. All the big money is working against the little guy, the system is skewed, and basically, life sucks. If soul is about life, and life is pointless, then everything turns out to be all about bodies, and bodies die!. . . Hence the skulls?
  Since I'm not real clear as to what soul is, it remains difficult to grasp how a guy would go about loving God with it! I kinda get loving with strength. Hunker down, try already! I more or less grasp the loving Him with the mind. Think! Use your head. I even get a bit of the heart love thing. Put yourself in the neighbor's shoes for a minute, try a little compassion. But soul? Beats me. It is roughly akin to Paul speaking about warring upon spiritual forces of darkness in the air. Uh, what rock do I throw, and where do I aim? How do I go about busting a "power of the air" right in the chops?
  But, it's not like we know nothing at all here. For instance, I have noticed that in the N.T., our words "life" and "soul" are in the original, often the same word. "He who loses his life for My sake", is a familiar enough text. To our ears, "losing his soul for My sake" would sound creepy, but nevertheless, it is the same word. Let's hijack that idea, and run with it; eh?
  So, when modern folk say things like; "I've got to get my life in order", or maybe "Life is hard sometimes", we should listen. That might very well prove to be their version of soul-talk. If so, I would describe it as the tenor, the drift, the feel of things. Not necessarily the theme, but the mood, especially the mood at present. Whether flat or giddy, whether somber or exultant, it is via soul that we so deem our life to be at present; whether up, down, sideways etc., and that's my plumber guess for today.
  After the Superbowl, some reporter inevitably asks the QB; "How does it feel?". That is a soul question, by this estimate. Downcast, upcast, off the rails, the soul is all over the mood map, as a kind of inner estimator of just how well (or not) things "out there" line up with "in here" expectations. If so, emotion and soul both function as a type of "meter" to gauge "how things are", and are closely linked. And if this is even mildly true, then perhaps to love The I Am (That Am) with this feature of the person is to remember?
  We, with assistance are taught to "newly estimate how things are, by looking across time"; saying things like; "We remember Your kindnesses in the past, and how You have never once lied to us. You have never, ever made fun of us. We recall; You always have listened to our dumb rants, without rejecting! We remember the present, how we sleep warm at night, eat good food, drink clean water, sing glad songs and even have more than we really need. We remember the future, that You have sworn upon Your own honor to stand us up again, in a new world not polluted by treason and lies, clothed then with an immortal gladness, in new bodies all full of light.
  Loving with soul then might be the recalling to memory, so to be made willing to pass through the valley we are in just now. The "life sucks" idea is not new. The O.T. commands about grumbling and complaining were never established so that we become all pollyanna about grief and loss. Rather, grumbling was (and is) an improper forgetfulness, linked with a stubborn foot-dragging; so as to find some way or another to just not go through today's trouble! The soul announces a "bad" present, and the "solution" is the grumble, as a proposed escape hatch out of trouble. Grumbling is suggesting that trouble should best "go away" or be visited upon someone else. It is announcing a "thumbs down" review of "the Management Upstairs". Gospel is saying that there is no "escape hatch", or better; there is but one escape hatch, never two. If by escape we mean escape from death, there is none. But to enter it willingly, there is yet hope on "the far side of Jordan". And that escape is a confident walking right through the center of the meat grinder! Grumbling skull wearers never "get" this part.
  Jesus walked into Jerusalem, well aware that He would die there. He went in "with soul", firmly convinced He would stand up again on the far side of the trouble. The three cast into the fiery furnace, were joined in the midst of the fires by a fourth. It was very souly of them to refuse to bow before the image. The pattern was not to bellyache until the problem went elsewhere, or fell upon someone else. The pattern is good-life, bad-death, far-better-new-life. The skull folk are advertising for bad-life, good-death, pointless-afterward, that's the difference.
  Life after death was never about "getting to the other side" minus a body! That business is a strictly temporary affair. The kingdom is in our midst, it has come near. Life after death is to be entered here and now. We die (and are called alive again) daily! That small reality, shall grow and grow, and one day even creation herself will wake up again renewed, and made all glorious. Gospel predicts the sure coming of that bright morning, and the reality of what we've believed, will then be be plain and obvious to all.
  When the Captain of Life returns, His children shall come gladly at His Almighty call, so to stand up again out of their body breakdown. From the four winds, and from across the age, one congregation of the bought-back, shall out of soul say; "I remember You!".
  Or more precisely, we shall fully sense the rightness, the sheer wholesomeness, of His remembering of us back when we were still sleep-walking our way, all lost and alone. In our loneliest hour, it was then that He came to crash through our own prison wall to cheer the inmates. All the old images of fire in the eyes of skulls, then washed off our bodies, so to be transformed now to eyes alight with welcome at seeing The King in Person! The ex-inmates light up best and brightest, just for Him, they are very soulful indeed!

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