Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday Mind Experiment #1

  I am not aware of any "rules" over here in blog-land which would prohibit a mind experiment, are you? Most of my writing is in the form of essays, most of which are speculative at best, wouldn't you agree?
  Well, anyhow, I was living in a (rather smallish) "parallel universe" tonight for about an hour; and in that private world, "I was giving a sermon". It just so happened this evening that our fellow presbyhoovians across town hosted a "joint service". The Pastor who was speaking this evening had some interesting things to say about Psalm 133 (I suppose), but I kept wanting to "corrrect" him! It was very annoying having all of this brain racket going on, while I was ostensibly listening.
  It was like those irritating people who "correct" you while (during!) you are speaking, except that I was the one who was just so irritating, to myself! The premise then of the experiment, is; "If I am so hot to speak-up (and let's face it, nobody wants to hear that!) why not write down my version of the parallel-sermon which was not preached?".
  So, we enter the tiny sanctuary, in which "Brother Mike" is sounding off on Psalm 133. What would that particular sermon consist of? It seems a moderately interesting idea to try out. If you don't care for sermons as a rule, well then; this would be a fine spot to hit the "eject" button; and close down the file. With this intro, we commence my first (written) sermon!

                                            Greasy Beard Stuff

  Our text for tonight contains passages one fellow I know claims to be his favorite Psalm. It goes: "Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, coming down upon the edge of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon, coming down upon the mountains of Zion; for there the LORD commanded the blessing - life forever." The guy in question has made a fuss over this particular Psalm (shall we say?) "More than once" in my hearing.
  To be honest with you, I never did "get" what it was he was alluding to. I mean, is this text saying "Generally speaking, it is better to be unified and get along rather than to be at each other's throats?. . . Or something?" And supposing that were true, who cares? Frankly, unity per se seems like an okay idea, but there are some serious hiccups involved.
  In fact, these hiccups show up in a variety of areas which we, of the faith once delivered, constantly flounder. Be at peace with each other, be one in spirit and intent. Well, that sounds fine, but we find (in practice) that other people are pretty ornery, and that it is difficult at best, and usually plainly impossible for us to do so. We are excluded by inability, but if the truth were known, most of the time, I simply have no desire to be "unified" thanks just the same for asking?
  That is, we as fallen persons are doubly disqualifed from "keeping the rules" set forth in scripture. We are both unwilling (usually) and in any case; simply too weak, mixed-up, and distracted by the jillion and one things of everyday life to do so. Unwilling, plus unable, that is us! Did I mention the dark side yet?
  Simply said, the more I am (personally) "commanded to unify with" others, the less I would like to have to do with anyone at all! That is, there is a mulish stubborn-ness, an "I'm right-er than you" kind of drill here, which we all to one extent or another, participate in. And yes, this could be thought of (I think) as a sub-set of "unwilling", but what we are driving at here; is that we believe ourselves to be correct, and that it is others who are in error. We do not unify, for the excellent reason that we are too right to do so! At least, that is the way I am, if left to my own devices.
  The text says "It is pleasant", I tend to disagree! I don't even like people, why would I want to unify with them? And it is not only here which we spot this ugly streak in ourselves! In plenty of places, scripture duly informs us that we are to be on the "pro-humility" bandwagon. Did you notice? The very same type of disqualifiers are at work here also. It is hard!. . . to be humble, we lack the vigor and health to do so. But way, way beyond that, we (not so secretly) think of ourselves as more excellent in some way or another, . . . "especially compared to him!". We are commanded to it, and find the double-disqualifiers at work again!
  Worse yet, as we double-down so to force ourselves to obey, the mule streak kicks into high gear, and we promptly identify an area where we will never (!) "Knuckle under" to those arrogant so and soes. First the two, then the three, they "conspire against" our best heart, and we end in frustration, anger and a kind of passive low level distrust of "those people". Well, that's the way my wretched "heart" functions at least.
  The very thing, if done (unity and now humility), which was to have been a source of joy and gladness for us; turns out to be a major bummer, just another area of heartburn in life, which I am no good at? I am convinced friend, that this is who we are! And we reject that conclusion also, both are true!
  One more theme, and we will move along. Be at one with each other, be humble toward others, and be generous, give to the needy! And I won't wear you out with a rehash of where we find ourselves, except to note yet again, unwilling, unable, and finally "too righteous" to comply. It is a pattern and a routine we are all too familiar with!
   The cure is in the psalm, we both see it, and also never notice it. Predictably, it is a both/and kind of affair. It's kinda weird that "greasy kid stuff" in the hair proves to be much of an aid to us, but actually; it is!
  The Bible is very, very clear on the central idea here, Aaron (the ancient high priest of Israel) is doing something! The high priest goes in once a year in that era to "make atonement" for the people by blood sacrifice! The oil upon the head and beard is a sign to us. Very, very clearly the message of the word is; "You sin, you die. . . Period!" The only possible exclusion was this idea that The Almighty informs us of, an acceptable substitute, a blood sacrifice, but only in the context of His authorized agent (high priest) rightly doing the sacrificial work. Aaron's oil, was logo and endorsement to the people that The Almighty was pleased with (having designed the system after all) the sacrificial offering-work of Aaron.
  That is, hope lived on in the hearts of the many for the wonderful reason that God Himself had authorized, built and executed a system whereby the offences could be paid-for. Forgiveness was real, because the claims of Justice had been satisfied, and lawfully dealt with!
  Therefore, that community of folk which "bought into" this scheme, found as a deriviative and by-product of this confidence in Aaron's work that (incidentally) they were of one mind.
  Lesson one; unity is a by-product of a legitimate trust. The substance of said trusting was that peace with God is effected by the system of an "anointed" priest ending the war between man and God through the means God had established. Unity is never built by "trying harder to be unified"! And of course, Aaron is a "picture of, or echo of" the true Priest, who Himself is also True Sacrifice! John Baptist shouts; "Lookee there! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!".
  And not to wear out my welcome today, but we might also likewise apply the same sort of medicine to those two other areas we mentioned earlier. We the un-humble are (in our own minds at least) "high". But the Anointed-one is triply so! He is Prophet, Priest, and King. He is the true "Somebody" in earth, the one sane Man, and the high King of Heaven (and now!) Earth. We, in His presence are freed to be "low" since even the highest ranking angels ever, are mere peons compared to Him! That is, we are brought back to sanity, and to a remembrance of our actual identity, this; not by "finding ourselves" but by being found-of Him!
  It is a relief (don't you see?) to drop all of that high and mighty pretending, and just be regular people. Out of sheer mercy and kindness He elevates us (the lowly nobodies) up where He is! He seats us, not only as children of the King, but as kings (and queens might I add?) in our own right! And humility is built just here, upon this rock solid reality. It never really was a matter of play-acting at "trying to be humble", but rather the sober and clear realization that He went far, far out of His way to elevate the worst among us (me, I mean!), and so, we are all freed to honor the you above the me, for the simple reason, that you really are more honorable! Nobody that I have met is as despicable as I. It's reality, and the King of the real we discuss here.
  So too then, with the final anointing of Prophet. The apostle asks; "What do you have, that you did not receive?". The word of truth, the word of life, the word of sanity and of wholesome gladness, did you invent any of it? Heck no, and so we pass on a treasure belonging to Another, which was given to us; for the express purpose of aiding others. That is "why" He gives us stuff!
  On every account then, the fix, the repair we so desperately require, is found in the grease on Aaron, the oil upon son of Jesse, the goop on Elijah's noggin. They were the precursors, of the really greasy Guy, The King of Jews, Jesus Christ (christened!) The Righteous! It ain't about you, nor your lousy excuse of a job, of "trying to obey". It is about the unshakable conviction that Eternal Covenant was struck between Father and Son, and out that utterly fierce and eternal love, room has been made. A welcoming in, a gathering round that Holy Fire, and the joy of that gathering of the living  is unkillable!
  Marvelously, out of that unbreakable nature of Their love, we find a place made (graciously) for "younger brothers". We trust in His plan, His scheme to save us. . . From Him, Unto Him, by His strength, in His time, by His means, for His glory.   It . . . Ain't. . . About . . . You!
  Deal with it.
  And we shall mercifully conclude today's sermon with a final look back at Psalm 133. So, what's up with Mount Hermon and the morning dew? And I (for one?) say; "Clearly, He's a romantic!".
  After all, what could speak of love better than a rendezvous? You, my friend who trust the Sane One, shall, one day; most certainly die, unless of course you are here to greet Him upon His return. But, supposing that were so, the transformation in you on that day, the renewal and the strengthening would be at least as supernatural as what He has in store for the rest of us!
  We shall, at His summons "stand up again" (re-erect), this time clothed in immortality and power, shining with the light of an unkillable gladness. It's future-history baby.
  There is a meeting place, a place most green and fresh and bright. Cool waters, lush colors, song, food and welcome! It is the high place, the mountain of God where we shall see Him face to face! It's the real deal, the straight skinny, the inside dope on what shall be. Truth told, Mount Hermon is a bit like that place, much in the same way that Aaron is bit like the True Oily One.
  What makes heaven so blasted "heavenly" after all, ain't the real estate, it is the Land-Lord, present and accounted-for! He Himself is the reward and the treasure. And in that day, even we will be sane enough to want He-Himself, rather than the stuff He made.
  All cruelty, murder, lies and corruption, all sin and wickedness come to a screeching, permanent, and violent halt one day soon! He wins, King Kong sized slam dunk! The enemys' insane idea of "rivaling" Him, never did make a lick of sense. But in that day, even we will know that much, and that, right well!
  But He, the Anointed Himself makes sense of all else.
  Ain't He grand? What a Genius! What a Champ! Around Him we gather, bend the knee, respect and greet our brothers, even now, how much moreso then?
  He blazed the trail and made for us, the way home!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Mirror World (date unknown)

  We could firmly assert (I think!) . . . that; "If there were such things as "mirror worlds", they would prove awfully blasted difficult to navigate". And it is not that I seriously believe that any such thing actually will present itself as a problem to work through, but rather; it's a mildly interesting line of thought to pursue, don't you think? Let's see where this essay of the crazed pants variety goes, eh?
  To begin with, I ought be honest and admit, that this concept of a reverse world has been sorta hanging out in my skull; for most of my life. So, for something now approaching a half-century, this thought-set recurs at least now and again. So apparently then, I personally suppose it to be substantially more than "mildly interesting"!
  Back in the mid-60s, Mom and Dad owned a 35mm camera (Argus?). They weren't fanatics about photos, but I do recall looking at "slides" projected up on the wall. We would turn off the TV, and Pop would load the projector. The great thing (to me) about those little shows was the possibility of a reverse!
  Of course, anyone could occasionally make the boo-boo of loading a picture into the projector upside-down, and that was fun, but the really fascinating thing was to see it flipped left to right! Imagine a photograph of your own home, but "reversed". Such would be a kind of mirror image of your actual home. The garage ought be on the left side of the house, and see? Now, it's over on the right. The left/right symmetry of faces might prohibit you from immediatley grasping what you see, but clearly that china cabinet is in the "wrong" place. Fascinating!
  I couldn't seem to get enough of this sort of thing as a boy. To further complicate matters, our parents also had a large mirror in the center of the main wall in the living room. When slideshows were not in progress, if a chap was diligent enough to turn himself upside-down, and then look into the mirror? Well, for one thing; he could imagine that the floor was the ceiling, and as you look into the reverse of the room, and imagine navigating "over" the tops of the doorways so to go down the hall, does the turn to the left become a turn to the right in that other world? Doesn't this seem interesting to you too?
  But such topological turnings cause a plumber to wonder; "What actually would constitute an 'opposite-world'"? Ruminate upon this. If in "world-a" (the real one!) we turn left, in order to descend stairs, would "world-b" (it's symmetrical opposite) feature a right turn plus descent, or would it become ascent? I mean by this, from a topological perspective, we can "get" a left/right function fairly obviously, but why would up/down not likewise apply? Or, to rephrase; how "far" do the bonds of symmetry hold? Gosh, isn't this interesting?
  I have apparently long loved thinking spacially about this kind of stuff. Let's play with this some. If in world-a, you slip and fall; damaging your right knee, do you in world-b, hurt your left knee? Or, would the "true opposite" of a knee injury manifest as a wrist-hurting affair? Or perhaps the really-real-oppo of a knee-fail; might rather prove to be a strong and healthy joint eh? Now we are getting somewhere! So, if we deal with a visual only right/left parity, it would be difficult (at first) to navigate, but all bets are off, if we propound an alternate world of "true opposition". In that case, our compass goes wild. I mean, what if the "true opposite" of "north" is not in fact, "un-north", which we would normally deem south? What if the true-opposite is some sort of seventeenth dimensional "un-direction", named "bob"? Oh, I love this kind of thing!
  So, before we are committed to a home for the topologically challenged, let us lay down some ground rules. Rule one reads; "Any switch of worlds, requires a center point". So, look into a mirror today. You do not indeed look at all like that. But, the reversed image possesses a center line at which both "halves" rotate. Fair enough for you? Such a pivot point may itself "rotate" (I wouldn't know) but it can't run away down the street screaming about zombies! Fair enough for you?
  For example, we note that the fulcrum center, always "embraces both ends". In world a, you might be an infant, and in world-b, a codger with a walker. But rule one asserts that the center of "mid-life" remains. World-a features a "you", both left-handed and famous, while world-b corresponds; with a righty of the inconspicuous variety. We are free to propound thus, many mirrors, male/female, rich/poor, educated/rustic, white/black and slave and free to name but a few. At "the fulcrum of worlds", there is a "keeper of sanity", a master of the axial pairings; which itself has no opposite, And frankly, I don't see how anyone could think otherwise . . .
  If the purpose of these ruminations is to consider topology (without going entirely bonkers!) such a center-point, which itself having no opposite; seems the mildest of assertions, to my thinking at least. Which brings us (I infer) by a roundabout scheme, to the topic of holiness!
  In it's simplest form, the business of the Holy might be thought of as "The Master (point/axis) possessing zero opposites"! Isn't that tidy? The spooky part of such, would necessarily be that such a central/axial would be in this estimate . . . Alive! Clearly, if it were dead, or merely an abstraction; it would retain opposites, namely the living and the concrete.
  We propose thereby; "So, this young guy all in a lather, runs up to the (topological) Master. 'Hey man, I'm with you, and "the cause", where you go, I go'; proclaims the young chap". The Master (oddly enough) responds with; "Well, how's about this? Birds make nests, and foxes have holes to sleep in, and the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head!".
  What gives? Is this non-sequitor-city or something? Is this an exercise in weird-pants statements, or is He "rotating the world" for the young zealot? The very concept of "there-ness" which the young devotee proclaims, is countered by, the bald assertion of "having nowhere". It is a mirror, but this Image (He-Himself!) is the true one!
  The mirror-Master is the one at the central axis, He is participating in "both" worlds. Possessing no "shelter", He "is" the (True) Shelter. He dies penniless and alone, so enriching and visiting with undying friendship, the many. Dying naked and shamed, He clothes, and makes-honorable, others. But He-Himself, in this process does not "reverse". Rather, He-at-center, correctly has the cosmos rotating about Him! I hope I am being clear "here"?
  Wow, this is even better than Mom and Dad's slide shows! This is the genuine article, in Person. As such, things keep "falling-out" of this kind of topo-think.
  Think of a "problem". I propose a guy trying to make his way cross-country in an old Winnebago. On the distant end, is the hope for a job, and enroute, the vehicle craps out. What is the solution?
  And if you are anything like me, you immediately break out the mirror into a proposed world-b. And in that tidy little universe, which the guy "ought to have planned" (and taken into account setbacks), he would not be just now pan-handling in a parking lot. Our private reverse worlds, in which we thus "fix" things, are clean little spots, and (frankly) problems of this sort (in those private little worlds); just do not arise! There, problem solved, and I hope he learns his lesson!
  Except for one little thing, the guy and his family have not moved an inch closer to the promised job, duh?
  There are all kinds of Bible passages about being good to the poor, which we normally excuse ourselves from. There is ample evidence that a central axiom of having a faith which grows, is directly related to us forgiving others what they cannot repay. And this too, we usually "overlook"; because nobody can know how deeply I have been hurt, yadda, yadda. The central axis of reality, is a He, not an "it", and He Sees! From His side of the axial, there is always "plenty", and upon ours is "want". He is Master of both.
  We spoke briefly of the Holy in paragraphs above, but in practice, we are not so much "holy" as (instead) being sanctified. The basic requirement we have as humans is that the debt we cannot pay, be somehow paid. At the center of history, stands the Cross of Jesus, where just this transaction is accomplished. This central fulcrum has ripple effects all across reality!
  The prayer at it's center goes; "feed us with what we require, forgive us what we cannot pay, as we are likewise doing". Our prayer is saying that we give what others need! Is this so awfully true of us? No, but it is becoming true!
  So, axiomatically then, two things are coming-into our world, from that other one, with Him as "gateway". We are beginning to make peace with our enemies, and we are making first-steps at giving to the poor! Friendliness and generosity clearly "do not belong" here, and the Master of the fulcrum (He-at-center), owns both opposites. It is our faith in Him (which is growing) which is causing us to begin to likewise participate in the "folly" of generosity. So says the plumber!
  To give something to a homeless guy is "wrong" by our lights. What if he uses the money to buy dope? We certainly wouldn't want to be party to that horror. . . now would we? But if we cannot be generous to the guy living in a parking lot, just who precisely can we be generous to? The "folly of faith" then, is that we believe that as we expend resources, He is faithful to (also) grant us what we require.
  Our real problem then, is not that poor people might prove to be bad bets. Rather, we find it nearly impossible to be "so foolish" because we are (obviously!) so blasted "wise". We suffer from an excess of "right-ness"! Ordinarily, we simply are unable (not to mention unwilling!) to "buy" the premise of generosity, and prefer to wisely retain our "hard-earned" money, not to mention our time, and visiting priviledges. So, in Bible-speak, we are thereby defined as "small-faiths". We are spiritual pygmies, and as soulish midgets; are satisfied? But, that way, lay dragons!
  In order to grow in trust then, of the One-at-center (Who has no opposite!) we begin "foolishly" losing wealth. We extend friendship where it does not belong, for the simple reason that we ourselves are the prime targets (if rightly considered) of such bias. He has extended to His enemies (me and you I mean) peace. . . bought by blood! He has impoverished Himself, so to enrich us beggars. So then, what Gospel "does" in us, is to begin a new desire in our guts to participate in this axial world-switching! The invitation to walk between the mirrors (with Him), is real! We, having been given-to, are finding more and more the freedom to likewise give. That's reality baby!
  I tell ya, this is way, way better than the slide show. But, there remains parallels from that discussion to consider. Would you like to know that you are "safe in His arms?". Well then (obviously) be un-safe! Or, in English, give away to those who cannot repay. Would you enjoy being clothed with honor? If so, then hang around and visit with the wrong crowd. Ain't it obvious?
  And all of the rest of The Master's upside/down talk, is likewise founded "just here"; upon He-at-center, with the genuine invitation to join Him "there"!
  It is "there", where everything switches, "there" where the blind see, and the lame dance. It's the "place where" the hungry are filled. "There-at-fulcrum", where the dead are received back to joyous embrace, this is the true mirror-world, and He the True Image viewed!
  Hope isn't some pollyanna misery about "not-despair". Hope is real, hope is a joining in, a stepping-with The Master-at-center of worlds, The Holy One has no equal, and no opposite, and hearts soar to find Him, or rather; to be found of Him!
  Ain't He a marvel? Ain't He grand? Any which way you turn, He shines, all stunning and brilliant . . . and remarkably friendly too!

Friday, January 1, 2016

On Romance

  I am not quite certain here, but I may well be the world's least foremost authority on matters of the heart. The topic of romance was on my mind this morning after waking at about 4:20 a.m., or so? Dreaming something of which I have no waking memory, the very concept of "romance" kinda hovered in my brain for about twenty minutes after waking, and (oddly!) it even made sense?
  So, with this hefty resume' of experience and insight on the matter, we courageously venture forward! Anyhow, a crazy-pants-essay seemed like a good idea for today. The theme appears to be interesting enough, and add to that; the statistically improbable fact that I have nothing to do on a Sunday morning? Our Kirk is closed today, due to a large (by Las Cruces standards) snow storm which dumped for about seven hours yesterday. I began this "think-piece" on Christmas Eve, but it kinda stalled several paragraphs below here. Today seems a good day to attack it again.
  There is a "magical" or "romantic" aspect to the holiday (Christmas, I mean) which up until this morning, just never made any sense at all to me. Over the years, my basic strategy on this type of thing, has been to  pull "a mike"; and conclude with a; "I am surrounded by lunatics in any case, and so why would we expect their ruminations on holy-days to be any more reasonable than the rest of their nonsense?". This not-entirely charitable assessment of things romantic, has remained remarkably uniform in me over the years, and then; for decades!
  My keen insight on romance thus has been; "I don't get it". Overall, we presume it to be "a girl thing" in that (often) it is the fems who are most glad about it, they often seem interested in it, and appear to understand what the "it" in question refers to? Moreover (and this is kinda cheesy), the few guys who profess to grasp what romance (itself) "is"; have often struck me as basically pretty unreliable. They can wow the girls, but cannot seem to get the job done, or to that effect, has been my "take" over here, on them.
  A year or three ago (I have no idea of exactly when), I hand-wrote a C.P.E. having to do with Valentine's Day. No, it has not yet been transcribed into blog-land. Anyhow, as I recall; several women objected to some of the observations within that essay.
  I have no idea what they found to be objectionable. As I recall, I was bemoaning (again) "the r-word". In my brain, "the r-word" is relationship, not romance, although links exist between them we might suppose. Culturally, or socially, "relationship" has become a huge topic in the past twenty years, but the structure of the thing remains almost entirely weird.
  If we could imagine two people in the room, you and me. The "r" appears to be a third "entity" of an abstracted variety. It too, is "in the room"? Are fems actually saying that; "If I care about you (the person) I then, in order to demonstrate this, should pay more attention to the abstraction, the "r" present also? I believe that they are attempting to induce me to pay attention to "it", and thus only "indirectly", to them . . . but why? I mean here, why is this cogent to anyone at all? And, as best as I can detect, it makes sense, because it is romantic.
  Houston, we have a problem . . .
  If some sort of fixation on "r" (the abstraction) is a sign of romance, and romance goes undefined, well then; we get . . . Me! This mind-wreck has just never filed in my poor little skull. The delusional stretching and contortions required along the way, to somehow decode this mess into English, has been lots of work with zero output in my experience.
  I infer thereby, that men and women speak two distinct languages. The tricky aspects of twin languages include our rememberance that some sections of usage are quite similar in terms of intent and vocabulary, but beware! Even in those areas of commonality, meaning can wildly swerve. "The dog needs to go to the vet", might well have linguistic parallels, and imply something about animals and their doctors. And also; at the drop of a hat; it might well contain a surprisingly alternate (and sinister!) meaning.
  Recall that you are just now reading, and so the twin functions are at low tide. In real life conversation, with all kinds of rising eyebrows, inflections and pauses thrown in, a veritable world of possible alternate meanings of the one sentence arise, and most of those are treated as grave personal insults by fems. In brief, it is work, to talk to women.
  An outlandish assertion of mine like; "Nice day, huh?", can be taken to imply everything and nothing, depending upon which girl it is said to, and (crucially!) her mood. Such an alarming statement about air and sunshine, might well prove to be the most brutal personal slander ever delivered by human lips, or it could be just another asinine truism, delivered by a patronizing chauvinist. Women are weird. They seem to enjoy "being offended", and the romantic thing to do (I think?) is to decode what they actually say into some sort of charitable assessment of what they meant by it. But nothing of what I say is to be taken at face value. It is an "un-even equality" so-to-speak.
  Overall, I have found that it is usually simpler to only talk to them about strictly structured topics, and that for limited time periods. The creatures seem to very much enjoy wrangling with words and emotions, and this tussle and constant fussing is (I assume?) what they refer to, in their "building relationship" concept. They want me to pay attention to it, and this demonstrates romance with them?
  My strategy over the years has thus become a three pronged approach. (1.) First, get the heck away from crazy people! (2.) Next, note that some of them are not entirely insane. Little old ladies, and young girls for instance, often have the ability to speak normal English, and are often fun to talk with. And we ought grant that some Christian women are also sane, and so, they can be worth a guys time to visit with. (3.) But, the final and obvious prong has been to develop the finer points of alone-ness as highly desirable, over the onslaught of daily disasters and chaos which manifest in close proximity to me whenever I am falling off of the wagon (again) and contemplating "dating". Simply said, I have learned to value a distinct lack of small-scale emergencies manifesting in my daily personal life. If I am even mildly correct in assessing this bizarre romantic scheme, I think that women enjoy making things difficult, and then seeing if I am willing to hang around long enough to deal with their warped thought, so to prove romantic intent?
  For instance, I recall, years ago; a young minister of the Gospel asking point-blank; "Why aren't you married?". The correct answer rose up effortlessly in me, and I truthfully answered; "Life is hard enough, and I already have a full time job".
  Every day at work, it is from one small disaster to the next, In each, I am to find a fix, to answer an issue, and to build the solution, so to minimally reduce the sum amount of chaos in the known universe. Uh, not to be impolite, but why in the world would I want to be doing the same thing in the middle of the night, and on weekends at my house? Dealing with women is work! And I have plenty of that, thanks just the same.
  For me, the strategy of generating distance, and of only talking with sane females, and most importantly, of valuing downtime from chaos-reduction, has served fairly well over the years. But it certainly ain't romantic! My main thing all along the way, has been that I do not understand what is implied or meant by "r-word-2" (romance), and it looks (to me) like more effort than it is worth; in order to find out! In my book, and in this fashion; it would be true to describe the leviathan of the federal government as romantic!
  Just imagine, millions of dollars spent, years wasted by scholars arguing and defending. Consensus only very slowly emerging; "Fruit bats don't ordinarily prefer to turn left in flight". Well, I just now made that up, but I mean by the illustration, the yield-benefits never begin to approach the investment-costs. As such, I have historically considered, finding out what "r-word-2" means, as a ridiculous personal boondoggle. It is years and dollars and heavy work invested, only to find out that women really are weird . . . or something? But, didn't we know that, going in? Romance thus, has been a bust in my life, a bad investment and a pointless, and painful waste. So, instead of throwing yet-more good effort after bad, I prefer to leave them alone, mind my own business and try not to purposefully rattle their cage (too much). And "here" I have come to rest.
  So then, overall this C.P.E. is a first for me, in the attempt to speak about romance in a friendly or even mildly accepting way. The drifting thoughts of an unremembered dream, with which this essay began; do we recall that? Those half-ideas were very interesting to consider. Thinking it over some, I am fairly confident that I have never really tried to think-well of romance.
  To me, the violently brief version of "r-word-2" is; "Everything is going to work out alright". It is your basic, "Happily-ever-after" drill here, which has likewise never made any sense to me. But, as a first; and to some slender degree, today I "get it"!
  What follows then, is my version of romance, and it begins in the toilet. As a little kid, I once (ostensibly) flushed my Mom's car keys down the toilet. I have no recollection of doing so, but she informed me of the act when I was old enough to understand. Maybe I did, and maybe I didn't, but we do know two things. The keys did indeed disappear one day, and a child we recall, certainly was fascinated with flushing toilets!
  You just trip the lever, and a swirl and a whoosh, and everything disappears? Wow! And we are talking 1950's era toilets here, none of that wimpy 1,6 gallon stuff, this was a real flush! I think I saw things through this type of lens.
  Vietnam was going on then, un-rest and riots in the streets, corrupt politicians with their finger on "the button", narcotics and "free sex" ruining a generation. And for you younger, (this present gen) "the button" was the premise of a nuclear war with the U.S.S.R. being a very real possibility (the "Cold War"), breaking out any old day now! With one push, an atomic holocaust ends civilization as we know it, and then there were also some "negative trends" to consider!
  The end of oil was being predicted, a "Malthusian die-back" was in the works, world-wide famine predicted, along with an ice-age just to make things interesting. . . This was life, and life was a big toilet. To my young eyes, the lever had already been tripped. What we were observing then was the beginnings of the big swirl, which necessarily must end in the big whoosh, or so it seemed to young me at least.
  The very concept of "everything working out fine" was not only a blindness to reality, it was also functionally insane. And in that young me, what was true on the grand scale over-rode and eclipsed anything on the personal scale. The everything-okay theorm of; "I got my bike fixed in time to go to Kevin's house for lunch", was not much help when considered in light of coming mushroom clouds, and hypersonic shock waves to follow. So, if romance was a "happily ever after"; in the long run, it didn't matter even if it was true. And I doubted the truth of it in any case.
  Meeting a nice enough girl, so to settle down and argue happily for fifty years was small compensation for an entire world swirling, about to go whoosh, down the drain. I doubt that I fully thought this out as a boy, but the elements of this despair in me are (I think) being fairly considered today in this essay.
  So, as a newly minted romantic, I shall divulge the over the hill plumber-philosopher spin we all await! And I think it is about good and evil.
  Our concept of a romantic "happily-ever-after", is rooted in a dim-echo, a mirror image effort of grasping the real happily ever-after, of Gospel. The presbyhoovian spin here is ordinarily lumbering assertions concerning "Sovereignty", but nobody in their right mind wants to consider that.
  No, it is the The Son who leaping every barrier, crashing every wall, losing even His own life in the deed, proving to be "The Spouse" extraordinaire, it is He whose love is the headwaters (as the actual), of which our reverse-image river of romance; originates. And as true as that may be, it yet does not deal well (in my opinion) with the basic set involved of good and evil.
  It is a flat assertion that love triumphs over evil, and that is true enough, but says nothing about what precisely is being conquered.
  The short version here, is that we (to some degree) know of ourselves, that indeed; we are ugly and mean. As such, we generate distance between ourselves and others, for their good! The romance theorm (and it is a true one) says that He is not repulsed by our efforts at "saving Him", in the same fashion as we would "save others" from ourselves. Rather, He inverts our reverse image back to the true, and saves us from Him! This, I think goes a fair distance in explaining what women are so busy doing in their "developing r" construct.
  They inherently reject the notion that they are beautiful, insofar as they are aware of their inner ugliness. All of the dumb shenanigans they invoke, are designed to push away the seeker, because they wish to limit their own damaging effects, while trying to assay the genuineness of professed love. This is my guess at least, and know it to be true of myself also.
  The glory of Gospel is that He ratifies the terms of life and peace, and then applies that merit to us, "AS-IF" we were the loyal ones? Thus freed, we are given license to begin growing into what He has already remade us to be! And boy-howdy, I'm all for that, but we have not yet even dented the discussion of what precisely He is overcoming in this victory, i.e., "evil" (or perhaps more accurately, "sin").
  I like to eat at a Chinese "all-you-can-slam-down-your-neck buffet" here in town once or twice a month. Last night, on my way there, the "X-tion" radio station was playing a sound bite by Ravi Zacharias. He sounded in the content, much like C.S. Lewis and a big ol' slug of lessor lights I have heard over the years on the topic of sin. One and all, they inform us that the lever, the motivation and main driver of sin is . . . "pride". It is this that I have come to doubt, for it is this, which has so thouroughly made hash of my past efforts to decode the intent of romance. Or so, I now believe.
  I am no theologian, but do like to think over some of the things they talk about. I cannot (just now) recall a single verse in the Bible which would afford us the luxury of defining sin as; "unrepentant pride, at root". If it were true, wouldn't it perhaps be also true that the premier value in life would thus be humility? If pride is the force which makes sin go, then wouldn't humble-lowness be the cure? But, He-Himself is the real cure! And so, I contend that this is the bait and switch, which accounts for much of my confusion over the years on the "r-word-2".
  Houston, we have a weirdness. . .
  As my friend Greg says: "Many Christians seem to think that the central and necessary attribute in The Almighty is love. Hogwash! The Bible makes it clear that, that axle of necessity; is His Holiness.". And I agree with Greg, yet the holy goes by-in-large undefined in Christian-land it appears to me. And so, whatever sin proves to finally mean, the main driver of it, must needs be unholiness, not pride! And if that unholy must also involve hubris, insanity and cruelty, I'm okay with that. But, the central pillar of sin (and death) is the un-holy in us, so reads this plumber's lexicon.
  Whatever the package of sin finally contains, that Pandora's Box of chaos which pours out lawlessness and oathbreaking, as it belches forth addiction and passive collapse, while it continues cranking out perversion of the true, and the harsh and arrogant purging of the "useless", whatever the load ends up containing, the thing consistently rotates upon the axel of the un-holy, so say I. But, wouldn't defining un-holy, ought require a working grasp of the genuine article, The Holy? And just here, we are numb and un-naturally quiet. I won't bore you to tears with yet another hashing over of my view on this. But simply holiness is not a moral attribute of El Elyon, it is His unique ontological stance.
  Being, "is-ness", the very most basic aspect of our lives is that "we-be". But, our being is always and always unlike His. His Name, "I Am Who Is", or perhaps "I Am, That Am" is holy, I mean the Name is! The referent here, is to a two-type of being, The Author, Who of Himself "Is, Was, and Shall Be", is being compared with all which He made, directs and supports in its being. It (The Holy I mean) is the Creator/creature disjunct, writ large and forever true.
  Unholiness then, formats as an intense (and might we add, insane?) avarice for, and longing; and ambition to cross this divide from our side, so to become "like God". The unholy (sin) is rooted right here, in the ontologically impossible and frankly undesirable ambition from hell. The unholy is trying to be its own author, supporter, director and goal. And even if it were possible (which it is not), it would be a horrid end, a monstrous perversion, a lie writ large. It would be that which would be "demanding" revenge from the True "He who Is". And that is just what we, in fact; have! The original romance, He is saving us . . . from Him, unto Him!
  So, in order to grasp romance, we must understand good and evil, but we are prohibited in correctly doing so; if we assess evil (sin) as primarily pride run amok. Thereby, we do not understand romance, this is my assertion today. But a proper understanding, involving the fear of God, holds life, and eternity-future as the prize!
  Thus, the genuine article of romance is Immanuel, "God-with-us". Our crazy conspiracy to cross that gap from creature-to-Creator, is the source and headwaters of all our ills. But His remedy is to cross the gap from His side. And boy, is it ever romantic! In His story, everything really will work out alright, for it already has! There is an actual and real "happily-ever-after" of which our dim copies are of necessity, reverse images.
  Who saw that one coming? Mike Labor, the hopelessly romantic plumber? Gadzooks! But it actually makes sense now. Hey, maybe I oughta get married after all? All of that scheming double-talk, those decades long cases of emotional extortion, the boatload of crazy blather, conniving and implacable mean-ness that is "wimmen", suddenly it all makes sense? If we can deduce (by faith) the future reality of a sane and glad future, then it becomes "worth-it" to endure their temporary insanity? Well, I (for one) am surprised by this development. Perhaps "romance" was His Christmas present this year?
  No wonder I was lingering over that dream! For the first time in my life, voluntarily taking on that second full-time job appeared cogent, and lucid? It was not, in those moments at least; the familiar girding up, so to endure pointless madness on the way down the drain.
  I get it! Or, more appropriately, He got us, and even we block-hearts are very slowly becoming aware of a sea-change!
  Another world beckons, a place where things make sense!
  He's so good, it's scary!