Friday, March 25, 2016

Hokey-Pokey-isms, The Inside Scoop!

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

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Integrity Of Sin

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