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Longing

I  must spend half my free time looking for houses and property in North Carolina. I dream of the life I might have had if we had moved there in 2016. But, that life is a mirage, appearing now and again to a thirsty soul. I drink water, but the mirage remains. “Two roads converged in a yellow wood, and I looked down one as far as I could to where it disappeared in the undergrowth.”(Robert Frost). My eyes keep straining down that path, I wonder what friends and faces it would have brought. What satisfaction I might have had teaching again, being needed again, having my siblings near me again.

I want a piece of land. A place to wander. A crying spot. A place to reflect while I break small sticks into fragments. Dirt to filter through my fingers. My ‘Trip to Bountiful,’ so to speak. A place for hymn-singing, and humming with the accompaniment of insects buzzing.

A life without brothers and sisters around . . .  It breeds a loneliness that perhaps people with small families never feel. There are slots in the soul, carved out like paper doll spaces. Some boy shapes, some girl shapes. Empty spaces which emit a hollow cry now and again. A longing to connect to a natural relation, a blood line that is never broken. Sure, we’ve had disagreements and disappointments, failures and forgiveness. I know the chain of complex connections has been rerouted and re-welded time and again, but the chain still clanks and jingles out a familiar sound: I’m here.

It’s no accident I was born into a big family. You can say we didn’t have electricity or TV but our lives were meant to be, and destined to mix. In some ways I’m looking back toward a more hopeful past than I am for building a brighter future. A cloudy sunset looks better in some ways than a clear sunrise. Why, I don’t know. Seems I can choose my past but others are choosing my future. Getting old means being set aside. Memories swell and hopes shrink. I’m just being honest. Without God, there would be despair. But I can never despair. Despite all my mistakes, regrets, angry outbursts, tears, and repairs, I can still have hope. I pray I will mean something to many people, and a great deal to a few. More than anything, I want my life to have meant something to my saving God, Jesus the man I want to be like at the end of the day.

I went to an “all-church prayer meeting” at the end of the year. We didn’t pray though. We didn’t have to, because we had prayer representatives. We listened and nodded. Representative pray-ers.

When I was in high school we had an all-white student council, even though around 10 percent of our population was black.  The students complained and we ended up having a black representative on the student council and a black cheerleader.

But it wasn’t an easy seat to obtain that seat. They had to hold a sit-down in the student commons before we would listen, but listen we did. Henceforth, we had black representatives and black girls on the cheerleading squad.

But when she cheered, the black students all cheered; the white students all cheered too.

So, if we have to have a prayer representative, let them lead us in our cheering. Don’t let them cheer alone.

Anytime we let a representative pray for us, we are not really praying. It is called “thinking” if we are only listening and assenting.

Let’s lift our voices and pray together to God. We represent our selves, bare our own hearts, shed our own tears if it comes to that.

We aren’t gathered to listen to one person pray. We are gathered for God to hear all of us praying. Then, no one will be self conscious.

Huddle up, and all — cheer!

I find an increasing number of Christians today who say there is no eternal torment, only extinguishment. I told one friend that if he believes that, other false doctrines will follow. And they have.

The first false doctrine to follow that error is in the immortality of the soul. It’s true that the Bible doesn’t say explicitly that the soul is immortal, but it strongly implies it. In fact everything in the Bible implies that the soul will live on, for good or for ill. The unique creation of mankind as opposed to animals, the Fall and blood sacrifice, the resurrection of Christ, the fact that people need a savior, and it goes on.  Redemption and heaven would mean very little if there is nothing to be redeemed from and no heavenly reward.

If these heretics believe that there is no immortality until we are raised from the dead, then how are we spiritually alive now in the new birth? The body is what is going to put on immortality, not the soul.

Other doctrines that will follow will be of the justice of God (How can a good God send people to hell?) which begs the question: is God perfect? Is he just? Actually, sending people to hell is the just thing to do. It will give people what they want — autonomy and godlessness. It verifies free will.

If God is perfect, then he must have a perfect hatred of sin.

Hell is not for the amount of sin, but for the type of sin: the rejection of salvation for the reward of self-government.

 

Bowling with Black Holes

You could be sprinkling mica on the stars

Or bowling black holes at Antares dwarves

Or lassoing the aurora borealis

But you would rather sit here with your kids

Post-free America

I have to say I am down about America’s future. In just a few years we have lost so much. Not in lawsuits and court rulings but in our American core. Institutions which I once considered inviolable and sacrosanct are now shredded. The bedrock of civilization – the nuclear family – is jackhammered into pieces. Sexual identity is a plowed under patchwork of unidentifiable landscapes. Freedom of expression is roped and gagged, and the Christian religion of our forebears is now viewed with suspicion and labeled as fascist and bigotry. Truth itself is a manipulated set of facts and yelled statements. People have become little gods issuing edicts and final judgments from tiny hand-held machines. Accusation and indefensibility are the two sides of the currency we trade in today. I feel I am witnessing the fall of Western culture, and no one is lamenting. We are celebrating it as an end to the greed of the wealthy, the dominance of the white male, and the final equality we hope will emerge out of destruction. What will rise in the place of the greatest nation on earth will be either authoritarianism disguised as egalitarianism, or chaos celebrated as the crushing of old-fashioned ideas to make way for a new era of progress. I rue the day when the culture pivots toward the abyss of wishful thinking. We may never come back.

Museum of the Mind

I talk to people about what I’m currently studying, whether it’s Don Quixote or the wildebeest of Africa. I may sound impressive at times with such fresh knowledge but I’m so limited. True, the museum of my mind has many rooms and they have often been stocked with treasures eliciting oohing and aahing. But, stay in that room please, because the other rooms have tons of things in them; they are just covered with the white cloths of forgetfulness. I wish I could remember what is under all those covers but I can’t. So, when you come to visit my ”museum,” don’t wander off. Thanks!

When Prayers Fall

I’m coming to you, God

like a crazy singer

Pouring out my heart

It’s running through your fingers

like little grains of sand

from an hourglass of time

I’m giving what I can

not asking for a dime

I just want to know

my life brings you some joy

I’m coming to you, Father

like a desperate kid

My pleas like so much water

Splashing at your feet

like tiny drops of rain

dripping from a cup

You’re catching them in vain

with two palms facing up

But I just want to know

my life has made you smile

“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passion unbridled by morality and religion. . . . Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams in letters to his Son, 1798

Some people seem to think that the only way to break the power of so-called white privilege, the corruption of politics, and the greed of Wall Street is through social revolution. We must remind ourselves of France and Russia and where their revolutions took them.

But a social revolution without God’s laws restraining and guiding people is a recipe for chaos and cruelty. If people think that in order to build a new house they must burn the old one down, their thinking is flawed. Destruction cannot lead to success, and uncontrolled fire cannot generate useful power. Rage satisfies bloodlust only temporarily. Anger is not air in a balloon which escapes with a hissing sound and then lies limp; it is a generator fed by the gasoline of self-righteous ego, a monster continuously prowling for prey.

Revolution always has to be brought under control by reason and a greater and orderly lawful power. If not it becomes tyranny, and the people suffer under its iron low-lying cloud for long periods of time.

True revolution is in the heart, and it is through the one who rebelled against religious hypocrisy and held fast to God’s commands — Jesus Christ. He took the rage of us all.

 

I think the greatest obstacle to current Western culture’s acceptance of Christianity is rooted in a deification of human rights. The cry for civil, human, universal rights is so loud and its stamp so indelible upon the Western psyche that any concept of the fallen nature of humankind, the need for salvation, the depravity of man, and other Biblical doctrines runs counter to that deification ideal. In the end, the so-called culture war not even about humanism versus Christianity; it is about being human itself. The exaltation of being human will always bring humans down rather than lift them up, which Christianity in fact promises. It eventually reduces humans to a level equal with animals, perhaps even plants or rocks. And, without a Creator who holds people accountable and who gives individuals a higher identity, anybody or anything can become dispensable on a whim. So, the gods of the Greeks and Romans (mirrored images of humans), eventually turn on each other, because the only thing that has any meaning is raw power, and the will (or gall) to project it.

Water Trinity

I’m water, 75 percent
Today I’m treading myself, trying to stay afloat
And I’m evaporating tears into heaven
and condensating to come down and try again
to be simply water
Alas, I’m steaming from an underground hot geyser of dark hurt or rage
and it’s coming to the surface of me in hisses and squirts of pain and relief
Now, I’m ice, skidding across myself with cold thin metal feeling-void blades
And I’m turning an shooting up shards of ice onto shocked onlookers and clueless gawkers
Yes, I’m water, 75 percent
But the quarter of me that is not
is holding back the dam, resisting the uncontrollable flood of emotion
Wishing away the growing clouds of nimbus and numbness
Playing it cool
Staying solid
Refusing to meltdown
Hardcore
Man of steel, no — flesh and brittle bone
Alone, misunderstood
I choose to join with the water
gushing from His side
Water and blood spray me whole.
Liquid, ice, and steam
The trinity of watery me