Friday, June 28, 2013
Thursday, June 27, 2013
8 Foods We Eat That Are Banned in Other Countries.
"When All Religions Become One"
Crossfit and Opera. Couldn't ask for a better combination.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Ever play that game where you say a word over and over and over again until it sounds like a different word,? The game involves a sort of a mind trick where the repeated word seems to lose its meaning. Say the word repeatedly until the mind sort of “clocks out” and the word sounds foreign. Children at that moment laugh when they realize what happened. I think this has happened with “forever.”
What does “forever” mean? Well, the word as we know it has been around since at least the late 17th century, combining the concept of “before” with “at any time” or “always.” The Hebrew word is “o-lam” which carries the idea of “hidden time, long” or simply “ancient.” So how long has the LORD been enthroned? Since ancient hidden time.
How long will He remain? Will He ever leave the throne? Look again at what has been happening since ancient time: the LORD sits enthroned (“sits” is present tense). Like His name, “I AM,” (present tense), here translated “the LORD”. He is now sitting on His throne since before ever. He’s not going to move.
Though we’ve only mentioned it, let’s take a closer look at that on which the present-tense, personal, covenant-making God sits. “Throne” means much more than the exalted chair on which a regal sits. “Throne” carries the idea of support, of that which is steadfast, strong and stable. We can easily picture this in a chair but the best meaning says this is the seat of law, the seat of statutes. Without going to the dictionary and looking up “throne”, the Psalmist tells us this is the place of justice, of judgment. The LORD dispenses justice from established law. He does not make things up as He goes. He does not change His mind to fit situations.
The LORD sits on an established throne of justice judging the world with righteousness. The people of the world, all nations are judged with uprightness. Judgment is present-tense, not future. The LORD is at this very moment passing down judgment from His ancient throne upon all ethnicities. God determines what happens to people now and in the future. The formula is simple: obedience brings blessing; disobedience brings consequences. The LORD is not unjust to give any person what he or she deserves. He is the same way with nations and governments as a whole.
The LORD is on His throne and His reign is over all the earth. No nation is excluded from His rule or judgment.
“The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” (Psalm 9:9-10)
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
I enjoy a good film, but in it’s place; in it’s time. A GOOD film.
Monday, June 24, 2013
Friday, June 21, 2013
"A work that aspires, however humbly, to the condition of art should carry its justification in every line. And art itself may be defined as a single-minded attempt to render the highest kind of justice to the visible universe, by bringing to light the truth, manifold and one, underlying its every aspect. It is an attempt to find in its forms, in its colours, in its light, in its shadows, in the aspects of matter and in the facts of life, what of each is fundamental, what is enduring and essential--their one illuminating and convincing quality--the very truth of their existence. The artist, then, like the thinker, or the scientist, seeks the truth and makes his appeal."
(Joseph Conrad's Preface to "The Nigger Of The 'Narcissus'", originally published 1897 )
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
I know nothing about D.H. Lawrence other than getting him confused with T.E. Lawrence (of "Lawrence of Arabia" fame). Now I want to get to know this man. I came across a poem of his (D.H.) that I could not put down as I returned to it repeatedly throughout the day. The title is simply, "Snake." Should I say the poem is striking is not to make a pun for it truly is striking, mezmerizing. Like a snake. It would do the reader great good to take in the entire work for himself or herself here before continuing.
The more I read the poem, the more observations I made which in turn led to many questions. First permit a small notation for the remarkable rhythm of the piece in it's irregular stanzas:
"A snake came to my water-trough
On a hot, hot day, and I in pyjamas for the heat,
To drink there."
He meanders along his path to the water trough and brings the reader up short as if grabbing our arm to prevent another step. Two beautiful stanzas caught my attention, the first being:
"Someone was before me at my water-trough,
And I, like a second-comer, waiting."
Permit this observation here: so far Lawrence has alluded to "my water trough." Hold that thought as we observe the second stanza found later in the poem:
"I wished he would come back, my snake."
The sense of invasion of property shifts from the trough to the snake; but, the reasons are astounding as we should see shortly. The one snapshot that held me most was this:
". . . And flickered his tongue like a forked night on the air, so black . . ."
That was not a black tongue simply, but a rich, deep tongue of night. Here we may refer to a theme that Lawrence uses that cause the reader to think more deeply about this snake drinking at his water trough, and by noting these themes we observe a shift in imagery as the snake becomes much more than a snake. Lawrence will repeatedly use "dark" words, referring to the snake coming out of the "gloom"; from the "burning bowls of earth" (he uses this phrase twice); the "black, black snakes"; the "dark door of secret earth"; the "black hole" in the wall; the "blackness" of the "black hole" to which the snake returns.
What amplifies the mystery of this dark imagery is that Lawrence first notes this snake is golden colored, not black. He recalls (then strangely, later laments) how he was taught that black snakes are "the innocent, the gold venemous." The reason this is important is because this beautiful, bright creature is deadly, coming and later returning to his home that seems nearly hellish. Underscoring this thought is Lawrence's reference to the god-likeness, the stature of this creature:
"For he seemed to me again like a king,
Like a king in exile, uncrowned in the underworld,
Now due to be crowned again."
This is chilling as Lawrence is describing a creature visiting from another world. This leads us to note four subtle references within the work. First, one cannot read this and not think of Kipling. Second, the Biblical reference to the serpent in the garden is clear, being there before the first man. The writer carries on a wonderful dialogue with himself concerning killing the animal. This leads one to wonder about that first meeting of Adam and Eve in the garden, being met by the serpent. Why did they not kill him except that they took the beast to be just one of the animals of the field. Nothing seemed amiss . . . at first.
The second reference Lawrence is less subtle, but the meaning is clear when he says of the retreating snake, "And I thought of the alabtross." This is a clear reference to Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and the lesson of the albatross found there. Here, the snake does not die, but is gone nonetheless.
Finally, the already mentioned passage regarding the regalness of the snake, like a king, is a nod to Milton's "Paradise Lost." The question now is, which is Paradise and would he really want this one to be king? How is it he is so filled with fear yet calls the reptile "one of the lords of life"?
Lawrence ends the poem considering the need to atone for omission, of thinking too lightly of things that really matter--perhaps regarding spiritual matters.
Monday, June 17, 2013
Friday, June 14, 2013
Beckett’s main character is an “invisible center” as in both acts (there are only two) two men pass the time in waiting for him. The main character never appears, is never heard and nearly nothing is known about him--even by Valadamir (Didi) and Estragon (Gogo) who wait for him for reasons unknown. Yet, they must wait. Other characters appear with their time on the stage: Pozzo with loyal Lucky (who, incidentally, delivers a fine-hatted speech) and a boy.
Didi and Gogo are children at heart. They do what they are told, without question. They are told to wait and so they do. While they wait they ask questions in and of themselves and the moment they seem to reach a point of understanding, all meaning suddenly gives way and collapses into despair. They return to their starting point: waiting.
One reason why this play is so appealing to me is how it reminds me of my childhood. One scene comes to mind: I am five years old and riding in the back of the car. Since seat belts were not an issue in those days of thost steel-bodied road-boats we called “cars”, I was probably riding up in the rear window of the car, laying in the space up above the back seats. My father was driving and talking with mother. I don’t recall what they talked about, but I never questioned my father. One never questioned. One simply did as he was told. If I gave the slightest hint I did in fact follow the conversation between them, it quickly fractured into spelled words and meaning slipped my mental grasp. I was shut out and left to my own questions.
Never question. Just do as you are told. Wait for Godot, no matter how long it takes--even if he never comes. So what, exactly, is a child to do?
Didi and Gogo show the disaster of not asking questions, of asking the right questions to the wrong person, or asking the wrong questions altogether with no direction, correction or instruction. Left to their own devices, they stand at the threshold of despair. The heart is deceitfully wicked--who can know it? They explore reality and come very near shaping one of their own understanding and have no discernment to see reality as it should be. The boy at the end of both scenes may be their only key to the real world, showing them that things are not what they seem.
The most intriguing portion of the play occurs early in the first act where Didi asks Gogo concerning the Gospel. Everyone’s heard it and behind it all, there is the question of paradise, reality. While they wait and discuss the heavenly realm, they wrestle with what is real: pain, hunger, cold, harsh landscape, life and death. These lead to questions, less “why” but “for what purpose.” Beckett takes us very close to the spiritual realm and there must be a way to make sense of it and to do so, one must ask questions. The best one to ask is the Architect of paradise. Even a child knows this.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Ah, yes: The Kettlebell. Here are 4 exercises (with illustrations).
5 reasons to keep a journal.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Consider: writer’s block. It does not exist for a reader. Given the fact that I desired to write something, I sat down and simply started. No plan. Not even a subject. Yet you read and, I hope, are inspired to write. Pick up a book with me and write!
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
I certainly don’t corner the market on grieving here, but am surprised by how I am responding to our loss, his gain. This is a gain for Stu because he is not suffering and He has all of Jesus and a glorified body to boot. Just before going to the hospital he posted “Prayers for real answers and healing are appreciated.” This is loss for us because, well, that’s what death does. Death is a loser. Death gets nothing in the end, when its' all over.
I was sitting in a faculty meeting when my wife called. I texted, “in a meeting, call you later.” She texted right back to call immediately. I did and she gave me the news. Death has a peculiar characteristic striking those close to the departed with deafness and blindness. I heard her call, loved her, hung up, returned to my seat in the meeting and heard nothing and saw nothing for the rest of the morning. Or the rest of day for that matter. The fog rolled in as we mourned.
Our dear sister, the wife. We had a wonderful visit Wednesday night with friends and Stu did his thing, sending us all into fits of laughter. That was one of his super-powers: bringing laughter. So we laughed--and cried a little--and laughed more. I’m sure I’m not the only one who could say this but as we reminisced and laughed, we could hear his voice as we quoted him.
One can hear his thick white glasses plonk onto the table as he screwed up his mouth proclaiming, “I quit!” or nod in the context of argument, “that’s fair.” It is not difficult to imagine Bigfoot strolling into the cafeteria, looking for burgers. Burgers will never be the same now because I’m going to be looking toward the door . . .
Oh, how the questions come. This is one feature of my grief that surprises me--the questions. I’m too old to have these kinds of questions. Questions like, “why do we say, ‘rest in peace’?” Perhaps we intend that we need peace ourselves because of the chaos of death. My mind begins to explore theological implications.
What do we mean by “rest”? Do we assume the soul is buried with the body, asleep? Are we fearful of some kind of un-rest that is different than any suffering faced by the now-dearly departed? If the soul is in an eternal state, and we know that soul is a peace with God, then the words are more comfort for us--that we can rest in peace now that his suffering is over. I'm not so sure we know what we mean when we say it.
I tried to journal some that day, but could not. When I opened my journal, a handmade card fell out made by our oldest daughter a number of years back. Inside, it reads, “I know that this week is going rough, but you can do anything! Rely on God! With him [sic] you can do anything! I love you, Daddy!” I love you, too, Baby. What an unexpected blessing from so long ago . . .
Monday, June 10, 2013
Friday, June 07, 2013
The Prophet Daniel was inspired to give us a snapshot of what the Kingdom will look like. “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up kingdom which will never be destroyed and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crust and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.” (Daniel 2:44). We see a forever-kingdom. It’s not going anywhere, so fighting it will only usher in loyal subjects who will bow in love or hostiles who will bow under His foot.
Thursday, June 06, 2013
Wednesday, June 05, 2013
My Workout of the Day (WOD) was a 4 mile walk carrying 45 lbs (any object). I put a 40 pound dumb-bell into a heavy-duty backpack and set to walking. One feature of walks like this is when the brain kicks in and you really start to think. My blood gets flowing as I get on the road, climb the gentle incline, round the curves then start up the hill. I realized that at a total weight of 260 lbs, I am carrying 7 pounds more than when I started Spark People in 2011 [note: down to 219 at the time of this writing].
The happy thought came about half-way through the walk (Dream Theater pounding in my earphones) that when I get home, I am going to remove the backpack and drop 40 pounds in an instant. I imagined myself lighter already, picking up speed--and sure enough--the moment I came around to the backdoor, I removed the pack and felt my body nearly float on the tips of the grass blades. I celebrated with some push-ups.
Another thought came to me: many folks (self included) carry a lot of stuff inside that needs to put down. We over overweight mentally, emotionally, spiritually. John Bunyan wrote of this in the 1600's when he spoke of Graceless taking his burden to the cross of Christ where it fell off and rolled into a grave. It was at that point he became another person (Pilgrim) and it was at that point his journey really began (Progress).
Happy thoughts alone don't change a person. Being changed brings happiness. What we fight should the that which is hostile against our Creator and us. We should not be fighting against that which helps us and I fear we have it backwards.
Tuesday, June 04, 2013
Monday, June 03, 2013
Adam chose to disobey God and died by eating. As Adam’s descendants, we need God’s remedy for our sinful situation: the one who gave His life on a tree then rose again three days later. The one who crushed the serpent's head.