Light is a Fascinating Thing – Advent Thoughts

4 12 2011

This is a”proem” (kinda prose, kinda poem) that I wrote recently for an Advent project that a friend of mine does each year. I thought  I would share it with you guys as well.

 

Light is a fascinating thing.

It may be as dominating as the sun,

As demure as the moon,

As penetrating as a flashlight,

Or as subtle as a candle.

Still, whatever its manifestation, it is in a word … present.

 

Its adversary – we are told – is darkness.

If you ask the opposite of light, will the response not be, “dark”?

But darkness is not light’s opposite, its enemy.

It is light’s absence.

It is the place light chooses not to be.

Darkness, no matter how powerful it may seem at any given time,

No matter how deep,

No matter how dense,

No matter how overpowering it claims to be,

It can only boast in light’s absence.

Never in light’s presence.

 

It cannot be light’s nemesis, for it has no power over light.

You cannot “turn on” the dark.

It can only wait until you “turn off” the light.

But rest assured, it waits.

And when the light goes away – even for a moment –

The darkness moves in.

Aggressively.

Opportunistically.

Imperialistically.

With something of an evil grin.

Realizing that light is simply not … present.

 

So it was in times long ago.

God – the Father of Lights – had been turned off to His people,

To all of His creation.

400 years of creatures groping in the darkness.

Simply because they had chosen to reject the light.

 

Stupid, stupid creatures.

Embracing darkness and shunning light.

Hating day and loving night.

Thinking “presence” was a given, not a gift.

Taking light for granted, not a grant.

And so nearness became absence,

And light was simply NOT – in a word … present.

 

 

Then on an unsuspecting night,

In an inconspicuous place,

For all too common people,

God turned the light on.

Emmanuel was born.

God was present …

With us. Among us. FOR us.

In Him was life and that life was the light of men.

 

The light shined in the darkness,

But the darkness still managed to not comprehend it.

Stupid, stupid creatures.

Emabracing darkness and shunning light.

Hating day and loving night.

Closing their eyes to the light that was once again,

Finally … present.

 

So the light was not put on a lampstand, but under a basket.

Hidden from the world, so that darkness could move in.

Aggressively.

Opportunistically.

Imperialistically.

With something of an evil grin.

Pretending that light was simply not … present.

 

But light could not be covered over by darkness, for it had chosen to be present.

And a light as subtle as a candle

Became as penetrating as a flashlight.

A light as demure as the moon

Became as dominating as the sun itself.

It showed that darkness was not its adversary;

Darkness was only its absence.

And on this one night it established in one moment and forevermore

That it was – in a word….

Present.

With us. Among us. For us.

And once and for all … IN us.

Light is a fascinating thing.

 

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” – 2 Cor. 4:6

Advertisements




This Blog Is On the “House”

21 10 2009

Dr. HouseJust wanted to take a moment to put in a word for what is one of the best shows on TV. “House,” airing on Monday nights on Fox at 7pm has for a few years now been must-see TV for me. Admittedly, the “storefront story” is usually the same – bizarre medical puzzle stumping genius doctors for approximately 50 minutes until a completely unrelated and innocent statement is made which magically reveals that the condition is not the incurable disease once thought but is instead the fact that the patient got a splinter from a rare African wood imported to the US and handled by a guy who sneezed on it and kept it in his house for a while to let his dog with mange defecate on it resulting in a deadly toxin that has created a multitide of symptoms which on any other occasion would look like an auto-immune disease ravaging the body when it simply requires 3 doses of Nyquil and a roll of cherry lifesavers to chase it from the bloodstream. That part of the show is always a bit predictable, but interesting if you like the medical mystery thing; still, it is hardly the most interesting and poignant part of the show.

On the second level of the story-telling is the character (or lack thereof) development of those on the show. These are people with complex pasts, complicated relationships, all kinds of psychoses, neuroses, and just wads of life-stink. These people are flawed beyond imagination, just like every other real group of people in the world. The writers didn’t even provide us with a “foil,” some archetype of perfection to stand over and against all these pathetes running around in the sewers of their own devices. It’s just a bunch of broken people doctoring up broken people. Still, as engaging as I find these characters, this is not the most powerful part of the show.

“House,” more than any other show I am aware of, overtly wrestles with the questions of God  – if he’s really there, who He is, how He works, and all those things that we ask deep down and deny publicly that we would ask such things. Meanwhile, the world around and outside the church find no shame in asking them, and “House” is evidence of that.

House, the character, is staunchly atheistic (or so it seems), yet the show itself often allows for “mysteries” that House insists can be explained scientifically but which are more suited to the realm of the supernatural. Some of the most honest, open, and important questions about God are being asked on that show almost weekly – questions I don’t always hear so often from “church-people” on Sundays. This season has presented moral, ethical, and eternal questions on the value of life (the evil ones, not just the innocent), the measure of wealth against family, and how to live and relate in light of an oncoming and certain day of death – just to name a few.

If you are not a “House”-watcher, you are missing what I think is an important conversation by the world around us about God, life, morality, relationships, and perspective. Admittedly, the answers provided by the characters are not satisfying or pretty or pleasant to see or within a Christian worldview. There is adult content, language, and elements with which some Christians may be quite uncomfortable. It is not a show for the faint of heart or those weak in discernment or those who want to continue living in a safe “God-bubble” secluded from the issues and questions in our culture. However, I believe that we would be remiss to not hear and be able to engage the questions about God our world is (and we are) asking. “House” is a pretty scary, often uncomfortable, and yet somehow refreshing place to hear them.





Nose Hair and Paradise Lost

13 10 2009

Now that I am 40, life at this age occasionally drops some perspectives on me that slipped by me in my youth. One, of course, is that a person really does require at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep at night (who’da thunk it?). Another is that red meat, carbohydrates, Mountain Dew, and gummi-worms actually do not constitute a balanced diet and  – after a period of concentrated abuse – will generally make you feel like you’re sporting a hangover while being hit by a truck. But the one that is becoming more and more real to me with each passing year is that the unsung and hidden curse of Adam’s fall in the garden is that wild, aggressive, and annoying species,  folliculus probiscus, commonly referred to as the common nose hair.nose hair

I don’t know if any studies have been conducted on this particular subject, but I believe it could be shown that the nose hair is the fastest growing carbon-based entity in the known universe. A hair can spring forth within one’s nostril and span a lifetime from larval stage to fully mature hairdom during the morning commute. What’s worse, as these hairs grow they seemed to have naturally evolved into the ability to find the nearest inside edge of the nostril and place the hair tip just up against it so as to make it itch ever so slightly – just enough to assure that as you have a face-to-face conversation with someone you make every possible facial contortion to assuage the misery of the itch even as you wonder if there’s not a ginormous hair that has emerged and begun growing like Jack’s Beanstalk toward your upper lip during the last sentence. All the while, you’re trying hard to smile and actually listen to the other person, but your mind can’t help but drift toward the intolerable torment of what this person is thinking about the coaxial cable hanging from the left orifice in your nasal construct which you remember had a lot of goo in it earlier (is that being revealed as well?) even as  you make every effort humanly possible not to move your hand to your nose thereby drawing attention to the protruding monstrosity with its residual goo and suggesting to this now bothersome conversationalist who will not shut up that you are – in fact – a habitual picker. Can you imagine what this person will be posting on twitter and facebook later about this horrific experience?

Or scenario two – the attack of that one relentless hair that has apparently been growing from the dawn of time, rooted in your medulla oblongata, bearing the diameter of a #2 pencil, and – against all advice from Poltergeist’s Tangina  – is “going to the light” found out the front of your face while you innocently drive your vehicle. images-2While you think there is a possibility your car is a buffer zone of safety against detection by others of you actually reaching to your nose to attempt to clear the intruder that is suddenly making you a mouth-breather, you come upon a traffic standstill or a redlight, temporarily barring you from the pluck of freedom because you know you will have to reach deep enough with both thumb and forefinger to bring nostril distortion in order to rip this demon seed from its bed of torment somewhere within the gray matter that has illegitimately spawned it. So you fake the “I’m reaching for something in my opposite floorboard while I’m stopped” deal and you try the 1 in 100 shot of the quick snatch-and-pull, only to hear the people behind honking now that traffic has begun to move and to sit up quickly in your seat to realize you have pulled out several of the little tiny worker hairs that have just been birthed in order to guard and protect the queen. This, of course, hurts like a compound fracture of the femur, your eyes begin watering and prevent you from being able to see where you are driving, and you begin a sneezing fit previously unknown to humanity as your body tries to expel the foreign invaders it doesn’t recognize as its own digits because they are where they simply not wanted.

I, of course, could go on with scenario after scenario, but I must spare those of you who are faint of heart. Also, I must speak to pollyanna optimists who assure me that the nose hair is not part of our curse, but a gift from God designed to keep foreign invaders such as dust, dirt, germs, insects, small rodents, etc. from entering our bodies through our nasal passages. Let me remind you, however, you naive little glass-half-full non-thinkers that if Paradise was all we crack it up to be, there would have been no need to protect us from getting sick and therefore no need for these bearskin rugs layered inside the walls of this delicate sensory organ that God originally only intended to allow me the pleasure of smelling brownies baking, wood burning, my wife’s hair, my baby’s post-bath lotioned body, Vicks Vaporub, magic markers (the really good kind), and gasoline … oh, but I digress.

Oh yeah, don’t give me the nose hair trimmer thing. We don’t have time for the discussion about those no-good tools of Satan. Let’s face it, we are subject to this body of death until glory comes. What I can’t imagine is being a Hindu and having my goal to reincarnate as a cow – have you seen the nose hairs on those guys ? And you know getting the hoof in there has to be much more challenging in the long run.

nosehairThey tell me I will soon expand my hair experiences to the ear canal. I can’t wait. Thanks, Adam and Eve. Not only do I have to mow the lawn by the sweat of my brow, I have to mow my face.





Remembering 9/11

11 09 2009

911911c911d

Regardless of your politics or feelings about wars and rumors of wars, I believe the events of 9/11/2001 generate common emotions in us all. I’m sure we all remember that day, where we were, and our promise to never forget. Today, 8 years later, a friend of the left-brained artist blog has a great posting on his site that includes memories of that day from several people. I wanted to provide you with a link so that all of us can keep that promise we made.

http://broadwaydave.blogspot.com or click on  “Clouds in My Coffee” in my links to the right





I Feel A Bit Flushed

28 08 2009
Jay_Robb_Fruit_Flush

click pic for info link

Okay. I have just finished Jay Robb’s “3-day Fruit Flush Detox.” The prospect on the front end was to lose “up to 9 pounds in 3 days,” which usually means 1 person at some point somehow lost 9 pounds while doing this thing (results not typical, your results may vary because they also ran a marathon every day after working in construction for 8 hours in the sun), while everyone else lose on average about 1.239 pounds. Still, I figured it was worth the try because, weight loss aside, I often feel run-down, fatigued, and generally like a pile of poo. The detox part promised to help cleanse my organs, to make me feel better, to make my children respectful and obedient, to heal the blind, and restore order to the republic through the once-lost offspring of the Empire’s Dark Lord.

Anyway, for those of you unfamiliar with the flush/detox process via the fruits, I am using this forum to record my experience for the expansion of your knowledge and discernment about your involvement in said flushing.

First, no coffee, no sodas, no caffeine. Hint: these are much of the things that we are trying to remove from our toxic bodies.  We are going to use protein and fruit to restore our bodies to Eden-ish status. Drinking soda is drinking death unto yourself and banishment from this beautiful garden now guarded by the archangel Renal with the flaming sword of kidney failure. I, being the man that I am, thought 3 days without caffeine would not be a big deal. Lesson learned.

Day 1 of my adventure – Protein day

The idea of a “protein day” always sounds good to a meat/potatoes guy like me. People have been trying to get me to consume green, leafy garbage all my life. Now I get to say, “no thank you, it’s protein day” with a smile on my face and visions of steak and eggs for breakfast, hamburger for lunch, and (because this is a health thing after all) a nice piece of Bourbon Salmon for dinner. I could even  do without the potatoes because I am putting my body’s health over my base human desires. I am denying myself for the greater good. I am awesome.

Then reality hits. Protein day is an 8-oz protein shake every 2 hours, culminating in a raw vegetable salad and 3-6 oz. piece of lean meat for dinner. (3 to 6 ozs.? Is that even considered a piece of meat?)

As the day went on and all I had consumed was protein shakes, I must say that 3-6 ozs. of actual meat sounded more and more like a bliss I had not known as a human. I began to imagine what delectable piece of meat my wife would be treating me to at the end of my long work day and as a reward for my stringent self-denial worthy of record in the halls of heaven. When I arrived at my humble abode, my wife had “misinterpreted” what was supposed to happen. She thought the meat was supposed to go on the salad, not on the plate. So, had stopped to pick up some thin-sliced deli chicken.

WHAT? I have starved all day on a liquid protein shake-a-palooza, anticipating actual food for dinner, and I get a raw spinach salad covered in olive oil and lime juice with a 3-6 oz pile of cold thin-sliced deli chicken?  The only thing that keeps me from caving immediately is the anticipation that I get to actually eat during the day tomorrow. Go to bed hungry. And by hungry, I , of course, mean ready to eat my dog.

Day 2 – Fruit day version 1

I like fruit. A lot. And by a lot, I mean a lot of fruit. Incidentally, Jay doesn’t give fruit generously on this plan. I get one serving of fruit every two hours. 1 banana or 2 medium apples or 15-18 grapes or 2 grapefruit or some other relatively meaningless amount of food that simply teases your body (whose hunger from day 1 is like compounding interest on a million dollars).

Middle of day 2 – fading fast – vision blurring – I am in purgatory – at point of rich man in Lazarus story – “if only someone could come over from the other side of the food consumption chasm and give me but a small piece of their  steak grisle.” But Jay Robb stands on the other side and reminds me that I have often laughed condescendingly before at dieters while placing high-fat content Ribeye into my mouth, so no grisle is forthcoming. “Eat your fruit and suffer with your caffeine and fried food deprivation headache you toxin-filled wretch worthy of the flames of the fruit-flush abyss.” Dinner is another spinach salad and – tonight in place of my pile of deli chicken-  I get a protein shake. I fall asleep in the midst of my hunger pangs simply because my body can no longer be conscious. I want to die.

Day 3 – Fruit day version 2

Actually feel better today and not as hungry as yesterday, I think because body is either giving up hope that I will feed it ever again or because it’s trying to fool me into thinking that the detox has already worked and there’s no need to go on with it any further. I press on, thinking I can make one more day. All day, I feel okay. Still hungry, but keeping myself busy to ward off the awareness. Dinner is salad and protein drink. Will not eat spinach salad for quite a long time after this is over. Only sheer human will power (the kind I don’t have) is helping me hold on. Just a few more hours … a few more hours. Go to sleep and awake to a brand new day.

The Day After

Today, I feel pretty good. I go to the scale to see what happened. I have lost 7 pounds. Not bad. And I actually cut OUT exercise for these three days. It’s amazing what starvation can do for your body weight. I’m actually considering NOT drinking coffee with breakfast this morning. Don’t know why but I think it may be related to not wanting to feel bad again so soon. I scramble some eggs add throw some cheese on them. Ashley has fixed biscuits. Even have 15-18 grapes with that for old times sake.

All in all, I would not use the word enjoyable – “survivable” is about as far as I would lean. I have no way of knowing if my liver is praising me with shiny, fresh teeth and good breath, but I actually do feel pretty good. Maybe I should alter my normal eating practices somewhat if this is for real, although I’m sure that feeling will pass as soon as I have some deep-fried chicken wings and pizza for lunch.

It’s not for the faint of heart, but it seems to work well as far as a weight loss jump start and helping that “blah” feeling go away in the end.

Thanks Jay?! (and yes, both the question mark and exclamation point are necessary)





Favre Pete’s Sake!

20 08 2009

favreviking

There are a host of issues dividing our country right now. For instance, “town halls” are being held all over the country by government officials to explain to angry people that health care is better run by the government than by the free market (and, really, isn’t EVERYTHING?). Still, no issue seems quite as divisive (and, sadly, not as important) as the 45th un-retirement of Brett Favre. No return has gotten as much press as when that goober proclaimed that Jesus was coming back in 1988 … oops, no, I mean 1989 … oops, no, uh, I’ll get back with you.

Seriously, this Favre thing has gotten out of hand, and I must confess that, during this now “3-years-going-on-eternity” process, I have moved through interest to apathy to rolling my eyes to anger to dry heaving. As of a few weeks ago, I thought all of this had been put to bed, and I was looking forward to the football season without all the hyped-up garbage about Favre playing for the Vikings and facing his former Packer team, seeking revenge on the organization that so ruthlessly cut him after he had given them his blood, sweat, tears – yea, verily, nothing less than his life – for umpteen thousand years, one super bowl title, and at least 4 bajillion interceptions.

I was going to write a diatribe and vent all my anger on that poor, unsuspecting young man from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Tell him to make a decision and stick with it. Let go of his glory days. Grow up and stuff. Move on.

brettretireBut, in the end, I’m not sure he should be the real object of my anger. Sure, I’m sick of the “do I or don’t I?” thing. I’m tired of the tear-filled press conferences – the “I think I can still play, but I just don’t want to” (or is it “I want to play, but I just don’t think I can handle it anymore”) In the end, though, I’m not sure it’s his fault. Yes, it’s his set of issues, pathetic and psychotic as they may be. But the fact that the whole world is constantly exposed to every second of this ridiculous escapade is not his doing. People all over the world are having issues everyday and I don’t know about them (or don’t have them force fed to me when I’m just trying to see the score of the baseball game).

The fault lies with this incredibly unnecessary and mind-numbing 24/7 news cycle that we are on. Anybody remember the days when the newspaper was up to date? When the news was available to you at noon (no one watched and they put the news intern on the broadcast), 6, and 10, and that was good enough.? Who needed more information than that?

Now, these people who are broadcasting 24 hours a day (because they’ve decided we need that) have to fill up all that time with something. So reporters are waiting outside the Favre estate in Missisippi (can you actually say “estate” and “Mississippi” in the same phrase?) to report the latest from Brett’s ongoing mood swings. Then when he finally decides to un-retire again from the retirement he took after his last un-retirement following his retirement from an un-retirement after what turned out to be just a big misunderstanding that we can all chuckle about now, we get helicopter shots from TV stations in Minnesota as his SUV (which is probably only slightly less ecologically irresponsible that Obama’s) is escorted by police across the city in a scene that would make the O.J. chase jealous.

When will the madness end? I’d ask for more government control over this mess, but they’re apparently busy right now trying to figure out how to better my life through mediocre medical coverage. Perhaps one day they’ll come up with a plan to exponentially multiply our deficit and simultaneously save me from this 24 hour news cycle (or just prescribe me some free – and potent -prescription drugs to help).

Brett Favre is not ultimately the issue here. He’s just the latest evidence of the  problem (and has been for a few times now).  I can’t blame him. If someone wanted to pay me $12 million to lead worship for a year, I’d come out of retirement also – even with a torn rotator cuff. After all, I’d have universal health care.

Now, I must hurry and go watch O’Reilly, Hannity, Greta, and 3 identical episodes of Sportscenter before I go to bed. (I wouldn’t want to miss anything.)





G I Joe-mangous!

8 08 2009

G I JoeOkay. I know I’m going to take some flack for this. Lack of intellectualism and such. I could’ve gone this weekend to see such movies as “Julie and Julia” and talk about the need to develop passions for success in life. Maybe I could’ve gone to see “Funny People” and bloggged about finding life’s true priorities in the face of our mortality. I guess I could have even have gone to see “Aliens in the Attic” and opined about the glories of pulling together against the odds or even made some over-spiritualized reference to the removal of evil, outside influences from your “attic, ” that place that is hidden away in your life, oft-neglected, but still influential on your monthly power bill.

No, instead, I went to see G I Joe. I couldn’t help myself. After all, did I mention it was G I Joe? In my childhood, I had the action figures, for Pete’s sake.

Needless to say, I can NOT be objective here. Sure, the plot line was atrocious. Of course, the acting was bad. Some of the effects were bordering “Land of the Lost” quality.  I’m pretty sure there was nothing there I could stretch into a spiritual metaphor or even one of Aesop’s moralisms. Still, I admit I didn’t go for plot or Oscar-level acting. I did go for effects and action, and, despite the few times when the effects were leaving me longing for Christopher Reeve’s “man-on-string” Superman flight scenes, I came away fairly pleased with that. After all, when you have to spend all your dough on CGI’ing the collapse of the Eiffel tower, something’s going to suffer. And, given my feelings toward the French, I would rather have the big bucks making that fantasy as real as it possibly could be. The rest I can forgive.

The thing I was most disappointed in was my “great American hero” was turned into a “great international coalition of heroes.” Again, forgive my over-ripe Americanism, but it just felt all so forced and politically correct. “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition” became “We are the World (with highly developed weapons).”I didn’t go to see G I Jacques. Lesson # 1 learned for the sequel.

Still, the action scenes were over-the-top and non-stop, thoroughly unrealistic and highly imaginative – exactly the kind of stuff that I imagined as a child and acted out with my action figures (which is why the ones that still survive in the old toy box at my mom’s house are missing arms and legs (and maybe even a head or two). That’s what this movie did for me. It brought all my days of G I Joe-ing to life on the screen. All the days of playing army and saving the world with impossible feats were justified. I discovered my old “I shot you, you’re dead” response of “Uh-uh – I was wearing my special bulletproof metallic suit that gives me extra speed, agility, and pretty much everything short of heat vision and freeze breath, so I’m still alive” was not cheating after all. I hope the guys from the old neighborhood were watching, because I think they’ve always held a grudge about that.

Many will see this movie. Many will hate it. But I have a feeling they never played G I Joe. For those of us who did, the movie has all the stuff we needed , plus some backstory that we probably didn’t. All that did was shorten the destruction of Paris scenes. Lesson #2 learned for the sequel.

Lesson # 3? Make a sequel.

See the movie? What did you think?