The In-Between

ScreenShot154The In-Between

Miles of dust and sun
40 needful years of turning on a bitter lathe
Yet only my children will know why
and will their children’s children remember?
will any legacy be left written upon hills of sand?
will there be no wind, no moon, no fear?

No

Well…

Maybe

In a way I am begotten of those stiff-necked nomads
In a way, my feet still burn and suffer the lessons learned

But I have my own desert stretching my toes
But I have seen a promised land filled with giants
and I have sided with the ten
and I have labeled the two – nutbrained

But slow your fear shea… slow your darting eyes and consider…

I live
I don’t have to but I live
I live now
At least for now… but
For what?
Must I live for something?
I might live for nothing important
but that is not the same as nothing
and important is a thing to consider
while this wind carries pain into your face

But I do not lie down
to let dunes shift over me
For this fact if none other
I perceive a reason
A something
More even – a Presence
Concepts in the human mind are like these flowing hills – changing
I have not pushed
this far
for the sake of a concept
I know I have not because – becuase – it is not even in my power to do so
you are looking at a turtle on a fencepost – do the math

So return behind the How
Let the weight of the What
and the wonder of the Where
Conclude
with the obvious Why
There is only one
and it is a Who

So tell me while my ears are open
Play Solomon for my blistered and bewildered heart
must I chase wind
or worse… turn heel and flee the wind
all the way back to Egypt
Can these ashes in my mouth be
swallowed or spit
while I yet live – yet journey

Her Favorite

teaAll used cups – 99 cents
and there is one well-used
A bit delicate
A sharp lip
The floral design fading into china white

She drank her coffee black
I conclude with a tipping look
or perhaps a single sugar cube but certainly
this cup lived its life favorited

It has rested beside many morning papers
and accompanied many fresh tea-biscuits
here it is so sad so lonely
its friends saucer and spoon lost
at the bottom of a box in back

All these other stranger cups surrounding
most haven’t a clue how to be a favorite cup

You must meet her lips just so for
what you contain is both
a delight and dangerous

You must shape into her hands lovingly on cold mornings
and balance perfectly from her aging fingers
when her mind is engaged elsewhere

Your morning greetings should be bright and hopeful
reminding her daily of all she is likely to forget
– There is beauty in the world to savor today
– There is goodness in every drop of life
– There is truth to be stirred by even now

It is not an easy thing to be a favorite cup
you must endure many more scrubbings
than the visitors cups
and the thoughtful-gift cups
which say “Worlds Greatest Grandma” – loved but unused

You are far more likely to be dropped and chipped
so you must be stronger than the rest

and more than any other dish in the cupboard
you become part of who she is
until the day she dies and when
she does
the plates and bowls and holiday mugs
will always find a new home
you never will

different, kid

ScreenShot042It could have been kid
it could have been different
it could have been me and you
back to back against our foes
kickin ass and grasping big ol handfuls of glory
laughing like pirates cuz it was just too easy
“Those scurvy dogs never knew what hit ‘em”
we’d say to each other
and laugh
and laugh some more
together

It could have been me and you kid
and I suppose it’s just silly
to be wishing on that lost star now
but I do
here at two am listening
listening to them howl out there in the greenbelt
I do wish I could tell you
about the chunk they took out of my heart
even from here I can see stringy shreds of chest muscle
stuck in their teeth
dangling from their snarls

I do wish I had been at your back kid
when the crystal wolfpack first circled you
you were easy pickins and they knew it
their night cries gathered their number against you
“we found one alone, come feast”

It could have been different though
it could have been a reason to live
to live at full volume
a reason to wake fist banging for the day ahead
it could have been doorways into a grand courtyard behind high walls
instead you were exposed
out there in dry wilderness
with a bottle of pills for hope
that hope to end hopelessness
it visits me too
it comes round in the dark and pisses on my doormat

It could have been different, kid
it could have been me and you
shooting fireballs of light into the fucking darkness
owning our street
riding with the top down
spinners singing that sweet chrome song
I know I’m not very gangsta
and I had wished that world would refuse
to welcome a twelve year old white boy
but now I just wish I had just put on some dem gold chains
and learned to bounce
and be with you

You probably don’t know it
but for Christmas one year I bought you a Busta Rhymes CD
it sat under the tree until well into January
I finally unwrapped it and played it
and man it was good

You probably don’t know it but I’m not who you think I am
I don’t feel the way you think I feel
and I was just about sit down to write you this
when the amber wolfpack came for me
I didn’t fight long before they had me to the ground
I reasoned I belonged there
and so I just laid down in their hungry circle
just like my father did
you didn’t know him much but you remind me of him

There is not a lot of pride in our blood kid
sometimes kid it is just that way
and we get only what we scrape up
but it could have been different
it could have been you and me

buzz

A Herd of Cattle Tormented by Swarming Flies Okay you win

the Good Maker I have clung to

is no more

dead and buried

in the backwoods

“I am the accidental by-product of blind cosmic whim

“Born of matter plus time plus chance.

“There is no reason for my existence.

“All I face is death.

Humankind is nothing but a swarm of flies

buzzing over a full bedpan

 

All of my passion

my anger

my joy

Every cry for justice

and every indignancy suffered

is nothing

nothing but buzz

 

That immortality I never questioned as a child

and the nights of terror that followed the story

of death to come

of nothing – all nothing

all buzz over shit

 

The love I feel for my children

and the hopes I have for theirs

The bright light of astonished wonder

shining forth from the soft blue universe of their eyes

Those playful afternoons

whispering promises of future laughter

-buzz over shit – nay less – nothing

 

All the wars we have waged

the fight to restrain evil among the nations

the ideal we spilled so much blood for

-freedom

both it and the mighty crashing rivers

of spilt blood

I see now in the light

of your all-conquering “science”

are both but buzzing flies

with t-minus too few hours to live

 

Every song I’ve ever heard and loved from my mysterious inner heart

Every poetic refrain

Every clever turn in ink

Every word ever uttered – even this one

All Nothing

All Meaningless

All Pointless

All Absurd

All flies buzzing over shit

There, are you happy now that you have won the argument?

How Many Hates?

How many hates do you getScreenShot081
before you are -ful?
Your number is yours today
Do you have room for 100?
Or do you start to feel hate-ful at around 50? or 30? or 10?

Littering sucks… I hate littering
This counts as one
I once broke up with a girl because she littered
I didn’t hate her… but I couldn’t see myself sharing time with someone who liked littering… so even though I liked her, I left

You might hate racism, or you might hate a particular race
I’ve never understood what there is to hate about race
but if you want to take up one of your allotment that way… go for it
You might hate the culture or character or just the cheese of another… fine… hate what you like… but realize that once you exceed the limit you have within you, you have become hate-ful

Count them… name them… all your hates
so that you know for sure when you are using them
and for when you consider adding another… or removing one when your limit shrinks with growth

If you don’t really have room for another hate
then you just don’t get to use it
and when you take one away
it is gone forever

Now…
How many joys do you get…

A talk on law

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It is 5:30 in the morning. I’m driving south-bound on I-5 on my way to work. To my right I see a black and white speed limit sign which reads 60 mph and I laugh mockingly at it. I glance down at my speedometer – it reads somewhere between 25 and 30 – and quickly I turn my attention back to road – at least what I can see of it through the blanket of snow which is falling.
Just then a 4 wheel drive SUV goes flying by me doing at least 60!
“What a JERK !” Have you ever responded this way to another driver because they were following the traffic laws? I was ticked off because I thought they were going way too fast for this much snow, but according to the black and white sign, they were not breaking the speed limit, a patrol officer probably could not have actually given them a speeding ticket.
There is a traffic ticket that is often given out for these situations– it’s called “Unsafe speed for road conditions” right?
Let me ask you this… how is a person supposed to know they are driving too fast for road conditions? Is there a sign anywhere on the freeway which states – if there is a ¼ inch of rain on the road, drive 45 mph. For 1/2 inch of snow, drive 35, for snow greater than 1 inch – drive 25?
No, you are just expected to know what is safe and what is unsafe. The law expects you to exercise some common sense about good driving in bad conditions – and they will ticket you for ignoring this common sense. I was angry at that SUV because I assumed they knew the full speed limit provided by the law was unsafe at that moment, and they were putting me and everyone else at risk by ignoring that fact! JERK!
I thought to myself… What else can you say about people like that? People who think -“Well, the sign says 60! So I’m going 60!”? Do they have the common sense expected of them but just refuse to use it? Or is it possible that they are just blind to the intent behind the law? Truth is, my response to them shows that I am no better.
What do you think about the people who wrote the traffic laws for Wa state? How many of you have thought – “Whoever wrote speed limit law was a vindictive politician who is just out spoil my fun!”? I only ask you to raise your hand so that I can be sure to drive the opposite direction as you when we leave the parking lot today!
The rest of you might well guess that those who wrote the traffic laws did so with a concern for the safety of those who drive on the roads and freeways right? They probably spent millions of dollars and hired hundreds of engineers, statisticians and other smart type people to ensure fatal accidents on our roads were kept to a minimum. You could therefore assume that they valued the safety Wa State drivers right?
Now what might you assume about people who drive under the traffic laws? They probably fall into two groups, one group which shares the concern of the law makers for the safety of their fellow travelers and drive accordingly. The second group may follow the traffic laws, but only because they don’t want to get a ticket. These are always upgrading their radar detectors and are always nervous when there is a police officer driving behind them. They obey the laws well enough as long as there is some one around to catch them.
If Jesus were to communicate the speed limit laws, he might say something like this…
“You have heard it was said, ‘Thou shalt not exceed 60 miles per hour on I-5’, but I say to you, you must share the heart and have the same intent as the traffic law. You must accurately judge a travel speed that is safe for yourself and your fellow drivers”.
If it’s not obvious at this point, we will be looking today at the section of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus is apparently redefining the law for his listeners.
What is actually happening is Jesus is reclaiming the original definitions and rejecting the relaxed versions of the law that we have written for ourselves. He goes down a list of rules that people would pride themselves in keeping and basically says, ‘You follow rules that tell you not to kill, not to sleep around, not to hate, not to lie or steal, but while you appear to keep these, you are lacking within yourself the intent behind them and so you continue to jeopardize yourselves and others.
There are two versions of God’s Law. The version we rewrite for ourselves is relaxed – it is a mere list of external expectations. You can always just look down at your speedometer and say pridefully “I am within the limit”.
The other is that of the intent or purpose of the law. Keeping God’s law as Jesus is defining it in the Sermon on the Mount requires something far more than a checklist of dos and do-nots, it requires a spiritual understanding and a spiritual response. This law is scribed into the hearts of citizens of the Kingdom.
This law is spiritual because it involves knowing and responding to, and even sharing in the heart of God himself.
A list of expectations requires only that I know the list of expectations, but the spiritual law requires that I have a growing relationship with God Himself, that I have His Spirit within me, that I have the mind of Christ. Our speedometer is our King Himself. Rather than looking to ourselves or each other to gauge our rightness, we look to Christ – focusing our attention on Him, allowing His values to define our values.
Allow me to paint a little analogy. Like all analogies, it falls somewhat short of the full truth, but it may help you see to the law in a new light.
Imagine a huge fancy living room, like one in a castle or a mansion. It is decorated with the most beautiful furniture and art you have ever seen. The coffee table and end tables are crafted from the finest woods and have these gorgeous inlays of gold and jewels. There is the grandest grand piano ever heard sitting almost in the middle of the room. The couches and chairs are upholstered with the most exquisite materials on the face of the earth. The floor itself steps down several levels and in the center is a huge mosaic that looks like it took the better portion of a lifetime to design.
Now, turn off the lights. Close the drapes so that not even the slightest amount of light can enter into the room. Try to walk around… what is the first thing that you learn? You can’t see! By now you have probably tripped down the steps and left a little blood on that mosaic from the minor head wound you suffered when you landed. Your shins are likely bruised from running into the end tables. All of the beauty of this extravagant room is lost on you – it is a mere obstacle course where you are trying desperately to avoid any more pain.
What can you do? You are quite obviously in darkness. What do you need more than anything at this particular moment? You need someone to turn on the lights don’t you.
In Col 1, Paul’s says this.
God has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.
In the domain of darkness, God’s law is merely a stumbling block – we cannot keep it perfectly, it can only condemn us. It serves to reveal our actual loyalties -to prove to us our citizenship in the domain of darkness. But people who are in darkness often try to convince themselves pridefully that they are not blind and they treat Gods law as a game – thinking the object is simply trying to make it from one side of the room to the other without getting stuck or tripping over things. But the law is impassable; it was not designed to merely provide the blind with easy navigation through life. It was designed to show them they are blind.
Imagine if getting into heaven were a jumping contest. You might have a huge group of contestants lined-up, some of which have strong legs and nimble ankles and others who might not even be able to jump up onto the curb. The bell rings and the jumping contest begins. Heads are bouncing up and down, some a little and some a lot. There are many there who look like they took lessons from Michael Jordan himself. Eventually though, they all start to get tired, and they start to whine and complain – “Hasn’t any one won yet?” The referee shakes his head No. “Well how high do we have to jump in order to win?” The ref points up. “Do you see that star up there? The brightest one in the sky? That is how high you must jump in order to win”.
“Impossible! Who then can be saved?”
And we hear Jesus answer, “With man, this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Matthew 5 closes with Jesus saying… You must be perfect… as perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect. Can we possibly even be perfect as citizens of darkness? If our lot is so bad, how can God expect us to ever jump so high?
Listen… Christ is able to reach down into our darkness and pull us over into Light. Having been transferred into the kingdom of light, God’s law is now seen for what it is. It is the furniture which beautifies the room. It reveals His finest art and craftsmanship and glorifies the skill in His hands.
The law is His desire, His pleasure, His compassionate will. Citizens of the kingdom of light cannot only see His will for what it is, but they share it. His heart is written on our hearts and we become light bearers. Living by a list sheds little light (Do not even the tax collectors do the same) but in living by the heart of God our righteousness will more than exceed that of the Pharisees.
I guess I had better get to the text before they chase me out of here.
Matt 5, verses 21-48. Jesus deals with several topics. Murder, adultery and marriage, taking oaths and speaking truth, retaliation and loving our enemies are all covered. In each case He starts with “You have heard it was said – But I tell you.” Now some of these traditions they were following were straight out the Ten Commandments, but the tradition had just shifted their meanings. Some of these rules we cannot find anywhere in what God has spoken and so they are obviously man-made rules.
Well, before we actually get to the specific verses, lets jump ahead 10 chapters and look at an example being played out.
Matt 15.
Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said,
“Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’
But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’
So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.
You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:
“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
Do you see what is happening here? God told them to honor their parents but they added a rule to what God said. Essentially they were allowed to cheat their parents as long they used a religious excuse for doing so. I want you to take special notice of Jesus’ respond. In quoting Isaiah, he was saying essentially that living in light of the law is about having our hearts stitched up tight with Gods, and it is about worship. As we read through these sections in the sermon, I want you to keep those two things in mind, a heart that is close to God and a spirit of worship.
v21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’
But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
Great! So you’re saying that not only is it against the law to bash heads in when I feel like it, but I’m not even allowed to even be angry? This is a typical response from darkness. But let us look deeper, let’s dig under the restriction to find the intent. What do we see of Gods heart here? Isn’t God saying He values life? All life, both natural and spiritual, are His creation and are precious to him. God placed His image in us all, and that is very precious to Him.
Obviously, he doesn’t take kindly to you and me going around destroying it. It would be like taking a mallet into that living room and smashing the beautiful furniture to pieces. The citizens of the dark kingdom may take pride in the fact that they have never killed anyone, but the citizens of light realize that there are many ways of being destructive towards life without ever getting blood on your hands. Jesus points to anger and insult, then very clearly states that these fall into the same category as cold-blooded murder.
Let your light so shine before others, so that they may see how you value life and then give glory to the God who reigns over you.
v23 “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. “
You might recognize from this that our relationships with one another are valued by God. He makes it clear that we cannot destroy our relationships and then go offer any meaning worship to Him. You might even say that making things right when we are the offender in a relationship is a real part of worshiping God because it is recognizing who God is and what He considers valuable. Citizens of the Kingdom value what their King values – it is that simple.
Let your light so shine before others, so that they may see how you value relationships and then give glory to the God who reigns over you.
v27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. “
What is the value displayed here? Because the word adultery is used, we might jump to the topic of marriage, but Jesus is going to deal with that specifically in the next section so I think this one is a little broader. We may see may many ideas here, but lets look at the value of the person. When our sexual drive drives us out of control, we jeopardize not only life, but personality – on both sides of the lustful intent. Both the luster and the lustee are diminished to something less than a person.
Citizens of the dark domain will say “I did not sleep with that woman.” But the citizens of the kingdom of light will say, “I saw in that woman not a thing, but a person, and within that person, I recognized the art and the image of God.”
Can you see how the opposite of adultery is really and actually the worship of God?
Let your light so shine before others, so that they may see how you value every person and then give glory to the God who reigns over you.
v29 “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”
Jesus is not supporting self-mutilation here. He knows, and expects us to understand, that the offense comes from our hearts and that chopping off our hands is not going to touch the true problem. What he is saying, with very strong imagery, is that this is no game. It is not a philosophy for better living or a way to make a twisted man appear to stand straight. It is serious business.
v31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
This command is also played out later in Matthew
Chap 19 3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.“
Let me ask you this… towards who were their hearts so hard that Moses had to permit divorce? Was it only towards their spouse or was their heart hardened against the One who had joined them together?
From the beginning you were created to love and to be loved and marriage is one of the most profound ways this is demonstrated. God values marriage – it was His idea, it has deep meaning and purpose in our world. Yet we so often treat marriage like its sole purpose is just to make us happy –and as soon as it doesn’t, we write up our certificates and go looking for another. Intimate relationships can so easily become idols in our lives when our hearts are hard against God.
For those of you that are single, does God still expect you to value marriage the way He does?
For those who are married, in what ways can your marriage worship and glorify God? I encourage you to think this one through and then talk about it with your spouse, in your small groups this week, or even write about it in your blog.
Let your light so shine before others, so that they may see how you value what God has joined together and then give glory to the God who reigns over you.

Well, at this point I have to admit something to you all… I only got half-way through in my teaching preparation. It looks like it is going to be up to you to finish the rest of this message for me. This week, read through the rest of Matthew 5. Examine each command and identify through it what God is saying He values. Then examine your own values. How close is your heart to God’s heart in these areas? How might your response to God’s law resemble worship?
Before I exit however, I would like to ask you all to take a quick look down at yourselves. Are your shins bruised? Do you have any sore spots because you keep running into God’s law? Are you constantly stumbling over Christ’s demands that you must be 100% perfect? If so, I don’t want to just leave you bumbling around in darkness. And more importantly! I wouldn’t want you to miss out on the beauty revealed by the light. I want to hear your voice alongside mine, gasping at the wonder of what God has done in this world.
You need to know that it is not good enough to be good by your own standards – that way leads to death. You already know that you have not lived a perfect life, but the good news is that Christ fully met every requirement of the law in both thought and deed – He has lived a 100% perfect life, and He is willing to swap with you.
From your very first infraction of the law, however long ago that was, you became a law-breaker. Your perfect record was forever shattered into millions of pieces and there is not enough super-glue in the entire world that will restore it. You need to know that justice and fairness requires a penalty for law-breaking, it requires death. But Christ is willing to swap that with you too.
For the law of the Spirit of life can set you free through Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. God has done for us what we could not do for ourselves. By sending is own Son into our darkness, He shattered the darkness with light in order that we might live with His law fulfilled in us and walk this world in worship and in oneness with Christ.

I Like Your Body – You Should Too

Question for you…Interrupt-Mag-I-like-my-body

How many,
that is exactly how many,
people do you need
to imagine like your body
before you will?
If you want a thousand-thousand, be careful.
If you want only those who know you – you are probably closer than you think
And there is a trick to it
A loophole of sorts I suppose

The people you know
Like most the things you like most

-You’re a fool. -I know.

ScreenShot028
Among one or two other minor things, it occurred to me recently that I need to be willing to allow the basic definitions of words to change. Merriam-Webster would love this idea wouldn’t they? … seeing how fresh new dictionaries would be in demand again. Surely some of the reason for the need of fresh definitions would come from cultural change – new words are applied to old circumstances and vice-versa, but there is more to my mini-revelation than social shifts and cultural change. There is also personal shifts in perception and personal change in how I grasp reality – at least there should be – and if there is not then I’m probably not learning anything, I am just being lazy and avoiding adventure and discovery.
It may be however, that even as I lock my front door on my way out to adventure, that stagnant or inept definitions of words in my thinking could be keeping me inside the same four walls forever.

Some words, like lasso or soup or kerfuffle, can easily find a new facelift simply by reading and/or writing some poetry (which I highly recommend – to myself often and to yourself here as well) but other words have been so heavily used in so many venues that they become like that time when your favorite song got used in a car commercial. At first you were excited about how many other people would now have a chance to favorite it – but before long you find it overused and cheapened, and you find yourself hating what you once loved.

And that brings me to the one specific word I have in mind: love.

You are going to find this odd, but the first thing that comes to mind at the word “love” (and has for many years) is not valentine’s day, or cheesy romcom’s or Barry White songs (although they all get in line). No, the first thing to my muddled mind is this:

Ahh.. There now, doesn’t your heart feel warmer?

It is clear from both Tevya and Golde that love is more than a four letter word, that love does what love does whether or not there is credit to be collected. Golde says… “Do I love you? For 25 years I’ve washed your clothes…” If that is not love, what is?

Can you imagine going to God with this question? “Do you love me?” and getting a response of … “Do I love you? For all these years I have brought sunshine and rain. For all these years I have pumped your heart and expanded your lungs. For all these years I have guided your footsteps even when you wanted no guidance from anyone. Do I love you? oy vey!”

I’m beginning to feel like Job… but anyway, that wasn’t my real point… back to Tevya and Golde…

Notice right there – that moment where she asks herself… “Do I love him? … I suppose I do” – and… queue the kleenex 🙂

Love takes on a fuller definition, a larger meaning and significance, and feeds a hunger that had been largely ignored = apparently for a whole 25 years. In reading Peter Kreeft in recent days I found this occurring for me. There have been connections around love that I have largely ignored (although for only 22 years). Early on in my exploration of reality and the gospel of Christ, I began to understand the concept of identity, and it’s importance.

I saw how sin changed the way our first parents saw both themselves and God. I saw how God responded by dressing them in garments of skin and I made the connection to the garment of Christ described by Paul in Colossians.

I read the shema! and I understood how love was integral to holiness and relationship. I connected some dots between my thinking, my feeling and my actions to suggest love could motivate each – and should.

I began seeing bumper stickers everywhere saying God is Love! and soon grew tired of the phrase just like the car commercials that ruined all of my favorite songs. But this week a connection was made that brought about a much fuller idea of the definition of love. When we say “God is love” I believe we may be making a statement of identity – that “love” is a part of how God sees Himself (if such a thought can be ventured…).

While sitting on the mount, I hear the following words – “that you may be the children of your Father in heaven” – another statement about identity that I have largely missed. Just as I need to learn how to see myself “In Christ”, valuable and beloved, I also need to learn how to see myself “as love” in a like manner (but certainly on a smaller scale) to how God sees Himself as love. Love is not just something I’m supposed to do… it is something I’m supposed to be.

I like how Kreeft combines the concept of love in with the “self” categories of heart, mind, will, etc. I am not just a “will” I am a “love”. I know it feels weird to say… fattening the definition of some words just works that way I suppose.

And then another connection came. I was reading about Brother Juniper – the Friend of Francis, Fool of God. It struck me as odd that he would strive to be a “jester of the Lord”, but then I remembered Tevya standing behind Golde, seeking confirmation of her love for him, more than willing to be a fool for it, and I understood.

Oh… you’re an atheist? So what

ScreenShot078

Really, why should I care. What do you have to offer anyone that is at all useful? Oh? You and I are a random collection of mutative accidents with nothing but nothing to look forward to? What we experience as “thinking” and “knowledge” and “will” and “morality” are all imaginary constructs with no real significance – there are only “atoms inside my skull that happen to be happening”? Why do you bother to even think at all since you have no ultimate reason to trust thoughts to be actually real or true?

I know I know… blah blah blah science blah blah blah…
What is science?

On the surface, it is only 7 letters combined arbitrarily into 1 “word”.
Define word:
/wərd/
a single distinct conceptual unit of language

Define language:
/ˈlaNGgwij/
the method of human communication consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way.

Define communication:
/kəˌmyo͞onəˈkāSHən/
the conveying or sharing of ideas and feelings.

Science is first of all a conceptual unit or symbol which humans use to communicate an idea.

What is the idea?
sci·ence
ˈsīəns/
the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.
from Old French, from Latin scientia, from scire ‘know.’

Science is the idea that we can know stuff by observing and interacting with things we can see and touch. You will likely agree, but you have no reason to other than the fact that someone once told you it was so and you agreed to share the symbology. What does it really mean to “know” something? Ultimately it is just chemicals and bits of dust arranging themselves in a particular fashion inside our noggins. How do you trust the actuality of anything that happens inside or outside your own head? Everything you observe and interact with goes through some kind of translation into chemicals and bits of dust – how do you know the translation is accurate? Oh… you are going to compare with the translation process that is occurring in someone else and trust that theirs is accurate? I say the ball is blue, and you say the ball is blue, so the ball must be blue? Really? So knowledge is mere mutually agreed upon experience? What are you going to do if I say the ball is red? One or both of us are apparently mis-translating reality, and knowledge becomes only an arbitrary preference between competing ideas.

Yes, I am calling your atheism an arbitrary preference between competing ideas. If the interpretation of reality is being performed by humans as entailed by the naturalistic world-view, we can’t trust our own thinking, or anyone else’s for that matter. Of course… if I can’t trust human thinking to be accurate and based in reality I can’t trust any observation or argument leading to atheism or anything else. Any “knowledge”, or “purpose” or “meaning” are all ultimately mere fictions of a mutant translating and processing machine. Whimsy is all that remains. Now I like some whimsy now and then, but it is certainly nothing to take very seriously as you suggest I should – and so I say “so what”.

Allow me to suggest a more honest response for you…
“I don’t know”

Or how about: “If there is a creator god of some sort out there, my own experience has not compelled me into devotion towards it.” That is pretty honest for many. Or maybe even: “My experience has indeed compelled me into devotion, but competing values have caused me to prefer one devotion over another.”

But the atheist says “I deny the existence of a personal supreme being or beings with the power of creation ex nihilo”.
Perhaps I have mis-represented the atheist though… I will consult a reference:
http://atheists.org/activism/resources/what-is-atheism
“Atheism is usually defined incorrectly as a belief system. Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.”

Clearly I was incorrect. Apparently an atheist merely lacks belief and does not actively deny. Yes, it is rather dumb to take a stance such as “Throughout the entire undiscovered universe and beyond, I know for an absolute certainified fact that there is no creator God anywhere to be found.” One cannot disprove God, so it is safer (and saner) to say one “lacks belief”. Ok fine. But wait, why is there also an Activism page… https://atheists.org/activism
The goal is stated as “raising the profile of atheism and normalizing atheism in the public discourse.”

I personally lack a belief in woodchucks with wings and I so passionately lack this belief that I am going to fight to normalize my lack of belief in the public discourse. Not only do I not want my kids to be taught that some rare and to-date-unobserved woodchucks have wings, I don’t want your kids being taught it either. This is not “lack”, this is arrogance.

As an atheist attempting to “normalize” atheism to me [read: proselytize], do you realize what you ask? You ask me to believe that “reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming.” And then you attempt to tell me that atheism is the only “rational” and “scientific” option for my trust when your basic world-view has already undermined the reliability of any such a thing.

If there truly is no god as you are attempting to propose, then truly it does not matter which philosophy you live under. Who cares about the “testimony” of mindless matter? Reality is nothing, truth is nothing, science is nothing and the whole thing slits its own throat in a self-stultifying grand hurrah. Ex nihilo nihil fit. Do you not see this yet?

Granted, the existence of a creator God does not necessarily establish the reliability of our thinking either, but it would establish that the idea of “mind” had a pure source and that a true perception of reality is possible – whether or not any of us have access to it.

was the maker lonely

lonely-benchwas the maker lonely
up to the time the maker made?
or merely curious
to discover what a fabricated will
would do or say

maybe the maker has always been making
universe after universe
each divided by plastic orange fences
each using a new ingredient or spice
in the recipe for free will
each seeing a different hue
when light reflects through sky
some perhaps with no light at all
no heat
no change
what will a will do when
there is nothing to break free of?

What do you think of at the word soul?
what is a waterline traced
by a child’s fingertip?
what do you see of a cloud
after it has spilled out over the hill?
what is that sound in your ears
a moment before thunder?
that sound of that moment of anticipation
of the wake of a cracked sky?
what is the name of the fear
that floods you when
your heart skips
or stops

What is the soul
is it that which says I and me?
or a silent witness
you occasionally think
to invite over for tea
once the
dusting
and the sweeping
is done