Forward

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“Bind up the testimony, seal the teaching among my disciples. I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him. See, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion. Now if people say to you, “Consult the ghosts and the familiar spirits that chirp and mutter; should not a people consult their gods, the dead on behalf of the living, for teaching and for instruction?” surely, those who speak like this will have no dawn! They will pass through the land, greatly distressed and hungry; when they are hungry, they will be enraged and will curse their king and their gods. They will turn their faces upward, or they will look to the earth, but will see only distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish; and they will be thrust into thick darkness.

But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish.” Isaiah 8.16-9.1 (NRSV)

We look to the past for wisdom and for answers, but God sends often sends us signs in unfamiliar promises for the future. The signs in Isaiah are centered around a child named Immanuel, the hope of Israel – but what can a child do? Is it not wiser to seek out the counsel of the great leaders of the past than to hope that this child will somehow lead us into a better future?

Children are untested, underdeveloped… there are too many uncertainties with them. We certainly want them in our life, but we do not want to hand them the keys to our cars, our credit cards, or the mantles of leadership in our businesses. No, children need to know their place until we deem them worthy of the role reserved for adults. We prefer them seen and not heard. They are, and may always be, the greatest perpetual minority group in our world.

Our battles over rights regarding gun laws, marriage laws, rarely take into consideration the voice and effects on children. With minds like thirsty sponges, they soak up everything we show and tell them because they just want to know – and we take advantage of that to download our own points of view onto them, the ways we wished we viewed the world instead of helping them to safely see the messy world for the way it is.

Every generation bears its own blessings and curses and finds ways to separate and dinstinguish themselves from those who go before them. Ultimately, I think it is a miracle we have not completely messed up an entire generation yet… and therein lies Isaiah’s point. Try as you might, you will not take control back from God… indeed the tiny mouth you are spoonfeeding today, will be spoonfeeding you tomorrow. Can we see God working in and with them today?

  • Who are the children in your life?
  • Where do you see God in them?
  • If they are messengers of hope from God, what should your response be to them?

This one is just for fun!

Monday December 12, 2016

An Acrostic on Midnight – Life XVII

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We hide each night

not in gestures, however timely

in stature

and living marks of strained torque –

deeds of no extent.

 

A new day

set upon nimble reaches in sure event,

glows red on waiting shores,

sighing onward

‘neath each awaiting response.

 

This hour answers those

warring emotions,

crashing and neurotic,

tipped over unconditionally, crying horrendously

to heroic endearments,

slighting pillars, and culling each sentinel.

 

It ticks softly,

this intimate moment evading

the other

siding midway over on the hearth

to hither ears

hidden above iridescent regality.

 

Addled, noted digressions

greet each tether,

together heading everywhere,

dreaming in multiplexed prickles, leaning ever south,

reverencing every addler, despite yourself.

 

All now declare

with open numinosity, declaring eighty reaches

without end,

cradled over us, lowered down,

crossed and redeeming evermore.

 

For our respite

there heralds a trophy,

only left dying

for a death-eating democracy

marked in damned notes, in great hellish thoughts.

 

This has a troubling,

fear-ridden intensity, garnished here this evening, next empty doors,

but underneath this,

another note…

hope – our understanding renewed.

Why Time Matters. Part 4

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So it is that regardless of whether we look to the past, present, or future, there is no absolute certainty regarding what is to come. All of it requires some leap of faith over gaps in the information. How then, do we plan for the future? Is it even realistically possible or are we simply deluding ourselves?

Giving up is a legitimate response. We can crawl into a survival mode, preparing at once for everything and nothing. There may be very real reason for the despair, depression, and anxiety that plague many people who cannot see hope in their future. I’ve heard it said before that pessimists are slightly more in touch with reality that optimists are, and if there is no real way of knowing what tomorrow may bring, there may be some truth to that. Even if that saying is wrong, it would be the pessimists in for a pleasant surprise rather than the optimists caught off-guard by a curveball. Some of us may laugh at the idea of those who make bomb shelters in their basements, preparing for the end of the world – but there may be a semblance of real preparation and security in that kind of attitude. If they are delusional, it is more likely along the lines of their belief that they can do anything to change the inevitable. The bomb shelter mockers might instead choose to live in carpe diem terms, not in that they are somehow optimistic about the future, but believing they lack the power or the motivation to change what might be considered an inevitable outcome.

These options come into play on a daily basis as people receive medical “death sentences”. You have six months to live. Some immediately change their diet and exercise, trying everything to tack on a few more weeks, months, even years – even though the outcome is indeed inescapable. Sometimes they put themselves through a great deal of suffering and indignation in exchange for the possibility of an extension. Others resign themselves to the inevitable and try to maximize the little time they have left, often shortening that time considerably because of the choices they make. Some, choosing to take control of the situation themselves, end their lives intentionally. The thing is though, no one, not even the best of the medical profession, can be entirely sure when death will come knocking and under which pretense. We’re still simply reacting to shots in the dark, not knowing from which way they are fired.

We are not in control of our lives, any more than we are in control of the world around us. That is a fact. So what hope do we have? Our only hope is that there is something in control and that it has vested interest in each of us. Religions that fail to juxtapose power and compassion, justice and mercy, will always ultimately fall short of the hope that they promise. Our reason and technology, devoid of the divine, can promise no more than the power of our own hands, the sharpness of our own minds, or the compassion of our own hearts – in a ironic way, the option of independence, should we choose to live life on our own. Unfortunately, those of us who choose to cast our own lots must bear our own burdens, and extensionally, the burdens of anything else we deem under our own control.

So it comes down to this: if there is any certainty in life, it must come from something outside of us. If there is any security in life, it has to come from some kind of benevolent caretaker overlooking the world. I’m not making a proof for the existence of any particular god(s) here, I’m just putting the cards on the table and letting you compare them to the hand you have been dealt.


 

Why Time Matters. Part 3

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Since the past and present (or study of them) both fall under subjectivist inquiry and may ultimately lead us to a self-serving relativism, we are really left with only one other source of knowledge: the future. I realize that by even mentioning this as a viable alternative, I have stepped outside the realm of modern science into something unprecedented at best, and more likely along the lines of unfounded superstitious beliefs.

Hard science simultaneously preaches the concept of the predictable behavior of matter and an unscripted nature of the future. How does this work? There is an assumption (based on their Positivist foundations) that objects exist only in the present. Just as the past becomes figments of our memory, so the future is only figments of our imagination. Reality exists only in the present. Time travel is a pipe dream. Now, a successful experiment in time travel might be able to change that, but to my knowledge, no such experiment has been received by the scientific community. For them, this option is largely excluded.

Other views exist, and have existed with more precedence than the perspective of hard science. Many spiritual beliefs advocate for the existence of reality set in the future and placed within the context of an overarching meta-narrative in which we play the part of participants and not chief observers or manipulators. Specifics of our participation may vary, but generally all end with the final say to the direction being given to a source outside of us – even if only given in a passive manner. For simplicity’s sake I’m going to refer to two main categories of future-oriented focus: the Prophet and the Mystic.

The Prophet interacts with some form of divine intelligence beyond the normal rules and boundaries of life, gathering insight and wisdom and then becoming a catalyst for the will of the Outsider. The Prophet’s accuracy in prediction is linked to the Outsider’s power to bring about the events of proclamation, or in other words, the prophet is only as good as their god.

The Mystic, on the other hand, acts more as a free agent: interacting with divine others, but with an independent agenda of their own. Mystics are seekers of truth and power beyond the normal scope of natural human experience. The accuracy of their own predictions depends upon their own strength, one of the primary markers setting them apart from prophets.

Now, setting aside the discussion on whether or not divine beings exist and what or who they may be, we have come to a crossroads. We cannot seek enlightenment from the future if we set our epistemology, our way of knowing things, in exclusively objective terms (at least under the current scientific regime and repertoire). Whether we seek truth under the guidance of an outside source as Prophets, or on our own strength as Mystics, we have to transcend our present world if we hope to touch the future.

One more section to go.