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They have Pulled Down Deep Heaven on their Heads July 15, 2013

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        “They have Pulled Deep Heaven on their Heads.” So titled is chapter 13 in C S Lewis’ third book in his prophetic science fiction series. In this book, That Hideous Strength, Lewis recounts the efforts of a seemingly civil society of philanthropists to simultaneously enhance the buildings and grounds of a Private British College while they furtively seek to unearth the remains of Merlyn, the Medieval Wizard said to possess mysterious powers. It was those powers that they would harness and wield to their own purposes.

What they unearthed was not exactly what they had intended: quite the opposite in fact. In resurrecting Merlyn and his powers they inadvertently pulled down deep heaven on their heads.

How often do our plans and motivations pull down deep heaven on our heads? A desire for revenge certainly takes its toll on the begrudged, consuming both resources and creativity. Rage and a bitter spirit do likewise gnaw away at our souls, leaving us less than who we might have been.

But the one that does the most damage is that seething inner hatred of some other group or individual that is never assuaged; rather, it intentionally feeds exclusively on the meat that reinforces its ire, ignoring anything contrary. It’s not just that some of us need to be more right than anyone else. We also have to be able to rub it into those whom we’ve just proven wrong. This is an evil hatred that disdains the other and wishes their utter annihilation. This is the kind of arrogance that will pull down deep heaven, the wrath of God, if you will, on their own heads.

They must believe that their actions will have no consequences; that there is no God in the heavens with whom a reckoning must come. Can their resentment and fury be so unquenchable?!? What realities will bring them contentment, resolution, mercy, or grace? Will they ever be able to forgive those who have done so much wrong to them? Is retribution the only way?

Or is there another? Let me assure you that there is. But it will cost you your soul. You will come out the better man, the better woman for it. But the price is not cheap. Then again, anything of great worth never comes without disproportionate sacrifice.

Maybe it is simply better for things to go on as is, with your spirit seething within, seeking gross retaliation on others. What a glorious existence!

Personally, I would rather sacrifice my soul to be rid of such seething, crazed lunacy.

For what it’s worth,

Gary

Christmas December 11, 2012

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011_edited-1For most people in Western cultures Christmas is about giving gifts. Whatever your economic level, you want to give gifts—whether home-made or purchased, even at great expense. For many, this is all Christmas is about, with a sprinkling of parties, decorations (some to exceptional heights), & very special treats, like Christmas cookies. Not that this is all that bad. It certainly is not! For all the giving (read buying), decorating, and celebrating fills the air with a sense of good will, of caring for our fellow human being, and of fostering peace on earth, good will toward men.

Now that we live in a postChristian culture, and have since the early 1980s, it strikes me as somewhat miraculous that we celebrate the entrance of the God of the universe onto our insignificant meager planet. Of course, His story, that of the First Christmas & beyond, has been relegated to the traditionalists, conservatives, and religious types of Christendom decayed.

So what is the place of the genuine Christian during this secular holiday season? Is it to withdraw into our ancient celebrations of joy around the birth of the world’s Saviour? Is it to ignore the world’s celebration altogether? Or, maybe, to enter into it with moderation? Maybe it should be celebrated only in the confines of our own families, and church?

For our part, my wife and I intend to celebrate Christmas, the historical birth of the Christ-child, who would one day save our world, as well as the cultural Christmas celebrated by those around us, until the cows come home. Actually, we don’t own any cows; but you get the point! If we can inspire anyone in this economically doomed, war-torn, pain wracked, broken world to celebrate Christ in the midst of their pain, sorrow, and fear, then we will have opened a window for the Spirit of God to enter in to bring healing, peace, love, and His deep regeneration for a new life within.

The Wassail is boiling on the wood stove. Come on over! You are welcome here…, as it is in heaven.

May God grant you the restoration to life you long for this Christmas,

Gary

compliance November 21, 2012

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Remember when you were a child and your parents forced you to pick up your room? You did it…, but you were not happy about it. As you grew up you were forced to do homework; you couldn’t just play sports, you had to try out for them (as if you weren’t good enough); you had to take tests that measured your memory of what you had been taught (not, in contrast, of what you had learned), and then more tests that determined your later life-expertise. These tests usually were administered on a Saturday morning. You r-e-a-l-l-y were not happy about that. On the surface you were compliant: but within, you were seething in your own little, private rebellion.

Carrying this duality into adulthood results in a duplicitous character. A courteous Dr Jekyll on the outside— Mr Hyde lurking just below the surface. If not addressed this dichotomy creates a façade that veils your true self. First, others sense something that makes them feel uncomfortable around you. As time continues, you forget your true self and become the façade— you are known as that courteous, gracious person who always places the needs of others above his/her own. But deep down within your being, resentment and anger are festering. But by then you are no longer aware of it. You simply act out of a sense of duty, of commitment to the task, of compliance.

Until one day…, one event…, one person triggers those years of repression and duplicity…, and you explode. Hopefully, not on someone you love, but on someone who loves you AND comprehends what is going on.

Living a tranquil, compliant life, while roiling waters fume and foment within can take its toll on anybody. It will wear down your spirit, exhaust you physically & emotionally, and corrupt your soul. Get help! Find an insightful friend, a wise psychologist, or a minister/priest. This is a serious situation that will not naturally resolve itself. Even bring it before a holy, mighty God and cry out for Help!  Many people before you have come to this point and done just that. Do you think God turned them away?

 

Have a nice week,

Gary

the hunter October 17, 2012

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An “impersonal God”— well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads— better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap— best of all. But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband— that is quite another matter… .

            There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (“Man’s search for God!”) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that!

            Worse still, supposing He had found us?

~ C.S. LEWIS, Miracles

Many of us (though not all), in searching to define and understand ourselves, come to a point where we consider the possibility of god, or, if you will, God. Such is our nature to search, to explore, to discover more of the mysteries of our inner selves and the vast realm of the universe beyond. Following a path of curiosity in either direction will give rise to questions like—  Is there more than just me? Am I a part of something much greater than I might imagine? Is there something behind the physical universe?

At this point most of us stop thinking. We are too busy with life, work, families, new babies, and sports to have any energy left for such BIG questions. But WHAT IF…?  What if we detected an uneasy sensation within ourselves that there might be someone out there, somewhere, looking for us? This is a sensation worth examining, especially if it becomes a recurring theme in your life. Could it be that there is a Great Hunter, the Great God-Creator Himself, seeking you? If He is, you cannot run, you cannot hide. And you cannot find rest for your soul until He finds you. Maybe you have something He wants? Maybe He’ll have something you want? Or maybe He simply wants to give you something?

Most plausibly,  He wants you to stop your running away from Him in fear and, instead, have a cup of tea with Him. I wonder what that conversation might sound like.

Being hunted by God is not a thing to treat glibly. It is not a trifle. Engage cautiously.

Have a nice week,

Gary

naked June 13, 2012

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Naked. Butt-naked. Au natural. Birthday-suit. Bare. Buff. In today’s world cultures, the human form has oft been portrayed in its superlative beautiful form and as its most ignoble pornographic depiction. Nakedness, per se, is nothing of which to be ashamed (unless you resemble this writer). The shame comes more in the eye, or, more precisely, in the mind, of the beholder. Our species has a tendency to seek the basest elements in nature and to lift them to an art form, thus diminishing the beauty of what our God has created in all of us— a reflection of Himself. [Inordinate use of fast-foods, sugars, and salts hasn’t helped either, not to mention the prevalence of our “couch-potato culture.”]

So we hide ourselves in post-Eden attire, brightly colored and reflective, to hide the form with which God has endowed us and we have abused. We hide in hides, as it were. Or cotton, wool, silk, or polyester, eye-liner, flushed cheeks and dangly thingies from our ears. Not that any of these are bad, mind you…, given the alternative. Gross nakedness of a Creature gone awry.

Moreover, we extend hiding to our relationships with our Creator and our fellow creatures. Though decked in the latest fashion, we cover-up further with a personal façade to prevent others from truly knowing who we are underneath. Concealing our true selves from one another, for whatever reasons, seems counter-productive to Truth and truth to this writer. Attempting to hide from God…, well, that’s just ridiculous. Yet we find ourselves in a culture where being accessible and being secretive aspire to go hand-in-hand. We want God to be there when we need him; otherwise, we do not want him meddling in our stuff. We want our friends there to Blog with, FB, IM, or Tweet. But responding must remain on our turf & time.

We humans have such a desire to be known, to be loved, and to know others intimately and safely. We want to love freely, like we could when we were just children: but our world has become such a frighteningly unsafe place. It takes more effort to earn the trust of someone today than it did in the past. My word is my bond and a handshake is no longer enough. Saying “I love you.” even needs a prenuptial agreement. How did we arrive at such a deplorable, tragic state?

Might I suggest that a modicum of nakedness might be in order; baring our souls for others to see, opening our lives to people who need to know they are not alone. Isn’t it time we all took the risk of standing naked before our Creator so as to stand unashamed before one another?

Have a nice week,

Gary

the invention of God April 25, 2012

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It has been postulated that one of the corollaries of the evolutionary process, inevitably, would be the invention of God. This hypothesis theorizes that the transition between homo erectus and homo sapiens brought about our ability to observe the heavens and muse about the formation of everything we observed. Mental inquisitiveness, unfortunately, preceded mental capacity and technological contraptions. Thus, the only recourse left to our ancient ancestors was to posit a divine entity as the creator, sustainer, and primal causeof everything. But of course! It just makes sense. Right?!?

What is odd is that most ancient peoples postulated God with similar characteristics. All powerful, determining the seasons, controlling natural phenomenon, providing rewards for worship, punishment for disobedience, etc. Almost certainly this was mere coincidence, given their observations of similarly unexplained wonders. Yet as homo sapiens developed communities they invented different regional names for God—  Ra, Adi Purush, Zeus, Thor, I AM WHO I AM, Jesus, Allah, YHWH (יהוה), Baha, Ahura Mazda. To this day, there are ancient animistic deities yet being discovered. Each “religion” then created initiation rites, ritual celebrations, and taboos (sins).

Religion dominated both the ancient world, stemming from some common root in a time before recorded history, and continued developing in civilizations such as Egypt, Teutonic Europe, Mesoamerica, and Asia. Except for a brief period when the Greeks blended religion and science, religion’s prominence, at least in the West, held firm until the 15th century. Then the Renaissance in art and the Enlightenment in science supplanted religion and seized center-stage as the rational explanation of the universe and its mechanisms. The Modern Era was launched. “God” and the church became overshadowed by the “scientific method.”

However, today, as I snatch moments to ponder our universe and the religious wonderings in our past, I wonder…, I wonder if our ancient ancestors didn’t know something about the universe, the stars, and creation that we, in this postmodern, postChristian world, have lost? Were they in closer proximity to an actual Creator than we might imagine? Maybe they were not trying to explain the universe through “religion” but simply reporting, with some variation, what they already comprehended and understood as the true nature of things.

Maybe it wasn’t God who was invented…, but us.

Have a nice week,

Gary

truncated truth— the abridged version April 10, 2012

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            Do you ever wonder if our government tells us the truth? Or, just how much “truth in advertising” there is, actually? It’s no wonder our court system swears in witnesses with the charge— “Do you swear to tell the truth, the WHOLE truth, and nothing but the truth.” We’ve become a people who are content with convenient truth, mostly true, “half-truths,” and “truthiness.” Yet these descriptors are only applicable when the truth, or parts of it, suits our purposes. We demand the whole truth from other people. [How dare they hide the truth from us!?!]

You’ve heard the saying— If something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t. That’s what religion and car salesmen sound like to me— too good to be true. They’re quite earnest in telling us what is so good, even fantastic, about their car or their faith, but they shy away from telling us the whole truth, the whole story. CarFax, remember? Maybe the Bible or the Qur’an or the myriad of Vedas have some fine print that is only visible to the faithful, to the select few. But my guess is that they don’t want us to know there are commitments and sacrifices their faith calls on us to make.

There are probably some beliefs they want us to accept that are a little weird: like the deity of their founder or prophet. In the Christian religion I know that “Christians” are expected to love God, who they cannot even see, and to “love thy neighbor.” Does God even know my neighbor!?! He can be a real pain in the butt. Loving him is going to take some work. There are so many unlovable types in my life I can hardly keep count. And then God expects me to love Him too; AND to express it. Pushing it.

There is safety in adhering to an abridged version of the truth. Reading further just complicates things, forces us to think. Life should be simple: it’s easier to stick to a simple faith, to that “old-time religion.” Leave the deep stuff for those who want to read the complete version of faith, unabridged.

Of course, in the real world, life isn’t quite so simple, is it? Most likely, you’ll probably do more than just kick the tires the next time you’re buying a new car.

Have a nice week,

Gary

lilting opacity March 6, 2012

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lilting opacity

Light. It illuminates whatever it touches…, mostly. [It can burn too.] Light clarifies, brightens, melts the cold, and pierces the darkness. Light is necessary for sight to work. It is necessary for organic life to grow on the surface of this small planet, dangling in space. Light shines! And it soothes all those basking in it to its radiance and warmth.

Solid objects block light— buildings, window shades, trees, and definitely mountains (unless you are standing on top of one, of course). Some people block light too. They block light coming into them— dense. They block light issuing from them— dark. There is something about them that dims the light around them and grows darker the closer we approach. To know them intimately is not to know them at all—their true self lies veiled somewhere within their shroud of darkness. They do little to shed light on the truth, on others, and even on themselves.

Opacity describes the capacity to block light or to allow it to shine through. Opacity diffuses intense light into a spectrum of gentleness that is soft to the touch, soothing the eyes, and caressing the beholder. It may be how the Lord God actually veils himself to us, protecting us from his grandeur. Lilting describes the ability of a musical score, a breeze, or a swaying motion, to lift the spirit, to grant it fleeting lightness and a whimsical feeling of soaring. It is the bearable lightness of being. Melding these two images into one presents us a visage of our ability to become vessels of light, lifting the spirits of others to pass through whatever darkness they may reside and to grasp the hope needed to rise above their personal mire, loss, pain, or emptiness.

We have a choice, you and I— to cloak the light granted to us in inner darkness, or to rise above our bitterness, grief, and regret, to allow that Light, infused within us by the Lord God Creator, to glow through every crevice of our being, thus drawing other people out of their own dark night of the soul. A note of warning:  light does have the power to burn as well. It may sear you to let your light so shine. So make sure that the source of your light is a friendly one. The Light may still singe you as it glitters and grows brighter; but, then again, some things have need to be burned away to make a way for the clear light to shine through.

 

Have a nice week,

Gary

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