18 abril 2014

"So let the paradigm be shifted/ As the Son of Man is lifted"

We were born already bitten
by the tempter we were smitten
got the curse of Adam written
 on our bones. 
We are creatures dead and graceless
with desires low and faceless
and a longing to be crushed
 beneath the stones.
He has watched us all undressing
First debauching then confessing
Weeds and thistles woven softly
through our hair. 
But He bids us come and follow
from our chamber dark and hollow
and our lips cannot contain this
troubled prayer: 
"Oh, let´s go down far as far as we can
Oh, let´s go down far as far as we can
Yeah, let´s go down far as far as we can
To the pool of blood on the ground." 
There´s a lovely contradiction
at the moment of conviction
when the dead awakened dance
upon their graves.
Every sin becomes a chorus
To the Lamb who suffers for us
A reminder that we are
no longer slaves. 
So let the paradigm be shifted
As the Son of Man is lifted
And the sacred wine comes pouring
from His side. 
Let these thistles turn to roses
As the Son of Man proposes
Giving all Creation´s beauty
to His bride. 
"Oh, let´s wash our face, our hands, and our feet
Let´s wash our face, our hands, and our feet
Let´s wash our face, our hands, and our feet
In the pool of blood on the ground."
I am quite sure He is coming.
I can hear the seraphs strumming,
and the blast of Gabriel´s trumpet
is at hand.
And all the earth begins to rumble
As the sky begins to crumble
And the stars descend
To form a wedding band. 
Every tattered garment mended,
every battered heart defended
by His mighty arms extended
through the clear. 
And we stagger into glory
in this great, eternal story,
as we witness the perfection
of our fear. 
Now the lovers are all broken
by the word not lightly spoken
And the movers are all shaken
by the path not likely taken. 
For His promise comes in thunder
through the curtain torn asunder
That the hour of our deliverance
is here. 
Let´s move on up
Up to the white throne.
Let´s move on up
Up to the white throne.
Let´s move on up
Up to the white throne
From the pool of blood on the ground. 
Yeah, let´s wash our face, our hands, and our feet
Let´s wash our face, our hands, and our feet
Yeah, let´s wash our face, our hands, and our feet
In the pool of blood on the ground. 
Let´s go down far as far as we can.
Let´s go down far as far as we can.
Let´s go down far just as far as we can
To the pool of blood on the ground.
Yeah, the pool of blood on the ground.

- "The Pool of Blood", A Horse and His Boy

04 febrero 2014

brightest and best of the sons of the morning...

yes, it's february 2014. that's fine. good music is okay with time-travel.

19 enero 2014

"Dealing With Your Inner Skeptic"

"5. He makes you believe you have to have indubitable, perfect certainty before you can believe with integrity.
It’s either black or while for the inner skeptic. (He is quite the fundamentalist.) Either you believe or you don’t. On a scale from zero to ten, you are one or the other. If you present yourself as a five he will convince you that you are really a zero by drawing attention to your lack of perfect faith. He is caught up in a modernistic ideal of perfection and thinks if God were real, he would make your faith perfect immediately.[...]
(But he does not tell you to keep from going to bed at night because you are not certain that you will wake up. He does not tell you to keep from marrying because you are not certain your spouse will be faithful. More importantly, he does not tell you that while there are very few things in this life that we have infallibly perfect certainty about, that does not mean we don’t commit to things sincerely.)
***
The primary thing the skeptic does to keep you in Purgatory is make you think he has just enough. Just enough for what? Just enough to cause you to be hesitant, just enough to cause you to be indecisive, just enough to make you immobile in your faith. But again, what are his better options? He doesn’t have any. All he can do is criticize what you believe, belittling you to the point of submission. Ask him to show his hand and you will find he doesn’t have much. He just want to talk about yours. 
I love the story in John 6 where Jesus is talking to people about eating his flesh and drinking his blood. People were getting grossed out and offended. They all started leaving. Jesus turned to Peter and the rest of the Apostles and said, “Are you going to leave me too?” Peter responded with a wonderful response for those of us who spend any time talking to our inner skeptic: “Where else are we going to go? You have the words of eternal life.” It was not as if the Apostles got what Jesus was trying to say about the flesh and the blood. In fact, they were confused as well. Jesus was acting kinda odd. But, they did not have any better options. Jesus was enough. 
What I ask my inner skeptic is this: “Where else are you asking me to go? Atheism? Islam? Scientology? Perpetual indecisiveness? What are the positive arguments for such things? You cannot negatively argue me out of Christianity.” Yes, I have a lot of questions. Yes, I even have some doubts. But the inner skeptic has no goods. Ultimately, even on his best day, his case against Christ is not enough to keep me from following Jesus. 
In the end, this is how you must live everyday. Those of you who are in the Purgatory of doubt, where else are you going to go? What is really better? If you have no answer for this (and some of my presuppositional friends are going to get angry here), it is enough. It is enough to begin praying again. It is enough to read your Bible again with enough confidence. It is enough for you to take Jesus’s hand again. It is enough for you to get up each day and commit your life over to him. "
 - http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2013/10/dealing-with-your-inner-skeptic-while-in-the-purgatory-of-doubt/

by one C Michael Patton from Credo House, apparently a coffee house in Oklahoma that serves theology with your drink (not a bad idea, eh?)

09 enero 2014

"Num...?"

-Lord Peter

I can't study "Num habes...?" without hilarity.

:)

Benigne.

02 enero 2014

On Anarchy

One perk of my skeptical mid 20s has been my new-found grim passion for absolutes. It is the sick, like me, after all, who need a physician; the relativist who needs a law; the devil's advocate who needs a Judge. What a warm rock absolutes are, to lay one's head upon while watching the masses giggle and parachute into the abyss. In such a bitter and anti-anarchist mood did I seek out dear, dark, and wildly hopeful Chesterton.

***from The Man Who Was Thursday, chpt. 4

Being surrounded with every conceivable kind of revolt from infancy, Gabriel had to revolt into something, so he revolted into the only thing left—sanity. But there was just enough in him of the blood of these fanatics to make even his protest for common sense a little too fierce to be sensible. 
His hatred of modern lawlessness had been crowned also by an accident. It happened that he was walking in a side street at the instant of a dynamite outrage. He had been blind and deaf for a moment, and then seen, the smoke clearing, the broken windows and the bleeding faces. After that he went about as usual—quiet, courteous, rather gentle; but there was a spot on his mind that was not sane. He did not regard anarchists, as most of us do, as a handful of morbid men, combining ignorance with intellectualism. He regarded them as a huge and pitiless peril, like a Chinese invasion.   
  He poured perpetually into newspapers[, his blog, the fb,] and their waste-paper baskets a torrent of tales, verses and violent articles, warning men of this deluge of barbaric denial. But he seemed to be getting no nearer his enemy, and, what was worse, no nearer a living.
...
"We say that the most dangerous criminal now is the entirely lawless modern philosopher. Compared to him, burglars and bigamists are essentially moral men; my heart goes out to them. They accept the essential ideal of man; they merely seek it wrongly."
...
"A moment more, and you may lose the glory of working with us, perhaps the glory of dying with the last heroes of the world.”

22 diciembre 2013

Altogether now! Hic Haec Hoc

08 diciembre 2013

More than 50 Mad Hot Lady Skills

A compilation of many women and many goals inspired by 50 Things A Man Should Be Able to Do, here I opine.

A lady...
1. Balances her checkbook (and financial habits. (hahaha. i felt so superior yesterday. there was a reason this was first. today...)
2. Feeds people.
3. Tells when a conversation is veering into offensive territory and changes the subject.
4. Related: knows the question/ comment she wants to make is not helpful, and doesn´t make it.
5. Knows how to talk to children.
6. Treats children as thinking, moral human beings... while still letting them be children.
7. Talks to a man without simpering, unkindness, arrogance, or kowtowing.
8. Knows how to dress for an occasion without standing out or feeling awkward.
9. Can fix the 5 details that will make a house look nice/ room look welcoming/ dinner look forthcoming...
10. Gives a hug/ personal contact without making someone feel uncomfortable.
11. Keeps a book of stamps in her wallet at all times. [i felt like such a BOSS when the first time i bought a book of stamps.]
12. Extra supplies in general... and not minding when others borrow them. (Germ-x, snacks, toilet paper, and gum generate instant woman points.)
13. Listens to people. And remembers what they said.
14. Keeps conversations going, even with difficult conversationalists.
15. Interacts with people from different social strati with minimal awkwardness or condescension.
16. The hermeneutic of charity: thinks about peoples' actions and ascribes them the best possible motives/ rationales.
17. "Attributes nothing to malice that can be explained by ignorance."
18. While fully aware of 10 possible consequences of an action, ignores the panic and does something that is only "probably" safe. (Or, conversely, becoming fully aware of 10 possible consequences of an action, ignores the impulses, and chooses to do the most probably safe/responsible thing.)
19. Is able to cook the essentials and google the extras.
20. Makes dirty things clean. Especially the detail work.
21. Organizes.
22. Can smell really good. Or like a kitchen. :)
23. Is able to control her emotions.
24. Ignores her own pessimistic/ cynical tendencies and acts like an optimist; smiles and even can be overly cheerful when the occasion necessitates it.  [...which is why i love Life is Beautiful so much. and W. Berry's "Be cheerful even after you have considered all the facts." Which are both written by men, but whatever.]
25. Does what she has to do: no matter how messy it is, how tired she is, who SHOULD have originally done it, or what any of her irrelevant feelings have to say about it.
26. Notices when someone is lonely, sad, or troubled.
27. Details. Just notices, does, fixes, decorates DETAILS: curtains, candles, birthdays, haircuts, shirt collars, jacket hoods and zippers... ["Hijo, no te olvides tu chompa..." I believe I recall...]
28. Takes care of business, even when she'd rather a man do it for her: changing tires, buying and keeping liquids up in the auto, talking to mechanics, (see a motif???), getting house stuff fixed, ordering supplies, dealing with neighbors
29. Can disagree without offending anyone. Calmly deals with conflict and can politely issue a complaint.
30. Doesn't complain. "It could be worse..."
31. Prays instead of gossips.
32. Derails gossip from friends. (Good heavens, i wish i could get this one down.)
33. Birthday cards, thank you notes, and keeping-in-touch letters.
34. Sales... finds something worth a lot and pays little for it. Refuses to pay more than something is worth.
35. Is practical. [15 yr old Malala Yousafzi in the hospital after being shot by the Taliban: "Who will pay for all this?”)
36. Asks the right questions.
37. Gives homemade gifts.
38. Can cheer up someone who's crying or depressed: baby, child, friend.
39. Ignores things that need to be ignored.
40. Moves and shakes. Nicely, politely, persistently, effectively effects change. (or is that "affects change"?)
41. Catches grammar mistakes but tries to ignore them in others.
42. Breaks stereotypes, but doesn't always have to fix every stereotype someone makes of her. Sees individuals, not labels.
43. Makes people laugh, makes them comfortable, makes them happy. Makes people feel like she's really glad to see them... or really misses them when they're gone.
44. Sings. Even if she can't sing well, she sings well enough.
45. Reads to children... with the different voices. [It makes it so much more fun for YOU, I promise.]
46. Talks to strangers comfortably.
47. Understands herself without excusing her bad behavior.
48. Does really difficult things because they're the right thing to do, even when emotionally, she'd rather do something else. [Jane Eyre!!!!]
49. Is intellectually curious. Learns everything she can. Thinks well: critically and creatively. Doesn't buy the party line, but doesn't allow herself to become a reactionary, either.
50. Is an iceburg: She knows more than she lets on to. She is more than she shows. She lets people underestimate her without believing them... or protesting too much.
51. Keeps in touch with people. Maintains family relationships.
52. Is wry and not sarcastic.
53. Humors people's lame jokes. Helps others save face.
54. Defuses conflict/ anger. Calms people- and herself- down.
55. Knows how to properly get on to someone. (chide? scold? do Americans not do this? is that why i can't think of a word?)

[i'm tempted to tag a woman's name next to each descriptor as an example... but many of the ones I can think of couldn't be hyperlinked...]

26 noviembre 2013

Part 4: On self-control

Truly God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me,
my feet had almost stumbled;
my steps had nearly slipped.
For... [empirical data did not seem to follow my God-including hypotheses] 
If I had said, "I will speak thus,"
I would have betrayed the generation of your children...

I set out to write this post roughtly a year and a half after the previous one. The basic gist has been in my journal since around then, but, well, self-control and i don't get along too well. He freaks me out, really. He always reminds me of food, and I'm like, "Do you mind?!"

And here i am, a bit older and less excitable, thinking about faith from a much different perspective than these previous posts, and, being the audacious hussy i am, i guess now's as good a time as ever to write. 

recap: 2 Pet. 1 gives us a list of qualities that, if we practice them, we "will never fall": Be diligent to add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge... self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, love.

Intro
Part Two: On Virtue
Part Three: On Knowledge
***

If faith were a garden, virtue would be the fruit and knowledge the depth and richness of the soil. Self- control would be the yard work: throwing out stones, weeding, turning over soil, fencing in plots, pruning...

Defining terms:
Self-control: regulating desires/actions to their proper place and time
requires: 1) prioritizing and 2) postponing or denying non-priorities
"the ability to control oneself, in particular one's emotions and desires or the expression of them in one's behavior, esp. in difficult situations."

Self-control/ discipline should be seen as friends of peace.
Self control...
- Exorcises malignant, distracting disorder.
- Resets the default of apathy like cold water at 6 a.m.
- Like a mother with a big, black trash bag, reduces wasting of gifts
- A snobby doorman with the guest list, self-control dismisses entitlement and gives VIP status to gratitude.
- Police-like, orders chaos; helps create a place of stability for others to find safety in
- This German inspector of the virtues allows work to be more effective/ efficient
- Like a runner, ignores distractions in favor of the goal
- Does not negate/ replace the grace of Christ, nor was meant to- only to showcase it in "clean windows"
- Creates a strong foundation for growth/ expansion "You who are faithful in small things..."
- is good for others
- restrains emotions from attempting coups

Friend of...
-faithfulness
- gratitude
- ministry
- peace
- relationships
- wisdom/ clear-thinking

Virtue helps with self-control. It's easiest to say "no" to one thing by saying "yes" to something better. Denying ourselves is necessary to picking up our cross and following Christ, but we don't deny ourselves as an end in itself. (Me thinks.)

I would also propose, it's easier to say "no" (or "yes") to bigger bad/ good things when we regularly say the same to the small things. (As a man thinks in his heart, so he is. Guard your heart, for out of it spring the issues of life. From the heart come adulteries, murders, covetousness...)  Learning to wash the dishes, even when you don't feel like it (virtue + self-control), makes it easier to shut up complaining, or gossip, or cattiness, or insults (self-control), even when you "feel" like saying them. You have already learned that your feeling/ impulse is not supreme. Jesus, actually, is Lord, even when it's "just" the dishes, "just" a flirty conversation, "just" that snarky comment about your coworker...

Knowledge helps. Know exactly what God thinks about stuff that needs controlling. (Learn this: that I desire mercy and not sacrifice. You tithe the mint and dill and cummin but neglect the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faithfulness. This you ought to have done without leaving the other undone.) Learn to distinguish what you must stop immediately, what you must never allow, what you must wait on, or what is fine and good and God-inspired: enjoy and bless God who gives all things richly for that exact purpose.

Enemy of:
- Anxiety
- Emotionalism
- Instability
- Peer/ demonic pressure
- Regret
- Waste

Why the bad rep, then, especially with me?!
Perception of...
- Rules and more rules
- Guilt when not lived-up to
- Judging: myself and others
- Inflexibility: inconsiderate of others' needs and feelings because they're not really "important" according to our self-control calculus
- Pressure: "Must... work... harder!"
- Perceived opposition to spontaneous joy, happiness, enjoyment
- Anti-food! Anti-pleasure!
- Not earthy/ human- mechanical/ systematic rather than organic

How can we counteract these visceral triggers? How does self-control supplement our faith? ...our trust in God?

Since "self-control" somehow fires up my "food" synapsis: In fasting, [Argh. I am so unqualified! This is why I didn't want to write about this!] we learn that God's goodness and kindness is accessible, even (surprise!) when we are hungry! ... then we eat again, (maybe the most important part of the process) and realize what a beautiful, sweet gift food is- how lovely, how delicious, how amazing that God would fill our mouths with good things.

We realize that what we are doing without (whether sin, or something good out of season, or something good for something better) is not the "necessary" thing. It's not the bread of life. It's not required for the continued existence of our souls. ...but the goodness, grace, love of God is necessary. And we have that. It's ours. It's given, paid for, secure by the merits of Christ. You never have to deny yourself the grace of God: His tender, loving, strong and strengthening Self.

Self-control can be dangerous. We are safest when our controlling of passions springs from and leads to trusting God. If we can't see what trusting God has to do with controlling our self, maybe it should still be done, but you had better tend to your presuppositions quick or risk taming the devil you know by a devil you don't. I believe we can find ourselves farther from God because of "obedience" to a perceived command than we would be if we had cried out to God from the beginning, "But WHY?!" and refused to budge until we understood. I say this cautiously and from experience, not necessarily Scripture. [Wow. As I'm typing this, roughly 1.5 years after writing it, i'm realizing that this  point is very, very tied to one's definition of "the will of God," which could be a series in itself. let me summarize... The will of God is our sanctification. The works of the flesh are evident. Defeating sin is hard enough without adding to the list. Let us learn not to go beyond what is written, and self-control might not be such a visceral issue.]  I still hope God will honor our confused obedience and reveal Himself in time, but maybe He won't. Or maybe we'll just go through a lot of unnecessary pain on the way to Him "working all things together for the good of those who love Him."

Tend to your view of God always. Faith seeking understanding. Theology, theology, theology is your friend. You must obey, but you must obey in worship of the right Deity. The God who is, not necessarily the god whom your psyche's holding before you. Seek the God who is and obey Him. Self-control only has merit to our sustained faith insofar as it causes us to lay hold of Christ as He is. A self-controlled person can become apostate; a Christ-dependent one cannot.

Yet, the lack of self-control is what the nephew claimed could lead to apostasy, and Peter claimed could help prevent it, so it's not optional. Without it, porridge can be persuasively bartered for our birthright. (Our flesh can be a Gehenna of a con artist.) Without it, we can miss our cues and ruin our whole scene. Without it, we can impatiently chose a detour of the Gran Canyon and miss the sweetness of a walking tour.

Self-control I'll divide into three groups:
1) From sin = unapologetic corruption of good
2) From good things out of turn = sin only because of timing
3) From good for better = freely received in love, freely given for love

1) From sin = unapologetic corruption of good
We always must refuse...
- Wrath
- Cynicism
- Bitterness
- Lust
- Distrust of God
- Worry
- Faithlessness
- Egoism
- Greed
- Slander
- Gossip
- Rebellion
- Using others
- Strife
No coddling, no chuckling, no excusing, no blind eyes. These are sin.

2) From good things out of turn = sin only because of wrong timing
We must sometimes forego (control our impulse toward)...
- Sarcasm (Wit when it hurts)
- Romance
- Sex
- Laughter/ levity
- Control
- "Food sacrificed to idols"
- Work
- Rest
- Self- determination
- Anger
- Will
- Possessions
- Debate
- Safety
 - Honor
Not now, not blessed, not acceptable, don't pout, ask why, and see how God is justified. (Spoiler: It's generally about loving others.)

 3) From good for better = freely received in love, freely given for love
Sin is not a part of this discussion. These we trade/ pause/ postpone for something better: worship, if the trade's in love 

- Money
- Possessions
- Free time
- Solitude
- Safety/ security
- Sleep/ rest (for relationships, prayer, kindness, responsibilities...)
- Food for prayer... and a greater perception of, appreciation for God. (I remember a very helpful quote saying something to the effect of, "We fast to pray. A fast without prayer is a fast of demons. Demons do not eat, but neither do they pray.")
- Marriage for service
- Service for marriage
- Friends for the friendless
- Freedom for relationship

(I've frequently confused group 3 with group 2, and it's NOT been helpful.)

In conclusion, how do these help us trust God, to never fall from faith? 

We agree with You that evil is evil, even if we want to do it, feel like doing it = we learn how good, how non-capricious, how constant You are. If it's wrong for us to do it to others, likewise You will fix it if others do wrong to us or our beloveds. (You don't play.) 

We learn to look for and understand why You say, "No. Not now. Not a good idea." You're not arbitrary. Your wisdom is reasonable. 

We think on Your goodness and by choosing better over good, we give You joy. Worship... by the Holy Spirit. Instead of ourselves, we receive You.

27 octubre 2013

Things cannot look all right so long as I/ Am not all right who see

   October 23

     Things cannot look all right so long as I
     Am not all right who see--therefore not right
     Can see. The lamp within sends out the light
     Which shows the things; and if its rays go wry,
     Or are not white, they must part show a lie.
     The man, half-cured, did men not trees conclude,
     Because he moving saw what else had seemed a wood.

- George McDonald, Diary of an Old Soul

26 septiembre 2013

Pope Francis on Issues

"We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time." He explained that the dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. Instead of focusing on controversial issues all the time, he wants to give primacy to the preaching of the gospel: "A beautiful homily, a genuine sermon must begin with the first proclamation, with the proclamation of salvation. There is nothing more solid, deep and sure than this proclamation. Then you have to do catechesis. Then you can draw even a moral consequence. But the proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives. Today sometimes it seems that the opposite order is prevailing."
~ CT recap of Pope Francis interview
Read the context here: http://www.americamagazine.org/pope-interview