Recently, I learned a bit about the Renaissance artist Michaelangelo.

He was brilliant, meticulous and he had an ego.

He also got lippy with the Pope.

Once, the Pope (yeah, I’m not sure which one – my Protestant nature shines through most clearly through my extremely loose grasp of church history) told Mike that he should get rid of the nudies in his painting. [I am paraphrasing and vernacularizing right now].  Mike told him “Make the world a more suitable place, and the painting will follow suit.”

 All the Pope had to do was clean up the mess.  Reconcile humanity to the Perfect Way, and Mike would paint paintings of nuclear families with a mom and a dad, people sharing what they have, peace in the Middle East, and consummate love for every ailing heart.

But the world was the opposite of these things, and so why would Mike paint it any other way?

Recently, I have been struggling with this issue:  The world is so entirely messed over.  People are lying and lecherous and abusive.

But I still love feeling the sun on my skin.  Being with those I love.  Drinking a cup of tea at night.

I know that I sound quite infantile right now in regard to my perceptions.  Everyone knows this stuff, right?

I guess the thing is this:  I am not going to live my life in denial of the things that are deficient in the world, but I do not want to be removed like Michaelangelo, telling someone else to change the world while I passively paint or comment or write about what is passing by me.  I feel betrayed buy my generation.  Consumerism in America is eating away at our potential for compassion and intellectualism. 

John Mayer, whose philosophical musings I do not generally value, has said something of worth on his recent album, Continuum.

 We’re waiting on the world to change.

At the most we’ll buy a ONE bracelet.

Because we really don’t want to go to Africa.

“Go and cry to the gods whom you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress” (NOAB Judges 10:14)

I have recently been reading the book of Judges.  Its such an old book.  Lots of systematic violence and failure.

Despite its ancient-ness and warlike violence, I can relate to what’s going on in thematic elements of the book.  Just as Israel keeps failing and coming back and failing and coming back, I too fall away from God and come back and fall away from God and come back.  But just as Israel had deliverers, so do I have a Deliverer – Jesus.

I guess right now I’m wishing that I would be delivered once and that would be it.  I’d like to kiss my old ways goodbye, but I’m not sure if that is even possible.  Does being a Christian completely cancel my human element?  I am a new creation, but what does that mean?

Anyways, this particular verse stuck out to me.  Oftentimes we put our trust in the wrong things, and sometimes God lets us test them out because he knows they will not work.  He says “Tough times?  Go cry out to your textbooks, to your checkbooks.  Cry out to your lover, to your mother and to your brother.  Cry out to yourself, to your blog, to your talents.”  Deep down inside, we know he is telling us something:  Nothing will satisfy, nothing will atone more completely than the blood of Christ which is the ultimate manifestation of the power of Yaweh.

Today, I was watching TV and there were specials on in the news about the deaths of James Brown, Gerald Ford, and Saddam Hussein.  Now, I think it has something to do with the strand of Appalachian genes strewn throughout my DNA, but I have this interest in death that I just can’t kick.  Not a sick obsession, but in insatiable curiosity.  After all, death is the ultimate mystery of life.

What I found to be interesting was the homage that was paid and the way morality became entwined in the discussions.  Al Sharpton showboated his way through the service for James Brown, claiming to have asked Saint Peter to make special preparations for the entrance of James Brown into heaven.  Sharpton claimed that James Brown was going to swagger his way into heaven.  I’m just wondering what the reaction of the heavenly angels will be when he breaks out into “Get Up (I Feel Like Being) A Sex Machine.”  I am not judging the heart of James Brown, I just think its a little twisted that we judge people either way -for ill or for good – on earth, when they have passed on through.  It’s really God’s job to distribute justice.  I’d like to think that I’d be limping, crawling my way into heaven.  I don’t think I’m really capable of anything else…

  

Tomorrow, the world will celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews and the Redeemer of all mankind, Jew and Gentile.

I honestly could go without ever getting one more gift because the gift of grace that God has offered me through the birth and death and resurrection of His Son is so overwhelming.

Immanuel: God with us. We serve a God who is interested in bridging the gap, in making the connection. He is completely holy and completely desirous of being in a relationship with us.

“Hail the Son of Righteousness!”

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Happy Birthday Jesus!

I just finished watching Monty Python and The Quest for the Holy Grail.  British humor is very different, some might even say bizzare, but I enjoyed the movie overall.  One of the funnier scenes, in my humble opinion, is the scene in which they reference the book of armaments to attempt to figure out how to utilise (ha) the Holy Hand Grenade.  What follows is a comic take on the semantic parallelism found within the Bible, and it is determined that Arthur must count to three (not five, 2, or 1) before launching the weapon.

As humorous and seemingly pointless as this scene was, I think I have found a life application of the said Holy Hand Grenade…

I think many people are looking for such a weapon.  They want to wage war with something, not necessarily a nation, an army or even a person.  Maybe a relationship, an addiction or a past ridden with mistakes.  We want quick fixes, easy answers.  We want God to be a Holy Hand Grenade:  KABOOM and all of our problems disappear.  

Yet war doesn’t work this way.  It requires stratagey, patience and sometimes some collateral damage.  Our relationships are intricate. our addictions are engrained, and our past clings to us with a strength which is seldom surpassed.

 The moral of the story:

Don’t expect a quick fix, even from God.

As much as He would like to dole out Holy Hand Grenades, He knows that we are just idiotic enough that we’d end up hurting ourselves awfully bad while trying to make things good.

Here are some lyrics I have been working on. 

They deal with the reality that family has a large impact on the way a person turns out, and how that person deals with reality.  Children who are abused or, at the opposite end, indulged tend to experience the ramifications of such actions a generation later, and the process is cyclical.  Generational dysfunction.  I’ve tried to work in an allusion to another song, called “Ain’t Gonna Need This House No Longer” (or something like that) done by Brian Setzer.

This Old House 

Clean cut kids make undercover lovers

Baby got drunk on mother’s milk

Keep the cool and kill all the others

Fresh and crisp as a dollar bill

Momma’s so tolerant

Daddy’s so thin

Can’t wait ’til the next time we do it again

In this Old House

Let me just get this out of the way.

I abhor naturalism.

I abhor the notion that I am confined to this broken-down world, and that the implications of my actions are only reverberating within a closed system of injustice.

As much as I hate naturalism, I am tempted by it daily.  It is so easy to become enticed with the idea that this is it:  I have 77.5 years and then it’s over.  It’s easier to think that way.  It’s simple and linear,  Point A to Point B.

What excites me and horrifies me at the same time is the idea that this is not all there is.

Perhaps there is more to life than what we think up.

Perhaps everything is working together, coalescing into some greater purpose.

Perhaps we can be more than alive.

I am speaking in suppositions, but I have to tell you, my conviction is rooted in something deeper than conjecture.

You see, the thing is, what has been exciting me and scaring me at the same time is not really a concept, but a person.  Some called him Elijah, some called him John the Baptist and still others called him Satan.

I call him Jesus, the Anointed One.

He is the Prince of Peace and he is putting me at unease with this world.