Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sunday morning conversation

Great meditation to start the week.

"Dr. Todd Pickett speaks with Malcolm Guite and Steve Bell about the role of poetry, creativity, and repetition in the Christian life. They discuss the practice of liturgy and how a revamped understanding of liturgy could benefit modern culture."

Been a long time now

First, I've started listening to the Audible version of Hillbilly Elegy, by J. D. Vance. His family in Kentucky lived 70 miles west/southwest from Maggie's family in West Virginia, both older generations having toughed it out in the hollers, and the younger having moved to a larger town and looking to advance in the world. I think I'm all of four chapters in, but the people are very much the same. It's a little wild and a lotta scary, but he carries much of the same mix of respect, love, and woundedness that I feel towards Maggie's family. It wasn't easy, they had to be strong, but that toughness can and did turn right around and slaughter their sons and daughters after them. We don't get to pick our parents or the generations before us, it's neither fair nor unfair, it's just how we all got here. We have to move on.

This morning I stumbled into a review of Borderline Personality Disorder in a mother this morning, which is what I knew about Maggie before I knew anything about narcissism. I'll start you off with this video where he reads a poem he wrote for his mother's funeral. It's a good place to enter into thinking about how these things work out in real life. My experience was very similar to this man's growing up, which surprised me, but you never know who's been where.  After this one, go to Part One, then to one made a week later on children of BPD's, all by the same therapist.

It's good to go back and review the raw material sometimes, especially after several years of exploration and refining. I haven't been back this far at all in about two years, I've tidied up quite a few things in my mind now, but it's good to take a morning's walk thru the old trash back when it was in its raw state.

If I don't, I deceive myself into thinking this isn't what it really was,

that this isn't the mess that can overtake me still,

that this isn't the chaos that I has been passed down to me thru many generations,

that my soul can just walk away and start new.

In truth it all has to be acknowledged, sifted, and then cast out. I laid my hands on every single thing left in her house and dealt with it all, will I not now have to do the same with what is in my own "house?" 

I'm finding I'm having to get very ruthless with old affections and likes and dislikes and familiarities and plans and purposes and comforts and all of me that's ever been until now. I'm tired of carrying everything I've ever been and everything I've ever thought. The sheer tonnage of stuff that Maggie never dealt with or parted with was staggering. I know because I was the one who hauled everything that had lost all value to the dump over the county scale. It feels very much the same as I keep hauling out bits of myself to either refinish or turn loose of, no matter how long I've been storing it. But I can't stop, I'm too tired to quit now. If I sit down, I may never get back up again. Best to just keep working.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Blog touring this morning

Stopped by Sippican Cottage this morning and this was his most recent post. How many of us ever listen to a Bach fugue after high school band? Does anyone in high school band play them anymore? Anyway, the little tidbit on that video had me looking for more, so I went and found the full version of Toccata and Fugue in D minor. If they aren't your bread and butter, listen to it as a language and communication from a brilliant and foreign people, aliens even, speaking great wisdom and truth that you've never known before. Which, of course, it is.

About 2:40 into the piece is where I start to get high, or drunk, or whatever it is when your brain gets overwhelmed but your spirit will not give up the ride. Three times I've listened to it this morning, every time tears overflow from a well within that isn't often tapped. Our culture is rank with pew prophets, but the joy that springs from hearing the tongues of angels is life and medicine to my soul.

Steve Bell used a bit of something similar to transition two songs on Beyond A Shadow,  The Wellspring and Holy Lord. The shortened reading of Isaiah 6 between them is wonderful and clear, don't let the edits offend you lest you miss the majesty and the reality of Isaiah's commission. In this case, it's the music that fills in details, not the words. I've got both songs below, but cue them up before listening as they should be played cleanly back to back. Don't let any advertising break in on your meditation.

Steve Bell - The Wellspring

Steve Bell - Holy Lord

The sound of the great doors closing behind Isaiah broke my heart the first time I heard the album. One day, one hour, one moment with Him is what we live for as believers, isn't it?  He is with us always, I know, but we long to remain, unfettered, at rest, in the fullness of His own dear presence.

Job knew His voice, clear and true, and shared it with us, despite the humiliation and gory details of his own life story in which it came. "Not us, but God" is one of the hallmarks of Judeo/Christian testimony and prophets. If you're reading about some religious leader that worked really hard and finally achieved all the works that finally got him to God, then he's in some other religion. Our bunch is found by Him, despite ourselves. (If you can't find Him, call out and ask Him to find you. It's okay to be small and lost and scared, He isn't offended about that at all. Just call and keep calling, He'll come after you. Promise.)

I've also been listening to Dr. John Walton's lecture series on the Book of Job. I'm about halfway through (there's 30 mini-lectures!), but it's worth it. The place to start with Walton is Genesis... belay that. In looking for a video, I also saw all kinds of upset many people have with him, generally because it upsets an interpretation of the book they hold dear. I've listened to all sorts of Genesis theories and sermons, but it's always been something I've held lightly because of the way I first heard God speak out of the book.

I always heard "Let us make man-in-our-image," not "Let us make a new creature, call him Man, and he's going to be like us." Obviously, Adam (male and female) failed to be a faithful representation of God nearly straight off the bat. Not eating the forbidden fruit (until they Did eat) was the whole of their faithfulness, and that's not much of an Image of God, is it? We've just assumed that being a big leap over the beasts of the field was the Image of God. Being human is really special in the animal pantheon, but it's still an infinity away from being like God, to wit, every human that tells you he's just like God is immediately known to be a nutcase.

(Besides, all the contortions that expositors go thru to explain nothing dying and cities full of people springing up and Adam's sons marrying their sisters just gets so complicated it just falls apart. Yeah, you can come up with a lot of teaching on it, but way too much has to be fabricated out of whole cloth. Simplicity. If you don't know what a scripture means, just keep in the book but quit worrying on it. "I don't know yet" is a very sound response to things you don't know yet.)

I always believed (like, from elementary school onward) that God was starting a process that was going to result in humans and a tribe of people that would be His Image in human flesh. He liked all of creation (it was "good"), but he was working a process that didn't have its outcome until Jesus came along. Remember when Jesus said, "Father, in to Thy hands, I commend my spirit." That wasn't for safe-keeping, Jesus was saying, "I'm done. I've done everything and been everything You wanted me to do and be. Now, weigh me in the balance, examine me and my whole life. See if I am and I've done it right and completely to Your standards."

The fact that Jesus took up his flesh and his life again and walked out of that grave is the proof that He got it right, that his entire earthly life was acceptable, and Jesus was indeed The Image of God that the Father had been creating all that time.

So, then, back to Dr. John Walton's view or interpretation of Genesis and the ancient world - I don't have a dog in the young Earth creationist hunt. I'm fine with however God did indeed make the light and the darkness, the sun and stars, the land and seas, the creepy crawlies and the humans - however He did it exactly is fine with me. It doesn't have to be evolution, it doesn't have to be six days, it doesn't have to be anything I've already heard about, it could be something none of us have heard about.

I am stuck on "this is my Father's world," but I'm also fine with "we'll learn a bunch of the details later." Hey, I'm in my mid-50's now, I have no doubt the smartest people who ever lived barely scratched a mark in the surface of all there is to know. Wisdom isn't knowing everything, wisdom is knowing how to do what's best for today. All my capacity for knowledge and wisdom leaves this world when I die, there is no cumulative wisdom. You have to get it for yourself, no transplanting it into someone else, no matter how much you try.
(How many parents just said, "Amen, sister.")

How about starting with Dr. Walton the same place I did - via Seedbed. It's a great, short video resource site for a number of theologians I've come to appreciate. Short videos, I think 7 minutes is generally the goal, and it makes for a light meditation on subjects you haven't thought about in awhile. I don't actually remember what Walton says about Noah, so let's start there!