Redefining Definitions

I’ll preface this, so you can stand it, with the following disclaimer:

Thank God, you can’t redefine “love.”  Love is love and hate is hate, and you can’t have one and have the other at the same time.  In spite of my own personal preferences, other people have different preferences and I can, and will, love them regardless of our differences of opinion or preference.  Dear reader, the following is my opinion about the direction of our society.  There is some good and progressive, progress.  But I fear that some of what’s being called progress, really isn’t.  We all want to hear what we want to hear, but what if what we want to hear isn’t right?

We are so fucking smart, aren’t we?  I love Dr. Seuss’ “Oh the Places You’ll Go.”  It affirms the individual reader as smart and tells them to proceed confidently through life, making confident and smart decisions.  That presumes we’re not psychopaths without conscience, amoral Nietzsches working out maximum profitability and damning the cost in denying the soul, or immoral little Hitlers telling everyone the big lies that everyone likes hearing so much they’ll do anything for us, or believe anything we say, and I mean anything.

But maybe we aren’t innocent children with reactive consciences who thrive on confession.  Maybe we are psychopaths who make decisions on the basis of how they affect us in the now, or without thinking about anything including the natural consequences of those choices.  Or the supernatural ones.  Maybe we’re puppets being steered on our courses by the puppeteers and we don’t have a free will.  Maybe we are just animals who do whatever animals feel like doing, or we act based on the voices in our head, which may or may not steer us correctly.

What if we are too smart for our own good?

With the invention of the telescope we determined for ourselves how far away one object is from another, we determined for ourselves how fast light can move, and we decided for ourselves that these are immutable laws of physics.  We decided, since it was poetry, that we could ignore the poetry in multiple places, including Psalm 104:2 that defines a superior principle, but presumes the existence of God and His omnipotence, and thereby ignore God himself.  Because how can something poetic be scientific at the same time?

With the invention of the microscope we discovered the presence of harmful microorganisms in and on our food and in our blood, ignoring the sound advice of the Source who wrote to the Israelites not to eat uncooked food (we still ignore this one) or food with the blood still in it, and to avoid certain behaviours, both as to avoid certain diseases, because we were able to discover them for ourselves, therefore no need for God to tell us about them.  And no need for us to avoid them.

The Israeli fashion statements about clothes and facial hair certainly make the followers of Judaism stand out as different.  The 613 laws given to Israel would make them look weird, but are they any different than the thousands of laws we’re supposed to obey handed down by our government?  I think we’d stand out if we knew how to really love other people, which was Jesus’ second important commandment of the two he held as truly important.  And that might be enough.  But I digress.  Back to topic:

En Ars Percunctor Fidemus (I’m sure I’ve mangled “we trust in scientific method”) replaces En Deo Fidemus (“In God we trust”), but Fidemus, or “trust,” is the same as “faith.”  We make a religion out of science, without a complete understanding of it.  We make a religion of a lot of things, but our investigations of them prove our investigation and understanding are not perfect, they’re not God, and neither are we.  We deny one religion as foolishness, and swallow (that is to say, put our faith in) another religion without allowing ourselves to call it “religion.”  There’s even faith in Atheism, which requires quite a bit of faith, in my estimation.

Do you not think it requires a great deal of faith to believe it’s all just a cosmic accident?  Life evolved on its’ own, and food evolved to match it, just by coincedence.  Ecosystems just happened to happen.  DNA just happened to link itself together, in just the right order.  The atmosphere, the earth, the moon, the tides, just happened to happen.  The spark of life just happened to happen.

The whole Bible that, if we’re supposed to believe it, explains the whole thing and gives us a reason for being and a hope for eternity, is just a myth of strung together stories and instructions that worked for people in the past.  But we’re not primitives, we don’t need that any more for ourselves.  And Jesus, well he might have existed and if he did he was a good guy and had wisdom, or parlor tricks, or maybe he was an alien being from another planet, but if not, he was just a good guy and then they crucified him and that was that.  And if he was an alien that’s a whole different faith.  But if he was just a smart guy, all the rest is just one mythology vs another.  If I sin in holding strongly to my faith, perhaps your faith is just as much a sin.  Which is more rational?  Which gives eternal hope and real purpose?

We are far too advanced to accept the normative standards of our ancestors.  Deuteronomy 4 and 5 tell us not to add or subtract anything from God’s Laws, and then tell us God’s basic laws.  But… We are psychologically more aware, and we have adapted, or evolved if you will, beyond that primitive understanding.  Or, are we so fucking smart it has made us brilliant idiots?

We have lawyers to equivocate and redefine the meanings of our vocabulary.  They support and defend us and tell us what we pay them to say.  And is this not the same as we being students with itching ears craving to hear what we want to be told? (see II Timothy 4:3 again)  But our lawyers are not primitive, nor are we, therefore, we have an advanced understanding of things like murder and adultery, and if we understand those so well we don’t believe in them, why should we believe the other thou shalts and shalt nots are believable?

I’ve already weighed in on murder.  Our lawyers make up all kinds of excuses for us, so we’re not locked up for just deciding to end someone else in cold blood.  I understand it’s not always cut and dried, but a lot of times it is, and people still get off the charge, or get a reduced charge, when it was just killing.  Some of our religious leaders equivocate and redefine too- the qualification for killing vs not killing in one religion is the definition of the words “by right.”  “And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden except by right. This has He instructed you that you may use reason.” – Quran 6:151 The question is, whose “reason” are we to follow?  What “right” makes it right?

And we have our lawyers redefine “adultery,” too, in fact we’re so progressive, we can just ignore the prohibitive commandment altogether, but to make those primitives who won’t or can’t ignore it find it more palatable, we’ll write legal documents to make some of what used to be called “adultery” legal, by redefining some other words to make the new progressive ways acceptable, and we’ll popularize what we want in the media until the next generation sees what we want as normal.  Affairs used to be normal, but back then, so was syphilis, until they found out what caused it.  It didn’t make affairs right, only less imminently fatal, unless the spouse found out.  I honestly pray that we figure out a cure for all communicable disease, including STDs.

I honestly wish my adultery wasn’t the same as yours, but it is.  That sucks.  But it’s the truth.  It’s just sin.  It’s not a popular viewpoint, my old conservative, traditional way of thinking.  But I’m not God, and I can’t redefine things as easily as a slick lawyer can.  Maybe someone can redefine my sins so I don’t have to have a guilty conscience about them.  When God said in Genesis to Adam that if he ate of the fruit of the tree, he would die, he didn’t exactly say how fast.  Is Adam still alive?  No?  It records he died at age 930.  Therefore, God’s promise was faithful, because he died.

You’re bristling, I feel it.  So stop.  I’m borrowing from an old Dr. Pepper commercial, and twisting a bit:  “You’re a sinner, I’m a sinner we’re all sinners, wouldn’t you like to be a sinner too?”  Sadly, it’s true.  We’re all sinners, and there’s no real way of taking away the sin, the guilt, or the consequence except by faith in Jesus.  Some cultures would just stone a person, or chop their head off, and their culture is preserved and declared innocent by “reason.”  Other cultures would ask the person to not follow their urges, but the urges are still there and the person is powerless not to go after them.  Those systems don’t provide a shred of hope.

I accept as a basic premise that a sinner is going to sin.  I accept, according to The Text, that I am, that we all are, sinners.  There isn’t a shred of a claim I could make that I’m somehow superior to anyone.  I’m not.  But I believe differently than many of you.  And I accept that too, but I can express my beliefs just as freely as you can express yours.  If I can’t, it’s not equal, and that’s not any more fair than if I said I was better somehow.  And if I don’t, where is the hope of my “good news?”  My “good news” is that God loves us all in spite of ourselves, and wants what Dr. Seuss wants- for us to do, and be, and become, our best, and to rise to our own greatest potentials.

If I love you it doesn’t mean I condone or celebrate your sin, any more than I can just accept my own sin and feel no guilt about it.  It just means I love you as best as one human can love another human.  It means I want you to become the best you that you can, and I’ll celebrate the good.  It means if someone wants to hurt you, or hurts you, I don’t want that to continue, in fact I’d prefer it never start in the first place.  We need to be nice to each other.  If I love you, it means I want the nonsense of Dr. Seuss to be realized in your own life.  And I do.  You can do great things.  So be great.  Just do the best you can, and rationally, sensibly, logically, work it out.

I’d love to say I’ve got it all together but I’m a complete wreck most of the time.  But I do know this:  Isaiah 5 is too clear to me.  When I start saying good is bad and bad is good, it just confuses everything.  I’m not smart enough to equivocate, to pass the blame, to change the basic definitions of what is what.  I’m not going to say your sin is worse than mine, because it’s not.  I’m no better than anyone, in fact I’m worse than many.  Even Paul the Apostle decided over the course of his letters that he was first, the least of the saints, and last, the chief of the sinners.  But I am going to say, my sin is sin, and your sin is sin, because sin is sin.  And we need to not sin MORE, rather we need to strive to NOT sin at all.

Since we’re all, compared to God, equally evil, it’s clear we all need to extend each other a little grace, a little forgiveness, and a little love.  I hope you’ll find truth, not a lie you’ve been taught was the truth, but the real truth.  I hope you’ll extend me some grace and forgiveness, and I’ll understand if it doesn’t get all the way to “love.”  I hope you’ll make good decisions and the best choices, and I hope everything works out well for you.  And of course, I hope the same for me.

And again, thank God we can’t redefine “love.”  I strongly identify with the simple nature of the character “Forrest Gump,” in the movie by the same name.  As the title character famously said, “I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is.”

Waiter, I Didn’t Order This

TW – I warned you this was coming toward me.

I sat on the couch last night numb after we delivered the overdue books back to the library.  We have what I’ve whimsically decided to call a “rental fee” of $16.50, which at a quarter per book per day for our six books seems excessive to me.  If I could charge a fair rate for my services maybe it wouldn’t.  But they are 11 days overdue, and that is the penalty for my inattentiveness to my children’s library activities.  I wasn’t irrational, which is my normal go-to.  I wasn’t angry.  I was just numb.

I’m not numb from the penalty.  I accept the penalty.  I’m numb from feeling numb.  I don’t have an explanation.  I sat on the couch to feel it because that was the first chance I had to do nothing.  It’s not just numbness.  It’s numb with a side order of helpless with despair dipping sauce.  I can’t fix anything.  I can’t do anything.  Or at least can’t do anything right.  Right now.  In a while I might feel motivated and mildly manic again.  Hope it doesn’t take forever.

I wrote that I was aware it was coming, and today I see it’s bright headlights flashing at me and I hear the big horn alerting me that it’s here and I can’t get out of the way.  It’s a semi truck going 161 km/hr, and I’m in the road waiting for impact.  I told my wife about it.  I told her I was feeling helpless and hopeless again and she just said, “don’t,” and did her best to smile and be supportive, which isn’t ever quite what I really want and isn’t really ever quite enough. Because it’s not her fault, and because she doesn’t understand it.  And because, although she knows what I want, it’s not what she wants, and I can’t prove that it will make any difference if I get it.

If she did understand it, she would know that it’s not my fault either, it just is.  If I controlled it, when she said “don’t,” I wouldn’t.  I’d call the waiter and alert them, “Waiter, I didn’t order this.  Please take it back and bring me a double order of successful, with a side of fulfilled dreams, with extra, ongoing joy on the side.

“The world is not my oyster,” I once wrote as one line in a poem, in a prior y<0 phase.  It’s still not.  And if it was, when I cracked that thing open I expect it would smell bad and contain no pearl.  There are several schools of thought on this.  My wife thinks the world is her oyster but she has to crack it open herself, and she’ll get a bigger pearl if she cracks harder.  It seems to work for her.  She gets the opportunities.  I’m diametrically opposite in actual life experience, and in thought process.

I tried cracking open the oyster, and it slammed shut and pinched my fingers, several times, until I finally gave up and put my sore fingers into some ice water to help them start to heal.  Of course it’s a metaphor, and I said fingers when I mean feelings.  I trusted that people were trustworthy because I was trying to get started in a professional field where the expectation was trustworthiness.  What I found out was that people were prideful, controlling, manipulative, and suspicious.  They like their power, their influence, far to much to help me, because I threaten them somehow.  I came alongside to help, made things better, and they shut me out.  Or they never even let me get my foot in the door.  I wanted to help in bigger ways, but they’ve broken me and I quit offering more because when they took it they didn’t reciprocate with any kind of practical support to keep it coming and I burned out.  I’m able to ignore the feelings of burnout and brokenness until the mildly manic phase of the sine wave is done, and then I feel it again.  I’m feeling it again, and I wish I could just choose “don’t,” like she suggested.

When life gives you lemons…

My wife makes lemonade, since she is made of sugar, and then she sells it at a tidy profit and buys more.  Thank God.

When life gives me lemons…

I’m pleasantly surprised if they aren’t moldy on the bottom of the fridge, and I slice one and twist it into a vodka tonic.  I then remember that I prefer limes.  But I drink it anyway.  There isn’t enough to sell so I’m taking what I can get, and it looks like this tiny tumbler of vodka tonic with lemon is it.

I just saw something and it’s a perfect word picture of how I feel.  I got the tea bag out of my cup, aimed for the trash can, the string caught on my finger and instead of the perfectly aimed landing straight down into the trash, the bag falls to the floor, wet and staining, on the carpet.  And then after I clean the carpet the best I can, the tea is tepid.

If the world were my oyster and I could order what I wanted, I’d say, “Waiter, I didn’t order this plate.  It’s OK, but the steak looks like a brussel sprout and it’s too rare and foul smelling for my taste.  Could you please  bring me a ribeye steak, a glass of pinot noir, and for dessert a hot fudge sundae with whipped cream and a cherry on top?”  These would be metaphors for success, reciprocated love, and happiness.  Maybe it’s coming, but right now I’m starving and I think the steak is cooking on a very low temperature grill and it’ll be a while getting to me because it’s frozen.  Maybe it’s thawing and the brussel sprout was an accidental hors d’oeuvre.  “Hope springs eternal…” (Alexander Pope)

I love the group Cake.  My wife has come a long way, because when I first shared their music with her she turned it down because it was too loud.  Reminded me of my dad, who only listened to classical music and hymns as far as I knew, and that old depressing country music, when I was a kid.  But now that they were her discovery, she is listening to them too.  It might shorten the y<0 phase of the sine wave if she comes around more agreeable more often.  I like their music.  The trumpets, the hooks, the poetry, it’s excellent.  It doesn’t fix anything to listen to music, but this cheery sound helps distract me from being numb for a while.  They’re playing this, now, and she’s listening.  It seems small, but it’s noticeable progress, to me.  And while I don’t know if I really want all that, some of that might be nice.  Or maybe I do want all that.  She fits the bill satisfactorily, when she wants to.  Funny thing, listen carefully to the lyrics, she used to drive a white Chrysler LeBaron, further proof of her blossoming perfection.  I don’t want to send her back.  Ever.  Just the numbness please?


warning, gross content.

Remember, I warned you.

Mysophobes, beware.

Hmm.  Wordpress Dictionary doesn’t know about fear of germs, or about itself.  Interesting.

I hate going to the bathroom.  It’s one of those parts of being human that’s just gross.  I can make it all clinical sounding: expelling solid and liquid waste materials.  That doesn’t make it any less gross as an experience.  That said, I’m thankfully regular as a clock.  But the whole experience.  As much as I disliked cleaning my kids up before potty training, and when they were/are sick, doing it for myself is somehow worse.

That uncomfortable feeling before you go.  The “warning salvos.”  That sense of urgency.  The cramping muscles.  The stench.  The waiting for completion.  And then the clean up.  Ever gotten shit on your hand?  You can’t see very well down there; hard telling what you’ll run into or where it’ll go.  Then you have to wipe your hand off to wipe the rest of yourself off.  It’s not as bad cleaning a baby, you can see everything and know you’re getting it.  In the modern era there are gloves and sanitary wet baby wipes.  But gloves wouldn’t help if I’m cleaning myself, it’s still gross and if I get it on my glove and can’t feel it I’m likely to spread it and make it harder to clean up.

If I were really mysophobic this would be a real nightmare.

My favorite part about going to the bathroom is the hot soapy water I can put my hands in after everything is done.  It feels good.

Confessions are exactly like that whole experience.  That shit is inside, hidden from everyone, we think, but there is a tell-tale aroma we detect in our consciences.  Do other people detect the smell?  We know it’s there, lurking.  It might hurt us, or add to our stress level.  If we confess what we know we did that was wrong, what will the impact be? The anxiety.  We worry, what if someone finds out? What if they already know?  Some people have infidelity issues.  Some have money issues.  Some have bigger sins than these.  But if you told me there wasn’t a time when you did something and your conscience bothered you because you knew in your heart it was not the right thing to do, I’d say you were lying.  I did something that was wrong, I did lots of things that were wrong.  You did something wrong, too, because like going to the bathroom, it’s the human experience.  Maybe you lied.  Maybe you stole something.  Maybe you cheated.  On a test, on your partner, on your taxes.  Maybe you did something even bigger than that.  Maybe you’re an addict- drugs?  sex?  (rock and roll? Just kidding, but if it’s a sin then I’m a sinner, and if there is an addiction to rock and roll, I confess, I’m an addict.)  Maybe you destroyed someone’s property?  Maybe you killed someone, either accidentally or on purpose.

Some sins are so popular people want you to do them because “everyone else does it.”  But if you do it then you immediately know that you did something wrong.  And then you’re just as bad as everyone else.  Think of the peer pressure you felt before you did it and remember the guilt you felt afterward.  Everyone in that car was passing around the joint.  Everyone in the locker room was sharing their jokes, or their stories about the girl or boy they were with.  Everyone at the party was underage and they were all drinking.  Everyone at work was swearing up a blue streak(, including blasphemous profanity, breaking the commandment of Exodus 20:7 or Deuteronomy 5:11, not to mention Deuteronomy 6:5 or Luke 10:27, not just the normal swears, if I may draw a distinction.  It’s just to assuage my conscience, mum.).

After you remember the guilt, maybe think about the consequences:  an illegitimate child- are you paying child support, did you allow adoption, or just get an abortion?  an accident- did you pay for repairs, or just go to jail?  an offended person who was upset by your language or your actions- did you apologize directly to the person or never talk to them?  and so on.

Some sins are so subtle you don’t think they’re sinful, like pride.  We teach self-esteem here in the United States to a point where people are proud of themselves just for existing, as if they had anything to do with their own existence.  Participation trophies are given to the losing team because they participated, another award just for being there.  This breeds an illegitimate sense of entitlement.  I deserve ________ because I exist, not because I worked hard and earned it.  Respect.  Food.  Status clothing.  Clothing.  In America, we don’t see homelessness and poverty because they only show us the clean homeless shelters, not the dirty campsites or frostbitten fingers.  Our kids are clueless about how hard it can be to scrape up food and shelter when you have nothing.  We joke about it.  Look up an old Saturday Night Live character, Matt Foley.  You may laugh, but you’ll get the point.  But it becomes obvious that in spite of our self esteem, our pride in ourselves and our existence, that we are not God and we can’t just absolve ourselves of our sin, we have to face the natural consequences.

That shit is in there, and it’s got to come out.

Now think about that confession.  It might require effort.  Fully half of the steps of the traditional 12-Step Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous recommend searching out your sins, confessing them, and making amends for them.  It might cramp your style.  It might cause you inner anguish and turmoil.  Your hands get dirty in the process, not saying that they weren’t already soiled by the past actions.  The confession is the critical part of the cleaning process.

The thing about confession is, it’s a lot harder than just going to the bathroom and then washing your hands.  It’s the whole psychodrama- how will it turn out?  What about forgiveness?  When you’re done and you can wash your hands of it, it just feels so relieving.  The hot water of having faced the truth and come out on the other side.  The soap of forgiveness, whether we’ve just asked for it or whether it was offered and accepted.  And the drying towel of making amends, so much as is possible, making what was wrong, right again.

I washed my hands earlier, and I suspect they’re still clean.  But maybe not.  There’s always something right there, ready to go, at the corner of the transverse colon, isn’t there?  So maybe it’s a compulsion or maybe it’s not, but I’m going to go wash my hands, again, right now.  Just because it feels good.  And maybe later, I’ll make another full confession.

If You Don’t Feed It, Will It Die?

I heard a pastor once say that human beings have a sin nature, and I believe it.  I’ve chosen little sins, little evils, mostly, my whole life.  I know they were wrong choices.  Fortunately I haven’t seen the consequences of my actions turn out as terribly as they could have, but I know they could have been worse.  Everybody chooses to do things they know are wrong sometimes.  Nobody is sinless all the time.  A morally conscious person might be able to make superior choices most of the time.  A morally dark person might choose to not take the higher road, every time.  What we do becomes habit until we are so used to choosing whatever path it is, we just do that every time and it becomes easier to do it, even if we used to know it was wrong.

This same pastor said once we become Christ – followers, we have a second nature, and we can choose to be like Jesus.  It doesn’t mean we become sinless.  It means we are Christ-followers who do the best we can.  But we are given a new additional nature.  The pastor described the two natures like two different versions of ourselves, fighting for dominance.  Which one wins?  Depends on which one you feed more.

I’m convinced.  If you don’t feed something, it will die.  But in the socially conscious era we’re in, the evil dogs are still getting fed, for reasons I don’t understand.  Is it obvious that women dislike being objectified, and society is trying on its’ own inherently evil initiative to move past mysogyny?  Is it obvious that African Americans and Anglo Americans need to get along and cooperate and help each other succeed, and society is trying, on its’ own inherently evil initiative, to move past racism?  Is it obvious that the world doesn’t like the violence between social groups and wants people to get along?  Is it obvious?  Maybe not.  Women would like to demand that men not objectify them, whites would like blacks to not hate them, blacks would like whites not to hate them, and by and large I think it’s true.  But some people love to stoke the fires of hatred for some reason, so those fires haven’t gone out.  There’s always some idiot saying or doing something stupid for the camera (“look, mom, I’m an idiot!”), that irritates someone else, then it just snowballs.

I pulled up my internet news feed, and I presume it’s representative of any news feed, look at the stories, and I see the following:
social fail
Our top story, “Miley Cyrus Nude.”  Followed by Schwarzenegger fail, with the subline “Love child ‘terrific’.”  Which is it, Governator?  “Fail,” or “Terrific?”  I’m not getting a sense of strong regret here.  Lady Gaga has “Major Wardrobe Malfunction.”  If people want to see these, the news people will keep shoveling the shit our way, because there’s demand.  What if the mysogynists stopped clicking on those links?  But do they really have a choice?

Does the news media really bear their share of the burden of responsibility for the “news” they’re reporting?  It would seem obvious to me that there’s no news worthy of reporting when Miley and Lady Gaga are indecently exposed in public, except perhaps to hear they were arrested for it, or some good samaritan threw a warm blanket on them to keep them from freezing to death.

I think the news feeds should take responsibility and stop shoveling so much shit at their consumers.  A story where an idiot on TV accidentally says something stupid is not “news.”  A story where someone was found in some stage of disrobe is not “news.”  And a story where someone is sorry-but-not-sorry about some shit they did is not “news.”

The domestic and international violence is news, I confess.  I wish it weren’t.  I wish the news media somewhere would call for calm and peace, and the authorities would act in ways that encouraged such peace.  But we thrive on reports of hate, blood, death, violence, and porn, don’t we?  If we’re sick and don’t realize it, yes we do.  And apparently, the news media is only giving us what we want, in all its’ sick, unfiltered gory.  Thanks, news outlets.

But maybe it’s also true that if you don’t feed it, it will die.  I’d like to see what happens  if people stop feeding the evil dogs in the world, and in their souls.

WRONG LEVER!!!!!!!!!

If you follow me you know I’m occasionally about 4 years old.  Or I have that 4 year old sense of humor.  Watch this, like a 4 year old.  “Pull the lever, Kronk!”  Honestly, it’s fun to watch.  Watching doesn’t bother me a bit.  But being on the platform when Kronk or whoever, pulls the damn lever, not so much.

I’m trying to be more self-aware, and if I’m aware I know I’m not on the high side of the mood swing any more.  I’m either just starting on that slow slide or I’m in free fall and blissfully unaware of the swiftly approaching landing.  I just feel like I’m probably on the downward spiral.  Anybody got a parachute?  Nahh nevermind, let’s get it over with.

The ‘gators don’t scare me.  They’re like old friends, or maybe pets or something.  But the biting… bites.

I am not amused by being jostled from side to side or the feeling of vertigo of racing down to the bottom of the pit of certain death on roller coasters.  The last one I went on in real life, my son and I both swore NEVER to do that AGAIN.  BLEAAHHH.  Hated it worse than pulling my wisdom teeth.  If I had eaten anything, I would have lost that somewhere around turn 4.  And I do NOT put my hands up, Kronk (smacks Kronk soundly),  you big, beautiful dummy.

At the bottom of the thing I am NOT stoked to high five my lab assistant.  Ever.  At the bottom of the thing I have to climb out of the gator’s mouth and begin my slow climb back to the mild mania. At least, thinking positively, mine’s never a horrible hopeless it’s-the-end-of-the-world-fuck-it-all-I’m-done depression.  It’s more a feeling of malaise, life sucks, go the hell away, “thought I told you to fuck off” “fuckity bye,” after which I might shell over and retreat from as much as possible of the things I hate about life and drag myself just enough out from under my rock every day to do what I absolutely have to do to survive and maybe one fun thing to try to break the monotony of feeling useless and worthless and used.

Maybe it’d help if Kronker cooked me up something special.

What’s your favorite I’m-Fucking-Depressed-Again-Comfort-Food?

In Praise of Virtuoso, and Beginner, Cellists

I don’t play the cello, but I love it.  It’s big, it’s cumbersome, and it’s more expensive than my viola, violin or guitar.  Good cello strings are a very expensive habit.  And compared to a violin or viola, that fingerboard is huge.  But I just heard this:

Sure, he makes the goofy “musician face.”  Show me a musician who isn’t transported by the beauty, enraptured by the emotion, or just having fun with the music, or all of the above, and I’ll tell you he’s bored, distracted, not into it, or just not very good.

I’ve been a fan of cello music, and frankly a little jealous, since my school days when I first heard the cello introduction to the William Tell Overture.  If you’ve never heard it, it’s amazing, and it was my very first exposure to Tchaikovsky.

I suppose, as a fellow string player, I shouldn’t be so impressed.  But frankly, it’s amazing.  All the notes, from memory.  The bowing.  The tone quality.  The vibrato.  The position work.  The fingering speed and accuracy.  At about 15:30 the camera pans the audience and I was asking, why are they not weeping?  Did you get past 17 minutes?  If you didn’t you missed out.  And the HARMONICS at 8:24, 9:46, etc.  It’s like he’s dancing.  The JOY at 18:15 looks like a runner’s high as he sees, and then sprints to, the finish line.

Like an athlete, producing this kind of quality requires discipline.  I know.  I’ve played my viola for a long time.  When you first play “Twinkle, Twinkle,” it isn’t much.  But it’s a start.  And I’m going to keep practicing, even though I’m not in an orchestra right now.

You can play well after learning, but mastery requires practice.  Just like anything in life.  You don’t get to be Led Zeppelin or Jimmy Hendrix, the flautist at 10:20, any of the other soloists, or the rest of the supporting orchestra, or these guys (see below), without working at it.

It doesn’t sound good the first time you pick it up.  If it’s worth doing well, it isn’t ever easy.  Encourage yourself by watching others who do whatever it is well.  Join them when you can, and do whatever it is together.  Or share ideas, or ask questions.  It might be writing.  It might be cooking.  It might be running.  It might be music. There might be calluses, sweat, tears.  Whatever you want to do, practice, until the pain of the practice becomes the joy of your ability, and the celebration of the end product.  Like a relationship, love is your choice.  You might hate the pain of practice.  But.

Don’t give up.
Keep going.
Keep practicing.

Be amazing.


Psalm 211

Psalm 211, 06/24/2015, Deon Mumple

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”~Jesus, John 10:10

I’m good at failing to understand
How God is good and I’m to wait for His Hand,
When evil is just too obvious,
And “good” people seem oblivious.
I’m good at doubting that He loves me,
When His loving care is sometimes hard to see,
When I see the good that needs to be done,
But I lack the means to care for anyone.

The world is sometimes a difficult place,
Looming clouds of darkness hide His Face.
And I cling to God pretty selfishly,
Sure, He can help others, but could He start with me?

I’m good at spotting hypocrisy,
Sometimes even when the hypocrite is me.
But I’m tired of hearing the same “go-to” verse
When Christians mean for it to bless, but I feel cursed.
I’m digging deep for gold, they throw me surface dirt
I’m struggling to be honest, my soul is hurt
Still there’s more than some think in the Bible’s books
Because they disbelieve before they even look.

I’ve learned all my wisdom does is make me a fool
And I even went to seminary school
So God, I’m supposed to know how to preach,
But mine’s the most difficult heart to reach.

I’m good at my brand of blasphemy,
Or maybe I’m revolutionary,
I hear they didn’t much like Jesus-
They thought His teaching was dangerous.
The Bible is history, poetry,
It’s also honest truth, humor, and prophecy,
So what if some is metaphor, or hyperbole,
And some is to be applied very literally?

I’ve learned the God of the Bible doesn’t fit inside
Your box or mine, and He doesn’t really hide,
But if our eyes aren’t open He can be hard to see,
So, God, You can show others, but would You start with me?

I’m still good at failing to understand,
I’m good at stumbling like a lost, blind man.
211 is police code for robbery in progress.  I chose the title Psalm 211 first because I know there were only 150 or 151 depending on which text you read, and second because sometimes the thief comes and steals my joy, my understanding, my faith, and my confidence in other Christ-followers.  It happens.  They’re only human after all.  This is my prayer asking for God to give it back.

I also chose it because Psalm 2:11 is Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. I believe this was Paul’s source for Philippians 2:12