Archive for December, 2010

Six feet under

December 29, 2010

Today we bury a man whose life was fully lived. Some of our strong men lift his earthly remains and lay it six feet beneath the snowy ground.
Today I wonder what ancient men and women must have thought about this death thing. Today I wonder about what the life cycle meant to them– before there was this complex, overdeveloped modern world.  When only the raw earth supported our ancestors’ feet and only the luminous sky lifted their simple vision beyond its horizon,  then the cold ground was simply where life sprung forth and also where it terminated– the air above us just a vast mystery from which rain and snow and wind and light descended.

In that primeval existence, before history, before culture, before science and education, humans had no knowledge about where all this came from. We had no evidences, except those found within the earth itself, of our destiny within it.  We had only a few clues nestled within the crevices of our desire; we had only a scattering of hope blown among the breezes of our vision.

Then one day, they saw a volcano erupt.
What on earth is that? they wondered.
Hell, I don’t know, but I’m not hangin’ around to find out.

Hell.

Another day, they saw a rainbow.
What on earth is that? they wondered.
Heavens above! what a beautiful sight.

Heavens.

Somebody died. Where do we put him now?

Back in the earth where he came from, said one.
He didn’t come from the earth; he came from the sky, said another.

Oh yeah? Well…ok then. He came from the sky.
I like that ending better, they said.

We put him in the earth;  but he returns to the sky.

And  they were right.

You believe that?

Jeez… I guess so.

Well…ok then. That’s quite a revalation.
A revolution, in fact.

Glass half-Full

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Om

December 23, 2010

Father:
The Omnipresent, Omniscient, Omnipotent Creator of the Universe divested himself of all material attributes.
Spirit:
He transported that non-material I AM-essence  of himself from his light-years distant position (throne) somewhere in the cosmos.
Son:
He impregnated that essence as an embryo in a woman’s body, which was  then born as a man in Bethlehem, so that we could know God’s character and find our identity in Him instead of the  cold universe itself or any part thereof.

Merry Chrisannukwanzaa

The bulls’ stampede

December 19, 2010

On the ground,
bulked-up speculative herds run roughshod
on parched markets that once were grassroots sod,
beating derivative dust  high up into a cloud.
To puff up prices makes them proud.
They’re cattle driven like longhorn chevy pickups,
with beefy credit default swap hookups.
Them big bulls in a China shop–
they hop
on new deals.
Uncle Sam’s New Deal’s
got them lasso’d by the balls;
Uncle Ben’s Neo Freeo
makes ’em forget the margin calls.
But little critters get trampled  in the throng,
of high frequency traders no longer going long.

Overhead
the eagles of their ancestral dreams
circle lazily above those tradin’ teams
in search of scampering mortgaged prey
to seize what they might eat today.
Carry on, carrion they say,
as vultures at the fringes linger
with the pressing of an index finger
to sell short
the nation with a broken heart.

20 questions from Phyllis about pornography

December 18, 2010

Phyllis Chesler calls herself a Second Wave feminist, whatever that is.
From that perspective, she has posed twenty questions about pornography, and asked readers to answer them.
Before answering them, let me say that I still struggle occasionally with pushing those buttons, but there are much more important things– much more purposeful–to do while online.

Phyllis writes in her article about feminists having common cause with conservatives and Christians on these sexual issues. Well, I am a Christian–just how conservative is a laughable issue–and we shall see, as I answer her twenty questions, just how much commonality we uncover.
Western civilization, in the context of Judeo-Christian heritage, has had a history of conflict on these problems. Basically, it always comes down to disagreements between propriety and permissiveness. These days, the argument has shifted to a worldwide scope, encompassing the controversial rigidity of Islam prurience.

As a Christian, I must say–thank God for the Muslims. We need some of their propriety. But of course it’s not really that simple; they’ve got some seriously questionable baggage packed in their sharia.
I won’t grind that axe now, though. Let’s get on to Phyllis’ questions:
1. Is pornography “work” or is it a violent crime? It is not work, nor is crime. But its influence can lead to crime, sometimes violent.
2. Is pornography “free speech” in action or is it a violent, often murderous crime? It is free speech. Sometimes its influence can lead to murderous crime, just as hate-speech can lead to pogroms.
3. Is pornography really a “victimless” crime? There are some victims.
4. Are pimps, johns, traffickers, and landlords being victimized? If so, why are they not complaining? They are victims, primarily, of their own sin; secondarily, of the the sins of other. You see my antiquarian Christian context coming through here. Those “victims” are not complaining because sin is fun for awhile until its grip on you becomes lethal. Then radical deliverance is required, but it cannot come through human law.
5. Are the people, mainly men, who buy and watch pornography being victimized? If so, why are they not complaining? Is anyone forcing them to consume pornography? No one is forcing them. They are making poor choices, manipulated by insidious servitude to corrupt popular culture.
6. Are the seductive, taunting, smiling, naked girls and women who are being paid “good” money–victims? If so, why don’t they complain, leave, find some other job? That’s an appropriate question, but I don’t know the answer. Go ask them, and tell them to fill out a resume while you’re at it. Good luck with that project.
7. Isn’t working in pornography a job just like any other job–like any other acting job? No.
8. Aren’t pornography actors there of their own free will—for the easy money, the attention, the “stardom?” Probably.
9. Isn’t our right to see and read whatever interests us essential to our fundamental liberty? Yes.
10. Doesn’t the First Amendment guarantee us this right? If we criminalize one kind of “free speech,” where will it end? Who will decide what information or images we are allowed to see? Won’t state or religious censorship chill our rights, even our very thoughts? Censorship should be personal, or parental. If it is guided by moral sensitivity, then it is beneficial for society as a whole.
11. On behalf of “free speech,” and privacy rights, didn’t Second Wave feminists avidly collaborate with pornographers to ensure that pornography remained a civil right? I don’t know, but if they did, this demonstrates the problem of unintended consequences which renders much of human law ineffectual.
12. Didn’t Second Wave feminists launch the battle against violence against women, which included sexual harassment, rape, incest, domestic battering—as well as the most serious battle against pornography and prostitution? Weren’t they vilified for collaborating with Christians and conservatives on the issue of pornography and prostitution? I don’t know, but I’m willing to learn more about whatever happened.
13. How many women from wealthy and prominent families, or with advanced educations,  “choose” to work in pornography or as prostitutes? You tell me.
14. Did you know that, by definition, pornography is that which has to do with “prostitutes.” “Porne” in Greek is a “prostitute.” The so-called actresses in pornography are treated as if they are–and usually soon are–also “working” as prostitutes. I didn’t know that, but it seems, generally, like an accurate assessment to me.
15. How different is being a prostitute from being a stripper, massage therapist, or a nurse? I wasted many a beerish hour watching strippers in my youth. My wife of thirty years is a nurse.  I can tell you there is a huge difference. As Dean Martin once sang, he wishes that “every boy could find what I found in your heart.” What we all seek ultimately is true love, whether we ever realize that dream or not. Thank God we did.
16. How many prostituted girls and women are actually free to leave, walk out, give it all up? Under the influence of God’s message of salvation to all humankind, many prostitutes will be free to leave it behind. See John, chapter 8. I suppose there are other motivations too, by which those bondages can be overcome in a woman’s life. More power to them if they can make the transition. The search for true love is the main compulsion of human existence.
17. Where might they go? Where might they call “home?” Who will help them get off drugs and alcohol, restore their ravaged health, support them as they deal with the sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, with which johns have infected them? This is what churches are intended to do. Certainly, we Christians are lax in this, and guilty of neglect and insensitivity. But we do have problems of our own to deal with in this life, and there is only so much time and energy. That’s why we’re advocates of grace instead of law.
18. Do you have any idea of what the average age of a pornography actress/prostitute is? 27?
19. How long a shelf-life does a “working girl” (prostitute, pornography actress) actually have? We all have less time than we think we do.
20. Why does pornography “turn” people on? Pornography is a demonically-inspired counterfeit of a natural, God-ordained human urge to love and procreate. The chemistry between man and woman is as essential for life as that between hydrogen and oxygen.  Porn is on a shoddy synthetic of a natural compound.

Thank you, Phyllis,  for posing these timely, important questions.

The Abyss of Desire and the Mountain of Age

December 12, 2010

Every teenager discovers the abyss of desire, but during the first years of that lifelong encounter, he/she does not understand the insatiable nature of it.  Desire, in all its worldly  forms, especially the impetuous sexual kind, is a bottomless pit. While it does lead to intense pleasure and a lot of fun, desire does not lead directly to lasting fulfillment.

As a person travels, through this life, deeper into the bottomless pit of desire, he/she will experience momentary satisfactions, but they are always short-lived, sometimes only instantaneous. Periods of yearning or striving between sexual release can be very frustrating.

True love, on the other hand, bears a sumptuous fruit called deep fulfillment. Our experience has shown that faithful lifetime union with one sexual partner provides the deepest expression of this fulfillment.

That spouse becomes, in fact, much more than a regular sexual partner. That person becomes, as life is lived, an invaluable partner in every avenue of life, not just the sexual one.  In fact, the sexual union becomes, when healthily and regularly expressed, secondary in importance as the couple grows old together.

The sojourn of life, taken as a whole, is something like climbing up a mountain, and away from the abyss. When you are young, just starting out, you may be in a forest or some such occluded position, unable to determine your position in relation to everything else around. You are clueless and you don’t know where the hell you are.

Our experience shows that if you can find a life partner, the journey is much easier, and more meaningful, because you can share your thoughts and feelings along the way. Sharing burdens makes them easier to bear. The sharing itself is easier to accomplish if your partner is intimately familiar.

This climb up life’s mountain is strenuous; by the time you get to the top, you’re plumb worn-out.  But guess what, when you reach that incredible height—with the life long lived in the distant environs behind you—the perspective is a broader panorama. You can see clearly where you’ve been and where you are; you can more accurately determine your location in relation to everything else around, and the wide world.

This is called wisdom; it is something you accrue as you ascend the mountain of this existence.

What about when you get to the top?  I call that arrival maturity, or old age, or maybe, in some contexts, retirement. But guess what. You can’t stay up there forever; there’s not much to eat up there, and the only water is what falls from the sky, and it gets cold. So you have to walk back down. But hey, as you descend that mountain of life, you find the traveling to be less strenuous than the climb up was, and easier to manage because you know where you’ve been and you know where you’re going, and of course you have gravity working with you instead of against you.  It’s all downhill from here.

That cliché could have a double meaning of course: it’s all downhill from here. The descent is not as demanding as the climb up, but it is degenerative, insofar as you discover that the old body, having ascended to the heights, ain’t what it used to be. In fact, it might be downright falling apart. So you need to take it slow and easy going down. Don’t get in a big hurry. Speed is for young bucks.  Old folks can just enjoy a stoll.

Along the way, the abyss of desire has always beckoned, but together you’ve handled it well.  If you haven’t handled it well—well, life goes on anyway, and you’re still kicking.

Our experience shows that having a community of support in the life expedition is quite helpful.  But that help should be authentic, which means trustworthy, and consistent with our individual purposes, not diverting us from our chosen mission. In regards to the abyss of desire, that troupe of people with whom you’re sojourning must strengthen and encourage the faithful bond that further unites a man with his wife. The truly precious community honors the marriage bed and does not intrude upon the hard-earned bond.

That is very different than, say, other groups or entities (such as show business) in this world whose intent may be to titillate or distract faithful couples  from their  fruitful union. You know what I’m talking about—forces like tv or the internet or sketchy work situations.

Take Twitter for instance. It can be a fun little ditty; it can be a useful communication tool. But when an old fart like me get tweets from unknown women accompanied by suggestive pictures, it is a useless diversion; in fact, it’s damned dangerous, because it beckons me, deceptively, to answer the death call of the abyss instead of the faithful union that I and my wife have worked so hard to achieve.  You may think, Freudian-like, that I’m repressing some legitimate desire to have sex with other women.

No.

I’m not suppressing any good thing; I am resisting, to use an old-fashioned term, the evil so that the good can continue to flourish. I don’t care what Janis sang before she od’d. You don’t necessarily do a thing because it feels good. The deceptive allure of those online women, or live ones for that matter, is as hollow and misleading as an empty wine bottle, as short-lived as Eve’s apple which disappears in the eating of it or is  cast aside to rot after a few bites.

Sexual fidelity in this life yields what we Christians call the fruits of righteousness. They are delicious, nutritious, and very satisfying. Couples who learn to truly love one another, learn also how to utilize the sexual union in a way that intensifies and simplifies their life purpose together.

Here’s one last thought about that downhill walk from life’s mountaintop. These days, we have a multitude of man-made medical procedures and  pharmaceutical extenders  to keep us propped-up so we can keep the journey going, instead of terminating at a point that it might have ended in earlier periods of history. So with stuff like blood pressure medicine and Viagra and whatnot around, the experience of aging on that downhill stroll  is in a kind of uncharted territory. Be careful how you handle surgeries and chemical substances. Don’t eat the green acid or whatever.

And keep your sights set—not so much on yourself–but on the one for whom you have cared, and who has cared for you. Consider also those others whom you hold dear, and you’ll not stray too terribly far from the favorable course. Then lo and behold you encounter at the bottom of the mountain a valley of death that takes you, whether you like it or not, into the abyss that you were able to elude for so long.

You need fear no evil, but defeat it.  Christ can help you with this.

Carbon contrition

December 10, 2010

The big guys
they got together
to repent of their carbonous sin
to change their wiki ways
no more emissions
and btw
you little guys
you cant do waht we did
hundred years ago
cuz our planet cant afford it.
All this slash and burn
all this turn and earnits got to go.

So here’s the deal:

we will buy some carbon credits
send you some sustainable debits
so we can keep on burnin
same way we been churnin
while your forests soak up
our emissions
our contritions
but dont you be burnin no wood
down there
dont be diggin no mines
like we did hundred years ago.
(you be screwed.)

How fair is that?
A man gets tied up to the ground
he gives the world
its saddest sound
its saddest sound.
Those thirdworld crocodiles must cry
while our jets fly.

All those little indigenous guys–
we nominate them
for the Confucius prize.

Rage against the machine

December 5, 2010

Is it a function of getting old that one becomes increasingly alienated by the decline of morality and culture? Or is it that the age we live in especially decadent?

Recently it was brought to my attention that Katy Perry had some genius crew doing pr and songs and videos for her. So I, the pushing-60, stick in the mud, party-poopin dinosaur, checked out Katy’s hot video online, Teenage wetDream, or something like that.

This dynamite little idol will definitely get your juices flowing; it’s so much more potent than the playboy stuff we used to tear into when I was a teenager.  So here’s the pop diva herself looking like a million bucks although she’s probably worth a billion to her handlers, riding in a hot convertible with her GQ model fako chauffer/boyfriendpimp and they go and get it on in a hotel room. He pulls her panties down and the guys in the next convertible and all the thousands of frothing voyeurs online are getting excited and then the damned thing ends with her being sad and lonely as she watches MrCool-squeeze taking out his rage on a punching bag.

And I’m wondering, what’s he so mad about if he just had a piece of Katy Perry?
Then, a few clicks later, and along comes a bunch of glees doing the gay version video of the same song as if that were every post-adolescent boy’s dream.

What a nightmare.

So once again I ask:
Is it a function of getting old that one becomes increasingly alienated by the decline of morality and culture? Or is it that the age we live in is especially decadent?
Is this the liberty (libertine) American culture that we’re exporting with our gay troops  a la lady gaga to the Muslim countries we occupy? It’s no wonder they’re terrorizing the hell out of us.

Maybe burqas are better than the in-your-face high-tech hurly-burly burlesque that buries us with bullshit bikini bimbos and their clueless jigolo jerks.

Oyl and Dreidel

December 2, 2010

Zechariah described this vision, or event, over 2500 years ago:

Then the angel who was speaking with me returned and roused me, as a man who is awakened from sleep.
He said to me, ‘What do you see?’ And I said, ‘I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold with its bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps on it with seven spouts belonging to each of the lamps which are on top of it. Also, two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl and the other on its left side.’
Then I said to the angel who was speaking with me saying, ‘What are these, my lord?’
So the angel who was speaking with me answered and said to me, ‘Do you not know what these are?’ And I said, ‘No, my lord.’
Then he said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.

‘What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of  “Grace, grace to it!'”

Also the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house, and his hands will finish it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you.’
‘For who has despised the day of small things? But these seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. These are the eyes of Lord which range to and fro throughout the earth.’

Then I said to him, ‘What are these two olive trees on the right of the lampstand and on the left?’
And I answered the second time and said to him, ‘What are the two olive branches which are beside the two golden pipes, which empty the golden oil from themselves?’
So he answered me, saying, ‘Do you not know what these are?’ And I said, ‘No, my lord.’
Then he said, ‘These are the two anointed ones who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth.’