Archive for the ‘religion’ Category

The SwanSwoon of our Era

March 21, 2020

In her recent article at Social Europe,  Indian economist Jayeti Ghosh  accurately identifies a major consequence of our worldwide collective anti-COVID restrictions:

  “Supply chains are being disrupted, factories are being closed, entire regions are being locked down and a growing number of workers are struggling to secure their livelihoods. “

  https://www.socialeurope.eu/the-covid-19-debt-deluge

Her statement does indeed identify the crux of our economic problem right now, and the global complexity does unleash trouble on a very large, international scale.

You might say this COVID-crash is the “Crash of ’29” of our era.

Some compare this tsunami to the crash of ’08, or the blah-blah of ’87 (whatever that was.)  But it seems to me this thing is unwinding as an event historically more far-reaching than those two economic downfalls. This Covid thing can be compared to  what happened in 1929.

The Crash of ’29 exposed the vulnerability of a newly-Industrialized USA. This present Covid-crash exposes the vulnerability of a newly-Internetted World.

Ms. Ghosh is correct in her observation when she writes:

  “Today’s financial fragility far predates the Covid-19 ‘black swan’.”

The black swan represents the unlikely possibility that something like this could happen . . . . even though it did.

It seems to me the immensity of our present global Covid co-morbidity is indeed directly related to our newfound world connectivity in trade, travel and talk. The black swan in the background represents this unprecedented development in world history.

Swans

In that same technocratic network to which Ms. Ghosh contributes, Social Europe, Karin Pettersson posts her insightful analysis of our Covid conundrum, which includes this accurate assessment:

   “Already however, we know this: this type of disease cannot be efficiently fought at an individual level, but only as a society. It requires preparation, co-ordination, planning and the ability to make rapid decisions and scale up efforts. A strong state.

But nor is government enough. The situation demands personal responsibility, a sense of duty, concern for one’s neighbour. “

     https://www.socialeurope.eu/the-corona-crisis-will-define-our-era

What she writes there is so true. I agree.

Karin goes on to pose  a question that is surely the crux of the problem for millions of earth-inhabiting workers:

   “Yet what will you do if you simply cannot afford to stay at home?”

And I’m thinking . . . because of this widespread affordability problem, the response of governments and corporations in the days ahead should reflect benevolence, not authoritarian oppression. At least I hope it will.

Karin Pettersson also presents this profound thought:  

   “I wonder if young people might come to think that authoritarian China dealt with the crisis better than the US—the land of the free.”

We shall witness, in the days ahead, how this dilemma is dealt with between China, USA, and all the other nations of this planet.

Karin’s bright insight becomes dimmed, however, when she criticizes, in the same article cited above, Vice President Mike Pence’s public act of leading scientists in prayer.

She is displeased that Pence, a former Indiana governor, had cut funding for HIV-virus research and prevention, back in the day. . .

I can understand Ms. Petterssen’s emphatic let’s fix this humanism. It is quite the de rigeur among technocrat intelligencia who would like to run the world, because they could certainly do a more equitable and better job than all those corporate 1%ers whose rabid profit-taking shenanigans have now made such a mess of things.

 Yes, Virginia, the news is bad. Read ’em and weep. . . but act, benevolently. That also  goes for all you 1%ers out there who think you’re in charge of things.

But I also like to remember, and take seriously, a statement that I heard, many years ago, from a fellow who was then what I now am, an ole geezer.

  “What we need now is some damn prayer!”

So Let’s all work together harmoniously to get these problems solved. And remember that a little help from the OneWhoIs could only render our burdens a little easier to bear.

Glass half-Full

The Big Questions

March 3, 2020

The big questions are:

1. How did I get here?

2. How did we get here?

3. What is the purpose of being here?

4. What should I do while I am here?

At the age of 27 years, about 43 years ago, I had made a big mess of my life. So I turned my life over to Jesus.

I am happy about how life has turned out for me and the family that God has given me.

Prior to salvation, I was quite undecided about those big questions listed above. Now, after walking with the Lord for 41 years, I have managed to answer those questions to my satisfaction. There are, however, a few questions hovering somewhat unresolved in my mind.

For instance, as pertaining to the big question #2 above—how did we get here?—I do subscribe to the biblical explanation, although I do not understand it. I cannot comprehend all that is being described in chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis.

GutnBible

I do understand, and accept as true, that very first sentence of the biblical revelation:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

The verses that follow confuse me every time I try to impose order in my mind about the sequence through which our Creator did his creative work. This confusion does not really bother me. But it does fascinate me to ponder that subject.

Cutting to the chase—that is to say—the end of the book or the end of my life, the big truth that has been shown to me is that I will live eternally after passing through this life’s death.

How do I know this?

As the old song sings. . . the Bible tells me so.

The Word tells me what I really need to know: there is one man in the history of the world who survived death itself, and lived to tell about it:

Jesus.

This is a matter of belief, and I do believe it, thank God. I have been given the faith to believe in my resurrection from death, because Jesus himself has already shone the way—has been there and done that— and has passed that privilege of overcoming death along to me and to anyone else who believes what he has said about it, and demonstrated by his Resurrection.

Now, getting to the point of why I write on this particular day, year of our Lord 2020, March 3. . . while I have been fortunate enough to answer those big questions, there are still a few curiosity points that bounce around in my mind and my soul as I live and breathe in this earthly life.

For Instance, what about that creation sequence that is is described in Genesis?

People have been wondering about it, talking about it for thousands of years. In the last two centuries, speculations about question #2 above—how did we get here?—have taken a wider swath of variation than ever before. As far as I can see, this widening of theories and enquiries is prompted by two main developments in our collective human database—

1.) the discovery of geologic time, which scientifically explains how our earth was continuously rearranged by huge tectonic and geologic forces over millions of years.

2.) Darwin’s discovery of natural selection in the biological developments of life in nature.

As a believer in Jesus, I have no problem with either of these scientific discoveries. I believe these discoveries are merely a human way of classifying the universal and life principles that God set in motion millions of years ago.

For example: Genesis reports, in verse 1:24:

Then God said, ‘ Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind.’

This is just an old-fashioned way of saying: God designed into his creation a written code for ordering the development of life: DNA.

DNAdubhelx

So I hope you’re tracking with me on this. I realize that some of my believing brethren do not subscribe to this interpretation. But that’s okay; we’re not going to agree on everything. By ’n by, we’ll still celebrate our eternal life together with Jesus because of what he endured in sacrificing his perfect life at Calvary.

But the reason I am writing this today is: an amazing thing happened this morning. I had a funny little revelation while reading in Genesis.

In Genesis 2, we learn the truth that:

“. . . the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.,  The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there he placed the man whom He had formed.”

So we learn that Adam—and later Eve, were a special creation, placed in a special place, for a special, divinely determined destiny. But Adam and Eve screwed that arrangement up when they opted for knowledge instead of truth.

So our Creator had to suspend their special status. Consequently, he ejected them from the Garden; they had to  go out and make their way by the sweat of their brow like  all those other humans who had evolved out there in the wild wild world.

A little further down in the scripture we learn more about historical human developments. From Genesis 6:

“Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves . . .”

Who were those “sons of God”? They were the offspring of the Creator’s special creation in Paradise, the children of Adam and Eve.

We are told the names of the created couple’s first three sons: Cain, Abel and Seth.

These boys were, categorically, the “sons of God,” because their parents did not carry the same genetic imprint as those other men and women who originated “east of Eden,” outside the gates of Paradise.

Now just because they were “sons of God” does not mean they necessarily acted like it. You may remember that Cain killed Abel, and that God had a serious discussion with him about what was to happen next. But then God had mercy on Cain, even though he had committed such a heinous deed by killing his own brother, who had not deserved such a fate.

God gave Cain a second chance anyway, by releasing him out into mankind to get a new start.

In Genesis 4, the story continues:

  “Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Cain had relations with his wife, and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch, and he built a city. . .”

For a very long time, I had wondered about . . .

a.) these “sons of God”—who they were and where they came from? Answer: They came from Adam and Eve.

and b.) the land of Nod, and the people who populated that land? Answer: They were humans who evolved through God’s natural selection process.

Now I understand more about reconciling the revealed Truth of our Creator with what we ourselves have scientifically understood  about life on this amazing planet.

RockStory1

Glass half-Full

What is Fulfillment?

February 6, 2020

Isaiah set the stage for fulfillment thousands of years ago . . .

Isaiah

Among many other attributes, fulfillment means the Old . . .

IsOldJerus

. . . giving rise to the new:

Nations will come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Lift up your eyes and look about you:
    All assemble and come to you;

your sons come from afar,

    and your daughters are carried on the hip.

IsShineCity

Other visionaries catch a glimpse along the way . . .

Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’  Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel.  Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.

EzekielYadV

But the process is indeed a long one, requiring very burdensome periods of human history. Inevitably, and predictably, the going is tough.

But our Creator has a scenario set up where adversity brings forth endurance in the worst conditions, and creativity to produce tangible evidence of forward progress. The striving to fulfill any great, worthwhile endeavor is arduous and prolonged. It is not given to any one generation to construct; nor is it given to any one people-group to fulfill.

Fulfillment of  prophecy and human destiny is distributed  over many generations of people and time.

IsStairway

Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins

and will raise up the age-old foundations;

you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,

Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

IsDamascusGat

Glass half-Full

A World-class Sacred Mountain

February 4, 2020

About 27 centuries ago, the Jewish prophet Isaiah urged his people to live righteously, according to the laws that God had delivered earlier to the prophet, Moses.

By his use of predictive prophecy, Isaiah reinforced his exhortations toward the necessity  of holy living. As his biblical message has been brought down to us through history–even to this day–actual fulfillments of Isaiah’s predictions lent credence to the legitimacy of his message.

Consider this prediction:

“And it shall be at the end of days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be firmly established at the top of the mountains, and it shall be raised above the hills, and all the nations shall stream to it.”

This prophecy of Isaiah has been fulfilled repeatedly for many centuries, and continues to be actualized every day of our 21st-century life.

In a steady stream of faces and pilgrims of all types, people from all over the world visit “the mountain of the Lord’s house” in Jerusalem.

Every day.

IsPlaza

In this large flat area, Jews from all over the world congregate to pray at their open-air synagogue, the Kotel, which is an ancient wall that retains the side of the mountain where their temple had stood in ancient times.

Christians also visit this site in great numbers. We  are welcomed every day by the Jewish people. Most Christians stroll through, gathering faithful inspiration, on their way to their own holy site nearby, in the Christian quarter of the Old City . . .

IsHSscene

where Christ was crucified almost 2000 years ago, and laid in a sepulchre, before rising from the dead on the third day after his death.

In my photo below. . .

IsPlaza1

. . .  notice the long ramp that connects the ground-level plaza to a higher location at the top of the wall. Through this stairway, the Muslims allow some visitors access, at certain times of the day, to their holy site, al-Haram al-Sharif, which happens to be the same location as the ancient Jewish temple. The Muslim shrine there, built in 692 c.e., is  known by us Christians as the Dome of the Rock. Believers of all three faiths— Jewish, Muslim and Christian— believe Abraham was led by the Eternal One up onto that high spot with his son.

In that world-famous episode, God revealed his will about ritual sacrifice; the Lord Himself provided an animal for Abraham to offer instead of his son. Muslims believe that the son was Ishmael. Jews and Christians believe it was Isaac. Whatever you believe about it, suffice it to say that the Eternal One thereby clarified once and for all: his call for sacrifice did not include any human victim.

A Christian rendering of that event is painted on a wall inside the nearby Christian Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

IsSepcIsac

This clarification from God about the offering of sacrifice took place on the mountain–called Mt. Moriah by Jews–and called al-Haram al-Sharif  by Muslims.

In our day and time, some visitors are more fortunate in the timing of their pilgrimage. At certain times of the day,  the Islamic-administered mountaintop is opened to visitors from other faiths. Christians and others may walk up the wooden-covered stairway to gain a limited access to the sacred mountaintop. Up there, they are allowed a brief access to Islam’s third-holiest site. They can amble for a while, to get a closer view of Al Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock. They can also stroll around and get a panoramic view of Jerusalem, from Mt. Scopus, toward the northeast, to Mt. Zion at the westward view.

After a brief time, they will be conducted away, back to their own quarters, by Islamic devotees, so that the followers of Mohammed may express their devotion to Allah among an exclusive gathering of the faithful.

Infidels who do not subscribe to Mohammed’s revelation are thus asked at the appointed  times to leave the mountaintop, al-Haram al-Sharif. This practice is more restrictive than what is allowed by  the Jews and Christians below.

Muslims arrive on the sacred height by other entrances, from the Muslim quarter. After being summoned by several muezzin callers who chant their calls through loudly amplified minaret towers, the Mohammedan faithful enter those two holy structures to pray.

All of this carefully controlled sharing of the sacred mountain takes place every day in Jerusalem. Thanks be to ____ that this happens peacefully.

And this Christian says, may it always be so! until ____ visits the place in a more persuasive way, and perhaps aligns us all on the same page.

Pray, pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Back down at the lower plaza level, the Israeli administrators of this dividedly sacred mountain have posted a sign that acknowledges the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy so long ago.

IsIsaiah2

If you enjoying listening to music, you may appreciate hearing a song about this mountain. My friend David wrote and recorded it many years ago, with a little help from our friends, Danny, Donna and Jenny:

Aliyah Yerushalayim

Glass half-Full

The Story

February 1, 2020

The story goes way back.

For many, it started here . . .

IsEastGate

and ended here . . .

IsDeath

Many believe it began again here . . .

IsResu

The story was retold here. . .

AereopRoc

. . . and will arrive again by supernatural inspiration.

IsCloud

The Story goes on and on . . .

GrandView

To get a credible viewpoint , you may want to see the

Glass half-Full .

The Second Thummin

January 30, 2020

. . . with acknowledgements to WB Yeats and Biblical canon . . .

Yearning and burning in a maddening ire

the westbank will not heed the politic;

Deals fall apart; the treaties cannot hold.

Teargas mask is worn into the streets,

the rage-dimmed riot is loosed, here and there

the ceremony of negotiation is torched;

the dealers have no persuasion, while the rebels

are full of fired-up intensity.

Some new negotiation is perpetually at hand;

surely the second drumming is at hand

as dissenters thrust their ire upon the streets

while our imagined urim of mideast peace

crumbles every now and then, again, again,

And signed intent once again is bent

to pathetic riot in westbank streets,

‘cuz discontent, predictable as levantic sun

moves its riotous claws to dismantle what’s been done,

as skirmishes between these ancient tribes

cast shadows o’er our peacenik vibes.

Oh! That forty-one centuries of tribal strife

could be laid to rest in a rocking cradle!

Bethlehem

When prince of peace, his Bethlehem phase  done at last

descends to Olivet, with peace that  lasts!

Oh, You may say that I’m a dreamer,

but I’m not the only one!

Glass half-Full

Dome and Temple? Why not?

January 27, 2020

Whilst strolling on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem this afternoon, I remembered an imaginary scene. I had written it into the first novel, Glass half-Full, back in 2007:

Dome&Temple?

Beneath a cold, clear, azure sky the city of Jerusalem lay stretched upon the mountains and valleys like a fuzzy glove upon God’s hand. People from all over the world had gathered here to unearth evidence of God at work among the people of the earth. Some sought a temple that no longer exists. Some sought a mosque where a prophet entered heaven. Some trod upon the cobblestones of ancient, holy real estate, pleading for reconciliation, seeking atonement for the human condition.

A man wandered beyond the dome, past the blocked-up eastern gate; curving around northward, he noticed a large open area beside the mosque. Was this where the former temple had stood? What a beautiful mosque.

Could not the owners of this hill sell the adjoining, vacant acre or two to those pilgrims who, standing daily at the wall below, were wailing for their wonderful temple? Why not make a deal? Such a deal. Cousin to Cousin. Temple and Mosque, Mosque and Temple…Mosque Shsmosque, Temple Shmemple. Such a deal. Everybody happy. You pray your way; I pray mine.

Glass half-Full

Christmas

December 12, 2019

And the world wonders at the centuries-long persistence of Christmas among the Christians.

Christmas

Hung upon this tree, almost every ornament represents a hallowed memory, or a different era of 40 years shared between one man and one woman, and the three now-grown children who filled up the void in their shared life.

Several ornaments are hand-me-downs from the grand- and great-grand- generations who are now gone to that great yuletide in the heavens.

Gazing at the tree on a chilly December night, although the room is quite warm, calls to mind all those past Christmases.

Christ the Saviour is born. And another family lives to tell the yuletide tale.

Believe it or not, the true, original Christmas spirit is potent, alive and well, and still passing from generation to generation.

A relic of days gone by?

Perhaps. But much more than that, a celebration of eternity to come, made real by the child born in Bethlehem so long ago—the one who grew up to conquer hell and death on a goddam cross.

Believe it not. The manger was good enough for Jesus; it’s good enough for us. It’s a potent story with an eternal ending. Join in if you’ve caught the Spirit.

Glass half-Full

From Andalusia to Zagreb

August 24, 2019

Breeze blew ‘cross Byzantium

   ages ago,

passing passion along from ancient souls

   o’er peninsulas and shoals.

From Alexandria to Andalusia

   it blew the Medi stirring of our arcane East

   by westward winds past the European feast.

So it drifted between Aranjuez and Zagreb

   in periodic flow and ebb

   with rhythmic ebb and flow

   through passionnata on stringéd bow . . .

   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g91kQyy4G7E.

   . . . at providential and the muse’ behest,

   and set in sculpting stone: eternal rest;

   portraying Piéta Jesu through Michelangelo,

  Pieta

   as still the women come and go

   ‘cross Eliot’s wasteland scenario.

From Ave Maria in Madrid

   this opus we/they did;

   even SaintSaens’ secular Swan

   summons that age-old bond:

   reflecting melancholic tension

   in existential apprehension

   again and again and again;

   the passion passes

   through striving laborious hands

   in colored or melodic strands.

On moonlit nights;

   sonata strains reflect the light

   from hand to frantic hand

   and back again.

Did history require

   two world wars

   and a string of smaller frays

   to say

   our living legacy dies daily?

Yet does our living tragedy thrive daily,

   in this human soul of frailty.

Why even a saintless ’60’s Superstar

   drove our anguished digression,

   our zeitgeist obsession,

   as passion passed through

   rejected hands again

   as passion passed through

   conflicted lives again

   as passion passes through

   immigrant pathos again

   and again and again

   to reveal those nail-scarred hands again

Again.

   Must be something to it;

   we should not eschew it:

Those despiséd and rejected ones of men–

   again and again and again:

   the passing man of sorrow,

   yesterday, today, tomorrow—

   the woman acquainted with grief,

   through death that steals in like a thief

   the stranger and the strange,

Again and again and again.

Must be something to it;

   we should not eschew it.

Glass half-Full

Felix’s Fortress Forté

August 4, 2019

While tuned into radio WDAV a day or two ago . . .

listening to Felix Mendelssohn’s 5th Symphony,

we suddenly discerned a developing  melodic surprise:

gentle strains of a classic religious tune, A Mighty Fortress is Our God . . .  drifting into the 3rd movement of the music.

Twenty-three minutes into this performance,

Orchestra

those first melodic snippets of Luther’s famous hymn—I heard, venturing in discreetly, during the slow Andante phase of Mendelssohn’s 1832 orchestral composition.  By the end of the piece, however, the understated entrance of that well-known melody had morphed into being the very core of the symphony’s dynamic, forceful conclusion.

This gentle arrival of a familiar melody that incrementally develops into a forcefully conclusive forté—this is a composer’s technique found in several classical music masterpieces. . . most notably Beethoven’s (last) 9th Symphony, and a favorite American piece of mine, Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring.

In the case of Ludwig van Beethoven’s use of  a developing melodic theme that overpowers all other musical elements, Ludwig used his own emphatic original tune to fortify a potent message of popular 18th-century zeitgeistuniversal brotherhood. The words that Beethoven chose to accompany his theme had been composed by Friedrich Schiller, a primary 18th-century poet of the Romantic period in our western history.

In the similar case of Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, the composer employs a traditional religious melody—the “Shaker” theme, Simple Gifts, as a musical fulcrum for propelling the idea of mere simplicity into a commendable lifestyle.

The emphasis on simplicity is a powerful motivating factor in American history. The Puritans. for instance, who landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620, were fleeing an oppressive European religious straightjacket culture; they wanted to simplify their worship of God and to enable the practice of glorifying our Creator in community life.

Like Felix Mendelssohn, a great composer whose family heritage was Jewish,  20th-century composer Aaron Copland chose to utilize a well-established Christian melody as the basis for  fortifying a powerful musical masterpiece.

In other trends of this earthly life . . . in the realm of, let’s say, political compositions—as compared to musical ones—recently I read a book that represents a similar dynamic of compositional accomplishment. David Horowitz’s timely book, Dark Agenda brings to light a contemporary American Christian culture that is under attack from secularizing—yeah, even aggressively anti-religious—zealots.

Perhaps we simple-minded Christians of this era–as well as those more complex Reformed believers whose reforms originated with Martin Luther five centuries ago–will find fortifying encouragement and strong inspiration in these classically-inclined masterpieces:

~~ Felix Mendelsson’s 5th Symphony

~~ Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring,

     oh, and btw. . . honorable mention . . .

~~ Ludwig van Beethoven’s 9th Symphony

King of Soul