August 27, 2012

This, That, and the Other



I love the hour of a Saturday morning, sitting next to the privacy-protecting hedges in the everlasting sun. It feels reminiscent of those wonderful times in San Juan when we found those little niches of private sun amid the curving paths of the handsome pool area. Makes me long for Puerto Rico over Fort Myers, Florida come November. Been looking at hotel websites and getting my juices flowing. Oh the narcotic of mentally slipping into the azure pool with its pleasing coves and bubbling fountains! So the most memorable moment of vacation in recent years was not at a beach but in the windless confines of the sun-breathed, palm-decked pool area.

I remember certain moments so clearly and vividly on that wonderful San Juan trip and far fewer from the Fort Myers trip such that I wonder if location and surroundings don't mean more than what I thought of as my bottom-line reductionism (i.e. sun, warm temps are the only things necessary). Fort Myers beach was featureless - few palms or other plants - with brownish water. Being on the Gulf side of Florida can be a glorified lake experience. Perhaps it would be worth it, after all, to put up with the hassle of a longer flight and changing planes in order to go to the Intercontinental in San Juan again.

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"Freud said that... vulnerability to depression was one of the hazards of loving and connecting and particularly of over-identifying with the things and loves. Anybody could fall into melancholia from time to time but particularly at risk were those who find their self-worth in attachments and achievements rather than inside, and of eager to please individuals who keep their aggressive feelings pent up inside." - sighted on web.

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One of the things I love about the internet is any old song that suddenly comes to mind can be experienced in its visceral then-ness: today, for example, apropos of nothing, Wang Chung's To Live and Die in L.A. came to mind and in seconds I was magically listening to it. The wistful song took me back to an earlier me. Out of the mouths of babes, or in this case Wang Chung, came this theological question: "Why do we waste our lives here when we could be in paradise?" I suppose the temptation is to see this life as a test for our worthiness of that paradise, a sort of a "barrier to entry", quality control if you will. But in the end I suppose if you want to protect free will you have to have an earthly probationary existence in which to hopefully say "Yes". One can look on the bright side: "To be born into this earth is to be born into uncongenial surroundings, hence to be born into a romance." Chesterton in Heretics

Am reading N.T. Wright's book on the gospels about "When God Became King". Provocative for sure. On the surface pretty arrogant of him to say, basically, "You know, all Christian factions have misunderstood the gospels for the past 2,000 years," but to the extent I can get past that, he is interesting.

He says that at least for the past 400 years we've become obsessed with going to Heaven and thus misread our Bibles. The gospels are not so interested in us getting to Heaven as in Heaven coming down to earth, i.e. in the form of a theocracy. He says it's as if we received a note saying that the President of the United States wants to invite himself to our home, and we misread it as saying he's inviting us to the White House. Wright says that when you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail and thus we read Scripture as a "how to get to Heaven" manual when that's not what it's about. "Eternal life" in the NT really means, he says, something like, "life in the age to come," meaning our present age, the last age, the age of Christ. Similarly, the rich young man in Matthew is not asking how to get to a place of eternal bliss after this life, but how to share in the life of the coming messianic age.

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