August 19, 2014

Asides

Chesterton always packs insight and my latest read is no exception. In The Everlasting Man he talks about how it's part of human behavior to nod, bend low, humble oneself, pray, propitiate to the gods or God. That's because man instinctively, or maybe through experience, knows that before the fall comes hubris. From the earliest myths we hear of men not getting cocky and suffering the consequences, namely a humbling or death. So in pagan times they gave credence to the gods mainly as a way of reminding oneself of the need to be humble. Chesterton argues that it was only in the Christian Era that the object of worship became worthy of that worship; many pagans didn't really believe in the gods, or if they did they saw them as mercurial and untrustworthy. Jesus certainly smashed that given his physical reality, and his dying for us.

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Was bound and determined to use what morning energy I had to get my haircut, so got that done. The black shoeshine guy, name of Teeshaun, did the honors on my shoes this time (for first time). Teshaun's a tough guy, a dude familiar with the street, and with drugs, but he was interestingly humble and gentle of mien. Angling for a tip perhaps but impressive nonetheless. He gingerly took my shoes off after first carefully untying them, treating them awfully respectfully. After he did the shine he came back and gently re-shod me and tied the laces. I think that's the first time I've had someone tie my shoes for me since my mother circa 1969. I was kind of touched and given my fatigue level rather grateful I didn't have to put the shoes back on myself.

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Made time, for a change (first time all year), to go kayaking. Yes the “endless summer” suddenly is beginning to feel like it has an expiration date.

Fast quick it was noon and I realized if I was going to kayak I'd best get on it.  I lit out in the truck for parts scarcely known in awhile (at least six months): the lakes of a rural park. Began with a restful reading of poetry on my Kindle (Cummings) along the shoreline next to the cattails. I was in a pose of great repose when a park ranger vehicle slowly went by. It turned around and came back and then, to my surprise, the woman in the passenger seat rolled down her window and took several pictures of me! That's never happened before.

Took pictures my own self of the photogenic environs. The catch of fronds frolicking in the wind on the tiny lakeshore brought to mind the sea oats swaying at Cape Cod on the edge of the Atlantic. In my fertile imagination anyway.

Also some Cummings helped on that score. It's funny how sometimes a single word, vivid and dreamatory, can set me off to the edges of consciousness. In this case the word “lavender”, as in “lavender skies”. It's rather funny how few words it takes, sometimes, for me to achieve a “wordgasm”.

Then did some rowing. Rowed all along the main lake, skating the edges, rolled down the middle, before heading under the bridge to Dog Beach lake where I tooled around and enjoyed the sight of so much water against the bow. Once home still wanted more outdoors so took Buddy to local park and we admired the wildflowers (or I did - Buddy admired the cornucopia of other dog excrementory smells; there's no accounting for that).

Speaking of, sadly our dog has cancer. My wife, made of steel and iron, has, like all of us, an Achilles' heel: Her love for dogdom. What point does our love for created things become an idol? She said that God gave her a heart for animals and made an incisive comment: “are we to be lukewarm towards everything but God?” Therein lies the rub! To not be lukewarm towards God's creation and yet at the same time not put it above God. I have no idea exactly how to square that circle.

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Did some Logos lookups around the reading from Nahum today. The NABRE footnotes boldly go where no believer usually dares go:
"For never again will destroyers invade you": prophets are not always absolutely accurate in the things they foresee. Nineveh was destroyed, as Nahum expected, but Judah was later invaded by the Babylonians and (much later) by the Romans. The prophets were convinced that Israel held a key place in God’s plan and looked for the people to survive all catastrophes, always blessed by the Lord, though the manner was not always as they expected; the “fallen hut of David” was not rebuilt as Am 9:11 suggests, except in the coming of Jesus, and in a way far different than the prophet expected. Often the prophet speaks in hyperbole, as when Second Isaiah speaks of the restored Jerusalem being built with precious stones (Is 54:12) as a way of indicating a glorious future.

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Does the suffering or persecuted Christian want to hear, "hey, the Cross is not necessary; we are 'Alleluia' people!"  The suffering want crosses to mean something in the light of eternity. Certainly I think those poor Christians in Iraq who are suffering must appreciate the "hard sayings" in the Bible, which is why persecuted Christians during the late 1st century appreciated the Book of Revelation, one that certainly has a lot of harsh (to our ears) verses.

The smell of August
like peat burning
in the woodsmoke air
Only desperation plays the song
that humans hear
only desperation (meaning, the poor)
heed Him who Is.

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