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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What Is Love?

Everybody just wants to be loved, they say. But what is it? Sex? Friendship? Service? Sacrifice? Yes, and much more we could say. If you love anything, you put its good before your own. People don't change that equation. Sometimes, the most loving thing a person can do is go away for awhile, or maybe for good.

It doesn't feel good, most times, if that happens. But feelings--while powerful and often good--don't always tell the whole story. Bad things (or good things at the wrong time, or in the wrong proportion) often feel good. The demands of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful sometimes feel like torture.

No matter what anyone tells you to the contrary, we are not simply animals. Those who live to maximize pleasure and avoid pain are actually very confused. It's pretty much completely backwards from reality. How did Westley say it? "Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something."

You are loved, right now, more than you could receive or accept. If ordinary people love us--spouses, brothers, friends, etc.--it had better be ordered to the greater Love. If not, it's just in the way.

You can't pawn off your need for the Father's love on someone else; they can't possibly fill it, and they'd die trying, if it went that far. But God so loved the world that he gave us His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. What's this "believing"? It's not any great mystery; it's to agree the words He says are true, and to order everything, as far as we are able, to obtaining that promise. Easier said than done. Yet I know no greater Friend to help me, and to help me learn.

I want to be more personal and direct, but I don't want to embarrass anyone. I only know that it seems like no one told you the truth: When the Father says "I love you," He doesn't take it back. He doesn't come up short. May the Holy Spirit be the healer of broken hearts of all kinds today!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Always

Somebody asked me what my favorite karaoke song is. It's this one. It's got a great lead vocal, and it's what would be quintessential R&B for the next 20 years: lush, melodic, and you remember the chorus. They probably would have done more of this, but somebody went, "Wait! We're a funk band!" Anyway, I had to listen to it. And then I thought, "You know what else I wanna hear?"

"Always," by Atlantic Starr. Yes, I know. Shut up. I wanted to just listen to it, but I know what this song does to me. I made it 1:40 before I started singing along. I'm sorry. But not.

I hope that if I get married, I'll be slightly more realistic. On the other hand, we need romantics and saps like me. Maybe we're ruled by neo-Malthusian, faux-estrogen hawking overlords because we've believed the lie that there is no role for feelings, on the one hand, and that permanence is unrealistic or stupid, on the other. (Consequently, another error is to give feelings an absolute primacy that is understood to be greater than the sacred vows.)

5 Thoughts For Today

5. The problem with "Mrs. Columbo" was not that it was bad; it's that the whole premise required that she and Columbo got a divorce. Not cool.

4. For the record, I'm not afraid of Teh Muslims breeding. I consider it a noble rebuke to our neo-Mathusian, faux-estrogen hawking overlords.

3. Holy mother Church is always pretty confident she can woo anybody.

2. Yes, I watched the whole ceremony. It ruled, pretty much. I have more to say later.

1. What happened to the theme song of Magnum, PI in the third episode of season 1? Truly hideous.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Field Of Dreams

You may know this is one of the "Trinity" of my favorite movies. I won't make any grandiose claims about its place among the great baseball movies, because, frankly, I probably haven't seen them all. What I can tell you is that baseball is more than just a game for many of us, and "Field Of Dreams" is our movie.

The father-son thing is huge. This dynamic makes the movie go. I read the book it's based on, and I don't recall it there, but it's the only reason this crazy ghost-story involving baseball works. Regret, forgiveness, family, and healing. I wonder if anyone can identify with that?

It goes way beyond the climactic scene; I noted that the protagonist, Ray, was born in 1952, the same year as my father. The last full year of my dad's life was 1988, the year this movie was released. Later that fall, the Dodgers would win the World Series, and my dad would see it. Just like Ray, his team was the Dodgers.

I still can't root against the Dodgers. Not even last year, when they stood in the way of the World Series for my Cardinals. I actually shed a tear when we knew we'd have to go through the Dodgers. I said out loud, "Hey Dad, either way, we win!"

I don't even know if he ever saw the movie. I'd like to think he'd love it. In any case, nearly everything that moves me on a human level is in that movie in one way or another. Every time some critic says they slather on the sentiment a little thick, I want to punch him. You don't know what you're being flippant about, buddy.

"Hey...Dad? You wanna have a catch?"

Friday, July 25, 2014

Dude, My Floor Is Dirty

I screwed up getting in my chair today. I was SO CLOSE! I was pretty mad. I'm fairly certain I said foul words. The things I usually do when something goes wrong don't seem to work anymore. I could have yelled, but I didn't know who was here, or if anyone was. So I waited it out.

No, I wasn't hurt. I reached for the cord that held my cell phone, and it looked promising, but when it fell, it bounced the other way, out of my reach. I just laughed at that; I figured that would happen.

What you need to know is that we love these little battles. Don't pity me, because the thrill of victory is as sweet as any sporting enterprise. What does one think about in a spot like that? You'd be surprised how ordinary it was. I have no great insights for you. Just that I might be getting old, and that that one pretty girl probably isn't stuck on the floor! Lucky her.

Someone asked me what I did today. I'm proud enough that I didn't want to say. You know how it is. Oh, wait, you probably don't. That's OK. Next time, when I have all the time in the world, you can join me on the floor, and I'll tell you all about it.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I Had A Good Time

I've been in graduate school twice. And I was set up perfectly for a good experience by the challenge of my undergraduate studies, which was a great struggle. When you have an obstacle most others don't, it's a great teacher. You learn all about how your lack of discipline made all the difference between success and failure. Other students can have a life, can coast here or there; you can't. You don't get away with laxity; there's no time.

My other great challenge was and is perfectionism. My abiding awareness that I'm barely scratching the surface could be paralyzing at times. I had to be dismissed twice from college before I could begin to change it.

When I got back, I said, "Forget this, I'm already a failure. There's no one to impress. I'm going to learn." I began to notice that the sheer force of curiosity, the love of truth and wisdom, carried me past my peers. Here's my #1 dirty little secret: Most people don't care enough about anything to stop you, if you want something. Not only is it the right thing to do, to be generous and gracious whenever possible, it'll be like burning coals to those who are seeking a lesser good for a lesser reason.

I am an idealist; it's true. When I write a paper or something, it matters. If I bother to say it, it matters to me. If you are blessed to go to graduate school, be the kind of student the university is meant to produce, not the kind it typically does.

Grab a book that has nothing to do with your studies. Read it. In general, be inquisitive. You might not be a good test-taker, as I was not; you may not be the person who lies or hides what he thinks to please others; go anyway. Jobs come and go; knowledge is real power, even if the wrong sort of people get ahead, though you know more, and care more than they do.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Commandments Are Not Burdensome

"Speak for yourself, Sparky." That's what you're thinking. And there are times even now when I feel like the worst sinner who ever breathed, because we all have our weak moments. I'm not unfamiliar with Grave Matterville. But I also know mercy. I can hardly speak it to you, I have received so much. As it is written, "And from His fullness we have received grace upon grace." That used to be just words on a page. Now...

Now I understand that every grace is a potential moment of covenant renewal, where God says, "Choose this day whom you will serve." Yet I learn each day how weak I am in my own strength, and yet, paradoxically, how it must be mine in a certain sense to be real. God is not trying to earth the gospel in the abstract; I am the arena for His praise and glory. This life.

I do not want to be reckoned righteous when I am not. That would make God a liar, though it appears to make Him merciful. Grace saves; if it doesn't, it's not grace.

Anyway, sometimes I tremble; my heart does more than the fear and trembling Paul means. I get more afraid than a pious heart should. But it no longer scares me when a priest or wise person asks, "Did you keep the commandments?" Because life with God is a friendship, not a guilt trip. If we have failed, He has never stopped loving us, but we needn't ever fear we are beyond His mercy. Because you can't get beyond it. The only real trouble is to believe you have. This is a special pride the evil one loves, because you get stuck in despair.

In His grace, there is a power that cannot be thwarted; there is Love that will not be held at bay. O Lord, I am but an unprofitable servant, but I do love You!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This Is Not A Sex Blog

But this merits some serious consideration.

Never Thought Of It Quite That Way

Good point.

Tony Dungy, Reconsidered

There are two ways to understand this. One obviously is to say Dungy hates "gays," and that one person's tendencies toward certain sins gross him out more than his own. There is obviously another way, and I think it's the right one.

I read Tony's whole statement like this: "I wouldn't want the whole circus, and my lack of enthusiasm for Michael Sam's lifestyle (and your resulting attempts to villify or pity me) to be a distraction to the team."

That's why the activists created the weasel-phrase "sexual orientation" in the first place: If you can make the whole debate about accepting the person, and not about whether a particular class of actions is harmful to people in body and soul, you've won.

Don't let a bunch of foolish people intimidate you. Recognize what's going on.