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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sitting With Mary, the Mother of God


I was spending my night with some dear Catholic brothers and sisters examining some historical divisions between us Protestants and Catholics. After we had looked at the issues, we looked at and discussed our common foe(s), had a beer, and told some stories. One brother took me home when all was concluded, and he asked me if we could listen to a CD of the Rosary, as he said he wanted to finish it (it takes a good deal of time to do it right). "Of course," I said. Now, I should say, despite my current openness to Catholicism for reasons discussed previously on this blog, I do not venerate the mother of the Lord for conscience's sake. I joined in where most creedal Protestants would: the 'Our Father,' the 'Glory Be,' and the Apostles' Creed. I'd have to say, we should give real thought to praying the Rosary with Catholics (excepting the Marian parts if need be). The creedal unity therein expressed is indeed imperfect still, given the original context and the Catholic implications for ecclesial union, but it would be significant in any case. One may protest that justification is so significant that truth would be sacrificed on an altar of good feelings by doing it. (I grant the possibility that the Protestant doctrine of justification is correct.) Were one to take precisely this stance, however, it would actually undercut the Protestant understanding of the visible church. By essentially stating that the Protestant and the Catholic are confessing different faiths in the Creed because of justification, the Protestant leaves no room for the very 'Mere Christianity' reflected in his use of the creeds. I digress. This particular Rosary CD featured along with the recitations a man reading the Scripture that went along with the Mysteries. I let the words wash over me, reminding myself that A) at least I despise Nestorianism too, and 2) a large chunk of the Hail Mary is simply lifted from Luke 1. Given how many Hail Marys one would actually say (53?) during a Rosary, one would expect that one's thoughts would begin to fixate upon Mary. But that isn't what happened. Let me repeat: I did not ask Mary to pray for me or any such thing. But it my mind's eye, I saw the Lord in his Passion; I felt his love for us all. I heard the Scripture echoing in my head. I sensed mercy raining down. The weight of the heavy things that two men discussed before it began might as well have been a feather. As with anything, if you invite Jesus, He will come and take his place of pre-eminence, as is his right. If I sensed the danger of idolatry, I would tell you. I did not. Jesus took over; it was not possible to worship anything or anyone else. It was ironic, that. My friend spent most of his oxygen referring to Mary, but to me, she seemed to recede with each passing word. Her beloved Son wanted me to know He was there. Or that's the way it seemed. That's how it felt.
Let all historical investigations continue; let the Roman Catholic Church make her case as the one to which we all must return. But I think it is clear: if I made a rash decision based on feelings, it would have been decided long ago. I continue to be amazed at the realization that most of the American Catholic Church stands aloof at all this, either by sin or ignorance. As we say, "You're sittin' on a gold mine, Trebek!"

Friday, July 16, 2010

5 Reckless, Irreverent Thoughts for the Day

5. Note to revisionist historians: Nazism was not a 'right-wing' movement; Hitler was an admirer of the Italian socialist Gramsci, and generally followed his views.

4. Actually, yes, I think Dane Cook is funny. His bit on crying was one of the funniest, most insightful things I've ever seen. [Warning: Foul language.]

3. I owe myself two more poems today; I hereby proclaim National Write A Poem Day. [You can't do that! You're not Obama.--ed.] That'd be sweet if I was, though. Obama would then be a really weird Republican. And he wouldn't be on the ropes, that's for sure. Look, Obama, just because some people think you're a black Muslim doesn't mean you can just lay on the ropes and get hit. [Look, we get it, you like Ali.--ed.] Not my fault he's "The Greatest."

2. Great song. I don't care if you hate country. That's flippin' stupid, anyway, but just listen to this one song.

1. It was too easy. I expect this to blow up in my face.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Four poems in two days! It may not sound like much, but I'm forcing myself to write them. I won't be sharing the ones from last night. I'm doing that thing only a Christian writer can do: wonder if and when he should repent for writing what he really thinks. The first stanza of the longest poem, "Mara," I don't entirely mean. I just knew I was in a mood, and I wanted to let it be. Lord, you know I love you. It may well be you have granted more freedom to your creatures than most of us are ready to accept, and that might mean somebody is spiritualizing their own selfishness, or whatever it is. [One of your present trials is causing the death of your Calvinism.--ed.] So it would seem. [Which one?--ed.] Both? Anyway, I'm really into haikus right now. I like them because they give me some structure to go with my meandering, hippie free-verse style. [This just means your poetry sucks.--ed.] I know. But it's mine. Have you forgotten "Fruit"? [That sucks, too.--ed.] Sheesh, tough room. [And another thing: Why do you call everything you don't like "hippie"?--ed.] I came of age personally and politically in a time when the prevailing wisdom on all things personal and political was leftist, or at least leftish. Worse still, no one dared to question it. No one doubted, no one hedged. Even worse than this, it wasn't even the stupid, naive, aspirational kind; it was the self-loathing, "I hate being American, I feel guilty not starving" kind. When I came to the realization that I didn't believe George W. Bush got his jollies from dumping sludge in the Rio Grande, that ordinarily the food companies/drug companies/car companies, etc. were not trying to kill me, and that some things and people are bad with no qualifications & no others to blame, I understood that perhaps politics was more complicated than The Compassionate vs. The Selfish, and thus, I was a conservative, maybe even for the sheer fact that noone important wanted to make the case. I know precious little about economics, really, but I found that there seemed to be a small band of people arguing really contrarian things about social policy, money, and government, and after they concluded, they were denounced (if they were heard at all) as evil, backward, racist mother-haters, at best. [You went to college, didn't you?--ed.] I love likable contrarians, anyway, and a well-adjusted conservative of some type is that if nothing else. Still, I admire greatly those passionate people who can't wear my label(s) of choice because of some moral imperative the rest of us may be missing (peace advocates, anti-death penalty activists). I found a few that weren't unpricipled poseurs or Stalinists, and thus, I have a few views now (Middle East, death penalty, abortion, war) which are misnamed "liberal" but certainly aren't 'conservative' in the current sense. I did a 180 on that war thing; I believed (and still do) that American leaders thought they had done the right thing, but had failed to see how high the cost was, and that American self-image couldn't paper it over or give it success. Combine that with the realization that American foreign policy has never had a coherent set of principles governing when we will (or had) use(d) force. Only after-the-fact rationalizations or disavowals when expedient. I can't even say I've been consistent. But someone should start. [You're not answering my question.--ed.] Ah, yes, "hippie." "Hippie"=useful idiot, or, on the good side, "Person holding a minority position within some wider group while unfairly harrassed, whose main motivation is Love (even if they are wrong). Thus, "FV hippies," "Austrian economist hippies," and the like. Contrasted with drug-addled hippies, pro-Che hippies, and pro-Black Panther hippies (same thing). [What about Jesus?--ed.] Well, that started with the Wild Thing At That Weird Place, but in college, we sure did a lot of talking about God, for being supposed post-Christian secularists. And frankly, Christianity* was the only religion I heard about that didn't make me go, "That's ^%$^{[! stupid!" No offense. Besides, just read the New Testament. If you don't want to A) be Jesus, or B) at least hang out with his friends (and be one) you are nuts. Sorry. If perchance you doubt the authenticity/veracity of it, fair enough, but you're not winning that one. I read somewhere it was the most well-attested ancient document on Earth. It's cool, though. I know lots of nuts people, and I love them dearly. By the way, "I don't believe in organized religion" roughly translates to, "I want to wander aimlessly through the basement of my mind with the lights off," and that's only fun for a short time. Or maybe you mean "I don't want to be told what to do" which is perfectly fine, until you don't know what to do. Personally, I began to wonder, "What kind of God would listen to my sorry [expletive]?" I'm going to call this the Kushner Singularity. Upon approaching this mental conundrum that looks and sounds like a space-time disturbance, one realizes that God cannot be omni-all the good stuff, and ratify everything I would do anyway. Better find out what He wants, then, eh? My thoughts.
[Eminently Necessary Definition--*Christianity: Apostles,' Nicene, and Chalcedonian Creeds/Definitions at a minimum, minor variations occasioned by the Protestants notwithstanding, or disqualifying, neccesarily. Denying the divinity of Christ, or his humanity at the Incarnation, is an automatic, epic, fail. I'm sure you are a nice fellow (or you might be at least) but you are not a Christian if you do. Nice suit, though.]
When Taylor Swift first arrived with her hit, "Tim McGraw," I heard her on the radio describing why she gave Tim McGraw (in Single-Man Envy Land we call him "Mr. Faith Hill") such a shout-out, and she said something like, "For people my age, Tim McGraw is a legend." I laughed at that, no disrespect to Tim. His highs are really high; I love the guy; he knows himself, and knows his audience. I always thought that what I'd heard of his albums (most of them) was a bit inconsistent. This dude is a singles artist to me, and that's not a slur. But then I thought about it, the phrase, "knows himself, and knows his audience." Maybe that's what a music legend is: he or she understands what he/she brings to the table, and doesn't do anything contrary to those shared musical experiences. This is my favorite Tim McGraw song. [Geez, you're haunted by ghosts.--ed.] Very likely. But seriously, the reason I love this tune is that it explains why I love R&B and country in the same song. Tim has sung approvingly of bending genres before, and even accomplished it a time or two. Perhaps my other favorite is this one. It's so packed with metaphors and similes that you say, "Hmmm, I gotta think about that one." [Every song you like is about women.--ed.] Hey, any idiot who's ever written a song will tell you: love songs are the easiest to write. [Noone says that but you.--ed.] OK. The reason I mention all this is that I woke up with "She's My Kind Of Rain" in my head. I don't know why. Next thought: "What a bloody great song." Thought After That: "Why didn't I write that?" [Because you don't play any instruments, and can barely carry a tune.--ed.] I don't sing that bad. There are worse with record contracts, I reckon.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My new plan (5 poems composed each week for the remainder of the summer) has been partially foiled by my 2 week vacation to Colorado, which is a smidge ironic, 'cause who can't write a bloody poem in the face of perhaps the most majestic peaks on the blessed Earth? Well, me. I had family and beer to drink. [You drank your family?--ed.] Sure looks that way, doesn't it? I love English. Anyway, I owe myself one right now. [But it's 3 AM, you jack-wagon.--ed.] Well, if I don't write it now, it never exists. I'll post it if it doesn't suck, and as long as I won't be jailed/deported/embarrassed/excommunicated. Which pretty much means you'll never see it! Ha! [Admit it, you let me call you a 'jack-wagon' because of this.--ed.] Guilty. R. Lee Ermey is pretty great. I guess that the brothers who gave us the premillenial dispensationalist nonsense of The Omega Code 2 weren't too bent out of shape by the foul language of his movie career on the whole. Not that I can talk. Furthermore, though, it was jarring to see Michael York (Basil Exposition in the Austin Powers film series) in it as well. I like those AP movies, but I probably shouldn't.
5 Uncouth, Provocative Thoughts for Today

5. The Defense of Marriage Act is a blatant violation of the Constitution, specifically Article IV, sect. 1.

4. As such, I support the states' passage of laws defining marriage more specifically, though the Full Faith and Credit Clause will prevent people from eradicating gay unions entirely.

3. The Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of 1964-65 are violations of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, and have outlived their usefulness as a means to combat racism.

2. I think Lochner v. New York was rightly decided.

1. I think internet gambling should be entirely legal.