Simple Clarity Isn't Sexy

On my way to the Eastlake MARTA station, I was listening to the Georgia State College radio station. One of the songs they played seemed to capture a vagueness of life. How our impulses and instincts seem to lead us, especially when we're young, and we end up where we are after being tricked by biology and our humanity. It was about crazy raucous, and maybe irresponsible, love. Then, I saw something that stood out for its clarity. A crossing guard wearing an orange and yellow vest stepped into the intersection. I stopped as he held up his stop sign and motioned for a group of children to cross. It was beautiful and profound. 
This one event encapsulates four very important fundamental values:
  1. Children
  2. Schools
  3. Communities, and
  4. Volunteers
Children walking to school face a danger they may not appreciate. The community comes together through volunteers to protect its children. Where I live, crossing guards don't just work near the school. They work at key intersections along the many routes children take. I was suddenly filled with an appreciation for the community, school, and volunteers that made this happen even though these were not my children.
We find romance and fall in love a thousand different ways ending up who knows where in life. All of that may very well end up with our children happily walking to school and their once crazy parents praying they arrive safely. Who knew a crossing guard could play such an important role in our lives: representing so much good in us and protecting what we cherish the most? Crazy raucous love leads to this. 

Does Intelligence Leave a Fingerprint?

I read Signature in the Cell by Stephen C. Meyer recently; a proponent of intelligent design. I've always been skeptical on the science of intelligent design. It seems to be an effort to evangelize by stuffing reasons into a predefined conclusion and then offering that product as a reason for faith. There's a couple of things wrong there. You either do science or you don't and you believe as a child or you don't believe at all. I don't think any of us believe because of evidence or argument. I think faith is more holistic and personal than that.

An interview with Stephen Meyer on NPR piqued my curiosity. This guy is intelligent and interesting. He has a Philosophy of Science degree from the University of Cambridge, writes peer reviewed articles, and debates intelligent design with other leading origin of life scientists. He claims to approach intelligent design through inferences from scientific evidence rather than a deduction from religious authority. He's qualified and I believe he succeeds in this objective.

I graduated with a degree in molecular biology from the University of California, San Diego and worked nearly eight years in biological research. Because of my background, I especially liked Meyer's lengthy description of the function of DNA, RNA, and protein in the cell. He elaborated on how much specific information those components contain and the probability of that information arising from chance even in its simplest form. Some people thought the book was a little long based on the reviews I read on Amazon. However, I think Meyer had to lay this foundation since this is what much of his book is centered on.
I like the way Meyer looks at our early scientific understanding of life. In the 19th century, scientists understood physical life to be comprised of a substance they called protoplasm originating from the cell wall. This was the scientific explanation for the composition of life at the time. It was simple but the scientific view of life was simple.

Before the discovery of DNA, scientists understood physical life to be a combination of substance and energy. Watson and Crick added more detail with their discovery of the structure of DNA. DNA brought with it the dimension of information. We now understand life to be comprised of substance, energy, and information. Instead of asking the amorphous question, "Where did life come from?" Scientists now can ask a more specific question, "What is the origin of information?"

In Signature in the Cell, Stephen Meyer approaches that very question as a historical scientist (such as a geologist or archaeologist) using abductive reasoning to arrive at a best explanation given the current facts. He discusses Shannon Information, specific information, and the probabilistic resources of the universe to evaluate whether random chance is a reasonable explanation for the origin of life.

Meyer also addresses traditional objections such as the argument from ignorance and the definition of science argument. He doesn't try to address these objections with the rigor you would find in a focused research paper and some people have complained about that. However, I believe he does a good job for this type of book. On the other hand, some people complained the book was too long. You can't please everyone.

Many biologists believe our understanding of biology points to a nontheistic universe. One observation they make supporting abiogenesis (the study of how life could have originated from inorganic matter) is the presence of junk DNA in the introns of genes. Why would this useless DNA reside in our genes if it was designed by a higher intelligence? They reason, the junk DNA is the legacy of useless random nucleotide sequences left over from an ancient random process.

It turns out that a lot of what was once considered junk DNA is actually part of the operating system of the cell, regulating what, when, where, and how much protein a particular gene codes for at any given time throughout our lives. There's less junk and more specific information than we thought.

When I read Genesis' account of creation, I visualize a nested creation where God created the universe and later created life from what he had already made. I see a patient God working in layers and masterfully using laws and processes. I think Genesis does a good job of describing what you see when you look up from its pages; something beautiful, wondrous, and intimate.

I'm not a culture warrior. For me, science is like a lens (not the only lens) for viewing and appreciating God's creation. Science is a potential good for mankind. I can't understand a scientist who is never in wonder and doesn't hope to do good for others. Such wonderful knowledge requires an uncommon purpose. Without God we're high on ambition and low on purpose. The wise men sought Jesus and brought their gifts to him. It's not inconsistent for a scientist to believe in God and find meaning and purpose through faith.

In the end, I don't believe in God because of science. Jesus explained why some people don't believe and the explanation wasn't, "There's not enough science."
John 3:16-20 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

There's One More Thing

It happens so many times. Once you think you know something, it turns out there’s one more thing and reality is different than what you thought.

Here's a nerdy example. Let's say a you learn all about triangles and pretty soon you're using that knowledge to develop a new branch of mathematics called trigonometry. Then, it dawns on you to use trigonometry to navigate the broad flat ocean and you're on your way. After many days, You're completely lost! What went wrong?

Soon after your misadventure, you learn from a prominent astronomer that the earth is round. It suddenly dawns on you that you used the properties of flat triangles to navigate a round world. You need to use spherical triangles. You incorporate spherical triangles into the new math you've been developing and set sail again. This time you arrive at your expected destination. You confirmed the world is round and successfully applied a new branch of mathematics in one stroke! What a day!

Our understanding of the earth and trigonometry didn't progress like this. However, this nicely illustrates there's always one more thing and reality is often different than what we thought.

Living without God is like living a flat life in a round world. God is that additional dimension that doesn't make sense on one level but brings clarity to everything else.

Freedom and Constraint

Leo stopping long enough to get his picture taken.
He waits for this all day. 
He's happy now!
Leo loves going for walks. He has to wear a collar, though, and go on a leash. If he isn't wearing his collar, he goes to the basket where we keep it, touches it with his nose, and looks up at me impatiently. The collar doesn't represent a constraint to Leo. It's part of the connection to the leash and my hand.

Once I fasten the leash to his collar, we're on our way, and he's deliriously happy to go wherever my feet take him. He gets to go places he can't go alone. He sniffs and marks distant territory. His tail wags almost as fast as his legs go. Walking along, he pokes my calf with his nose as if to say, "Isn't this great!" He's excited to return home. He gets a couple treats and he retires to his bed where he lays panting; watching me with awe and admiration, as if to say, "Wasn't that something!"

Is our walk with Christ much different?
Matthew 11:29 - Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Galatians 5:17 - For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 
Romans 6:16 - Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
Leo's collar is like a yoke. Though a yoke evokes an image of confinement, the yoke Christ speaks of is different. It's liberating. It keeps us from going places that trouble our souls. That yoke is provided to us by the one who made us and it fits perfectly. I believe that yoke is the Holy Spirit himself and he is our bond to Christ. That yoke is comforting and we welcome it. We look to Christ in gratitude as he takes us with him where we could not go alone. We get to explore the new world Christ made for us that exists in him. This is the yoke we take upon ourselves.

The other yoke leads to sin and death and the evil one imposes it upon us. With either yoke, we face a life filled with forces bigger than ourselves. One way or another, there are forces preventing us from doing everything we want to do. One yoke is connected to the hand of one who steals, kills, and destroys. The other yoke connects us to the hand of one who loves and died for us; who wants us to have life and have it more abundantly.

Can we be as happy as Leo? In Christianity, we get to choose.

When Partners Rest

Trust builds when partners rest
Taking care of life that parts us
While knowing -
     this is what life is asking of us.

We have no other lives.
Ignorant and foolish eyes may see
the present passing moment - never shared
     in vacant understanding
of a life that's real
and the calling of life to life

-Dan Owens

Jimmy Kimmel iPhone 5 Prank Comparison Test

Jimmy Kimmel, on Jimmy Kimmel Live, gives people an iPhone 4s to test but tells them it's an iPhone 5.

It's the very same phone most of these people already use and they're saying how much better it is!

To quote a few comments:
  • It's way better!
  • Definitely noticeably better!
  • Seems a little thinner.
  • Seems a little lighter.
  • It looks like the screen's a little bigger.
  • Seems a little faster.
  • It's a lot higher quality, and if you drop it, it looks like it's not going to break.
  • The colors are brighter.
  • Oh, it has a video front and back.

Most everybody was simply repeating what the blogs were already saying about the iPhone 5.

It shows how our rosy love of technology is shaped by slick advertising. It may be that 95% of our perceptions on the benefit of technology is in our heads. Wouldn't it be great if we could outsmart the opinion makers (and the world in general) through a revolution of contentment and not upgrade for awhile? How "evil" would that be though? It would hurt the economy.

When we talked on those old fashioned phones when I was a kid, what were we most excited about? Maybe because someone was on the other end of the line eager to talk to us. There isn't much technology there by today's standards, and yet, there are few things I like better.

Our Knowledge and the Thing: Do We Know the Difference?

Richard Feynman
I like this trivia question. "What was the highest mountain in the world before we discovered Mount Everest?" If you answered K2, guess again. The answer is Mount Everest.

Our knowledge of something is independent of the thing itself.

Mount Everest was the highest mountain in the world even before we named it. Even after we gain knowledge, our knowledge is separate, and to some extent separates us, from the thing.

Richard Feynman, a famous and beloved physicist, considered the birds of the air.
You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird... So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing -- that's what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something. - Richard Feynman
In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Juliet knows the difference between "knowledge" and the thing. She encounters Romeo and decides she can no longer believe what she once "knew" and says to Romeo:
'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.
How beautiful!

Our "knowledge" of hate filled stereotypes can alienate us from an individual. Knowing the names of birds does not mean we're interested in birds. Am I satisfied with merely learning the names God, definitions of his character, and some history?

When I worship God, am I merely worshiping my concept of God or can I get beyond that and worship God?

I was walking home from work thinking about Job's comforters.They had created an image of God and a narrative for him. It brought them comfort. In the end, they witnessed first hand that God is wilder than they imagined. Their knowledge and narrative crumbled and they became naked again before God. As I was walking, I wondered, "what images and narratives have I created for God, without ever realizing it, to bring comfort to myself?"

It seems detachment has a tendency to develop between our knowledge and "the thing."

Even our firsthand knowledge erodes with time after we've observed the birds. Much knowledge is passed to us secondhand. Detachment accompanies our acquisition of such knowledge when we forget we've never seen the thing our knowledge refers to. Is the detachment of our knowledge from the thing itself the root of sin Genesis describes?
 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. - Genesis 2:17

Unconscious detachment seems like a small problem but we all suffer from it and it keeps us from caring, trusting, or working together. It is the root of all avoidable suffering.

Knowledge is still good. However, I believe we're mislead when we believe knowledge, apart from experience or first hand observation, brings connection. This is true of birds or God. Is this the underlying problem Jesus addressed when he encouraged us to worship as children?
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. - John 3:3 
And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. - Matthew 18:2-4
Children approach everything experientially with no knowledge or bias. How can we do this? It's like saying we have to be born again into a world where we live through experience rather than knowledge and everything is always new.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. - 2 Corinthians 5:17 (English Standard Version)
I know that sounds pretty evangelical; or, is it simply wonderful?

When we worship God, we need to acknowledge we may be merely worshiping our concept of God - as pretty or convoluted as it may be - and long for something deeper, truer, simpler, and more meaningful.

Is that a desperate hope leading to a dead end? I don't think so. Jesus taught that that is his intention for each of us.
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. - John 4:23-24
We have to empty ourselves. I believe the confession of sin from the Book of Common Prayer is a good start. It's may taste bitter but it's good. I begin most of my mornings with this.
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.

Living Beyond the Event Horizon

What does G. K. Chesterton, J. K. Rowling, and Viktor Frankl have in common? They all spoke about grief and suffering. I also think black holes are a great metaphor on this subject. I was thinking about black holes, and things the above named authors said, and ended up organizing my thoughts around a personal experience. Consequently, this blog entry is longer and more personal than usual; and, it also has more photos and even an embedded YouTube video. Just thought I'd warn you.

We're defined by secrets. As I grow older, I have more secrets and grow more defined. There are different kinds of secrets. Some are things not told. Others, are things not heard because they are things that can't be heard even if they're spoken. My secrets are mostly the latter. Living with these secrets is like living beyond the event horizon of a black hole.

The event horizon is that point where the gravitational pull of a black hole is so great that even light cannot escape and is drawn in. Our sight depends on light. If no light can escape, no light returns to give us sight and knowledge of those things transpiring inside. To the outside observer, an object falling into a black hole appears to continue traveling into the black hole forever without ever reaching it. However, if you are traveling into a black hole, you would pass through the event horizon as if nothing was out of the ordinary. In other words, the only person who sees beyond the event horizon of a black hole, is the one who's there.

Suffering is an event horizon with a perspective you can't appreciate unless you're there. I was reading about the Book of Job in Wikipedia and stumbled on this quote by Lev Shestov from Speculation and Revelation where he speaks to this disagreement between the reality of our lives and other peoples' perception.
The whole book [of Job] is one uninterrupted contest between the 'cries' of the much-afflicted Job and the 'reflections' of his rational friends. The friends, as true thinkers, look not at Job but at the 'general.' Job, however, does not wish to hear about the 'general'; he knows that the general is deaf and dumb - and that it is impossible to speak with it. 'But I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God' (13:3).
Only God saw the real Job when he was suffering and only God could listen. However, Job wasn't sure he would and yearned for a mediator.
Job 9:32-33 For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both.
We have the daysman Job longed for. His name is Jesus and he is our mediator.
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
Job suffered in isolation. No one has to suffer that way today. However, people still can't see the real you beyond the event horizon even though they see your general representation. You know you're somewhere else and not quite the same person you were. They may ask themselves, "What did this person do to get there?" "What can I do to avoid ending up like them?" "Why can't I cheer them up?" They will think every thought except, "A good person is suffering through no fault of their own. It's not fair and I have no power to change anything. What's happening to them could easily happen to anyone including me."

I've noticed some people don't want to be around you if they can't cheer you up. I can understand this with strangers, but, it's true even with our families sometimes. It's strange when someone who had nothing to do with your suffering or sadness would think they have the power to snap you out of it; and even seem to think you're obligated to let them. It's better to take Paul's approach.
Romans 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
I like the way J. K. Rowling talks about grief and how it changes and marks us. Harry Potter is beginning his 5th year at Hogwarts and is startled to see mysterious creatures called Thestrals. Up till that time, he thought Thestrals were mythical. Luna explains that only people have seen death can see them. Though Harry lost his parents as a baby, he never knew them. He only knew death after losing a personal friend during his fourth year.

I have suffered but much less than others. I got up early one morning before work recently and walked a mile and a half to the train station instead of driving. On my way, a man in a wheelchair accompanying his daughter to school crossed the street in front of me. She was riding a bike and he was keeping up. It wasn't electric. He was using his arms. He smiled and greeted me while passing. While zipping along on the train, I noticed a blind man walking briskly down a wide street behind his sweeping stick. I saw both these things on the same day as I was ready to congratulate myself for walking a mile and a half on my healthy legs. There are always others worse off than you handling what they endure better than you ever could. Gwen was one of those people.

We were engaged. She had CML (chronic myelogenous leukemia) but was doing fine with Gleevic and had no apparent symptoms. I knew of people with CML who had taken Gleevic for ten years and were healthy otherwise. She developed an intolerance to the wonder drug and had to switch to Sprycel. It didn't work as well (if at all) and she experienced a lot of side effects. It may be the "side effects" were from the leukemia itself with it's complications ravaging her body unchecked by a drug that didn't work for her.

Gwen not feeling well

Gwen. kind and beautiful even when in pain
She was a Christian but began doubting God. I still sensed her belief beyond the very doubt she expressed. Doctrines about God's love were no comfort to her. She once said to me, "Whoever said God won't give you more than you can handle didn't know what the hell he was talking about." I didn't feel there was any point in encouraging her to say the "right words." Spleen pain would visit and usurp her reality, making it difficult for her to be aware of anything else. Pain is selfish. It tries to make you think it's all there is. She was in a different place from me. I could empathize with her but only so far. I could not see beyond the event horizon of her suffering.

In my blog entry titled, Job and His Comforters, I wrote something I'd like to paraphrase here.
In the heat and density of a black hole, Newtonian physics and quantum mechanics don't apply. In a similar way, religious doctrine doesn't apply or offer comfort during the heat and pressure of suffering. It's just you and God smashed together with no space in between.
Jesus' disciples couldn't see beyond the event horizon. When confronted with a man blind from birth, their first instinct was to ask Jesus a doctrinal question rather than take in what was before them.
John 9:1-2 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
John 9:3-5 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
Jesus was saying, "You can't even ask the right questions so let's not waste our time on that when we have the suffering lying helpless before us. Let's focus on what we can do in the moment. Since, I'm here with you now, we can do a lot, so, let's get busy."

There is no punctuation in the Greek. I like the translation a teacher suggested that changes a period to a comma. It flows better and makes more sense to me. "...but that the works of God should be made manifest in him, I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day:" In other words, Jesus was saying, "I'm not focusing on how they got there, I'm focusing on using my limited time to do everything I can for as many as I can."

Gwen not long after chemo
I couldn't heal my fiance but I kept her company and comforted her the best I could. She once told me her greatest fear was of dying alone. She didn't. She died in a hospital room with her father holding one hand as I held the other. Other family members were there too. With her last words, she told us she loved us and that she wasn't afraid. She died right after that still holding our hands.

Kia was the best damn dog that I ever did know. She belonged to Gwen.
I kept her until she became debilitated with cancer and had to put her to sleep.
It's hard losing someone you love. However, there is no more meaningful thing than living the best you can up to the point of loss. It seems that time has more meaning there. To look back and see that your life meant something to someone is comforting in a mysterious and influential way. I see more clearly choices between meaning and pleasure; and meaning is more compelling to me than before.
“If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering.” - Viktor Frankl
Viktor Frankl said the strongest and most direct things about suffering and meaning. Things he said stand like giant sequoias offering comfort and stability. He lived for a time beyond the event horizon where there are things that may be seen by only by those who've been there. He was a WWII German concentration camp survivor.

He also said:
The transitoriness of our existence in no way make it meaningless. For, in the past, nothing is irretrievably lost but everything is irrevocably stored.
Man constantly makes his choice concerning the mass of present potentialities; which of these will be condemned to nonbeing and which will be actualized? Which choice will be made an actuality once and forever, an immortal “footprint in the sands of time”?

If that speaks to you, I highly recommend, "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl.

I experienced my own grief and little event horizon after my fiance passed away. I learned quickly that my experience was not easily understandable or share-able like vacations, restaurants, activities, accomplishments, or new stuff you just bought. I wasn't happy enough for others and didn't interact with them in a gratifying way. Looking back, I believe I was behaving appropriately. My attitude related to meaning rather than pleasure. I was grieving, but I was grounded and felt God's comforting presence. That has meaning itself.
2 Corinthians 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
G. K. Chesterton, who wrote in the early 20th century, commented on the difference he saw in how the rich and poor approached grief.
Again, the educated classes have adopted a hideous and heathen custom of considering death as too dreadful to talk about, and letting it remain a secret for each person, like some private malformation. The poor, on the contrary, make a great gossip and display about bereavement; and they are right. They have hold of a truth of psychology which is at the back of all the funeral customs of the children of men. The way to lessen sorrow is to make a lot of it. The way to endure a painful crisis is to insist very much that it is a crisis; to permit people who must feel sad at least to feel important.
I wholeheartedly agree. However, if someone has never passed through the event horizon; who has never visited the other side to see the things that can only be seen when you're there; just understand - they won't understand. However, you can pass God's comfort to them, find 50 shades of meaning you never knew, and you will be slightly changed.

The strange thing about suffering is that while you're beyond the event horizon, all these beautiful things keep happening and unfolding in the familiar world outside, and eventually, you'll get to meet up there again.

My beautiful wife
My wife's son on his own journey
My son, his wife, and their daughter
My granddaughter with her step great grandfather. 
My mother, with 4 grandchildren and her great granddaughter
Cheers! There's so much meaning to live for!

How You Get There is Most of the Story

19th century fresco by painter Elias Garcia Martinez before and after botched DIY restoration attempt by 81 year old woman with best of intentions
Before and After

The painting on the left is a 19th century fresco by Elias Garcia Martinez in a little church in Borja, Spain. What if I told you the painting on the right is the same painting after it was vandalized by a gang of hoologins on a mission to destroy all of Spain's religious art? It makes your blood boil doesn't it?

What if I told you instead, that the painting on the right is a restoration attempt by an 81 year old woman named Cecilia Giménez who just wanted to help? She's a parishioner who lives next door to her church where this painting resided and she loved it. She watched it deteriorate over a period of many years until one day she decided to undertake the painting's restoration herself. She was persistent. At some point she realized the task was beyond her. She couldn't restore it to it's original beauty or bring it back to what it was before she started. She had to give up.

Not only did she miss the mark on maintaining the way the painter subtly captures Christ's nobility and authentic humanity, she also has the scroll going the wrong way on the bottom, and the background is blue instead of yellow. The eyes no longer look toward the Father. They're looking at us like he's clever and bored with us but has something up his sleeve. Instead of a beard and crown of thorns, he's wearing a fuzzy cap that wraps under his chin. I won't even try to describe the nose or mouth. It makes me sad to look at it bit by bit in detail. She's retired to her house now, next to the church, bedridden from anxiety. I hope she recovers soon.

If this painting was vandalized by hoologins, I'd be angry. Yet on some level, Cecilia Giménez has given me the best laugh I've had in a long time. Remembering this is a priceless work of art brings everything back into perspective and I start laughing again. Why is that? I couldn't tell you. However, I see a message here.

I believe God is comforting this woman now and might be laughing with us. Some people are furious. However, I like to think God is less concerned with losing a picture of Jesus than he is with the heart of one woman who's walked with him these many years (perhaps imperfectly) who just wanted to help. She also might be part of a band of women at the church who run things who have the priest biting his tongue.

I also wonder, when we rush forward independently, in our own self-directed efforts, to reflect Christ to the world, if we end up looking more like the Jesus on the right. Only God can love children like us. I wouldn't mind if they kept the painting as it is. Thank you Cecilia Giménez. You've given us a wonderful work of unintentional performance art and laughter.

She has a following. An artists rendition of how Miss Giménez' might paint The Last Supper and An artist's rendition of how Miss Giménez' might paint the Mona Lisa.

Job and His Comforters

I was thinking about Job and his "comforters" recently. His friends are deeply and doubly troubled. Job, their friend, is suffering. However, if he is blameless as he claims, their sense of security, based on their understanding of a just God, may unravel. They sit silent and empathetic before their Job's suffering as he is silent, but, the minute Job opens his mouth to maintain his innocence, they throw Job under the bus. Job's account of his suffering conflicts with their understanding of a just God and challenges their faith to its core. Job's suffering becomes their crisis of faith. They feel they must choose between Job and God. Their visit becomes a debate on theology that challenges Job and denies him of any comfort they might provide him. It seems the tighter Job's friends cling to their ideologies, the less regard they have for Job.

Job's troubles start with a report that he lost his children and his wealth in a freakish series of events. Job responds:
Job 1:20-22 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
Soon after that, Job looses his health and his wife's support.
2:8-10  And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes. Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

The book of Job is not a book about doctrine. It's about the mystery of the suffering of the just. For an explanation, the author describes a bet between God and the devil.
1:6-12  Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.
The author throws a startling explanation before our face without warning and follows that up with no explanation or justification. The point may be we're not entitled to an explanation. This story may have been as startling to the author's audience as it is to us today. This may be a literary device to illustrate that the suffering of the innocent is beyond our understanding when a bet between God and the devil serves as good an explanation as any. The suffering of the innocent remains a mystery in Job.

How do we maintain our faith when we're faced with something so apparently unjust? What is apparent, we perceive through our senses and reason through our mind. Sanity and reason demand we acknowledge what's apparent to us. Proverbs 20:12 - The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them. Yet, faith demands that we humble our mind and perceptions before humanity's highest idea: and that idea is God. Faith tells us God transcends our perceptions and even the idea itself. Yet, many never get beyond God as an idea. As beautiful as that idea may be, God does not live in that temple.

Can we see beyond the idea of God and encounter God? I believe we can, however, that may only come through suffering. The best illustration I have comes through my understanding of a black hole. I really have nothing better. In the heat and density of a black hole, Newtonian physics and quantum mechanics don't apply. In a similar way, our religious dogma is insufficient to explain our experience, or comfort us, during our personal pain and suffering. It's just you and God mashed together with no space between. Those standing outside us can't see beyond the event horizon to the reality of what's happening in your life. Yet standing inside the event horizon, you see everything.

Jesus spoke of suffering. He said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit..." and "Blessed are they that mourn...." If that's true, we have a paradox. Woe to us who have not suffered and woe to us who have. However, Jesus brings a new power and dimension to the lives of the suffering. He's with us and in us through the Holy Spirit he's given us. Job had to do without this, and yet, he still showed great character and devotion in suffering.
Job 2:11-13 Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place...for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him. And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.
After that period of silence, Job has a long rant cursing the day he was born. He believes his life serves no purpose. That's when Job looses what can't be seen: his old ideologies and doctrines. Job can no longer believe that work, kindness, wisdom, prayer, and sacrifice will always shield him from adversity. The world he lives in no longer feels just and doesn't makes sense. He doesn't understand God. However, Job will continue doing those things even though they don't serve him and he will continue worshiping God though he doesn't understand him.

However, Job's friends still cling to those beliefs and Job's suffering and assertions are an affront to those beliefs. They rebuke Job and try to understand Job's suffering in a way that fits with their belief system. Job and his friends debate what neither side understands. Everyone, including Job, looses sight of what is simply God and Job with no space for argument, debate, or reason. Job's understanding of God and a just universe was shaken, but, he worshiped God in that place where that's all there is.

Picture from Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing

Brookgreen Gardens

All these photos were taken at Brookgreen Gardens at Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, just south of Myrtle Beach. My mother took the first photo and I took the rest. The last sculpture is called "Frog Baby." I'll work on getting the names for the remaining sculptures and the artists later. It's late. One of my favorite photos of the bunch is of the sea grass.

This guy's been reading the same paper for years.
That's Don, my stepfather, on the left and me on the right.

Mr. Rogers Remixed from PBS Digital Studios

Mr. Rogers said some great things I didn't appreciate at the time. For example, see the quotes below I collected from the video put together by PBS Digital Studios.
Did you ever grow anything in the garden of your mind? You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind. It's good to be curious about many things. You can think about things in make believe. All you have to do is think...and they'll grow.
Did you know Fred McFeely Rogers...
  • Earned a B.A. in Music Composition in 1951 and wrote most of the music played on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood?
  • Earned a divinity degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, was ordained a Presbyterian minister and charged to continue his work with Children's Television?
  • Wrote 36 books?
  • Received two Peabody Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, and four Emmy Awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award (See the video below of his amazing acceptance speech. Yes. Amazing!). In addition to all this, one of his cardigan sweaters is on display at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History.

What Do We Leave Out?

Teleman Square, Ferrier Estate, in London England

A priest in an Episcopal Church I visited recently read from Mark 6:7-13. It was the Gospel passage from the Lectionary for that Sunday.
"And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey,"
However, the King James version is different.
"And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey,"
You don't get, "...and gave them power over unclean spirits..." from her version.

What's the harm? Does it change our understanding of the passage? If we understand the passage the same either way, I think we might be missing something. I listened to her sermon and it was meaningful and engaging but I still wondered, "Why leave it out?"

I started going through Mark looking up references to "spirit." I found 10 references to "unclean spirit." In a couple of places, "unclean spirit" was used interchangeably with "devil," so, I looked that up and found 16 references to "devil" in Mark's Gospel. From chapter 1 through chapter 9, every other chapter in Mark describes Jesus' confrontations with these bodiless beings. Chapter 6 describes the disciples carrying on his work in a similar manner.

Early in the first chapter of Mark, Jesus is directly challenged and defied by Satan himself.
Mark 1:12-13 - And immediately the spirit driveth him into the wilderness. And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.
Soon after that, there was this incident in a synagogue in Capernaum.
Mark 1:22-26 - And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him.
Mark continues in chapter 3.
Mark 3:11-12 - And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God. And he straitly charged them that they should not make him known.
Mark's description of incidents and events involving Jesus and unclean spirits seem to get longer, wilder, and more detailed. He mashes the accelerator in chapter 5 while we're saying, "Slow down Mark!"
Mark 5:1-15 - And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country. Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea. And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.
Calling these spirits the devil in these confrontations brings a dimension of personal drama to the conflict between Jesus who was "in the beginning" and he who once was "son of the morning." The stage is bigger and scarier than most of us want to admit.
Mark 7:25-30 - For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs. And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.
In Mark 9, Jesus refers to a spirit as "foul" and "dumb and deaf" that his disciples could not cast out. His disciples ask him, "Why could not we cast him out?" Jesus responded saying, "This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting." Once again, Mark includes more mystery and detail.

Here are some reasons why someone might omit this passage.

1. They are afraid of spiritual extremism and they're trying to keep it out of the church.

I believe God is less concerned with innocent extremism than we are. I've seen ministers react to people getting carried away, by closing themselves off from what's inspiring the extremism, as if that's supposed to bring balance. I knew a minister who wouldn't read from the book of Revelation in church because of all the crazy interpretations being thrown around. I think it would have been more helpful if she would read it and demonstrated a balanced view of the book. Just because some take praying for the sick to a desperate extreme, are we going to stop praying for the sick? Just because some preach on giving as part of an unbalanced prosperity message, do we stop giving?

2. They weren't going to mention "unclean spirits" in their sermon, so that passage was irrelevant.

The Bible was not given to provide inspiration for sermons. The Bible is more important than the sermons it inspires.

3. People only believed in spirits back then because they didn't understand disease and pathological behavior as we do today. Enlightened people don't believe in that stuff.

Science can neither explain our deepest problems nor provide the cures we most deeply long for. We need Jesus to touch and heal us at our core.

4. Talking about "unclean spirits" only serves to distract us from living out the true message of the Gospel.

I suspect this is where she was coming from. However, I don't believe we can walk in love until God works in our hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit and drives far from us all wrong desires.

5. Someone might be so focused on cooperative solutions, that they are uncomfortable with a reference to people having power over anything. This is a variation of the perspective, "If you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

I think some people have a problem thinking of power and authority as a good thing. Even though Christianity is about humility and cooperation within the family, God opposes the eternally defiant with complete authority and power. Some people have been hurt by authority figures and it's hard to recover from that. It may be difficult for some to think or read the word "authority" regardless of any other words in the sentence. No matter how bad our experience with human authority, we need to learn to humbly accept Christ's authority over us and over what prevents us from walking in freedom in Christ.

6. Talking about the devil and spirits is spooky and scares people.

When my son was young, his mother took him to some extreme churches that spoke of the devil and Satan too much. He grew fearful and started having nightmares. You can definitely overemphasize this stuff; especially with children.

Here are some reasons I thought she should have read it.

1. So someone like me wouldn't be wondering why she left it out.

2. Because it's in the Bible.

3. Because the Lectionary directed us to read that passage on that particular day.

4. Because the Gospels often describe Jesus' authority over the devil and unclean spirits.

5. It shows that ministry involves a calling and an endowment of grace.

I'm very uncomfortable with deciding what to read from the Bible and what to leave out. Let's just read it all. The Holy Spirit will breath life into the words that take root in our heart. Maybe He'll show us something we never considered before and make it part of our lives.

The Holy Spirit is the air we breathe.
The Word of God in our heart our lungs.
Our faith, in all its rich expression, causes our lungs to expand and contract, and the Holy Spirit rushes in and out, revealing and exalting Christ.

Photo above © Copyright John Salmon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Consider Yourself Sent

Jesus said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations..." and, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." We call those words the "great commission." Was Jesus speaking to all the Church or primarily to the Apostles? I'm not sure because I've heard those words preached but seldom taught. However, Peter seemed to hang out at Jerusalem most of the time and the Church was persecuted and scattered everywhere. Ready or not, the new Church was heading to "all nations" and "every creature." It was as if Jesus' words in the "great commission" blew them there.

I remember wanting to make those words real in my life. We may try to work our way into God's will but God often works beyond our asking and thinking. I went to Rhema Bible Training Center against my parents' wishes. I practicably ran away from home. I took a bus from Athens, Ohio to Tulsa, Oklahoma. From there, I took a cab to the Rhema parking lot in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. I arrived as the late people were arriving for church. Mike Korszak saw me get out of the cab, walk up to me, introduced himself, and offered me a place to stay. That was not God corroborating my decision. That was undeserved grace.

I met many sincere and zealous young people but made few lasting friendships. It turns out, the "faith message" preached there had unintended consequences. You couldn't tell someone how you were feeling if you felt bad. Conversely, you never asked someone how they felt. You didn't live in your emotions. I noticed people substituting chatter for personal conversation. I think faith teaching lead to shallow relationships and loneliness. My relationship with Christ began to feel the same way. My zeal turned to silent despair even while my family came to terms with my being there. In the end, I simply longed for a church where I could invite someone, and know the people there knew how to care of them.

From Ohio, and places in between, I'm in Columbia, SC, working on a temporary job assignment because necessity brought me here. Columbia is a nice city. I visited the cathedral a few times. At first, I wasn't sure about the suits and formality. However, I've started to feel peace there. Now after everything, I stumble on the words, "Consider yourself sent." It seems like an odd phrase but here is what it means to me. Instead of looking forward trying to be something, God is allowing me to look upon a gifted present bearing his fingerprints.

Paul paints a beautiful sweeping picture.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 - Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
I'm a new creation. I've been sent to the simple here and now. My day to day life is my ministry.

Do I think God spoke to me? I don't know. Did you ever have a dream that sticks with you that you feel compelled to consider? Staring at documents for 12 hours can wind you up and make you tired at the same time. All I know is a thought passed through my tired mind as I was leaving work that I felt drawn to consider.

Grounds around the South Carolina state capital.

Somewhere in Columbia SC

Took this with my iPhone walking around the South Carolina capital after work around 8:40 pm as the sun was setting. The bush to the right of the tree in the center was glowing red with the light from the setting sun. My picture didn't do it justice.

Passages from the Daily Office: 5/27 - 6/2

picture of bread

Here are some passages I underlined in my Kindle from last week's Daily Office. I enjoyed reading through everything at one sitting. I can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Going for a walk along a scenic river is up there, but I'm sore from doing that for 5 miles yesterday. Columbia, SC has some great walking trails. I'll share some pictures from my iPhone later.
2012 Daily Office from May 27 - June 2
Old Testament 
Proverbs 9:1-12...10:1-12...15:16-33...17:1-20...21:30-22:6...23:19-21, 29-24:2...25:15-28 
Acts 8:14-25; 1 Timothy 1:1-17...1:18-2:8...3:1-16...4:1-16...5:17-25...6:6-21 
Luke 10:25-28, 38-42; Matthew 12:22-32...12:33-42...12:43-50...13:24-30...13:31-35...13:36-43
  • ...a babbling fool will come to ruin.
  • covers all offenses.
  • ...with many advisers [plans] succeed.
  • The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD...
  • ...the LORD tests hearts.
  • Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker...
  • If anyone returns evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.
  • A man of crooked heart does not discover good...
  • The rich and the poor meet together; the LORD is the maker of them all.
  • for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty...
  • Be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them,
  • Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.
  • ...[it is not] glorious to seek one's own glory.
  • A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.
  • Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.
1 Timothy
  • The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
  • ...the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,
  • To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
  • ...wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith,
  • ...know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.
  • Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.
  • But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
  • ...the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time - he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
  • As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
  • Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.
  • But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
  • I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
  • When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none.
  • The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.
  • I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The picture of bread above is by David Monniaux Copyright © 2005.

Status Update; and btw, The Starving Puppies Have Been Rescued

I have my attorney hat on again. I found work doing document review through Hire Counsel in Columbia, SC. I couldn't find legal work in Mississippi. You can do document review with admission to the bar in any state. I'm a member of the state bar of California. I lived there for 19 years. Went to law school there and practiced law there for four years. I'm working from 8 am to 8 pm  M-F. I take about 45 min to eat lunch and walk around. I can also work weekends when I want to. Tonight I got home (to my extended stay hotel) a little after 8 pm, started doing laundry which I didn't finish until after 10 pm, and then ate dinner.

I don't really feel like getting on the computer too much after staring at it for 11 hours at work. I don't know how many posts I'll make while on this schedule. Don't expect too much. However, a lot of things can pass through your mind in the quite concentration of reviewing documents. I might share them here. Being tired doesn't bother me though. It's validating.

BTW -- The starving puppies have been rescued! Everyone can breath again.

Why God Loves Us

I had one of those long conversations with my son about our days, our lives, and life. Sometimes Sam has good insights. Sometimes he reduces something to words that makes me say to myself, "Yea, that's right." He is a published poet, so, go figure. Here is one of those things.
"Most people are confused, inconsistent in their actions, selfish, and self-absorbed... Good luck finding love there."
He said it in an accepting tone. Sam has a big heart. He pointed out an unfortunate human condition that's important not to ignore. We must live with our eyes open. Only children rebel against reality. Fortunately, a broader grace is working in the world despite ourselves.
John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
God loves us before we believe in his Son. He changes us if give him the chance. God would rather love us than change us, and in loving us, he changes us.

Thinking in terms of human strength and effort, loving the world is a daunting task. Even if mankind could muster the strength and perseverance to match God's love, we would look at the broken and decrepit objects of our task, collectively sigh, and ask "Why?" With no "why" we lose the will to persevere. "Good luck finding love there." John provides the best answer for "why" God loves us and it's not based on us.
1 John 4:16 - And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
Why does God love us? God is love.

Photo taken by my niece, Madeline

DeVotchKa: Exhaustible

O you and I look good together.
This day is getting a whole lot better.
Lets get inside out of this weather
And there is no one loves you better than me my dear.

O you and I were not so different
Exhaustible and inefficient
Following our intuition to get back home.
I will get back home again.

Our departure hour is getting closer
You are glowing like phosphorous
Of all the things I'll miss the most
If we ever get back home.

O you and I can conquer distance
Space and time and mass resistance
And I really must insist you come with me my dear.
O come with me my dear.

Time is a Curious Reality

It is the very texture of our experience and consciousness. An article in Popular Mechanics about optical clocks got me thinking of time. These clocks measure time in quadrillionths of a second, and are so precise, no existing technology can take advantage of them. To say it another way, they have no practical value until technology catches up.

Time fascinates me. I'm thinking about time as I walk my sister's dogs and I wonder: is our consciousness of time the root of consciousness itself? Is our consciousness of time a door to our consciousness of God?

We exist to welcome the arrival of time and commemorate its passing. We are constantly doing this simultaneously in the present. The present has always been vibrant with energy, color, consciousness, and meaning in every age regardless of how long ago. Calvin's dad had a different theory though. You can find find that on down.

Age is beautiful because it has traced time whether the lines be on mountains or the faces of old men and women.

Death is beautiful for those who lived meaningfully because their lives commemorate time.

Psalm 116:15 - Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

Time is part of "the plan." Time is not necessary for our life and existence and will end when "the plan" is finished.

Revelation 10:6 - And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever...that there should be time no longer:

Clock picture by Rob Brewer from Bristol, England (Yes, but what time is it? Uploaded by Mattbuck) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

Bill Watterson is the author of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes.