Sunday, August 12, 2012

The World Unseen

I can't say that there will be anything of significant  substance to this post.  More of an observation and memorial I suppose.

I spent all day Friday out at our families' cabin enjoying the absolutely perfect weather.  I didn't get any fishing in, but that wasn't the point.  It was just nice to be out there.  If I spend even an hour out there it is such a mental break that it feels like days.

I even got to have a fire in the fireplace, which is rare for August.

I got quite a bit of writing done.  That was the main point of going in the first place.  I'm thinking of doing it again tomorrow, since Monday will be my day off again. (I HATE Monday nights at my store. Chronically understaffed and the busiest night of the week thanks to a particular sale on that day.)

Anyway, I got a lot of writing done at the cabin.  Not for the blog, obviously, but so be it.  To catch anyone who might be remotely curious up, I'm working on an E-book.  I keep saying that it will be ready by the end of the summer, but I am mostly full of it.  With any luck though, I will be able to get the first section of it out by the early Autumn.

I figure, what have I got to lose?

Maybe it will suck.  Maybe it will be good.  I dunno.  The folks who have looked at it so far have said they like it.  I hope they aren't simply being polite.  I would just like to make a little extra money to help pay some bills.

I will say this; it takes up most of my spare time...which is why the blog has been sparse.  But it is also a blast to work on.  I'm a procrastinator, so it takes plenty of willpower to sit down and start writing on it.  But once I start, I have so much fun.  Plus, it's also FUNNY...if I do say so myself. (Which I do.)


Anyway, in the midst of enjoying the cabin, I heard some bad news.  The writer, humorist, playwright, etc., David Rakoff died on Friday.  If you are a fan of This American Life, like I am, you would know who he is.  He's not super famous, or anything like that...just mildly, I guess.  I liked a lot of his stuff anyway.  <--- If you want more on that show.

Oddly enough, I'd never even known what Rakoff looked like.  I've heard him do his thing on the show, and speak in interviews, but I've never seen him in person, or on the TV.  However, a few months ago, This American Life did a show that was beamed directly to movie theaters from a live performance they were giving. (No, I didn't see that either.)

At the announcement of his death, Ira Glass, the host of the show, put out an announcement with condolences.  He then put out a piece from that show on YouTube.  I didn't get a chance to watch it until this morning.

David Rakoff died from a malignant tumor in his shoulder.  The tumor was the result of the treatment for an earlier cancer that he had in his twenties.  Hearing him talk about it, he was incredibly generous and appeared to not be the least bit bitter. (Not sure I could do that, and hope I never have to find out.)

The most bizarre thing about his death was that he predicted the month he would die in...and he was right.

Anyway, at the show that they did for the movie theaters, Rakoff came out and read an essay about the loss of his arm.  The arm is still there, but all nerves and muscle use are gone.  So it simply hangs there like a dead weight.  You'll see in the video that he simply stuffs it into his pocket.

Rakoff loved to dance.  Losing the use of his arm put a crimp in that.  However, it is interesting to note how the human spirit, once engaged, is often extremely resilient.  What happens in this clip was not planed by the producers.  It was spontaneous.

David Rakoff

Interesting and touching, to say the least.

There is more to this world than merely the physical reality.  There is more to this world than the spiritual reality.  They dance.  They kiss.  They intertwine and hold each other to the point that you cannot tell them apart.  Every spiritual act has consequences in the physical world.  Every physical act has consequences in the spiritual.

We often simply choose to ignore it.

This morning I was listening to an interview with Rosanne Cash.  She said that in the last month of her father's life, she used to read from the Psalms to him everyday.  She said that this was where she got the opening line to this song from.



Saturday, August 4, 2012

Chicken Wars

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:2

I have plenty of struggles with my faith.  I do.

On the one hand, I am absolutely convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is exactly who he said he was...GOD.  I believe in his crucifixion and resurrection.  I believe that someday he will return and make all things right. (More and more, I wish that would happen in the next few minutes)

However, on the other hand I have serious problems with his bride, the least the fat, spoiled, arrogant one here in this country.

I'm still waking up, so this may sound angry.  Sorry for that.

I'm sure that I am jumping on the bandwagon at the last minute with this, but that was because I didn't want to at all.


We don't even have them in Minnesota.  I don't know what to make of chicken.  I like it, but then again, Monday nights at my store are a sale night for fried I also tend to hate it.

So this week in response to some honest comments by the guy who runs Chick-Fil-A, there was a national uproar of sorts.  The guy who runs that joint had stated his opposition to gay marriage.  Fine.  Whatever.  That's his right. Agree or disagree, it IS HIS RIGHT.

And then the politicians got involved...and the church...and they both danced a beautiful waltz together.  And the more they danced, the angrier it made me.

I've never been a big fan of boycotts.  All they seem to do is hurt the people on the bottom.

In this case, it all went in reverse.  Politicians asked people who are opposed to Gay Marriage to shop at that chicken shack to show their appreciation.  Boy, did that work.

A friend of mine pondered sarcastically if this hadn't been a set up to drum up more business for Chick-Fil-A.  I doubt it, but still.  Makes me want to open up a place and make some controversial comments just to rake in the dough.


For the record, I do not define people by their sexual orientation.  To me it is absurd to define someone that way.  There is a lot more to a human being than who they are aroused by.   To quote myself, "When I hit puberty, I was saluting the flag anytime the wind blew on me.  Should I be defined by that?"

But the church got suckered.  It bought the World's definition.  It allowed itself to begin defining people by this issue instead of the biblical one, which is to view people as image bearers.  I.e., every person on this planet is the image of God. (Whether they believe in God or not.)

Think how different things would be if we all walked around with that in the forefront of our minds.

And now the American church is slowly but surely having it's butt handed to it on a silver platter in the culture wars.  That was a war we lost the moment we decided to fight it.  We took the tools of this world, and told Jesus to take a back seat.  We made a god out of causes, and took the bait hook, line and sinker that Satan had laid for us.

We can't seem to admit it, but we are losing spectacularly...and we deserve it!


So this morning I woke up to a posting from a friend.  It triggered the problem that I have with American politics getting mixed with the church.  You do not treat Christ like a whore!  It's one of my buttons, and it seems to get pushed a lot.

From the desk of:

Dear Republican Party

Yesterday made it clear to me that you have managed to get your politics hopelessly entangled into the way Christianity is viewed in this country to the point that I’m not sure it can be untangled. You’ve made everything a holy war from what eat to who we vote for. You’ve managed to instill fear and suspicion towards those of other faiths (I’m looking at you Michele Bachmann), those who do not believe, and those of differing sexual orientations all for your own power.
My faith is important to me. My faith is beautiful and meaningful to me. Christian community is important to me. Yesterday was the result of your twisting Christianity for power and political advancement. It made Christianity into something vindictive and ugly. I detest what you’ve done to my religion. After yesterday though I’m afraid that I may be in the minority and that is very depressing to me.

I couldn't agree more...and I've voted Republican almost my entire life!

Matthew Paul Turner wrote a post for his blog that I thought was brilliant.  I'll quote a piece from it here, but you really should read the whole thing.  <--- Go read it!

This is the quote that really got to me; "By rallying behind CFA, Christians put an issue above people. And it’s impossible to follow Jesus when issues trump people. Jesus never said “love God, love causes.” That is not the message that gets preached in churches all over America on Sunday mornings. I’ve heard a hundred different explanations from patrons of yesterday’s rally and nearly every one of them gives precedence to “the cause”. We can’t embrace love, mercy, hope, and peace when our causes (or a place of business) trumps people."


Jesus never seemed to speak directly about homosexuality.  He did indirectly, but never explicitly.  If he ever did speak publicly about it, we don't have a record of it.  Maybe he did that on purpose.  Maybe he wanted to test his church...or at least some members of his church.  I wonder how many are passing that test?

I've heard hard-core, true Believers come down on various sides of this issue...and I do have my own thoughts on it.  But I start by not wishing to define anyone by their sex drive. (Again, it just seems idiotic to me.) That having been said, out of respect for my friends who do define themselves this way, I will reluctantly use the term Gay People when speaking with them. (See, I even used a lovely pink shade.)

And here is my final thought to the members of the American church...and for some crazy reason I have a feeling that Jesus would support me on this one.  If you do not have "Gay" friends that you associate with...and by that I mean to actually hang out with in true friendship with no ulterior motives attached, if you do not have a trusting relationship with them, to know their lives, their pain, their secrets, their struggles, their joys...their lives.  If you do not have that, then you have virtually no right to speak on this issue.

Please do Jesus a favor and simply shut the hell up!



Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dreaming about "Shins"

"Here comes that dreamer!" they said to each other.  "Come now, let's kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him.  Then we'll see what comes of his dreams."
Gen. 37:19 & 20

So anyway, I know I haven't written anything in a few weeks.  Sorry about that.  I have been writing, just not for the blog.  I'm working on a series of short stories that I hope (Multiple fingers crossed) to get self-published.

We'll see what happens.

Something amusing happened to me this afternoon, and I figured it was worthy of sharing.


I drove out to the cabin today to enjoy my day off. (Which I am.) We have no air conditioning out here, which can be a total poop.  We have fans, but that only gets you so far.  This has been a particularly hot summer in Minnesota, and we tend to be pretty muggy in this season anyway.  So I make it out here and decide to take a nap.

My dog, Rika, is apparently starved for attention.  She can't seem to resist coming into the room and poking me with her nose, or her stuffed Ducky.  Sometimes she will just lean against the bed and wag her tail, which causes the whole bed to move.  Not bad for a Vizsla.

For the record, she has plenty of toys.  Her Ducky is her favorite.  However, she now has a large stuffed cow that will moo and make other VERY loud noises that often freak her out.  She also appreciates the finer points of a toilet paper tube or empty plastic bottle.

Anyway, in between being poked by the dog, I drifted in and out of sleep.  During that entire time I kept having the same dream.  But in this case it was an Audio dream.  I didn't see a thing.  I only heard the same song play over and over again.  That's only happened to me once my memory.  When I was about 12 I dreamt the entire version of Strauss's Blue Danube Waltz. (Yeah, weird.)

BTW: Rika keeps coming over and putting her head in my lap as I try to write this.

OK, so I have this audio dream, right?  I have no idea what this must say about me.  My proper name is Joseph, so I suppose it is inevitable that I should have some funky dreams.  I just hope I don't end up in Egypt as a result.  The thing is, I have only heard this song twice in my entire life...two times.  So what are the odds????

Anyway, here is the song from my dream...

And just in case you needed it, here's a live version...

I didn't have the live version playing in my head.  Nor did I see the album cover.

So I woke up giggling about this.  Seriously, what would Sigmund Freud think of such a dream?  I haven't the foggiest idea.

Honestly, I wish I could do something like this more often.  I could use a good Brandi Carlile as I drift off, and maybe some Ramones as I wake up.

I don't know a great deal about the band, The Shins.  A while back, I heard an interview with James Mercer, the main guy in the band.  I thought he was pretty clever.  Guess I'll have to do a little digging.

Anyway, just thought I would share this oddity on this muggy evening.



P.S. I do know one other of their songs, and I like it a lot.  Plus the video is pretty cool.  Here it is.

Also, to prove that The Shins do have a sense of humor...