Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Bad Guys

I've had extra time to think of the people around Christ during his ministry as I've prepared myself to sing The Lamb Of God by Rob Gardner.  Two people have stood out to me.

First is Pontius Pilate.  A man who has grown up with a polytheistic religion.  Many of the Romans and other polytheistic cultures held a belief not just in their own gods but those of other peoples.   In fact some believed that conquering a people meant that one's gods where stronger than that of the conquered ones.  The Roman gods had passions and consorted at times with men.  Had demi god children with mortals.  Jesus would not have been unknown to Pilate before he was brought to be examined for blasphemy and to be sentenced to death.  Pilate as governer would have likely learned some of the religious ideals of the peopke he governed.  Knowing of Jesus and his miracles and knowing what he likely knew of this conquered people's religion Pilate may well have believed that Jesus was the son of the Jewish God.  The prophesied King of the Jews.  He couldn't see why the people turned against him.  Of course, he couldn't lose control of his governship.  Did not want riots.  Id they were going to murder the King who was he to stop them.  In fact it would simply prove the superiority of Rome over Israel.  When he allowed the mocking, the crown of thorns, and finally the sign posted declaring Jesus as King.  He was mocking the Jews themselves not Jesus.

Second person is Judas.  Notice first how close Judas is to Judah.  Judas Iscariot represents the Jewish people and confusion about the messiah that they were waiting for.  Once again we think that Judas taking the price of a slave to betray Jesus as a sign of how little he thought of Jesus.  It's the opposite.  As the passover came closer,  the desire for a miracle that would throw off the yoke of the Roman oppressors became more and more of a desire among the people who believed in Jesus and his place as Messiah.  Judas saw his passivity and mercy and worried that unless forced that Jesus would never become the warrior Messiah that Judas knew he could be.  He thought he knew better.  If he didn't take some bribe he knew his betrayal wouldn't be believed by the Pharisees.  But if they caught Jesus.  Then Jesus would HAVE to use his power to save himself.  People would see it.  It might even be enpugh to simply rally the Jews to fight off Rome and Jesus would not let them be slaughtered certainly.  If Judas had truly been evil he would not have bothered to kill himself.  He would have taken his money and ran.  He stayed and waited foe his brilliant plan to come together.  The one where he tried to force God's hand.  But when he saw what happened,  that he had been party to the destruction of the Messiah, he broke.  He had no way to understand or deal with what he'd done. Judas represented the fact that the Jews waited for the fighting Messiah of the second coming not the redeemer of the first.  It's why the people could praise him on Palm Sunday and cry for his crucifixion only days later.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Bloody Finger and other scary stories

It's really quite morbid that I was secretly a little glad my throbbing finger woke me so that I could get a good look at the two holes the needle made and then of course clean it and put lydocaine and a new band-aid.  I have always been a bit like a little kid.  Cry out in pain when it happens then constantly peeling back the bandage.  Poking the wound.  Peeling the healing sunburn.  Squeezing the puss from an infection.  Okay yes that's enough.  I'm an odd person.

I also have been fascinated by monsters and creatures.  I didn't really tell people why I became so interested.  Fear.  As my friends and peers were growing out of childish fears of the dark, vampires, werewolves and such, mine stayed.  Until I was much older than I would like to admit.  Of course, I now understand my anxiety issues started long ago and these were warning signs.   This particular fear drove me to try to face it.  Even though it persisted into young adulthood I began to gain more control.  I learned how movie monsters were made.  I read the classic novels, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Phantom Of The Opera.   I read Mary Shelly's writings about how she gained the seeds of her story.  I was often still afraid into full adulthood but the more I knew how to make my own monsters (make-up) the less it controlled me.  Halloween decorating and costume making was therapy.  How similar that is to some of the early traditions of the celebration, masquerading as a spirit so one could safely walk among them.  How many wonderful memories the hobby of costume making has given me since then.  How my wife Tina Smelbatoast Mair and I could do it together because it combined skill sets that we both had.   How we both gained new skills from each other and from others when neither of us could solve a problem we came upon. 

So maybe my fascination with the gross things like puss and such comes from a fear of mortality.  That's ok.  If it means I want to live, cool.  It probably also means that I am gaining something from it all that I haven't recognized yet.  And werewolves are cool.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

It's my fault. I deserve this.

I drove the cheap car we had.  It needed extra care.  Oil at every fillup. 
Tonight was a date.   I new the rules. Be safe, make the young ladies in our care feel safe, and add the oil.  We did it.  Great night.  On the way home.  I stopped to get gas.  I said, I need to go in to get oil too.  I went in.  The girls came in to use the facilities.   My friend came in.  We decided to get some sodas and snacks for the drive home.  It was great. Paid, snacks and on our way.  12 miles from home the car overheated.  The oil.  We did our best.  Got oil limped to within a few miles from home and got one of the girl's fathers to bring a truck with a towrope.
I knew and it broke.  That's easy.  It's my fault.
How about this, a young man is told not to  go to a certain part of town alone, especially after dark.  He finds out that the shop that sells his favorite collectibles  has a key item he needs for his collection.  He has to get there before 9pm closing or tomorrow it goes to another buyer.   But it is in THAT part of town.  While he's in the store he comes out to find that his new car has been stripped.   No one saw anything.  No footage.   It's his fault right?

Are the 2 situations the same?  The one is a neglect of maintenance and the consequence is directly related to him.  The other is advice about choice.  Bad things happen here. You go it coukd happen.  But the bad things only happens if someone else chooses to break a law or sin.

When we give advice to our children sometimes we stress both types in ways that upon the other end they feel at fault but the problem is that in one situation they've been victimized.  Hurt in need of someone to rebuild the good in them.  But if you are at fault and victimized are you going to talk to someone?

A further step.

A young lady at school two years ago came to me while I was working on music at tge Browning Center.  She'd been hurt.  Got into a relationship with a much older man, in a position of power who was manipulative and narcissistic.  He took from her in a way I'd rather not get into.
To her, everbody had told her not to do it, I was guilty of giving such advice.  Don't go out with him.  It's her fault she said. 

Victimized in one of the worst ways and believing the aggressor was clear of blame.  People say it's slut shaming that causes it.  That perpetuates.  Deep within is this idea that we deserve immediate terrible punishment evertime we fail to follow advice.
We give guidlines, family rules because we don't want to see our lived ones have pain.

Don't mix up mistake or poor choice with  sin.  When you've been victimized crminally, sexually, whatever.  If your choice was no.  The sin or crime is on the one who did it.  I have seen this enough now that I wanted to write this down in case I needed to find these words again.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Icky, obstruction, tissues

This is going to take a turn into icky, so wait to read this post until you're not eating.  When you are ill with the nasal ickies, you can become do backed up so gradually that you can't recall when or for how long you've been plugged in the nose.  It's very natural at this point to... thought I was trying to take this post to a nose picking joke.  No. 
It's natural to clear it.  You grab a tissue and with the force of the human lung power (which is a great force), we expell the offending ick.  Upon completion we close the disgusting  goo up to keep it away.  However, here's the icky, most people are curious and take a look.  We often even pause to realize the extent of what was obstructing us.  Many of this same group also seek out another close human bond to share this with.  Some of our human connections will look and marvel or ask that it be kept away.   Neither is truly judged.  The moment goes and we are able to start breathing and moving on. 
Sometimes we don't catch our own struggle with breathing until those same humans bring it to our attention., "Do you need a tissue?"  Or we might ask for one.  Still much of the process is there.
We grow things inside our minds and our hearts,  we have to get it out sometimes to breathe.  Sometimes others ask us if we're struggling.  Other times,  we take it to ask for help.  In the end we still often marvel at how bad it got.   How terrible it was inside.   We open up and seek out another human bond to share the digustorous goo with.  Some need to look, some don't.  Eventually, we move on.  But we don't ever keep or reuse the tissue.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Iron Rod is much more

Hold to the rod, the iron rod;

'Tis strong, and bright, and true.

The iron rod is the word of God;

'Twill safely guide us through.

1 Nephi 11

25 And it came to pass that I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life; which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God.

'Twill safely guide us through.

And it came to pass that I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters...

The word of God...

For so many years I and I assume based on our hymns and literature have taken for granted the word of God means only the scriptures, whether from prophets of old or living prophets.

But the word of God I believe means more.  Something deeper.  It's his word. 

Surely, you think I crazy because I'm just repeating it in a different way.

It is His WORD.

His word as in promise, bond, covenant.  His promise of grace and what it takes to receive it.  Deeper than just a guide, it is literally the method by which we can be found and pulled out of the marshes and quicksands and onto the path again.

It's more than a set of phrophetic guidebooks..

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Grace - An Epistle to Arkansas


You've been in the bible belt long enough to get caught up in a bash already.  You've likely been warned to stay out of them.  Not to hide from or back down from declaring the truth against the firey anger of half truths.  But simply that the fire and anger are not a place where the spirit dwells.  As I said, you've likely heard that already so enough.

But thinking about that reminded me of the most common argument I heard come from such gnashing teeth.  The anger that we deny Christ because we don't believe in his grace.

One would refer to the grace without works is dead" reference and they always had additional scriptures, so did we.

Once again, not fuel for a bash but a recent post of mine to my friends on Facebook discusses this in a way.

"Everyone struggles with fighting who they were.  We often haven't learned to recognize who we are.  One struggle all through coming back was that when I came to the school it was from a position of having received so many scholastic chances as a younger man and with those grades holding me back I was truly asking for one final chance.

Or so it appeared. While the scholastic system might not be set up to nurse me through struggling grades my performance since then has given me a gpa that can handle a more difficult semester if it happened.  

So many times the thought of, "If I don't finish this now I can't, because this my last chance." Has both spurred me on but often pushed me too far and those were the times I almost quit because I thought hope was gone.

Good mentors and a great wife have pulled me back everytime.  But this semester it was finally seeing that no matter what, I have built something that can't be lost if I have to slow down, I gave myself permission to enjoy the experience.  Especially the opera.  My recital.  Finishing the fulltime student part of it all.  It's wonderful.  

Even last chances can become infinite possibilities with time, tears and toil."

While the university has finite chances to receive mercy or grace, the Lord's is infinite.  These bashers are correct, it's all we need.  But imagine if the school was the same.  I could have gone back, failed, gone back and failed, and continued to receive their mercy.  However, I'd still be imprisoned.  In a loop that never ends.  Their mercy would be worth nothing.  Their grace is therefore dead.

On the flipside, it was easy to see that I was imprisoned by not fully understanding what grace had done for me.  Trapped at looking at an old image of myself and not the new one in the mirror.

As we sin, we can only move forward by grace.  We can be trapped by continuing to receive grace for the same things over and over and over or we can be trapped into seeing only the old image and not the one transformed by grace followed by toil.

Infinite possibilities. His grace is true.  His sacrifice real.  



Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Gaslighting ourselves

Sometimes it's we ourselves who do the gaslighting.  We try so hard to analyze and not be prideful we can start undervaluing our contributions to the world. 
Analysis is good.   Depressed mindset actually is a reaction to stress to force us to analyze and fix problems but we are supposed to come out if it.  I think the heightened analytical thought processes of depression are actually addictive.  Just like caffeine, meth, adrenaline, opium,  it's a drug.  And it's insidious because we are the user and the dealer. 
We over analyze and devalue until we really believe that we are worthless.  It's easy.  It's a trap.