About Jesus.

You know, Jesus is quite a comfortable guy. He’s spoken words that echo through history, he was loving, and he spoke words of wisdom so undeniable that your average Joe can’t deny them as anything but. He’s a great teacher. He’s a great man. He’s a role model.

But you know what? While Jesus was laying in the cradle in Bethlehem, he was holding the universe together with the word of his power, making sure the sun still shone, and keeping Schrodinger’s cat alive inside its little box. He was love, but he was holy. He came to earth and became earth’s fulcrum, the thing that redefined history, and constantly places our definitions in stark relation to himself.

In that, Jesus isn’t comfortable at all. In fact, he’s a downright scary figure. Can you think of something that you define based on a natural instinct? Here comes Jesus into you little intellectual temple – and he starts kicking tables over! Your natural – or, more to the point – sinful attitudes are always in stark contrast to what he taught. Always.

The first century Jews certainly didn’t have a category for him. They’d already drawn the lines around their Messiah. The problem? Romans. Invaders. Occupiers. The solution? Revolution. War on the heathens, all led by the coming Messiah.

And then the tables are turned and suddenly the context of the story changes. The Jews find out that the problem is actually sin, and the solution is atonement and reconcilliation. And not only for them, the chosen, the special, but for the heathen invaders of their promised land? That promised land a picture of one to come? The sacrifices essentially worthless? Talk about a good smack upside the preconception!

You have to wonder if we’re starting to do the same thing. The problem? Emotional instability. Broken marriages. Bad investments. The solution? A Jesus who looks like Frued, or like a marriage councellor, or like a magic eight-ball for the Dow-Jones.

The problem is still sin. The solution is still atonement and reconcilliation. And faith with its attendant good works. It’s rather shocking when you actually come to imagine living that way – and imagining that Jesus isn’t a nice fellow out to meet your temporal needs. Maybe he’ll do that. Or maybe he’ll wreck your house, kill your family, wipe out your investments, give you cancer before you finally get somewhere. The upshot is, of course, that you’ll enter an eternity full of Romans and heathens, and also first century Jews still shaking their head, going, “Can you believe that Jesus guy?”

About puzzles.

I like puzzles and figuring them out. I’m pretty good at it, too. I’ve sometimes wondered if I should have perhaps been a detective or a doctor, but I think the blood and guts might freak me out a bit too much.

What about you? What are you good at?

dan (is asking a question of his readers)

About choosing and how to do it.

You know what the odd thing is? You can reduce human desire down to three primary motivating factors that influence decision-making. But at the end of the day, when all those things are stuck in the balance and you have no idea what to do, how do you make up your mind? I did, just recently. I went with my gut.

You see, I can’t tell the future. I can extrapolate. I can extend lines. I can hope for the best. But there always seems to be some bizarre curve in the road that I never could have aniticipated; some strange twist to the plot that leaves me scratching my head and wondering about the author.

Is this a good choice? Who knows. I’m not even sure if it matters as much as they say it does. I mean, things matter – but do they have to be so heavy? People with amputated limbs can live happy lives if they so choose. People whose children have died can get over it and go on and even find joy in the midst of ashes. I can live with this small weight strapped to my back.

It’s just the prelude, this life. There’s an eternity wrapped like an onion around this core of eighty years, or ninety. And my choices aren’t an accident. I didn’t come to this crossroads like cat in a box waiting to see whether he lives or dies: I cam here on purpose. Do I know what the purpose is? No. I faith that there is one. Am I going to get an answer from the sky? No. I have faith that there is one, though.

That’s the enigma of God right there. He works with faith like bright threads, like sunrise. You can look at life and call it meaningless. You can look at God and say he has no voice. You can also rest in the everlasting arms, and hear a still, small voice after the whirlwind has passed. That, also, is your choice.

We Reformed have a particular vice when it comes to choice. Clearly, we make our choices. Some are optimal, some are suboptimal. Somehow, though, we always want to peek through God’s eyes and – because we know he’s in charge of the orchestra – figure out what notes to play before the page is turned for us. But I’m not God, and I don’t have his perspective. I have my perspective and from here I can see my nose, my hair, my hands. I don’t see the finger guiding me toward the conclusion reached when the world was a glimmer in a Triune eye.

I may live, never having heard a word from the Lord. Never. I may not understand anything. I may never have a clear-cut choice to make. But still, I’ll choose; and in my choices there will be joy.

Dan (is trying to walk somewhere… and isn’t getting there easily)

About independance.

Everyone knows that money doesn’t buy happiness. If you’re a preacher and you’re trying to impress that point, every millionaire in your congregation will agree, it doesn’t. Probably every millionaire ever will agree, no matter how much money they have, or how much time they spend tending that money.

That’s because they understand the link between money and happiness is non-defined. But somehow at the same time we know it’s till there. There’s still some way that people go from wealth to happiness in their heads.

Personally, I think how a person gets there is a sign of the times they live in and what those times value. Money once could buy you a donkey or a camel, and though it can still buy you a camel, most people eschew livestock in favour of an automobile. Most. There are still people who insist on riding a camel in New York, but they’re like rebelious goth/punk kids at a conservative Presbyterian church.

Let me illustrate. What did people in strongly paternal societies value? Well, they’re built around family and male leadership and interdependance, and status at least as far as the story goes. In today’s society, most of our favorite buzzwords are about independance and free living and status.

So maybe people don’t think that their money can make them happy in so many words, but they most certainly used to think it would buy them status and help ensure their family was provided for and that they could exercise leadership in a greater extent and that due to their interdependance as a society, more people would have to rely on them. And in a sense, it can give them those things, just not very well. It’s like buying a car with pesos. It’s not going to get you very far, although maybe you like the Volkswagen Beetle. So the route to happiness is paved with gold, just, you need to get some other things first.

And as we know, money does not a happy family make, nor does it buy influence very well, and just because you have some cash doesn’t mean people actually like depending on you. But at least people were pushing for a lofty goal, or the form of a lofty goal.

We moderns and postmoderns have it a lot worse, because not only does money still not lead to happiness, but now our goals suck the monkey’s droppings too. So even if you do have the money, the dots don’t lead to happiness no matter how you slice them. Independance is a crappy idea, and free living is pretty darn boring after a while, and the status that you can get still doesn’t really mean anything unless it’s built on who you are. We’re screwed two ways. Isn’t that just fun?

dan (doesn’t advocate being poor for the heck of it, but geez, this whole wealth thing is pretty overhyped)

About nothing, and everything, part three.

There’s an elephant in the room here, and nobody wants to talk about it. The conversations are subdued. It’s sound like the taste of water. In the absence of words, all we have is our conjecture, and you have named it a treetrunk to your rope. At the end of all things, though, we can call it what we like, an elephant it remains.

Maybe it was the image, that perfect image in my head, left in contrast for staring too intently. My silence, and your laughter. No matter your intentions, the picture lingers and will until its purge and retribution.

Two days. I’ve started counting down the hours, the minutes forming like spirals. I am a whirlwind. You are a shelter. I am a hurricane. You are nailing fast the shutters. I am tsunami. You are trekking inland.

I have seen the Grand Canyon, and it’s an honest gulf; no pretenses. It craters and stretches, a stark relief to its surroundings, the plains and hewn roads. We are perhaps both trying to cross in our own ways, mitigating damage and making plans. What do to if this bridge gives? And as you knit your elaborate parachute, I’m strapping dynamite to my chest.

I swerve in and out the margins like crazed letters in a spiralbound notebook. I don’t make sense. I’m backwards and upside down. Or maybe it’s perspective – you are moving and the universe is standing still, upside down and backwards.

It burns. Silence, still. An elephant suspended over a cliff on uneasy words, and I don’t trust their threefold cord, not with this perfect image in my head.

Again, I am a safekeeper cracking vaults. I know all the ways in, and I have taped them shut. And when you take baby steps, knife in hand, I move to the side and let you continue. If you must be decrypted, I must watch as you unravel yourself. I can’t help here. The guiderails have been set: let’s see who follows.

Let’s talk about leaving, and how things are never the same when one returns. Again, perspective. The world goes away and remains unchanged. It returns and you’re a dimension deeper. You fold in on yourself and reach around the other side to touch my shoulder. I am the same, but you’ve been startled. You drink your first cup of coffee, and you are the same, but the liquid suddenly has a face. You drive, and the road moves under you, and your destination creeps up when you aren’t looking, when you forget about the wheel and pedals. You tie a string around your finger, and alchemy turns it gold. A silver ring slips off your finger years before and feels naked without the flesh and bone and sinew wrapped inside it. You remain silent while the entire world speaks in cacophony. You become time and move with the minute hand.

You stare the elephant in the eyes, know its name, and the irises are blindingly familiar. You recognize the striations. You are a mirror, uncertain when to move, but certain that you should.

Lead

How did we get from there to here?
I remember when we weren’t a vale of tears.
And what do we do to rescue this?
I remember when we wanted to take the risk.
If I knew the words to write
I’d scribble them down tonight,
but all these sentences are tangled on our tongues,
with solemn promises still growing in our lungs,
the phrases that we’ve never said.
Things that weigh us down like lead.

When will you finally come around?
I can still recall the fury and the sound
of when it was better not to speak,
back before the signals crossed and went so weak.
But now the silence screams your name.
I’ll point the finger, take the blame,
and you’ll rescind what little feeling you admit,
to break the tension while you’re crucifying it.
And I will not resist the nails,
as every resolution fails.

How do we get from here to there?
I remember when we weren’t about to tear.
And how do write a different tale?
I remember when we weren’t about to fail.
If I knew the words to say,
I’d bottle them for you today.
But still, this sentence is a unfulfilling meal
I take with hemlock to dilute the way it feels.
All these jagged phrases, said
to burn inside my heart like lead.

About the weekend.

Drama. I hate it.

I’m not sure of a lot of things right now; whether or not they’re worth it. I guess we’ll see.

About the times.

I sometimes wonder which I would least want to live in: a society where every glimpse of an ankle is a turn-on, or a society where one becomes quite deadened to revealing clothing. I’m still torn.

dan (however… I am not wearing suggestive clothes at the moment… no ankle showing!)

About advertising.

I was listening to the radio earlier this morning, and an advertisement struck me as odd. The announcer tells me that “ReMax will get you the very highest price for your home. List with us.” Or something like that.

I occurs to me that if ReMax gets sellers that highest price for their houses, wouldn’t a home sold with a ReMax realtor raise flags in your head because according to their ad, it’s bound to be more expensive?

dan (of course… people don’t think like that usually…)

About House, M.D., part two.

I just watched the latest episode of House, and I have to say it was simply stunning. Thank you, Mayor Dave. House snorts antihistamines up his nose, gets shown up by a cancer patient, has a cold, and Chase kisses a nine-year-old. Yes. You heard me.

Dan (the show just gets better and better as Greg becomes more of an ass)