pics of Jesus

Bloged in apprenticeship, church by rod Tuesday August 31, 2004

Tonight, for the first time since Allison returned from Manila, we got a chance to sit down and look at her pics together. I downloaded them from the camera, so I’d browsed through, but not with her and not with full attention. There were 340 pics on there. I wish I could post them all for you to see.
Allison went to help (wo)man a free medical clinic in the city. I’ve posted two pics of Jesus for you to see. Click them to see the bigger version. He doesn’t look anything like the Shroud of Turin.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

where has the lunar been?

Bloged in apprenticeship, luna see, metaphor by rod Monday August 30, 2004

So I’m sitting on the covered front porch in a rocking chair, and though I can’t see it from here, I’m enjoying the illumination of the moon, reflected off the clouds and making visible even nocturnal critters crossing the road. Wait a minute, why am I on the front porch? My deck is certainly “chair safe” by now. Could it be that in my resolution to move to the front porch during the deck’s unavailability I’ve gradually become satisfied with the lesser experience. You know for two weeks after the painting of the deck, I actually pulled a rocking chair out onto the sidewalk or driveway to get out from under the cover and see the stars. Here I am out front, blinded by streetlights and content under the roof. Gradually, I’ve drawn myself further from the real thing and with each step, remembered less of what I’m missing.
Then like a gentle tap of the breeze on the shoulder, my attention is turned to what I used to have on the back deck. I don’t have to be asked twice. I go back through the house, open the back door and step back into the real thing. Open sky, stars all around, moon through trees, swift, wispy, backlit clouds, frogs singing out-of-tune, “O they tell me of a home far beyond the skies, O they tell me of a home far away.”
How could I have become content with the lonely front porch and forgotten the embrace of the deck, the view of the unfathomable expanse that exposes my miniscule self? What am I that you care for me?
Back here under the moon there is a completely different kind of loneliness, a contented longing made bearable by promises, faith, trust, and surrender.
Above, the round, silver disk, a symbol of distant intimacy, calls out and encourages the reclamation of the real thing. Can you see the moon? Are you looking for it? Come see it with me. Let’s watch it together. Stand beside me. Hold my hand.

drizzle

Bloged in life, poems, worship by rod Sunday August 29, 2004

a light drizzle
a light sky
a lazy Sunday afternoon

a gentle breeze moves
praising trees
a restful Sunday afternoon

a shallow puddle measures
the depth of cares
a reflective Sunday afternoon

tolls for thee

Bloged in art, cognition, culture by rod Saturday August 28, 2004

We’ve all read books that seemed to be just a lot of words that didn’t say anything. Lousy stories. Decent stories, poorly written. Suspense that could put you on the edge of your seat, but resolution that wasn’t worth getting on the edge of your seat. We’ve read authors who had an incredible command of the language, perfect grammar, well-crafted sentences, but nothing to say. We all notice this because language, written and spoken, is merely a carrier, a vehicle, a means of expression or communication. Without something to express or communicate, the technique of writing is meaningless.
I’ve been thinking that maybe this is on the far side of a bell curve. Gradually moving across the line, we find shifting proportions of content and technique. We may expect most everyone to have some useful distribution of art or creativity and technique. It would seem that technique without reason would be meaningless, and it would seem that artistry without technique would be useless, because it can’t be expressed or experienced outside the artist.
We therefore seem to be most in awe of someone with an even distribution of technique and art, a creative, innovative artist with the ability to express or deliver his thoughts. We know quirky, creative people who can’t do anything. We know mechanically minded technicians who can fix anything, understand how things work. We know people who can play any instrument and awe us with speed, thick textures, etc., but absolutely can’t turn phrase. They bore us to tears with their meaningless virtuosic pyrotechnics.
Probably on that far technically side, are people who needn’t art and creativity as we understand it, because they are given a gift of analysis, of troubleshooting, of taking what already is, and making sense of it. We ignore these people.
The problem is that while on one side of the bell curve, one can easily recognize the uncreative, artless, technician. On the other side, however, no art can be noticed in the most artistic because it has no means of expression for lack of technique.
Now why would God impart in someone the highest level of art, but not give him/her a means of expressing it? Could it be that this hidden art, known only by its creator, has been given solely for His enjoyment? Now I’m not talking about laziness that has kept the technique from being acquired, for someone with this level of artistry would desire greatly to express it. But content he would be upon realizing from whence his art has come and to where it should return. We ignore these people.
So anyway, there’s no moral to the story. It just occurs to me that technique is required for evidence of art or its lack. It’s easy to spot the artless technician, but impossible to spot the expressionless artist. We are bored with one and don’t recognize the other, so we glorify those who are probably best at neither, but posses a little of both.

5 anapestic lines

Bloged in poems by rod Friday August 27, 2004

The new navbars at the top of the blog pages are a welcome replacement to the old banner ads (however amusing they may have been). There is that “next blog” button that is really just a random hit on recently updated blogs. By clicking this button, I ran upon someone’s blog as he was complaining about the way that button worked. He said that there was a lot of trash out there to accidently happen upon by clicking. Of course, I happened upon his in the same manner. I’ve clicked it a lot. Perhaps 50% of the blogs I’ve found were in Spanish. Another 30% were newly created and had no content whatsoever. 20% were in English and half of those were from Singapore. I’ve only found a couple blogs from Singapore that didn’t warrant a read. Most are purposeful, clear and grammatically correct.
One such blog is scribbles. This blogger, MOW! plays with words like inkslinger to the nth degree. Mostly English words, but German and French aren’t exempt. I read his lists of words, definitions, of synonyms and free association of meanings and then came upon his definition of a Limerick. I couldn’t resist. I wrote for him a limerick and apparently beat his wife to the punch, as she was determined to do the same.
So here is my limerick, but you should also visit their sites. Very enjoyable.

there once was a blogger named mow
who enjoyed a fun word then and now
who should care what they mean
if they look good on-screen
and for all who have seen, take a bow

blogmusic

Bloged in music by rod Thursday August 26, 2004

So I decided to set my blog to music. I don’t know if that makes my blog a song, or if I’ve just forged into new territory as a blog scorer. You never know, soon maybe everyone’s blogs will have a score, or a melody by which to sing them. Don’t forget, the movies had music before they had words. It only stands to reason that blogs will eventually have music. I’m probably not the first, but you have to admit, most blogs out there are pretty quiet., save the occasional cheesy midi file that plays “muskrat love” while you read. This one is different though, it is designed to go with the blog. So there it is, if you’re interested. Be forewarned, it’s nigh upon 4 mb, so if you dial up, you may want to do it while you sleep. Don’t feel pressure to listen, but if you don’t, you’ll just be getting half the blog.
Now I just have to memorize the words.

download blog music

bearings, my burden

Bloged in life, random by rod Wednesday August 25, 2004

Not that anyone would care, but surely someone noticed that my blog stood stagnant for two days this weekend. It is not uncommon for me to miss a day (my profile says that I average 5 posts per week), but two days in a row is a little more rare. So you must have known that my bike was down. Now we joke about that, that I can’t blog without my motorcycle, but there seems to be something to it. Truth is, I had tons to say on Friday and Saturday, but every time I sat to write it down, the words eluded me. I just couldn’t make coherent all the chaos in my nog and heart. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, “that never stopped him before,” but at least I usually THINK I know where I’m going. It actually took me until Sunday night, 3 dry days, before I realized what the problem was. No bike.
I was riding Thursday night, way out into the country when I stopped at a crossroads and there was a man standing there in an Armani suit. He offered me infinite blog ability in exchange for… no, wait, that’s the wrong story. I was riding Thursday night, way out into the country when I stopped at a crossroads and heard a terrible grinding, growling, screeching that sounded as if it were coming from the front of my bike. I took off my helmet and pushed the bike back and forth and felt play in front end. Bad wheel bearing. When I finally made it home, I sat up and worried about it, but having ridden, managed a blog. A poem even! Dan said it was my best one!!!! But that was it, no more until I get my new bearings (if you will).
On Monday, I finally found time to make it to the Honda shop to find out that they didn’t have them in stock, and they were nasty expensive too. So I got my neighbor Chip the motorcycle man to help me get the wheel off (he has a bike jack), and we took out the boogered bearings. I took them to Bearing Distributors, Inc. and matched them up with some new ones plus seals for MUCH less money. Props to Bearing Distributors, Inc. Some grease, a mallet, a 22mm socket and torque wrench, and I’m back to blogging long, rambling, who cares, tiresome blogs.
So back in the blog stage, one begins to think through the path that got him into the short-lived, but unfortunate mess. When one begins to lose his bearings, what are the tell-tale signs? What did I notice about my ride that should have tipped me off to the imminent failure of that which keeps my wheels turning? I’d been thinking for a week that my ride wasn’t tracking straight. My right arm was tired from subtly pushing the bike left. I felt like I was on the saddle crooked. Even my friends noticed things. On Sunday, E told me that she thought my tire was wearing unevenly. I noticed flat spots that night. Symptoms of a greater danger. Even the greater danger could have been worse. If not taken care of, the wheel could have been damaged or may have even seized while I was riding. Something’s out-of-whack and it manifests itself in little things that should be noticed. Gotta stay in tune with all the little things. Monitor the symptoms. Keep your bearings.

bless this house

Bloged in family, life, metaphor by rod Tuesday August 24, 2004

(people who read this post also read writing with eight legs

Last summer, when we first moved, these guys were all over the place. We also had every variety of spider one could imagine, in abundance. Everywhere.
One Saturday morning when I went out to cut the grass, there were seventeen writing spiders in the bushes across the front of the porch as if the front lines of a blockade. Each in the center of her own orb, writing warning messages for all who may attempt to break through the line. Achtung! Avviso! Verboten! Attention! Warning! Posted! Some Pig! Terrific!
There was one nocturnal spider that I never got to see up close, though she could be seen from 30 yards away. Definitely the largest orb weaver (I learned that from WIll) I’ve ever seen. Every evening at dusk, she would climb the oak tree beside the porch and position anchors. Then she’d swing like Toby Macguire over to the porch and down to the bushes and anchor the other side. She’d work for awhile on a web large enough to catch bats, owls probably. You could watch her work from up at the street as this gargantuan spider appeared to casually walk through the air, eight legs waving. She’d write the evening prayer before settling down for supper. God, bless this house.

if you can’t do - learn

Bloged in art, cognition, music by rod Monday August 23, 2004

There seems to be a growing phenomenon of a thought process that says your ability is more amazing in inverse proportion to your knowledge. There are a few popular musicians from the 60s and ‘70s who expressed their intentional avoidance of the acquisition of any musical knowledge for the fear that their natural ability and creativity would be squelched.
You would not believe how often I hear how much more amazing someone thinks they are, or thinks someone else is, because they “don’t know what they’re doing”. I have to laugh out loud when I write this, but it is not uncommon for me to hear this, “I play really well, even though I don’t know what I’m doing.” Of course my inner response is, “then how do you know you play really well?” I hear things like, “he has to be one of the most gifted players I’ve heard because he can’t even read music.” The implication is that if you have to learn to read, you must not be very talented. So I guess that makes the intentionally illiterate more amazing speakers of the language.
Of course this carries over into areas other than reading ability or knowledge. I have had students tell me that they don’t listen to music because they don’t want their own creativity to be squelched, or to be influenced by other people. They’ve come to me for lessons, but refuse to listen to any music. It seems they want me to find what they already know and show them where it is so that they can use it. I’ve even had a student tell me that he had considered registering for lessons with me, but didn’t want ME to influence him. As kindly as possible, I told him that I thought he needn’t worry, I highly doubted that he’d ever be influenced by anyone. The irony is that any natural potential that these folks may have is not realized because their decision to remain dumb has rendered them ignorant of what is actually possible on their instrument. Also they render themselves unable to actually create in the sense that they could express something that they imagined, in their mind, and then assemble it for us to experience. Rather, because the mind is empty, they are left only to discover things on the instrument, and will never be able to imagine themselves doing anything more than they can discover that their hands can already do. No ambition, humility, goals or longing – only the need to prove how wonderful you already are.
I think the bottom line issue here is pride. If I can do it without being taught, or without the influence of others, then I must be better or smarter than those (including the teacher) who is dependent upon these crutches. Like the old frustrating saying, “if you can’t do, teach”, there is a culture of, “if you can’t do, learn.”
Of course, being a guitarist/teacher, I find this very frustrating and even humorous at times. But where I’m absolutely baffled by this mentality is among Christians, in the context of their faith and Christian walk. At times, it seems that those of us who desire, to think, and meditate, and ask, and seek, are accused of weak faith because we can’t just accept. But I never said that I can’t just accept. In accepting, I’m drawn, called to deeper understanding, more diligent seeking. I’m haunted by the Holy Ghost to learn how much farther I can go in my relationship with God. God commanded me to love Him with all my heart, soul, MIND and strength. He said if I seek Him with all my heart, I will find Him. How could anyone be so prideful as to feel that a desire to learn about God betrays a lack of faith? There is no doubt in my mind that generations of this mentality has produced a culture of non-believers who view believers as simple minded, lazy, unthinking, weak people in need of a religious crutch.
It is not ok to be intentionally ignorant. We grow prideful and never learn to see ourselves as who we really are. We are poor witnesses of the unfathomable mystery. We misrepresent Christ like Robert Mapplethorpe misrepresents art.

a bit of serious silliness

Bloged in cognition, culture by rod Sunday August 22, 2004

Last year I heard a series of 3 sermons/lectures in 3 days discounting post-modernism and of course its simplistic definition, relativism. The 3 lectures took slightly different aspects as their focus, but the underlying purpose was to prove that relativism cannot exist. Everyone, of course, believes in absolute truth. If you insist that there is no absolute truth, then that is your absolute truth. I may be oversimplifying a bit, seeing how it took 3 lectures, but not by much. I can certainly see the point to this thought process, even though there are inherent problems that need to be addressed before this one. Not the least of which is that to call the denial of absolute truth, absolute truth, certainly lowers the bar on the importance of my own belief in absolute truth. And maybe of utmost importance, though simple, is that to claim that the denial of absolute truth is in fact unacknowledged belief in absolute truth, is to admit that one can believe in an absolute truth that is different than mine. By doing so, I’ve become a relativist. Strange loop, indeed.
Now, I should say here that I believe in absolute Truth. But I can hardly deny being a relativist. I don’t think anyone can. In a recent sermon encouraging evangelical unity, I was reminded of how important it is to major on the majors, so to speak. We should stand firm on the essentials, and be willing to compromise on the non-essentials. But to do that, don’t I have to be a relativist? I’m willing to bet that where I draw the line between the essentials and non-essentials is different from where you draw the line. It may be only a slight difference, but it may be great. But what might be slight for me may be great for you. So for the sake of unity, we agree to disagree on the non-essentials. Can we agree on what the non-essentials are?
So what has caused us to decide that we both believe in absolute truth if it is possible that our beliefs diverge? We don’t ask the questions that would reveal our disunity. So we stop seeking answers to tough questions. We are offended by those who are asking questions and we label them relativists.
So I conclude that a relativist who doesn’t ask questions is modern and a relativist who asks questions is a post-modern. No, wait a minute. No one is a relativist, so a modern whose absolute truth is that there is absolute truth is different from a post-modern whose absolute truth is that there is no absolute truth.
Of course I’m being slightly silly here, but I do believe that it is a very different endeavor to convince someone that what they believe is wrong than to convince someone that it is wrong not to believe. If our apologetics consist of “God said it, I believe it, and that’s good enough for me”, we shouldn’t be surprised when it has no impact on someone that does not believe in God. We must always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in us. It seems to me that my responsibility is to convince someone to believe rather than convince them that they are wrong for not believing.
Why do I believe? That is another blog.

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