Surf Rock pt. 4 Final

Surf Rock pt. 1

Next on March 12th, I went upstairs and sat in the observation deck of the Library looking down on the main square of the school. It really is true what my teacher said about people looking at the windows to check their appearance whilst walking around PCC. I saw a girl walk by the Theatre lobby windows, check herself in the window and adjust a hair. I saw no difference between her “before and after” from where I was sitting. I wondered: do we keep total disaster at bay by looking to the little things? If she had let that hair go, would another, then another, then another hair have followed the first’s rebellious example until we would have total hair anarchy, and Caleb Hardy on his viewing deck would notice?

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PCC Sylvania Library and Arts Center

I may have a moderate eye for detail, but even if I had the eyes of Sherlock Holmes and could tell everyone’s trade by sight, this that overshadows all state of appearance would not go away: You have an eternal soul. Flee to Jesus for safety and salvation.

I left the Library and wended my way to the shuttle stop. I have missed shuttles before and, trying to miss missing a shuttle, I came quite early for the Shuttle to Cascade Campus.

“Hey. You should bring your violin to this party.”

I was not carrying a violin. Who was this guy? (So much for my great memory.)

“Yeah, my friend Bob is giving a house concert and afterward there’ll be jamming. No one’s ever brought a violin before. I’m trying to invite every musician I see. Last time it kind of became a dance party.”

“What kind of music is Bob playing at the concert,” I asked.

“Oh, it’s not the old style,” (the kind he seemed to wot that I liked). “It’s, you know, surf rock.”

“Like the….?” I asked.

“Like the Ramones. You should come – all the ***** girls will be like, “a ****** violin, and a  ***** bow!”

I kind of doubted the bow would be so astonishing to the girls.

“There’s that girl I see like every day,” he said, referring to one he saw at the shuttle stop, not at Bob’s party. I couldn’t tell which girl from among those present he was referring to.

“She gives me the lesbian vibe. A lot of girls are into that, which is hot, but they just don’t seem to be interested in me. Would it be funny if I hit on her?” He asked from the bottom of his heart. He got on his shuttle. My thoughts naturally turned to myself. Had girls been sending me the lesbian vibe? “Don’t you dare hit on me, you man with a violin! I am a lesbian!” The thing is; that is surface. Whether a girl is sending you the interested or the not interested message based on what I look like is not the basis for deep love. Whether she is a ‘lesbian’ or not, she has a soul that if I get to know her I will care about.

Say a girl became “massively keen” on me (an expression I once heard a girl use. A girl I never saw. She was inside a medieval style pavilion at Warwick Castle, and I was walking by outside,) What if a girl became massively keen on me based on my appearance, and she to me looked like the queen of Elfland whose ‘peer on earth I never did see.’How deep is that really, and how far could it go? If I really got to know her, I could not continue with the whole  fairy dream thing, but would love her as a real woman with a human soul, and once you move past lust to love you care about that person – you want her to be saved.

What’s more insulting than looking on someone’s body with shallow lust? Well apparently, judging by the offense people take at preaching: thinking that their appearance makes no difference in the long run, and that what does matter about them (the person’s soul) is bad and needs saving. And one of my conclusions is: It’s difficult to look to lust and  think of the soul at the same time!

So does believing the Bible  make everything but God and our eternity seem insignificant? In a way, but everything seems more insignificant if you do not believe the Bible.

As the shuttle pulled out of the Sylvania parking lot, some odds and ends, signs and tool boxes and I don’t know what that belonged to the shuttle shifted noisily in the back. I was sitting on the back bench, and those in front of me looked back. “Oh, just my stuff,” I joked. Everyone around me laughed. The white guy with his Karma Bike shop tee-shirt, the black lady, the fat man and the girl with the blue jacket with the 1890’s style sleeves. I thought of complimenting those sleeves, but she took the jacket off. And anyway, Marilla Cuthbert did not approve of puffed sleeves, so I have a little question mark planted by them.
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Coleen Dewhurst as Marilla Cuthbert.

I got out of the shuttle and started heading toward the Library, where, in the olden days, there had been a free phone. I was going to call home for a ride. As I approached the building I could plainly see in the reflection on the glass door the girl, carrying her blue jacket, headed for that same door. I opened it for her. How courteous of me. Irrefutable proof that I’m not one of the evil people.

Where there had used to be a phone, I found only a jack. The pay phone next to it was still there, but that looked complicated to use.  I went to another building where in days of yore there had been a free phone, but alas, only the jack remained. As I was walking out of that building, I heard this conversation:

“I just need come to class every day. I need to learn that kind of discipline and I will succeed. I just need to wrap that thought around my head.”

I liked the image of wrapping your head in a thought. Like it says in the Bible about the law:  “these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes (or, bind them on your forehead) . And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. (Deut. 6:6-9)

It is a nice walk home anyway. (You get to see the prettiest rose garden I have ever seen at Peninsula Park.) Turning homeward I passed through Jackson Hall, where there was a display of old quilts. The sign said most of the fabric was from the early 20th century. I imagined someone wearing a dress made out of this (The guy next to me at this moment says his Chemistry teacher is a liar and he should set her on fire. He says he is kind of flunking.)…. someone wearing a dress made of this beautiful red fabric with the  white flowers with blue centers, going to a dance on Elk Rock Island. The red and blue were so bright. But just like the residents of the ancient island city of Tyre who dressed so beautifully and  against whom God sent the Babylonians to scrape its surface clean, Elk Rock Island was scraped clean.

They shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the water. And I will cause the noise of thy songs to cease; and the sound of thy harps shall be no more heard. And I will make thee like the top of a rock: thou shalt be a place to spread nets upon; thou shalt be built no more: for I the LORD have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 26: 12-14)

As I began my walk home, I heard a voice from an SUV. ”Hey Caleb, do you want a ride?” It was Annette the shuttle bus driver, whose husband works on the pipeline with my dad.

I got in the car. “Feels like spring,” I said.

“One day only.”

“Sounds like an ad,” I said.

“You have given me a lot of rides.” I mentioned.

I got home (“Thank you,” I said to Annette) and had a little time before I went to direct Children’s Choir.

The last song we sang was a 14th century Italian trecento  song about spring called “Ecco la Primavera,” and we went outside into the spring day to sing it.

After choir, we all stayed outside and everything seemed soft in the yard behind the church – the air, the light, the ground, the smell of the Pacific Red cedar. It really was like that Blake poem: “When the voices of children are heard on the green and laughing is heard on the hill, my heart is at rest within my breast and everything else is still” – or rather the Blake poem was like this. This was real.
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Nurse’s song from Wm. Blake’s Songs of Innocence 1789

I held my baby niece Mercy, who is also soft, as little children are. And thought – how can I believe in depravity and hell? But then I thought: The better things can be, the worse sin is. We attack and mar infinite beauty and life with our sin. Babies grow up to kill babies, or to consider changing diapers for a baby too onerous a chore for them to bring anyone else into this beautiful world, and where is the end of the repercussions?.

We must die. Sin cannot go on forever. Evil cannot continue. But man in his corrupted state still has touches of beauty. Jesus said: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” Matthew 7:11

Our evilness does not totally preclude us from giving good gifts to some of those around us, but I’m not going to put my trust in that goodness or those gifts of the present age. To paraphrase Wilde: this is an age of surfaces. I am asking for a better gift from God. Jesus “remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  The eternal kingdom of heaven.

As the Beach Boys sang:

“Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older, Then we wouldn’t have to wait so long.”

Afterword:

At home that night, trying to follow the command to talk of “[God’s word] when thou sittest in thine house,” we read the story of Naaman the leperous general of the Syrian army. Everyone laughed when it came to the part where the king of Syria, based on the boast of a little Israeli servant girl that the prophet in Israel could heal Naaman, sends a message to the King of Israel: “Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.” (2 Kings 5:6)

The King of Israel responds thusly: “when the king of Israel had read the letter,…. he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.” (2 Kings 5:7)

Who could take away a horrible skin disease?

When the prophet in Israel heard that the king had rent his garments, he said “let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” (2 Kings 5:8)

But when Naaman came to Elisha the prophets house Elisha did not even come out to see him. He just sent him a message. “Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.”

But Naaman was offended. “Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.”

Again we could not help but laugh. He had his imagination of a dramatic healing and would not accept something simple. His servants spotted this lack of logic.

His servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?” Maybe they had experience calming their sometimes rash and haughty boss. Anyway, he went down ”and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”

 

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Surf Rock pt. 3

Surf Rock pt. 1
After seeing the girl in the library I went off to my appointed conference with my writing teacher. We conferred. It was an interesting conversation. We talked some about jokes and whether we should joke around or not.

Maybe the truths of eternity as revealed in the Bible do not fit well with joking. Just like they do not fit well with flirting. “Hey girl, you have an eternal soul that is depraved in sin, but you can escape damnation and find a place in God’s kingdom as one of his children through trusting in Jesus” is not a popular pick up line. It makes romance seem less all-important, it diverts our attentions from the physical and, instead of forwarding himself, the man is bragging on Jesus. What about joking? Is not people going to heaven or hell serious enough to hush all jokes? Does the Bible have jokes?

I headed back to the library in a chatty mood. Conversations with my English teacher bring out talkativeness. I mean, to cross that threshold to open our mouths is hard. We fear throwing out our treasured idea only to have it despised, and she is very encouraging. Still my inability to talk directly with her about her eternal soul troubled me. We would talk about funny things, and we would talk about serious things, but only obliquely. We often talked not quite earnestly, that is, more theoretically then directly about such things as our eternal souls, and heaven and hell. I remember kicking myself coming home one night after talking with her about Christina Rossetti, my favourite poetess, but not talking about what I really love about her poetry, which is what the poems actually say. When I got home my little brother, who is not particularly a C. Rossetti fan, had posted this poem on facebook:

So brief a life, and then an endless life
Or endless death;
So brief a life, then endless peace or strife:
Whoso considereth
How man but like a flower
Or shoot of grass
Blooms an hour,
Well may sigh “Alas!”

So brief a life, and then an endless grief
Or endless joy;
So brief a life, then ruin or relief:
What solace, what annoy
Of Time needs dwelling on?
It is, it was,
It is done,
While we sigh “Alas!”

Yet saints are singing in a happy hope
Forecasting pleasure,
Bright eyes of faith enlarging all their scope;
Saints love beyond Time’s measure:
Where love is, there is bliss
That will not pass;
Where love is,
Dies away “Alas!”

-Christina Rossetti

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Christina Rossetti

Thanks again for the reminder little brother!

Every time I open my mouth and don’t ‘make mention of his righteousness’ and his love and bliss that will not pass, it makes me not want to open my mouth in the future, because I hate that feeling after a conversation of having talked and missed the point. I don’t like to joke with someone whose soul I fear for. Like Kierkegaard said – “I have just now come from a party where I was its life and soul; witticisms streamed from my lips, everyone laughed and admired me, but I went away ———————————— and wanted to shoot myself.”

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Søren Kierkegaard

Still, she always draws her students into conversation (me more so than many) because she seems interested in her student’s ideas and can respond to them with an idea of her own. That is another of my many problems – I do listen, but I don’t look like I’m listening, and I have difficulty coming up with any reply until later. I don’t think I’m special in that regard – everyone thinks of what they should have said after any conversation.

I remember a girl who, one summer day, told me (almost as if she were embarrassed to tell of having done something so wonderful,) that during a time of studying the Renaissance, she had calligraphed the whole book of Ruth. That Christmas tide we went caroling in her family’s neighbourhood, and after caroling we were back at their house, and she was showing my sister photographs of the time her family had been studying the renaissance by dressing in costumes and playing the Hurdy Gurdy. I asked her to please show us her book of Ruth. “You remember.” she said, surprised. “Do I look like I’m not paying attention when you talk?” I thought.

One time I and some brothers and sisters and a willing friend took two canoes down from North Portland to attend this girl’s family’s Labor Day party south of Milwaukie. On the way there we passed some islands that we did not have time to visit, but that I wanted to visit. Weeks later I and my youngest brother did return to one – Elk Rock Island – and scrambled around its rocky forest.
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Elk Rock Island

The next person I met on March 12th was a lady from my writing class, and being in this talking  humour, I fell to chatting with her. Her paper was on water. Our teacher always encourages details in our papers, and pretty soon she was telling me, and I was (with interested mind, and as interested mien as I could muster) hearing  a detail from her research on water that astonished me. “There was a dance hall on Elk Rock Island. It burnt down in 1916.”
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Elk Rock Island

It seemed wonderful to me. There’s not so much as a bench on the island today. Just some trails and a few warning and “this and that is verboten” signs mark humanity’s touch. Would not it be dream-like to come to the Island (preferably by rowing or sailing) find light, laughter and music, and dance with your pearl? Of course I would not want it to be the music to be the kind of rock you hear people playing from motor boats today. That stuff is ugly. Maybe because it has to blend in with an engine.
Surf Rock pt. 4 Final

Stephen’s Day Carol pt. 3

Stephen’s Day Carol pt. 1

The road was gone, our first steps reverent, slow,
Like steps of those upon a newfound shore
Broke through the glassy ice upon the snow,
And cut a road where none had walked before.

The stars as steady signposts, stately stood.
All well known marks on earth were hid from view
Except the bending  river and the wood.
We’d walked a while when whirling snow-clouds blew,
And cast across the moon and stars a veil.
No more I heard the music from the hall,
But only in that dark the wild wind wail.
I tripped and drenched my tunic in the fall

One summer, swimming cross the river, past mid-stream
(And I was crossing at the point most wide)
So far away the other bank did seem
My heart feared, “I’ve not strength to reach that side;”
But near me swam a friend, to him I called
And he my sinking heart then pulled to shore,
And it was but a short way I was hauled,
For fear made little distance seem much more.

So on this stormy night it seemed that we,
Far from the poorman’s forest hut we sought,
Did starless wander on a frozen sea,
And weaker now the snow-thick wind I fought.
And as I strove, the king drew farther off,
Enfolded by the darkness wind and snow.
Out of the wind I fell into a trough.
I called to him. He came my plight to know.

He raised my heart, “The wood’s not far at all.”
He set me on the path his footsteps broke.
“Now mark you well the place my footprints fall,
And boldly tread in them” to me he spoke.
I marked his steps, and boldly in them trod,
And with him sang a carol above the storm,
For spring’s returning flowers, praising God.
And like the dawn of spring my heart grew warm.

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Ivan Bilibin, 1902

This poem is of course based on John M. Neale’s carol ‘Good King Wenceslas’.  This poems reflects my imaginations of the carol and many of the lines in the poem are built directly from a line in the carol (Example – “We’d walked a while when whirling snow-clouds blew, And cast across the moon and stars a veil.” is expanding on “Sire the night grows darker now” ). At the same time I’ve tried not to say the exact same things as the carol but, if you’ll accept them, give some new visions of the settings and thoughts of the people and places in the carol. For example instead of copying verbatim Wenceslas’ ‘Bring me flesh and bring me wine’, I’ve imagined his thoughts (not from the carol) and then had the servants hear him call. The poem’s narrator is the page, but any time it goes into quotes it is the voice of the king.

For any doubters about the page’s memory of swimming, from medieval art we know that people did swim in the middle ages! (Unless those medieval pictures that look like people swimming are really people drowning with style.)

The biggest change is the end in which the miracle is underplayed. Instead I seem to have made up something totally unrelated to the carol about them singing. This, however, is not unrelated to the carol. The tune to which we sing ‘Good King Wenceslas’ is the old latin spring carol ‘Tempus adest floridum’ which I think is well described as a carol “For spring’s returning flowers, praising God.”. So, while I couldn’t jolly well have them singing ‘Good King Wenceslas’, the page and monarch finish their journey singing the next closest thing. Here’s a  translation of Tempus adest floridum

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My imagination of the carol is deeply affected by John Wallner whose illustrated ‘Good King Wenceslas’ I got for Christmas when I was four, or thereabouts. 

Stephen’s Day Carol pt.2

Stephen’s Day Carol pt. 1

In bitter windy weather and winter chill
To gather wood for warmth the banks he climbed.
This old man worked, though weak, with hardy will,
His hood all frozen stiff, his cloak white rimed.

“Within these walls the frost bites not my hands,
And in these robes my heart’s not touched by cold,
Unless cold stoniness within a bulwark stands
And walls my heart against that gatherer old.
A King to save me took on man’s weak form,
In weakness braved the curse, my griefs to bear.
Should I, a king, then hide from cold and storm?
For warmth refuse God’s bounty now to share?”

The men below in kitchen bustle, soon hear,
From Wenceslaus a call for flesh and wine,
And up the stairs they bring, right-quick with cheer,
At his command this feast, and logs of pine.
“We’ll bear the feast to yonder poor man’s table
To cheer his home, to blunt cold wind’s fierce blow
My page and I will take all that we’re able,
And make a road across the fields of snow”

The wind then sounded low like distant flutes
Descanting with the tunes the courtiers play.
I wrapped my cloak about, pulled on my boots
And with the king set forth upon our way.
The great black timber gate was iced with white
Sharp shapes, like hoary broken bracken bright,
When through it passed the King and I from sight
Of those who from the windows watched that night.
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John Everett Millais, 1857

Stephen’s Day Carol pt. 3

Surf Rock pt. 2

Surf Rock pt. 1

The girl did come to church. I was a little surprised. Even though she needed it for Women’s Studies, there is a great gulf between Portland and a Baptist church, and I am always surprised when someone ventures across it. Even if only in body.

The preacher preached that the deepest mystery is that Jesus, “being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of  men:  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)

He urged us all to have this same mind and attitude of sacrificial humility  as Christ.

The passage also goes on to say –

“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
( Philippians 2:7-11)

The preacher concluded “In your heart you will either have Jesus on the throne and yourself on the cross, or you will have youself on the throne and Jesus still on the cross.”

Then my dad got up, said a few words, and invited me, “Caleb, will you come and lead us in a closing song.” I had been thinking of leading the hymn, “Wash Me and I Shall Be Whiter than Snow,” based on those words from Psalm 51, which David wrote after committing adultery with a woman and murdering her husband. But I decided against it because there were guests and the preacher was black, and though I think everyone can understand about washing things clean and white, I did not want anyone to be distracted by any silly thoughts: “Oh he’s black and they want him to be white like them.” I strongly dislike it when people pull a double entendre out of someone’s words.

I led “Take my Life and Let it Be” to the beautiful Melanesian hymn tune “God yu tekkem laef blong mi.”

We sang “Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise.”

Afterward, the girl said “Bye Caleb. See you Monday.” I could not help thinking that it would have been very easy to forget about Women’s studies while singing “Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to Thee, Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of thy love” and while hearing that you either have Christ on the throne of your heart, or have him on a cross, and you are on the throne of your life.

Jesus’ call is more fundamental than the differences of gender. To deny yourself and take up your cross is fundamental. Total surrender and a new life in Jesus is on the soul level, and men and women both have souls.  Christianity does not emphasis the difference between Men and Women. Men and women have some different roles in this life, but with God the  emphasis is on our souls.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”  Galatians 3:28

But does not this take a lot of the thrill out of life? A lot of the thrill of the romance the Beach Boys sang about about good looking girls? I remember one time being at a little league practice, and one of the dads was catching for some boy pitcher (side note: baseball is the most beautiful game), and some young lady walked by, and instead of keeping his eye on the ball, as it were, he turned his head and followed the lady with his eyes. “Hey, did you see your dad?” said one of the boys. “He was like *imitation*.” “Well, I’m still a man!” said the father, by way of justification. He had not given up on his very self – he was still a man.

I do not remember what the lady in question looked like, but I do remember the philosophy – that it is absolutely fundamental to man to look on the outside of (good looking)  women with hungry desire.

Am not I charming? I have a different philosophy. So respectful of women. Respecting them as souls, not as meat. But this is a fundamental part of what I believe: we are all evil. Men and women, good looking, bad looking, rich, poor, clever and not so clever – all are souls equally needy of salvation. That part of my beliefs about everyone being evil  is usually not regarded as quite so charming in Portland as the part about respecting women as equals of men.

I saw a car the other day that had the hard hearted bumper sticker: “It’s easier to change condoms than diapers.” Ah, easier. That’s what we want right? It had another sticker with a version of the supposed Ghandi quote: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”  (I cannot verify that is an actual Ghandi quote. It seems like a rephrasing of a few quotes.) This is a clever attack on Christians who of course do not think they are as good as Christ. They can be deceived and think “If only I, the representative of Jesus, were more like Jesus and these people could really see in me who Jesus is, than they would accept him and me.” But the truth is, Jesus was killed by the people of his day. I do not think the people of today who say such things as “we like Jesus, but not his followers” really would like the real Jesus if he were talking to them. The one who said the things recorded in the Bible:

“He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” Matt. 12:30

How are you going to disagree with that one? To maintain neutrality you have to oppose. “I oppose Jesus in the idea that you can’t be neutral toward him, because I am neutral…toward Jesus”? Or do you say, “Hey Don’t judge me! I’m not gonna be for Jesus or the devil, I’m just gonna hang out on the beach. I won’t be ‘scattering abroad’, I’ll just be surfing’”

On the sleeve notes (remember LP sleeve notes – that was its own literary genre) to the Beach Boys album All Summer Long was this quote supposedly from Dennis Wilson:
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“They say I live a fast life. Maybe I just like a fast life.
I wouldn’t give it up for anything in the world. It won’t last forever, either. But the memories will.”

But have you never heard the story of how in 1968 Dennis Wilson picked up some lady hitch-hikers  and brought them to his house – (were they giving him “good vibrations”? From outward appearance can you  “know she must be kind”) He left them there while he went to a recording session and when he returned a whole bunch of ladies had shown up at his house, along with the leader of their gang, Charles Manson. For awhile Manson and Wilson were friends (when he came home that first night, apparently Manson met him in the driveway and kissed his feet – yuck) but after a time the madness of Manson and his ‘family’ wore on him, and like in one of those old-wive’s  tales where to escape a bogey infestation the people have to move out of their own house, Dennis Wilson left the house, stopped paying rent, and let the ‘family’ face eviction.

cauld-lad

   The Cauld Lad of Hilton by John D. Batten

I won’t blame Wilson for Manson’s crimes, but I can’t but feel that once you’re living fast, it is hard to control how deep  of water you are in. I’m sure these were not fun memories for Dennis Wilson. Speaking of demon infestation, Brian Wilson reports now to hearing voices telling him such things as, “We love you, we need you” and “We hate you” and “We’re gonna kill you.” God help us! It’s not that I want to be meanly accuse  these guys. My point is just that the fast surfer life of trivial pleasure-seeking neutrality is a mirage and definitely won’t last forever. So give it up. Which brings us back to things Jesus said:

If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Matt. 16:24-27

Is not this insulting to the essence of who we are? Having to give up our very selves.

Maybe I just like my life, and wouldn’t give it up for anything?

Hear the invitation – Give up your life! You will find life! And it will last forever. “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” Romans 6:23

Further ‘insulting’ us, Jesus told us how he would die for us. “To give his life a ransom for many.”  (Mark 10:45) As if our only hope of salvation was in someone taking the death penalty for us! Are you putting me on the same level with Charles Manson and Squeaky Fromme? Don’t you mean maybe a little community service for me, Jesus?

When Jesus was talking about how he was going to be killed and rejected and rise again, Peter told him that it would not happen. He replied, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” Matt 16:23

Where did this idea come from of a cool Jesus that would not make you uncomfortable?

Did you say you wanted the Christians to be more like Christ? Just remember – he was more of a radical fundamentalist  than the radical fundamentalists, not less. The one who fed the hungry and healed the lepers calls you satan if  you “savour” “the things of men.” – If you are bound to this world’s vain ideas and oppose his radical way to save us –  the shedding of his blood, the loss of his life.

Jesus said: “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost,” (Luke 19:10). Is he going to just tell everyone that they are okay, that they are not lost? Did the doctors who worked on ‘Treeman’ just say, you are okay, no problem here, to try and heal him? Of course not!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could appreciate Jesus’ forgiveness like Dede might feel if he were healed. I would sing with wonder, “And can it be that I should gain an Interest in my Saviour’s blood?”  Can it be, that there would be a cure for me? Can it be that I who have been oppressed every moment of every day of my life with this disease of sin could be healed?

Jesus was eating with a Pharisee named Simon when “behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

 

Would we who are “still men” (still living in our bodies) understand it better if deliverance could be seen in the outward appearance? How grateful would I feel if I had some horrible skin disease like Dede, and Jesus healed me? Well, Jesus also healed lepers, so some did get to feel that (and they didn’t all say thank you) May I love as one forgiven much!

I see that if I talk about everyone I talked to or saw down at PCC (and ride each train of thought they start me on) this will be a long paper and I am trying to make it short. To the point. Brief.

Surf Rock pt. 3

Stephen’s Day Carol pt. 1

An expansion on an old carol as I imagine it. Prazsky Hrad is Prague Castle, and Vltava is the river running through Prague. I plan on posting two more parts to finish the story.

It seemed the cold was the enemy that night.
The castle walls of broad-hewn stones built high,
Stood stalwart against the angry wind’s fierce fight,
But still hearth-side we heard its battle cry.

The noble lord of Prazsky Hrad arose,
And with the thoughtful eye his men knew well,
Looked  ‘round the room on all of those
Who stood or sat within the glowing hall.
St. Stephen’s feast we always kept with cheer,
And all before the king were glad of heart
For soon cured meats and sweets would here appear
And all the happy company take part.

He stepped down past long robed nobility
Walked over to a window shuttered fast
And opened it, the fields below to see.
Like the image on a royal coin he cast
His shadow on the snow below – made gold
By window light let out – While all around
Shone silver. Silent ‘neath a moon as cold,
The fields in snow were new and cleanly gowned.

Here and there the houses huddled stood,
The deep, crisp snow embanked up to their thatch
And dark and death-like rose the hedging wood
Their only life, the wind their branches catch.
Vltava wended icy black her way,
(The flourish of a scribe ‘cross  page most white)
And on her banks, the creaking bridge hard-by,
A-gathering wood, a poor man came in sight.

good-king-wenceslas-illustrated-1904-p22
Illustration by Arthur Gaskin

Stephen’s Day Carol pt.2

Surf Rock pt. 1

Surf Rock

 

by Caleb Hardy for Mary Bartholemy’s Writing Class

“I have just now come from a party where I was its life and soul; witticisms streamed from my lips, everyone laughed and admired me, but I went away ———————————— and wanted to shoot myself.”
Soren Kierkegaard

Will I still joke around and still dig those sounds(those rock and roll sounds)? When I grow up to be a man? -The Beach Boys

Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30

 

Do you ever find that you think someone is cooler or better because they are better looking?

That you would rather be friends with them than with someone not so good looking?

If so, the Bible  might  be right for you.

*

It is my opinion that,  a lot of the time, when we explain why we do what we do, we don’t tell the truth. How many people actually say that they are voting for a particular candidate because he is the taller choice? Yet I hear that, whether we realize it or not, people tend to vote for the taller candidate. And, whether we really think it is a good reason or not, we usually don’t try to justify our vote on those grounds. We talk of “war,” “welfare” and “international relations,” but In general in a general election I don’t  hear people talking about the benefits of a tall leader.

 

The first king of Israel was named Saul. “[A] choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.” (I Samuel 9:2)

But after a time of disobedient kingship (even kings have to be obedient) Samuel the prophet told him “[T]hou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.” (I Samuel 15:26)

God then sent Samuel to Bethlehem to  anoint a new king from among the sons of Jesse the Bethlehemite. Look at the account of Samuel “sizing up” the sons of Jesse, and particularly at what God says:

“And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD’S anointed is before him. But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” (I Samuel 16:6-7)

I do not think I am alone in feeling somewhat bound to vanity. Particularly the vanity of judging by outward appearance.

On the night of March 11th my little brother emailed me a video about  Dede Koswara, the Indonesian man who is famously known as “Treeman” because, through a horrible disease, he became covered with strange tumours. His hands and feet in particular were covered with huge hard tangly growths.

Both with surgery and drugs the doctors worked on him, and by the end of the documentary, though he was not cured, so much of the growths were removed from his hands that he was able to hold a pencil.  The video along with the pictures of deformed people I saw among the related videos shook me. How do I look at people?

”Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”

My little brother sent this video to me because he knows I have an interest in deformities and skin diseases. I think the reason I have an interest in deformity is because I want to be shaken from the vain view of valuing based on outward appearance. “That could have been me,” I try to think when I see an armless, legless baby, attached by the head to her twin. “I am no better, she is no worse for our different  forms.” We had  no effect on what shape our bodies would be.

As is often the case with the deformed, Dede had family members that could see past his deformity – this is so common; don’t you find that the longer you spend time with someone the more you forget what  they look like?  It is like their soul starts to to shine through, and their clay fades by comparison.

The night before I watched that video, I had been trying to stay up studying for a Physical Science presentation on acoustics. Naturally I spent the night listening to recordings of the Beach Boys. Do I look like a Beach Boys fan? I’m not really on the inside, but I love vocal harmony and I think they have the most sophisticated harmonies of all those 60s bands….blah blah blah blah,  and I was listening to extracted acappella versions.

Anyway, I think that the videos of deformed people on Tuesday night were made all the more jolting for having bathed in the Beach Boys music Monday night. In general the Beach Boys let us be happy and delight in vanity and make it easy to forget that which the LORD looketh on – “the heart.” I am not saying though, that they were completely unaware of things below the surface (“surf”-ace.) In the song “When I Grow up to be a Man” are the reflective lyrics  “Will I look for the same things in a woman that I dig in a girl?”

On the video of this song Mike Love tackily moved his hands in a way suggestive of curves whilst singing the line “what I dig in a Girl.” This is crude of course, but it does not seem out of the mainstream. Maybe I was wrong when I wrote that we do not admit our rationale for what we do – many pop songs seem totally unashamed of shallow ideas like curvy girls being digable.

mike-love
Monsieur Love 

Let me tell you about March 12th.

       *

When I got to school Wednesday morning, March 12, the first person I saw, whom I was at all acquainted with, was a girl from writing class. When I had seen her the Monday before, she had said, “see you next Monday,” so this was unscheduled. We smiled and acknowledged each other, but I was already sitting at a computer trying to write this paper, and did not seek out any conversation with her. Last Monday, for the first time that term, we had been in the same small group in writing class, but she had been too bashful to give any of us her draft for peer review, and I had not brought any draft at all. You get to know a lot about people from their writing.  But obviously we did not get to know each other that way. Still, I form impressions of people, and my impression of her from class was that she is not one of the hard-nosed, go it alone, “I know what’s up” type of students, but more of a “will you help me?” “who can I go with?” type of student. She liked to ask math class related questions of the two writing students that were in the same math class as she was, even when it seemed to me she knew the answers well enough herself.

While we were peer reviewing, she lamented to the group, “I have to find a church to go tonight for women’s studies class and I can’t find one.” I thought to myself: “You were probably not assigned to go to a church on a Monday night, you probably have a report due Tuesday morning based on your experience in church, which experience your teacher assumed you would get on Sunday.” Most churches do not have Monday night meetings. My church does not meet on Monday night… except for that very Monday night.

Of course the general consensus in student conversations is that assignments are dumb and unreasonable and overly onerous. Even if you do not really feel that way about a particular assignment, this is the general frame for discussions about them among the PCC student  population. It is the expected tone. I did not catch what the connection in the conversation was to this, but one of the students suggested “When you go, wear really squeaky shoes and drag them along the floor sque-e-ek, sque-e-ek.” This was not just the  student’s general disrespect for an assignment at play however. This was about this particular student’s relationship with Church. I understood it to mean “Those Church people are going to make you uncomfortable; better strike first.”

I know I have been in the woods at night and been afraid, and then it has occurred to me that whatever I’m afraid of, lurking in the woods at night, could be afraid of me, lurking in the woods by night.

This is what we are all taught to do – make yourself look big, and that which would try and bring you down will reconsider its attack. Do people try and look put together so Christians won’t disturb them them with preaching? “The Christians might preach down in Old Town to the bums of slovenly appearance, but they won’t have the chutzpah to preach to the rich and beautiful up here on 23rd or to the learned at PSU”

As I said, we at my church usually do not meet on Monday night but this week there were Revival Meetings with a guest preacher Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:00 pm.

At the end of class I wrote “2653 N Lombard 7:00 pm Mon. Tue. Wed.”  on a paper and gave it to her. “You can come to my church tonight,” I said. She acted like a gift had just been dropped in her lap. “I can go to his church,” she said with happy relief to the girl with whom she  whom she was heading off to math class.

It was like she had felt a looming deadline that she was unprepared to meet, and had sought for relief in vain, until I gave her the address of the church. She did feel a deadline. Her women’s studies class provided her that. But we Christians think that everyone has a deadline that they are unprepared to meet. I remember one time going door to door in our neighbourhood, and a particular guy, (why do I remember him?) wearing a Pabst Blue Ribbon t-shirt. The moment he heard we were from the church, he said: “I’m not interested.” and my thought was,“you are interested, in the the old sense of the word interest, which is to have a share in something.” Everybody has a stake in the the matter of God and his kingdom. Will you be shut out or welcomed in?

Afterward came also those other virgins saying Lord! LORD! open unto us. But he answered, I know ye not. (Matthew 25:11-12)

But maybe he truly was not interested, having no part, or share in Jesus and not hungering for or desiring Jesus. When Charles Wesley was converted and found that Jesus’ mercy had reached all the way to him, he was so excited he wrote this poem in wonder :

 

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Surf Rock pt. 2