Some Personal Thoughts on Suffering: 1

A friend of mine once asked for some Bible passages for a friend who was going through some rather serious difficulties. The following is taken from my response.

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Thoughts on Going Back to Church

OK. I’ve been wanting to write this, and ducking it all morning, probably for days. Perhaps longer.

“Start with the truth as it is, Eric, and only then into commentary, and on to thoughts about that truth, or what you wish to do with it. Start by what is”

Seems like sound advice. The sort of thing I might say. Continue reading

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Find the Music, Sing the Song

1,1,1,5    1,1,5- 

2,5,4,3   2,1,2-

1,1,1,5.  1,1,5-

2,5,4,3   2,2,1-

Four very simple lines of music heard this morning very powerfully brought my former wife to mind.

This little bit was played on the piano with a simple broken chord figure in the bass. It is used in my church as “travelling music” before and after the children’s sermon, while children come to sit with the preacher and then return to their seats. Very quiet, very background; just a few measures to cover the silence. 

The powerful reminder of Stephanie -who is a very fine pianist and piano teacher – is that I couldn’t help contrasting the rather mechanical “music-box” version I heard with the way Stephanie would play it. I mean no disrespect to our organist, who is a fine musician (although not primarily a pianist). Also, the electronic instrument she was playing is hardly capable of capturing the subtle expressiveness available in an natural piano.

But Stephanie has a particular gift, passion, drive and ability for lyric expressiveness. She can take the simplest phrase, like the ones I quoted at the start, and make it sing. I instantly heard what she would have done, and the difference it would make. 

Now when I said it was a gift, I didn’t really mean the ability was a gift to her, she worked hard for it. It is a gift to everyone who hears her.

Contemplating this returned another memory, dating all the way back to High School Choir, where we sang a LOT of Bach chorales. Everyone should. But a frequent feature of that sort of music is that the tenor line (that’s me) will often find a note on which to park, and will pretty much stay there for the rest of the piece. “O Sacred Head, Sore Wounded”  comes to mind.

One of the points drilled into us was that if this line sounds boring, that is our own fault. Perhaps it is that we want to be singers, when we should be learning to be musicians.

Our job was to take that one note, and find all the music in it that could be found, and bring that to the surface. Do it right, and that repeated one note will almost stand as a solo. Then having found the music in that note, sing that song in a way that serves the entire piece.

The problem is not the note. It is my job to find and reveal the music. I have discovered that as one of the great joys of singing “inner voices” in choral harmony. 
And since “music is life,” this must relate to the rest of what I do.

My job, in all the mundane “single repeated note” lines of life, is to find the Music in that line, and proclaim it. Not to demand a more complicated part, where my lack of a musician’s heart can be hidden behind a composer’s many notes, but to find and express the song in THIS line. It’s there. 

Find the music. Sing your song.

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Some Thoughts on “No-Fly / No-Buy”

For decades, for pretty much all my adult life, I have been a pretty standard political conservative. Had high hopes for the “tea party” wing of the party when it started up, even went to a few rallies. Over the last 6 years or so, my enthusiasm has been waning – to the extent that I no longer can call myself a Republican, and have deep suspicion of my own conservative leanings. My knee just doesn’t jerk that way anymore.

 But this is not the place to explore that. Instead, I wanted to comment on the recent/current doings in the House of Representatives, and one contentious idea in particular: that being the proposal that a person who is on a “watch list” or a “no fly” list by ineligible to purchase a firearm. Continue reading

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Sunlight, Compost, and a Reasonable Faith

Time I write at least a little about depression. Not much; the very subject is, well, depressing.

But there have been a few bright spots in it. Occasionally, I still see one.
Those who know me well probably know that I have struggled with a low-grade chronic depression for as long as I can remember. There have been some seasons of relief, and a couple that bordered on suicidal. But as a whole, if the average “emotional temperature” bubbles along at 98.6, I average closer to 90. Sometimes it’s lower, but it is decidedly above room temperature. And I am happy about that…
… at least most of the time. Continue reading

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From Personal to Political: some thoughts

I rarely post political; so it only seems fair that I warn you up front that this is aiming there, for better or worse.

Over many relationships with many people, some family, and some not, I have noticed that most people have a few “hot-button” issues. In some relationships, I think the term “land-mine” is more appropriate. I expect you have noticed the same. I have a few myself

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“Paradise Lost” (but trying to understand the map)

“Bid welcome your new landlord – whose mind will not be changed by tome or place.
The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, or hell of heaven. What does it matter where I am? What matters is that I am and shall remain…”

 

Here at least we shall be free. Here we are beyond his almighty envy; he will not drive us out from here. Here our reign is secure. And what we won is worth it, in my view, even if our kingdom be in hell.
Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.”

“Paradise Lost”, book 1, lines c254 – c264
Prose edition by Dennis Danielson

__________________

I don’t read nearly as much or as well as I once did. But I am working on tying up a few loose ends, one of which is that I never read Milton’s “Paradise Lost”

I know many of my friends do not have this failure on their record. I specifically would value your point of view on the thoughts below. Continue reading

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