Category Archives: ALL

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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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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Life – as seen from “Music Theory for Beginners

Last September I drove to Nebraska to visit my parents.

As old people will do –and that includes all three of us now- we were reminiscing about the old days, including those days when I was a very poor piano student of a good lady named Mrs. O’Dell. Both my younger sister and I studied with her, which involved both a private lesson in actual playing, and a group theory lesson every week.

My mother recalled Mrs. O’Dell saying how unusual it was to have two children from the same family who both preferred theory to playing. We were always odd folk.

One of the things I remember is the idea that music is among other things, the management of tension and resolution. Yes, other arts work with this as well, good story-telling for example, but I never learned to do that. Stay with me.

There are a lot of ways to build and resolve tension in music.

  • You can start a pitch at “home” and raise it up (like stretching a rubber band between two points, and then pulling it up), then lower it back to home. “Amazing Grace” is like this, feeling very peaceful, and, well, resolved, when it gets back to its home note.
  • You can do it with rhythm. Think of three quick beats in a row, and repeat that cluster three times: “applepie – applepie – apple pie” Now release that tension (perhaps in your belt, caused by all that pie) by taking a nap: “applepie – applepie – applepie – Sleeeeep” (get a good LONG nap!) See how resolved and peaceful that is?
  • Or you can do tension and resolution by harmony.
    Think of the traditional ending in some church hymns, where everyone sings “A – MEN” on 2 chords.

Most music will combine all these techniques and more, all through the piece.

The management of tension and release is very close to the heart of music.

Life is like that, too. Seasons of tension and release, stress and resolution.

But here’s the thing… NOBODY goes to hear concerts of resolution. Or tension either.

They go to hear and wonder at the MUSIC. Life is filled with music, music is filled with life, with tension and release.

May your life be beautiful, filled with music.

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Time to Start Writing Again

It’s been awhile! I had wondered where you had been!

no, wait. That’s not right, I’m the one who was gone.

I’ve been on a self-indulgent departure from writing, and it is high time I quit it.  Quitting, that is. I need to stop that. I need to write. Obviously. My brain has been turning to mush.

When I took up this blog silliness, I said that on of the influences was that of my father. How when he dropped me off in the dormitory at Univ. of Houston back in 1973, he told me to write every day. Write something, it didn’t matter what. Schoolwork, letters, journal –anything. Just keep putting words on paper for the mental exercise of it. He led me to the idea that if I am not writing, I am not thinking; at least not in any form worthy of the name. I may be observing random thoughts fly across my brain, but unless I am trying to capture them, make them responsible to other thoughts, they are no more like a trained and powerful team of Clydesdales than are a herd of wild donkeys romping in a meadow.

I won’t say that “to write is to think” – I’ve read some of my own stuff before, and know what mindless drivel I can generate. But at least if one writes mindless drivel, it shows itself for what it is. You may or may not recognize it, but put it out on the internet, and someone is likely to point it out to you before long. I take that as a kindness

To write may make it possible to think. And perhaps that is why I have been avoiding it.

I’ve been a mess, and didn’t want to think.

But it is time for me to pay attention to Ephesians 5:14, paraphrased in a song I use to know as
“Awake O sleepers, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you life!”
Time I trusted that.
Time I woke up.
I need to write again.

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A Story of Two Groups of “Wise Men”

Well, I’m going to go WAAAY out of character for me, and out on a church calendar limb. Tomorrow is Sunday, 5 January, 2014, the last Sunday in Christmas this year. So I am going to race ahead and post about Epiphany. “Sin Boldly”; to half-quote Martin Luther.

So why jump ahead two days as if I were impatient for them to be gone? Well, perhaps I am in mid-revelation, and revelation is sort of what the word “epiphany” means. Or perhaps I am receiving my Christmas gift, which also marks it as OK as a Christmas post (now I feel better!). I understand that in many places in the world, in many parts of the Church, Gifts are not exchanged on Christmas, in remembrance of the Gift of the Incarnation, but on Twelfth-Night, Epiphany (“…my true love gave to me, …”) in remembrance of the gifts of the Magi, given TO the incarnate Son of the most High. I sort of like that, in that it puts the focus a little more where I think it belongs, on me giving to God as I seek to serve Him in all people, in recognition of my baptismal vow.

Well, rambling over, on with the point. In Matthew’s account of the Gospel, Chapter 2, he says of the “wise men” (or Magi): Continue reading

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Guest post -no words of mine need be added

Guest post today –

Back in the mid-late 1970’s I shared a house in Houston with a man called George O’Malley. George was the second-best roommate I ever had; I moved out only to get married, and nobody disputes the honest fact that George was the Best Man at that wedding.

Paul Simon wrote a song I like that goes “Some folks’ lives roll easy…” That hasn’t always been George. But in the midst of the tosses and turns of this life, George has maintained the central goodness of his heart. Today he posted something that I thought not only showed something of George, but also pointed for the rest of us the way forward. I argue theology. George simply does it. His is the more excellent way. Continue reading

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