Friday, April 29, 2011

The movement of words by the word

-John 4.1-45 A poem of response and imagination

I imagine, at times, that I am filling a large bucket
with only my words. I keep emptying out
the bucket. But, it never drains. The noonday sun
pulsates into prayer, beads of sweat strung
like a thorns along my forehead. I am alone.

My salt forms a crystal coaster for the water-jug
sitting on the top of my head. Words are funny.
Without a listener, my words keep gathering
in stagnant pools throughout my life. I keep going
and talking at my men: husbands and lovers

who could not hear me. I talk when no one is there.
I talk because talk is cheap and I am poor,
and all I can afford are my words. The rest talk behind
and in front of me. I have descend so far
in their eyes, I will not listen to their vacuous

words any longer. I keep talking. I bath
in empty words—mine and theirs. Then,
Small talk with a stranger changes me.
I hear him. He listens. He knows,
and water of different kind flows.

Suddenly, his words flow through my words.
Others listen to me like never before.
I lead them back to the source, empty
and full of joy.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Why Christians Shrug?

Ah, the squeaky voice of the little lady from St. Petersburg, Russia rises again with opening of a new movie based on her novel, Altas Shrugged. For though who are not familiar with Ayn Rand’s Altas Shrugged, it is polemic of the glories of Capitalistic Anarchy dressed up in a rather badly written 50s era science fiction novel. The irony of her novel thickens like mucus in Flu season. She claims the nobility of art in her novel with little artistic value. She claims the value of self-interest through a character, John Galt, who demands everyone conform to his worldview. Her character Galt, much like a communist plotter, makes all who join his movement take an oath:

I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man,
nor ask another man to live for the sake of mine.

So, you would think a novel and the movie based on a woman who thought little of Jesus and his ethic of love, who advocated free love, and who live a life so unapologetically unchrist like (open affairs with her disciples), would face relentless criticism from Christian quarters, especially since she has proved popular in the media with important opinion making advocates such as Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Alan Greenspan? Alas, the Christian apologists have shrugged and raise hardly a word or complaint against Ayn Rand’s very unchristian philosophy, even as many in the pews lap up her words as if they are gospel. I do not believe there was a time in the Church’s history in which a teaching like Rand’s would go unchallenged. Why now?

I think our current political climate that promotes Manichean view of them and us, bad guys and good guys, right and left weakens us. Anyone who remotely seems on “our side” has to be defended (and their defects ignored or explained away) while the other side is demonized for any seemly minor defect. Since Ayn Rand is embraced by certain quarters of the political right, the Christian right holds it nose and says nothing. Of course many similar examples can be pointed out from the Christian Left. But like the early church rejected Manicheanism, we have to stand and say that Rand’s Philosophy has to similarly reject as unchristian. After all she thought Jesus contradicted himself, and no Christian, left or right, can in good conscious accept her thought. Reading the below Rand quote leaves no doubt as to her stand.

There is a great, basic contradiction in the teachings of Jesus. Jesus was one of the first great teachers to proclaim the basic principle of individualism -- the inviolate sanctity of man's soul, and the salvation of one's soul as one's first concern and highest goal; this means -- one's ego and the integrity of one's ego. But when it came to the next question, a code of ethics to observe for the salvation of one's soul -- (this means: what must one do in actual practice in order to save one's soul?) -- Jesus (or perhaps His interpreters) gave men a code of altruism, that is, a code which told them that in order to save one's soul, one must love or help or live for others. This means, the subordination of one's soul (or ego) to the wishes, desires or needs of others, which means the subordination of one's soul to the souls of others.

This is a contradiction that cannot be resolved. This is why men have never succeeded in applying Christianity in practice, while they have preached it in theory for two thousand years. The reason of their failure was not men's natural depravity or hypocrisy, which is the superficial (and vicious) explanation usually given. The reason is that a contradiction cannot be made to work. That is why the history of Christianity has been a continuous civil war -- both literally (between sects and nations), and spiritually (within each man's soul).

If the choice is Jesus or Rand, I chose Jesus. It leads to a better life, and eternal life.


Friday, April 8, 2011

A Prayer of Graditude

Wednesday, I got word from the doctor that the drops she had me on to lessen the pressure in my eye were not working. Meaning, I will now being going into laser surgery in my battle with Glaucoma. I had the rest of the day off.

Thursday, I got up with the joy of being a father. No deep thoughts, just the joy of remembering the joy of my son, Tito from the day before. He fills the room with his joy. We spent the Wednesday as a family. Both of the Titos had eye appointments. His went better than mine. Lace took care of us both, and, regardless of my news, love filled us both, a gift.