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Monthly Archives: January 2013

the fool

the story goes that one of the city’s top cardiac specialists died

at his funeral his coffin was placed in front of a huge replica of a heart made of red roses

when the minister finished the sermon and everyone had mourned appropriately and said their formal goodbyes, the large heart opened up, the coffin rolled inside, and the heart closed again

it was indeed a majestic tribute to the much loved cardiologist

suddenly, just as the coffin disappeared from public view one of the mourners burst into fits of stifled laughter, convulsing uncontrollably, barely able to keep from crying out raucously

… as if on behalf of all the mourners in attendance, and clearly irritated by the laughing man’s insensitivity, the mourner standing next to him asked,

“why are you laughing, what could possibly be so funny?”

“… and how could you be so insensitive?”

I was just thinking about my own funeral,” the now almost hysterical man replied…

“I’m a gynaecologist …….”

_________________

 

for with nothing we enter this world … and with nothing we shall leave

and after all… what is life and death but a portal?

hand puppet

Today I read through a very long and passionate argument on Facebook mostly centred around the issues of sin and inheriting the Kingdom of God.
It went this way and that and there was some fairly good debate but I think what really impacts me is the seemingly programmed nature of our comments and how in this age of freedom of speech, self-determination, the advance of technology, the abundant increase of knowledge and unlimited access to information etc. we still seem not to really have a personal, individual voice.

We all seem to speak mostly out of the residue of our subconsciously primed culture in such an overpowering way, seemingly without any idea that we are mostly regurgitating triggered memes – the published popular opinions of others.

Just to look at how many of us who follow Christ and who celebrate the claim to have a personal ongoing and intimate relationship with God seem to mostly react by quoting scripture (often out of context) to throw at any seemingly “controversial” issue.  Also often catch-phrases heard or read from gospel pop-star preachers or spiritual meme champions on TV, the internet or on CD’s and DVD’s.

Jesus proclaimed truth and seldom if ever quoted text and reference …

He would frustrate most by using non-religious terms and objects… using everyday experiences, drawing gold from mundane events and common themes.

He never indulged in lengthy quotation of biblical text (except for the one passage he read out from Isaiah in the synagogue one Sabbath)

He was practical, personal, intimate.

… and in this we all seem to agree… that he spoke truth.

However, we remain mostly confused…

… with multitudes of variations on what is considered truth

… and in our incoherent take on truth we abound almost exclusively with quoted text and reference.

often lengthy and so ambiguous that debate itself is frustrated.

 

Have we not got an opinion?

Have we no personal ideas?

… no personal ideas birthed in personal experience

…. from walking with God

personal experiences that we can speak of in normal conversation?

…in relevant, regular, everyday terms and language?

… just like Jesus did….

 

And yet we all claim to follow him…

to walk with him, …

… to be his disciples

to talk with him daily

personally

directly

intimately?

 

There is a saying that goes, “a Freudian slip is saying one thing and meaning your mother.”

heaven and hell

a powerful understanding amongst many is that of there being a “heaven” waiting for the faithful and obedient …

a glorious realm out there where a personified God dwells in all power, perfection, peace and presence

… a place that is reserved for those who are the faithful and obedient down here on earth…

however, as with all things there is always more than one angle to it all and in this instance a powerful statement is also made, …

“people will not say, ‘here it is,’ or ‘there it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you”

it seems reasonable that this heaven is not somewhere else but actually inside us … not “out there” somewhere but “in here” somewhere… very close indeed

and perhaps not necessarily a physical place, but more a perception, … a tangible concept… a consuming state of awareness … a reality that stems from within … which flows up and outwards … perhaps like rivers of living waters?

an equally powerful understanding amongst many is that of there being a “hell” waiting for the unfaithful and disobedient …

some realm of eternal torment out there where personified evil dwells in all vulgar violation, violence and degradation

… a place reserved for those who are the unfaithful and disobedient down here on earth

… and perhaps not necessarily a physical place, but more a perception, … a tangible concept…

and as with all things there is always more than one angle to it all…

 

so it appears that there are these two opposites, heaven and hell

…two different places?

or perhaps two different ends of the same string?

 

… could it not be equally true that the kingdom of hell is within us…?

superficial depth

“So, what do you do?”

This seems to be the most common way we make the first step of exploration when meeting someone for the first time.

I know it is mostly very innocent and a customary socially appropriate exchange to boot but I can’t help thinking that it subtly and perhaps even bewitchingly encourages us to define ourselves not by who we are but by what we do.

With each and every one of us there are a multitude of things we “do” and none of these things defines us completely.  In fact, even what we do as a primary activity in our daily lives is for the most of us not what we would choose to do.  Most often what we “do” is a functional necessity usually linked directly to the most primitive of drives – that of survival rather than something that is a full and free-flowing manifestation of who we really are.

Apparently they say it has been proved that real job satisfaction is very rare in our times.

To add more to this suggestion our apparent obsession with desperately making it to each weekend (TGIF) is perhaps powerful evidence of this sad state of affairs.

Now this dominance of defining ourselves almost exclusively by what we do rather than by who we are may well be as a result of a gradual shift away from the entitlement of the aristocracy in history where worth and status in society was granted not by individual functionality or competence but by peerage.

Or perhaps it could also be a spin-off from the beginnings of the industrial revolution where focus on the worth of the individual was suddenly shifted and extended in terms of the specific function played in the production line of  life in the modern age of mass production and consumerism?

Either way I would think it’s perhaps more than just an interesting thought to entertain.

A fruit tree at the very earliest stage in its life may well be confused with any number of other sapling species to all but the expert botanist …but come maturity it will be defined by its fruit and all debate will then cease.

It is written in the ancient spiritual texts that a tree will be recognised by its fruit – however, it was the fruit tree well before it bore the convincing fruit declared it as such.

In these deceptive times perhaps our marketing saturated and superficially obsessed, materialistic society has succeeded in convincing us otherwise though?

So, how would you define yourself?

the thinker1

I took the time to sit and think
of what it is I next could drink
and as I sat and thought some more
I spilt my drink upon the floor

Lloyd Martin 3.1.13