Now for something completely different…

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The lives and travails of rustled sea horses.

Thought for the day

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From Makarios of Egypt:

He who wants to be an imitator of Christ, so that he too may be called a son of God, born of the Spirit, must above all bear courageously and patiently the afflictions he encounters, whether these be bodily illnesses, slander and vilification from men, or attacks from the unseen spirits. God in His providence allows souls to be tested by various afflictions of this kind, so that it may be revealed which of them truly loves Him.

All the patriarchs, prophets, apostles and martyrs from the beginning of time traversed none other than this narrow road of trial and affliction, and it was by doing this that they fulfilled God’s will.

“My son,” says Scripture, “if you come to serve the Lord, prepare you soul for trial, set your heart straight, and patiently endure” (Ecclus. 2:1-2). And elsewhere it is said: :Accept everything that comes as good, knowing that nothing occurs without God willing it.” (Didache iii, 10)

Thus the soul that wishes to do God’s will must strive above all to acquire patient endurance and hope. For one of the tricks of the devil is to make us listless at times of affliction, so that we give up our hope in the Lord. God never allows a soul that hopes in HIm to be so oppressed that it is put to utter confusion.

As Paul writes, “God is to be trusted not to let us be tried beyond our strength, but with the trial He will provide a way out, so that we are able to bear it.” (1 Cor. 10:13).

The devil harasses the soul not as much as he wants but as much as God allows him to. Men know what burden may be placed on a mule, what on a donkey, and what on a camel, and load each beast accordingly; and the potter knows how long he must leave the pots in the fire, so that they are not cracked by staying in it too long or rendered useless by being taken out of it before they are properly fired. If human understanding extends this far, must not God be much more aware, infinitely more aware, of the degree of trial it is right to impose on each soul, so that it becomes tried and true, fit for the Kingdom of heaven.

and this…

He who wants to enter the strong man’s house through the narrow gate and to make off with his goods (cf. Mt. 7:1;12:29) must not surrender to luxury and obesity, but must strengthen himself in the Holy Spirit, having in mind the phrase, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God’ (1 Cor. 15:50). But how should he strengthen himself in the Spirit? He should heed the words of Paul, that God’s wisdom is regarded as foolishness by men (cf. 1 Cor. 1:23), as well as those of Isaiah, that he had seen the son of man, and His form was despised, and He was forsaken by all the sons of men (cf. Isa 53:3).

Thus he who wants to be a son of God must first humble himself in the same way and be regarded as foolish and despicable, not turning his face aside when spat upon (Isa 50:6), not pursuing the glory and beauty of this world or anything of this kind, not having anywhere to lay his head (Mt. 8:20), vilified, mocked, downtrodden, regarded as all as an object of contempt, attacked, invisibly and visibly, yet resisting in his mind. It is then that the Son of God, who said, “I will dwell and walk among you” (Lev. 26:12), will become manifest in his heart, and he will receive power and strength so that he can tie the strong man up and make off with his goods (cf. Mt 12:29), and tread upon asp and basilisk (cf. Ps 91:13), snakes and scorpions (Luke 10:19).

along with this…

No little struggle is required of us to break through death. Christ says: “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21); but he who fights against us and takes us captive also finds some way of being within us. The soul, therefore, must not rest until it has killed him who takes it prisoner. Then all pain, sorrow, and sighing will flee away (Is. 35:10), because water has sprung up in thirsty earth (Is. 43:20) and the desert has become full of waters (Is. 41:18).

For He has promised to fill the barren heart with living water, speaking first through the prophet Isaiah, saying: “I will give water to those who are thirsty and who walk through dry land” (Is. 44:3); and then through Himself, with the words: “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst again” (John 4:14).

Finally, this one:

The soul overcome by listlessness is manifestly also possessed by lack of faith. It is on account of this that it lets day after day go by without heeding the Gospels. Not paying attention to the inner warfare, it is taken captive by conceit and frequently elated by dreams. Conceit blinds the soul, not letting it perceive its own weakness.

“Not paying attention” does not necessarily mean “not perceiving”. We may be quite aware of the inner warfare, but not paying attention when we do not actively respond to the inner warfare. Also, conceit isn’t necessarily feeling oneself is grand. It is an inordinate focus on self. It can be pride, but it can also be found in a curious embracing of our own difficult circumstances, letting our frustrations get into our soul, and finding perverted comfort in even this negative situation, because if we cannot feel victorious at least we can feel something.

God however is wanting our victory, knowing that such victory is more often than not accomplished by landing on the beach and advancing in the face of overwhelming enemy fire. We want our Christianity to be a cruise ship, when in reality we have embarked on the journey of the higgins boat.

All the first quotes to suggest that when we find the last quote defining our present reality, it behooves us to get back to the fight, slogging when walking is difficult, walking when running is hard, running when we feel the strength of the Spirit coursing through our being.

A lily

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lily

Potter

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Some would say the Potter series is subtly encouraging Christians to embrace the occult, but unlike television programs like Charmed or the animated series W.I.T.C.H., Harry Potter doesn’t seem rooted in the same rituals and religion that Scripture warns us about. People seem to be changing their minds after seeing the films or reading the books, discovering that there’s more to J.K. Rowling’s multi-volume masterpiece than fantastic storytelling. They’re finding redemptive themes that point to larger life lessons in harmony with Christian beliefs.

Russ Breimeier writes one of the better, and more succinct, arguments in favor of Harry Potter. The points he makes are among those I’ve made in various conversations and which have stood out to me since the day I first saw Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on the Warner Brothers lot a few years ago, a viewing which prompted me to go out and buy all the four books then out, and each since.

I dare say that Harry Potter is among the most Christian books in the market today, with the themes showing much more connection to the fuller message of the Scriptures than such “Christian” novels such as the Left Behind series. One might argue they are without Christ, but so are the Lord of the Rings books.

For that matter, the book of Esther doesn’t mention God either. God, we learn through the prophets, tends to care more about themes than specific phrases. Our Christianity tends to be more focused on the specific phrases while forgetting the more important themes.

Moon and Mars

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From last night, the view above:

Moon and Mars

Evening Inspiration

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Sunset
Sunset

Again?

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San Bernardino Flying Squirrel

random idea

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So, after waking up quite early and spending my time reading a good chunk from Pannenberg’s Systematic Theology I decided I had earned a bit of a break and breakfast.

I, of course, decided it was a fine time to watch The Sea Hawk starring Errol Flynn. I’m not generally into old movies, but these action flicks always are a treat.

I pop in the DVD and am delighted to see they have a set of features called Warner’s night at the movies. Basically, this includes a brief introduction by Leonard Maltin about the year the movie was made. Then there’s a preview for another movie in the same year, a movie short, a cartoon, and a newsreel. After this the movie starts.

Now this is good, quality old time fun. I only watched about ten minutes of the actual movie, but I had a grand break with the other stuff.

It gave me an idea, what I think is a grand idea, only I’ve no money whatsoever, so I’m suggesting it rather than doing it, though I’d do it if I had the extra money to get it done.

Movies now have become frustrating experiences. The previews are sometimes good, but the rest of the pre-movie experience has been so cluttered with ads and whatnot I feel violated. I pay good money not to watch commercials, then they sneak them in. It’s irritating.

However, how fun would it be to have a movie theater decide to go back to the classic pattern. Instead of ads and upwards of 8 previews, there’s a nice pre-movie priming experience. One preview, followed by a newsreel. Now, being this is the movies the newsreel has to be about something uplifting and fun. I think there’s a place for telling all the nasty stuff of war and this world, but this newsreel could feature one of the many unknown quality stories, which are news but not the kind of news that news shows consider news.

Then, there could be a short feature. These are the kinds of shorts that get nominated for oscars but no one ever sees. Then we could have a cartoon, something silly, maybe with a musical number. At this point the movie starts, and everyone feels they got their money worth.

Now, I would pay extra to go to a theater like this, and I would go out of my way to go to a theater like this. Moviegoers are being abused by crass commercialism. Someone really needs to get back into the business of movie experience making. They’d make a bundle.

Now here’s something you’ll really like…

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San Bernardino Flying Squirrel

San Bernardino Flying Squirrel

nostalgia

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A wee change of pace here, and something for those in my particular generation (X- as it used to be called). The Top 100 toys of the 70s and 80s.

Have a fun time returning to your childhood.