Spirit

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There’s a lot of discussion about the various manifestations of the Spirit, including all the talk about spiritual gifts, miracles, Presence, power, peace, and so on. I’ve not heard a lot about what I think is the most vital aspect of the work of the Spirit in this world — Timing. The Spirit is all about timing, and when the Spirit is doing a work and people are tapping into this… curious events related to this timing tend to take place.

It’s not about the visible miracles or writing on the wall. It’s about the timing. It’s a rhythm we can participate, if we learn to listen and respond to the beat.

Don’t Panic

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I’m a big fan of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series. They have an intelligent wit which I’ve only otherwise encountered in the writings of Mark Twain. The silliness is saying something, something profound. They are, in fact, my filler books, that which I read whenever I don’t want to think about what I’m reading, or don’t have anything else lined up for the moment, or simply want a diversion from more intentional literature.

Back in the early days of home computing the author, Douglas Adams, was quite involved in spreading the charms of his books in diverse ways. One of those early ventures was a text based adventure based loosely on the books. Now, some enterprising chaps have gone and added some visuals. Go ahead, take some time off whatever you are doing, and revisit the gaming marvels of the mid-eighties.

If’n you get past the bulldozer, let me know… I’m having a bit of trouble there.

hyperbole

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It is a fact that those in the news media are not experts on just about anything they choose to write about. Despite the advances in research tools and communication, such things do not actually fill an unknowing mind with knowledge about a particular topic, especially when there’s a deadline.

That being the case, it’s a fair bet that just about everything we see or read called news is not exactly right. We’ve all experienced this, finding in some area of our particular knowledge that a reporter didn’t quite get it right. We think this is a fluke. Except that on any given topic there’s a person who is an expert somewhere in this world saying, “They didn’t quite get it right.”

I remember the fire. The scant pieces of news we got before the electricity went out, and from friends overwhelmed with worry about our non-evacuation, were almost entirely wrong. Sometimes the reporter would be reporting from a location which was actually located forty five minutes away. The problem is that reporters are paid to say something. Whether or not they actually know something is not the most important issue. They have to say something.

I’ve joked with friends that one of the most important skills a seminary teaches pastors in training is the ability to be absolutely confident in saying something even and especially when one doesn’t know the real answer. People go to pastors for information and confidence in a stance. They don’t need to know all the details, they just need to know that someone does. So a pastor is paid to be confident in an area which no one really is all that confident about.

They teach the same thing in journalism school apparently. It’s not a matter of telling facts or the truth, it’s about sounding confident that “someone” has a grasp on the situation enough to talk about it. It’s the demand in our souls that if something is going on, there needs to be at least one person saying, “What’s all this then?”

Like with theology and Scripture the amount of people who really know something about a given topic are so negligible that it is perfectly safe to make up or adapt information in order to fulfill the most important aspect of confidence. A reporter who really doesn’t know anything or has nothing to say is not really worth their salary. So they have to say something. In the most difficult situations, where there can be the least information and that which exists is the most apt to change, a reporter has to cling to something, whether that be a chosen narrative or fleeting rumors.

The fleeting rumors work because there’s always the chance of a real scoop, which would propel the reporter into some higher level of journalism. No one really remembers the rumors which don’t pan out, so it’s safe to throw out as many as possible trusting one or two will stick.

The narrative is even safer because it gives an air of authority to a reporter. A story is chosen, and continued. This story is then supported by bits and pieces of information, which add up over time to enhance the chosen story. Anything which is outside of this is not mentioned, for doing so would both tarnish the chosen narrative and demote the reporter from their self-appointed role as expert. With the narrative approach in place any unanticipated event can always be used to bolster the story, with instant expertise granted by being included in already established assumptions. Sure, the facts may change and the details, but as long as the narrative is continued the reporter feels they are still on top of things.

Rumors and narratives are media crisis management.

Katrina was a crisis for the media.

Having experienced the media during a time of crisis, it makes a lot of sense why I would choose to distance myself from most media coverage. It’s not because they are blatant liars. It’s because they need to get paid to do a job, and the reality of a situation is not necessarily the most important part of doing that job. They are paid to say something, which gets to be a real problem when they don’t have anything to say and when they don’t know anything about what they saying. They’ll get enough things right to keep the appearance of accuracy… but the real fact is we just don’t know the crucial things they will get wrong, and that makes the media fairly useless in covering a disaster. Except, of course, for their very capable ability to pique our prurient fascination with suffering.

Random Rumination

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We walk in a world not our own, possessing yet holding loosely, letting go all that binds, all that hinders the goal. We are the redeemers of time – what is fateful becomes fruitful, what is a fear and foe becomes a tool, a force, a power to be walked on like water. Yet like water we sink into time, letting our faithlessness cover our heart. We sink, worried, fretful, possessive, greedy, grasping because time is drowning us in its overwhelming force. We must walk on time, above and outside, yet touching it, letting its waves be that which we place our feet upon. It is only through and by faith we become Time-Walkers – eternal beings who transcend yet are connected with this elusive dimension.

Happy Autumn!

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Though according to my reckoning it really started in early August. We had a short summer, taking up most of July, with an extended Spring and an early Fall.

But, now the sun announces its ironclad rule. It’s right over the equator. Fall is officially here right now at 3:23.

Have a grand Autumn.

theosis

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Lost and Found

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Colin was lost. Sure he knew where he was, but he was still lost. The strong fragrance of the trees filled his nostrils as he stood staring. It was afternoon, and though warm, not overly so. Clouds were moving and gathering towards him, likely bringing some more cooler temperatures, and who knows what else. Fortunately, he was prepared for an extended time in the wilderness. Unfortunately, he just realized he no longer knew how extended this time was going to become. Birds, jays and chickadees among others, seemed curious about this new visitor to their neighborhood. For a time he was curious about them as well, but that was before he realized he no longer knew where he was.

The trees around him were immense. As tall as he could crane his head to see, as big around as his first apartment after college. It was an amazing place to be, even if one had strayed to get here. Not a stranger to the wilderness, Colin just now became aware that he was not as familiar with it as he assumed. Maps always seemed to be easily read, but, in this case, where he absolutely knew he was had no bearing on anything he could see around him. That hill he just came down was not really supposed to be here, nor that creek in front of him. He was not sure where these were supposed to be, but here is not it. So sure he is of this he first doubts the makers of the map, and then begins to doubt the maker of the hill and the creek. It wouldn’t have occurred to him that he could have misplaced himself, but here he was, quite misplaced.

After continuing to stare for a moment, he realized being bewildered about his location was not all that bad. So he sat on the remains of a trunk, climbing up its crumbling side, and let the forest smells calm his already peaceful soul. The screeching cackle of a steller’s jay caught his attention, but only in a casual sort of way. High above him, he watched clouds gather in the sky, but craning his neck so far back to do this quickly became tiresome, so he restored his gaze upon the ferns, and rocks, and birds. There was something about sitting in the midst of such an abundance of life. Something primal and invigorating, something which reached into his depths and said “Ah… yes.”
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Late Summer in the Forest

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Summer in the Mountains

Clouds, rain, and the soul stirring aroma of moist soil and trees.

sitting by the birdbath

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Angelic Chickadee

Another thought for the day

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With all our strength let us hold fast to Christ, for there are always those who struggle to deprive our soul of His presence; and let us take care lest Jesus withdraws because of the evil thoughts that crowd our soul (cf. John 5:13. Yet we will not manage to hold Him without great effort on the soul’s part. Let us study His life in the flesh, so that in our own life we may be humble.

Let us absorb His sufferings, so that by emulating Him we may endure our afflictions patiently. Let us savor His ineffable incarnation and His work of salvation on our behalf, so that from the sweet taste in our soul we may know that the Lord is bountiful (cf. Ps. 34:8). Also, and above all, let us unhesitatingly trust in Him and in what He says; and let us daily wait on His providence towards us.

And whatever form it takes, let us accept it gratefully, gladly and eagerly, so that we may learn to look only to God, who governs all things in accordance with the the divine principles of His wisdom. If we do all these things, we are not far from God; for godliness is ‘perfection that is never complete.’

I note this because it is true and worth taking to heart. I also note this because with this passage I start the set of thePhilokalia over again, having finished the volumes yesterday I press onwards in my reading today. They are, apart from Scripture itself, the guide to the depths, maps for the journey into the heart of the faith, and the most important spiritual reading I have come across. These books are, for all purposes, the advanced texts on living the Christian life. The Scriptures tell us of God and Christ and Spirit. These books fill us in on what it means to live the Christian life to the utmost. I have learned more from these than from any other source, finding through my reading to grow and find again the trails which seemed so lost. I struggle and I rejoice, I yearn and I call, discovering that above all the practical things, it is the pursuit of Christ which is my real goal.

As a junior in college I prayed with all earnestness and sincerity I would be able to understand Paul when he said, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” For the last decade I have been indeed taught this, and am still being taught this. I learned new things even today, and await the new things I will grasp tomorrow.

In trying to explain these things I get frustrated, either someone understands or they do not. I am tired of explaining but I am renewed in my zeal to pursue. May the Spirit do a work and bring fruition from my work. May I hold fast to Christ.