Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Water

“Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” -Bruce Lee

I always loved this quote. Sometimes you hear or read something and it just sticks out and you become convinced there is truth in it. So I’ve been thinking of these words and what meaning they might have for my life. It got me thinking about water and its different uses and representations, especially in Scripture. Water is an interesting element in the Bible. First off, it is the element of chaos and disorder. When God is first about to create the universe, the world is a formless void where there is water. The Spirit of God moves over this dark chaos and speaks and suddenly disorder is made order. Chaotic void becomes the beautiful earth we see each day. Later, water is an element of indescriminant destruction as the great flood destroys the earth and kills all but Noah and his family. And then when you read the prophets, like Daniel, it is out of the sea, the abyss, the deep, out of chaos that the great beast arises to bring chaos and destruction to the earth.

However, in other places of the Bible, especially in the New Testament, water becomes, not the instrument of chaos or disorder or destruction, but that of salvation and cleansing. In Ezekiel, it is water coming from the temple that makes the dead sea live. It is water coming from the rock that sustains the Hebrews in the desert. But what’s more, water becomes an essential element to our salvation in Christ. Jesus said that we must be born of both water and the Spirit. Water is used to baptize us. Baptism is to be dipped, to be immersed, to go under, as Christ went under the earth when He was buried. We enter the abyss, the deep; we enter into a grave of sorts, a grave of chaos, in which we are supposed to leave the chaos in our own hearts to come out a new person. The element of chaos suddenly becomes instrumental in our freedom from chaos.

So where does that leave us now? Really it leaves us in a place of understanding both sides. In Revelation, the last book of the Bible, it says that when God creates the new earth, there will no longer be any sea. When Christ comes at the end of all things to bring His perfect peace to the world, all disorder, all chaos will be done away with. Now, and until then, we live in a world with both land and sea. We live in an age in which order and disorder are intermingled. Occasionally we have be on the land and have a firm footing, but often we simply live in chaos. But it’s the wrong kind of chaos. The quote above reminded me that we all have to truly empty our minds and allow a certain chaos into our minds. Not so much chaos in the sense of disorder but chaos in the sense of void. It has been said that each human being is a microcosom, a “small world.” God created each of us out of nothing just as He created the world from nothing, from void, from chaos. And while we should have only been filled with that which God would have seen fit to give us, instead we have chosen to fill our hearts with every kind of disorder and evil. And because of this we are tossed back and forth by life like driftwood on the waves of the sea.

Now we must learn to empty our minds of all that is not necessary. We must learn to start becoming small models of the earth in its original form: formless, but full of potential. We CANNOT empty our minds and expect for them to remain empty. Christ tells us that when a demon goes out of a man, he finds seven other demons even more evil than itself, and when they go back to that man and find no one else living in his heart, they go and dwell there, so that the second state of the man is worse than the first. Yes we must empty ourselves. The Bible said the Jesus emptied Himself. However, we cannot become empty for the sake of becoming empty. We must do so for the sake of stripping ourselves down to a state where we are once again truly maleable, bendable, able to be shaped by the hand of God. And when we look at the world, even in its brokenness, we can see so much beauty. People, trees, waterfalls, seas, flowers, animals. So if we are willing to empty ourselves and let God mold us into what He will, it will be something of true beauty. He will make us truly human. But again, to do this, we must be willing become water, to flow with His will; not to fight against the stream, because this will simply make us tired and discouraged. Instead we must stretch out our arms, as Christ stretched His out on the cross, and believe that wherever the current of His life takes us–even if it is not always a place we “want” to go–it will be a place where we will have true peace and order in our hearts.

Advertisements

Darkness

And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that these deeds have been wrought in God. -John 3:19-21

And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
-Matt. 25:30

Maybe there really is something to the idea that, in essence, God doesn’t throw anyone in hell. Maybe we really do put ourselves there. Maybe we not only put ourselves there, but in some twisted way…we love it.

Smallville

I was just thinking about the upcoming eighth season of Smallville. With just under two weeks till the season premiere, I’m sure there are many fans wondering how this season will stack up to its predecessors. It certainly will be different. While it is natural that the show has lost cast members over the course of the past seven seasons, the transition into this eighth season will see a cast shift like never before. Kristen Kreuk, who plays Lana Lang on the show, will no longer be a series regular. It sounds as if she will make a few appearances this season, but nothing even close to her regular attendance thus far. Michael Rosenbaum, who has brilliantly portrayed Lex Luthor over the past seven seasons, has left the show. Sadly, Laura Vandervoort, who just joined the show as Clark’s Kryptonian cousin Kara at the beginning of season seven, will not be a regular this season either. She will only be back for an episode or two to tie off her character’s story, at least for the time being. Finally, as difficult as any, was the loss of John Glover, whose portrayal of Lionel Luthor may have been the hands-down best acting on the show; he and Michael were probably tied, which is not surprising given their frequent on-show father/son sparring matches, occasionally with the help of fencing swords. Lionel’s character was surprisingly killed off this past season, as Lionel was thrown from a window in LuthorCorp tower by Lex. His character made, by far, the most profound transition of any on the show; again though, he is probably tied with Lex in that department.

This upcoming season will be different not only because of the characters who have been lost, but because of those who will be added. The characters of Clark, Lois, Chloe and Jimmy will all be back. And Justin Hartley’s endearing Green Arrow will be back this season and finally be joining the opening credits. Two other new characters will be Tess Mercer and Davis Bloome. Tess will be a sort of “Lex protégé” who has been trained to take up his mantle if need be, and will do so now that Lex is missing and presumed dead. She will, apparently, become just as big a danger to Clark, especially since she is of the female persuasion and therefore has an added advantage of attraction when it comes to Clark. Interestingly enough, Davis Bloome is will be a sort of “alter ego” of the creature Doomsday. Doomsday, as even many non-Superman fans know, is famous for being the one to kill Superman in the comics. Here, he will some some kind of human form, but how his story will unfold I do not know at this point. Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about this. But one must keep in mind that Smallville has never been a show about simply recreating the established Superman legend. And in many ways it can’t be. Superman started in the 30s or 40s and this re-telling started in our own day. There have been many liberties taken with the story that do not fit with traditional Superman lore: Clark getting the cape from helping a movie cast member, Lex losing his hair in the meteor shower rather than in a blotched scientific experiment, the Kents being a younger couple, and Pete Ross being an African-American. However, even avid Superman fans have seemed to enjoy the show and many of the things done by the writers have been great additions. Lionel’s character being given so much prominence and the character of Chloe Sullivan entirely were prerogatives of the show writers and ended up being great moves. So I am trying to have a little confidence that despite all the recent changes, they can still come up with a great season.

All that said, let me make a few concluding remarks. First, I was originally sad that Kristen Kreuk’s Lana Lang would not be returning as a regular. However, this is probably because I’m a romantic and despite all the crap her and Clark have gone through, I wanted to see them together, even though we know this can’t happen because of Lois. Constant love like that is rare, it’s difficult to believe it’s not meant to be. However, after further consideration, I think this is a good move. To this day I contend that Season 4 of Smallville was the best. A good part of that reason is that it seriously cut down the Clark/Lana drama by creating a little distance and having Lana dating someone else. After three years of constant tension and back and forths and Lana sadly walking out of Clark’s loft to some Coldplay song 50,000 times, Season 4 was like a breath of fresh air. Now Smallville is repeating the cycle. Seasons five, six and seven took the Clark/Lana stuff to a different, but equally disturbing level, and now after three seasons of watching it again, perhaps with Kristen gone, fans can once again get a breath of fresh air.

Also, there is Michael Rosenbaum’s departure to consider. Again, his character was so engaging. You couldn’t be dispassionate about him. You loved him or hated him, and at the end of the day probably pitied him. His character was so powerful, and the constant thorn in Clark’s side. Now he’s gone. His character is who knows where and the actor is moving on. But while this departure is a sad event for fans, I do think it is a good move. Someone made the point not long ago that in the old Superman movies, Lex Luthor was always there. And then, when they came out with Superman Returns in 2006, they had a chance to do something different and yet they went with Lex again. As if Lex is the only worthy villain in the Superman universe. It’s just not true. There are tons of them and many of them don’t get enough credit since they are overshadowed by Lex. Yet consider that Lex is merely human, and he’s not even the most bad-to-the-bone human at that. I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count how many times he got knocked unconscious on Smallville. He’s no physical threat to Clark unless he’s got some Kryptonite handy. But fans, tell me it wasn’t fun watching Clark and Titan fight it out in the episode Combat. It’s in those moments that Clark really man’s up. With no disrespect to Michael, or his bald-headed character, he’s had the spotlight for seven years. And I do think it’s time to show there are other fish in the DC villain sea.

With all that said, I can only repeat that it will certainly be an interesting season, for better or worse. Will portraying Doomsday as having a humanoid side enrich his character or just be a dumb variation? Will Lex and Lana’s absence from the show truly hurt or help? Whatever, happens, in my opinion, I believe it would be wise for the producers to tie off the series at the end of this season. Eight seasons is a good run. It’s not too short, nor is it too long. They need to end it before they run it into the ground like so many other shows have done. The Superman story is a myth that has captivated people for decades. It would be a shame to hurt the myth (as if it could be butchered much more than Superman Returns did) simply because fans or producers simply couldn’t let go. There is also an asthetic quality to be considered. Season 4 was a pivotal season. It rounded out the high school days and feel that the show began with. After Season 4, nothing was the same. Now we are at the four season mark once again. It is once again time for a pivotal season that, even if we don’t get to see the after-math, leaves the characters in a place where things are forever changed and Clark is a big step closer to becoming Superman. At the end of Season 4/into Season 5 it was the rising of the Fortress of Solitude. What could it be at the end of Season 8? I’m not sure. But hopefully it will be something big, memorable, and more positive than negative. Up to now Smallville has been a tragic story: Clark and Lana aren’t together, Lex falls, and he and Clark go from best friends to mortal enemies. I hope the producers and writers will move the show to a more hopeful and positive ending this season, an ending which says that the good that Clark will do the world is worth all of the pain and adversity we have had to watch him endure over the past few years.

Mustard

This is a blog post by my confessor and spiritual father. It really made me think. I hope it will do the same for you…

 

 

Another happy thought from the Redneck Priest….yeah, right!


Why are the Fathers always playing with my head? After all, I went to seminary and spent all that time with those high powered professors. I’ve been a minister/priest for over 30 years, so don’t I know it all by now? Apparently not because every time I read the Fathers, they rearrange my thoughts and force me to think differently. It could be that they are right and I am wrong? No, you think maybe?

Take the mustard seed parable for an example. All my life I’ve seen it as a bit of a put down. I had always read that the Lord was saying that if I had more faith, even as much as one mustard seed, I would be able to move mountains. Well, I thought that if that was the case, then my faith had to be like a subatomic particle. (People do think I’m a bit “quarky” anyway). I always had to admit that my faith was small, but my problem was how to get my faith up to mustard size (I believe, Lord, help my unbelief).

The Fathers put a different spin on it. It’s not a put down at all. The Lord said in Matthew 13 that the Kingdom of God was like a mustard seed, and then in Matthew 17, he says that I should have faith like a mustard seed. Jesus joins faith and the Kingdom of God together. So, it isn’t a challenge to the size of my faith, but to the quality of my faith. So, what is a mustard seed all about?

First, a mustard seed is a very small seed. The Fathers say that the Lord is talking about small beginnings and not so much about the size of faith. The Jews had no idea that a carpenter from Nazareth could be God Incarnate. Walking around with a ragged bunch of fisherman and tax collectors, they felt that certainly this carpenter would never amount to anything. Of course, if you let a mustard plant grow and don’t pay attention to it, it becomes a nice sized bush that could shelter many different types of birds. In fact, mustard trees could become like a weed that is quite a hassle and an irritation. So it would be for this Mustard Seed of the Kingdom; this small group would grow into a mighty tree that would shelter all of the birds of the world. In a way, Jesus was warning them in this parable, though they took little notice of it.

Sigh! Here’s the happy thought I promised you. The Fathers say that for a mustard seed to be of any use, it must be crushed. Being small, when a mustard seed is sown, the weight of the earth crushes it. To get the flavor of the mustard seed or to make mustard, the seeds have to be crushed. The Lord would be crushed and sown into the ground, but from Him a mighty tree would grow. In the near future, the little seed of the Church would be crushed by the weight of oppression (The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church), but from that crushing, a mighty tree would spring forth to shelter the birds of the air.

So my faith must be like the mustard seed. I like the big tree part of the parable, but I’m not real keen on the crushing part. When I get squeezed by the weight of my life, I don’t ooze good flavors. I tend to ooze things like anger, irritation, resentment and cursing. You can’t make very good mustard with those ingredients. I usually tend to think of this crushing as a sign of God’s anger at me. I’m a bad boy just being punished for being bad. If my faith was like the mustard seed, then I would understand that the crushing is about breaking my pride and sin, so that life can spring forth. Someday, even I could be a great tree under which others can find shade and shelter. After all, I try to sit in the shade of the tree of St. John Maximovitch. If you read his life, you would know how much he was crushed, even to the end of his life.

It is good news really, but I wish you could get there without the crushing and burying part. It is the way of the Kingdom of God, and that’s the way it should be with faith. Actually, I was more comfortable with the idea of my faith being too small, so I should try to believe more and do better. Now the Father’s have blown that idea out of the water. Maybe if I just stopped reading the Fathers, I could hold on to my convictions and beliefs with the assurance that I have it all figured out.

Hmmmm…no, better not.

Philaret

Prayer of Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow

 

O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely on Your Holy will. In every hour of the day reveal Your will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul, and with the firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by You. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me strength to bear the fatigue of this coming day with all that it shall bring. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray You Yourself in me. Amen.

Ok, is it just me, or is this one of the most…bold…and dangerous (so to speak) prayers a person can pray? Just so you understand what I mean by that question, I’m thinking along the same vein as when they say, “Be careful when you pray for patience, because God will send you plenty of opportunities to try it.”

Facebook

I loved this. Hope you enjoy.

http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/2008/07/31/106-facebook/

Government

This passage from St. John Chrysostom was so good (as much of St. John’s stuff is) that I simply had to post the link here and pass it on to you. God bless!

http://bonovox.squarespace.com/journal/2008/7/18/on-living-simply-xliv.html