Sunday, December 31, 2006
The last of the kids flew out this morning. My wife and daughter are in Pampa, Texas for a few days (yes the Pampa that was on Dateline last Friday night, and yes that was my step daughter, the team athletic trainer, helping the injured players off the field).
So, I'm here by myself on New Year's Eve. TIME TO PARRRR-TAY!
So I bought a frozen pizza, some Dos Equis Amber, a Sarah Lee cheesecake, 5 feet of half inch copper tubing, a new shower valve, two shut off ball valves so I can shut the water off to the basement bathroom without shutting down the whole house, 6 elbows and splices, flux, solder, pipe dope, and a torch. Seven hours later and one extra trip to Home Depot for threaded fittings for the shower mixer assembly and a 45 degree coupler.... No more leaky faucet!
I think my pizza is done. HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Friday, December 22, 2006
"I Will Follow You Into The Dark"
Love of mine some day you will die
But I'll be close behind
I'll follow you into the dark
No blinding light or tunnels to gates of white
Just our hands clasped so tight
Waiting for the hint of a spark
If Heaven and Hell decide
That they both are satisfied
Illuminate the NOs on their vacancy signs
If there's no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I'll follow you into the dark
In Catholic school as vicious as Roman rule
I got my knuckles bruised by a lady in black
And I held my tongue as she told me
"Son fear is the heart of love"
So I never went back
If Heaven and Hell decide
That they both are satisfied
Illuminate the NOs on their vacancy signs
If there's no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I'll follow you into the dark
You and me have seen everything to see
From Bangkok to Calgary
And the soles of your shoes are all worn down
The time for sleep is now
It's nothing to cry about
Cause we'll hold each other soon
The blackest of rooms
If Heaven and Hell decide
That they both are satisfied
Illuminate the NOs on their vacancy signs
If there's no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I'll follow you into the dark
Then I'll follow you into the dark
Actually, the song touches what all the great love songs have in common: they are a reflection of the Divine Romance, the Gospel. This is why they continue, as the ones that have reached into my heart and soul for 40 years, to touch people who are alive to the possibility of love and eternal union with their beloved. We intuitively know that death divides, the darkness of Hades is the loss of unity, the obscuring of our faces to one another, the breaking of our hearts. But we also know that in love Hades is destroyed, death is overcome, and death itself becomes the way we are united forever to our beloved because beyond death there is only eternity. "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts our fear" St. John says in his epistle. If we love, we will follow our beloved into the dark because we know no fear, not even of hell itself. This is the Gospel: God knows we die. We are His beloved and He comes to our side, holds our hand in His, He follows us into the darkest places of our human experience and then into death. He died alone so we will not. When our soul embarks, He is there and follows us into Hades to raise us up eternally with Himself because of Love. We know deep inside us that what Solomon said is true, "Love is as strong as death..."
Death Cab for Cutie and countless poets before them have touched the gospel within us. We will die for the sake of our beloved if it means an eternity together in love. What more can we do for our beloved than what Christ has done for us?
Monday, December 11, 2006
Coolie labor... me fooling around with a client's "decorator accessories".
Wifey and the dog she loves to hate, Duke.
This is where we removed an octagonal recessed ceiling detail and framed a curved ceiling in a bathroom. A glass block shower wall went underneath it eventually.
This is a laundry room remodel. We removed one of those florescent lights behind the plastic lens square thingys and framed an octagonal recessed ceiling. We talked them out of a round ceiling. It will eventually get crown molding top and bottom and rope lighting behind the bottom crown, 4 recessed lights and a chandelier in the center. More pictures sure to follow when the job is done.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
OK. Even I said that 30 years ago. No one ever asked me, "So... what does that mean?"
Its a good thing because I couldn't have told them what it means. It just sounds good, and, after all it IS "Bible".
So, what DOES it mean? I think I've finally discovered it.
"Truth" is aleithei (depends on how you Anglicize the Greek). It is actually what is called an "alpha privative", meaning you put an "a" in front of something and it makes it a "negative". Like "immortal" in Greek is actually "a-death", without death. I looked up the root of "truth" in Lidell and Scott Greek Lexicon, and it is "leithei". The first meaning of "leithei" is "forgetfullness" or "forgetting", the second meaning is "a place of oblivion in the lower world". So Truth, A-leithei, is "not forgottenness", or "not oblivion".
When I read this I immediately thought of Psalm 88 which I have read in Matins every Sunday for the past 10 years. It is a Psalm of the experience of hades, of forsakenness, of being abandoned by God: "Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deep...Shall Thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave, or thy faithfulness in that destruction? Shall Thy wonders be known in the dark, and Thy righteousness in the land of forgetfullness?...Lover and friend hast Thou put far from me and my aquaintence into darkness..."
Truth is the antithesis of that experience. Truth saves us, but from what and how? Truth is Christ. Christ unites us to God in whom there is no darkness. God is light. Christ unites is to God in whom we fully know and are fully known, not forgotten. Christ unites us to God in whom we have life, His Spirit gives life and abundantly, not death and destruction. Christ unites us to God in whom we are healed (in Greek the root meaning of salvation is "healing"). Christ unites us to all humanity and creation in perfect union in His body, lovers and friends are joined to us in the perfect love of the Trinity.
Truth is a Person. Truth is Christ, the God-man who united our fallen nature to the nature of God in His person. The Spirit of Truth unites the human being to Christ in whom are all the blessings of union, communion, intimacy, knowledge, and love. Apart from Truth, there is only oblivion, corruption, despair, illusion, lies and forgottenness. He is the Truth. He is not merely an empirical "fact", He is a Savior.
Monday, November 13, 2006
We returned Friday morning at dawn. This is the front of the shed with the new patio roof being intalled. We painted everything as it was being built or installed. I had to "cut in" straight lines on all the moldings with people walking on the roof and inside the shed. It is like trying to paint a straight line in an earthquake.
They delivered the front porch railing to us at 6:30pm to be painted.
The exterior was 75% done, the interior was just being started. It is dusk and we have to deliver the playhouse at 7:00am tomorrow. This is the owner of the cabinet shop and his foreman sweating.
We put a fan on to dry the paint on the inside faster. It is 10:30pm. and we put the final coat on the interior so the fabric installers can install the wall treatments at 4:30am.
We show up at the shop at 6am to final touch up then head to the estate to meet the shed. We are only allowed on this part of the 10 acre estate and 30,000 square foot house. This is the kids play area off of the play room. We don't venture into any other part of the yard because of the 15 person security staff and cameras constantly monitoring us.
TUFF SHED delivers the not so tuff shed...
Unloading from the trailer....Thomas and Jeremy on the left, and me (taking the picture) well, we're painters. That thing weighs much more than a paintbrush.
The back side of the playhouse.
The front porch is installed, and landscaping goes in...
Almost finished. The toys, furniture, etc. are being delivered and put inside. We're done with the touch up and head home. Happy birthday!
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
"H", I said, "This is Steve, I need some political advice!"
"WHAT??? Who is this really??"
"No, its me...I'm at the polls..."
"Who is this???"
"Really, its me, Steve. So I'm here and there's all these signs on the sidewalk out front. One says "VOTE AQUI"... and I don't see anyone named "AQUI" on the ballot, what do you know about this guy?"
And I hang up.
Really, I've never voted. The lesser of two evils is still evil. Yeah, we
"get to vote" for our evils, but the beauty of the democratic system is one of them will be elected and neither will be grossly evil, just evil enough to be in politics.
So... I don't vote. And I don't bitch.
This blog is a political free zone.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Friday, October 20, 2006
I'm meeting yet another client in a couple hours. We worked in the house for over a year before meeting the owners. The house itself just "felt creepy" to me and my two employees. Yesterday we found out the reason... we met the owners. I left a bill. They decided they are unhappy. We have a meeting. They are both lawyers... again........ sigh........
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
As with most heresies it began within the Church. It was begun by a convert, Fecal the First , who was quickly elevated to Patriarch of Neon, a suburb of Ninevah, due to his dynamic personality and his willingness to hold a part time job at a restuarant owned by the biggest benefactor of the church to subsidize his meager salary. The Minotaur Excrementalist "school of theology" quickly rivalled the Alexandrian School and Antiochian School in the early third century mainly due to the fact that most adherents reported attaining illumination and theoria even during the catechumenate by reading 6 to 8 books, attending Vespers on Saturday evenings, 3 out of 5 Holy Week services, being sure to touch the floor during metanias, visiting a monastery, and avoiding coffee creamer on fasting days. When asked how his adherents advanced so quickly when other Orthodox people often did not even see an uncreated night light in their lifetime, Fecal the First commented, "It is the one with zeal who knows all because he feels all and opens himself to the moving of the spirit within him, thus when he engages the spiritual life he does so with fire and that fire consumes his ignorance and leaves only the pure word of truth within him. If one fasts strictly with zeal and not eat gyros at the Festival during a fast day, God multiplies the grace 40 times, so we get results fast!"
Fecal the First, though barely out of the catechumenate himself when he was ordained, tonsured and elevated, spoke with great authority on any topic presented to him. Thus, he quickly gathered a cult following and those who heard him teach would often comment to him "We have never heard a man speak Minotaur Excrementalistically with such conviction, are your words from Uranus?" and "Anthropos, are you full of it!"
"Of course we all know that in Greek the word for "Spirit" is "pneuma" and is the neuter gender thus we must conclude when they said he was full of "IT", they were referring to the Spirit....", explained Heirosubreader Wopbopaloolopawopbopalapoulos.
Over the centuries the traditions of Minotaur Excrementalism have never been written down in a book, which is why it is hard to study and systematize. Its principles, ascetical practices, spiritual sayings and teachings have been passed on from catechumen to catechumen for 1900 years. Many of its adherents go on to leadership within the Church and start internet discussion groups, publish books and even become parish council presidents, clergy and seminary professors.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Friday, September 08, 2006
CLICK THIS for a podcast version of this article below.
I did a follow up podcast on the article with some of the listener reactions and questions clarified and answered. CLICK HERE for Part Two. I have also included the transcript of the podcast below.
I Am Not My SinBecky had become a born-again Christian only months before at an emotionally charged youth rally. She sat at my dining room table and poured out her past. Gay bars, her “butch” persona, her last relationship that she broke off. Now, like Lot’s wife, she was looking back longingly to that past, because she wasn’t finding emotional fulfillment and support in the church’s fellowship.
Paul was popular, a fraternity leader, a seminarian. He was found with another young man in his dorm room. He poured out his heart as the college’s administration met to decide what to do with him. He felt his life was over; he was contemplating suicide.
William was a leader in the youth group. He and another young man in the youth group were discovered in bed together at a retreat. As the associate pastor in charge of youth, I chaired the meeting with the parents and their kids to discuss the issue.
I hired Joe as a drywall helper and we quickly became best friends. He began to confide in me about his past of horrific sexual abuse by his adoptive family, and his life in Hollywood as a male prostitute for drug money. I eventually baptized him in my former Protestant church. Three years later he died of a drug overdose.
These are a few stories from homosexuals I have counseled over the past 35 years, first as a Protestant Christian and now as an Orthodox Christian. The Orthodox Church’s spirituality both affirmed and challenged my thinking about homosexuality over the years. This article is based on these experiences. As part of my exploration of how Orthodoxy has actually affected the lives of people living with same-sex attraction issues, several converts to Orthodoxy agreed to participate anonymously in interviews about their struggles with same-sex attraction (SSA) for this article.
What’s in a Name?When I met Joe, his very first words to me were, “I hate Jesus Christ and I hate Christians.” After learning what he had endured in the minister’s family that adopted him, I could not blame him. After becoming a Christian, he wrestled with his identity in Christ. He said he had a hard time with the Christian attitude that, “If you have sex with several people of the opposite sex you simply sinned, but if you give oral sex to one man you are a fag forever.” He never escaped the label, even in Christ, and I believe he died a “fag” in his own mind.
What do we call people who are attracted to the same sex? What we call ourselves or someone else can define the human being in a way that denies basic Christian dogma about our personhood. Carol succinctly summed up the Orthodox view in our interview: “I am not my sin.”
The Christian faith teaches us that we are all created in the image of God. The Fathers teach that the image may be marred, corroded, covered, but it is never lost. While those in the world may lay claim to their sin as a label or a badge, those who are Christians are not labeled with their sin, but are merely Christ-ians: in the image of Christ. We either bear the name of Christ, or we bear the name of our sins. St. Paul says no “fornicators, idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God, and such were some of you but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11 NASV).
When we enter the arena of the Church and the struggle against sin, we are no longer labeled with our sin. This is true of heterosexual sin, homosexual sin, or any other sin. We are not defined by the gender of the person for whom we have a sexual desire, but by Christ. The Church is only concerned with who you are becoming in Christ through the practice of the virtues, regardless of your besetting sin.
Almost all the people interviewed commented that this revelation was one of the most comforting aspects of the Orthodox faith. Their struggle is against sin, not against their humanity. Andrew said, “Being gay is not a ‘struggle’. It’s a struggle to see yourself as worthy of love and respect; from yourself, from other people, and especially from the church. And it’s a struggle to decide how to live your life. My struggles arise from this — how to appropriately express, or not express, my sexuality.” He said these are the same “struggles” all people have, no matter what their sexual orientation, and in this sense being “gay” or “straight” makes no difference.
Many Orthodox Christians prefer to call the issue “same-sex attraction” (SSA), which defines the temptation and not the person.
The Origins of SSAJoe was sexually abused by foster parents, then by his adoptive mother, his brothers, his cousins, and physically abused by his adoptive father. Carol was physically abused from infancy, then repeatedly raped from age seven. Gregory’s father traveled a lot on business. He was raised by his mother, who let him dress in women’s clothes and collect Barbie dolls, which upset his father. Gregory’s mother was raised by a father who she discovered was homosexual when she was about forty years old; her mother had died as an alcoholic. The pieces of her own family dysfunctions fell into place long after she had realized Gregory was “gay.” Michael’s family was a “normal” Christian family, but he knew there were several members of his extended family who were gay.
These stories are classic scenarios for producing people with SSA issues. However, research has shown that no childhood events are infallible predictors of SSA. Because of this, some propose that SSA is a genetic predisposition or irresistible trait. All of the respondents to my survey were aware of their SSA early in life, but there was not unanimity among them regarding the “nature/nurture” question. Some believe it is nature, some nurture, some think it is a little of both.
The Christian faith does not give us a definitive answer in the “nature/nurture” debate on any human frailty. Genetically caused disabilities are as much a trait of the fallen world as weaknesses visited upon us by lack of nurture and love. The issue for the Christian is the fact that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). What is the “glory of God”? It is living in perfect love and communion with God and other human beings.
But we don’t live in perfect love; we are born into corruption, futility, and death. We are conceived by fallen flesh and born into a fallen world. We are dealt a set of fallen DNA from conception. The moment we leave the womb, we are placed in the arms of a broken person, then taken home to a place where broken people are working out their salvation with fear and trembling at best, or with no fear of God at worst. From our first interactions, we are mishandled, neglected, and broken in ways we did not choose and often cannot consciously identify. The sins of the fathers are visited upon the following generations, not as punishment but as inevitable consequence. We are all broken.
What does this mean in terms of SSA? We all grow up fractured and broken. We grow up with a warfare within us that we did not choose, but which was given to us. We do not get to choose our parents and their limitations. We do not choose our physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual broken places any more than we get to choose being born with a big nose, an aptitude for math, a susceptibility to heart disease, or a gross deformity. We don’t get to pick a lot of our struggles. Ultimately, we work out our salvation with and through our unique array of genetic traits, attributes, and emotionally and spiritually damaged humanity.
What Do You Want Me to Do for You?“What do you want Me to do for you?” Jesus asked blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:51). This is a simple question: What do we want from relationships? Joe learned to equate sex with connection or “communion” with other human beings. Gregory is attracted to strong men. He knows he is filling his father’s void in his heart. Carol was abused by men and just says, “Is it any wonder I find emotional and physical connections with women more comfortable?”
People with SSA are seeking the same thing every human being is desperate for: intimacy, unconditional acceptance, to love and be loved. This is not only about SSA. The loneliness and despair of the rejected, ugly, shy, socially inept, and sick are as hellish as the loneliness of the person with SSA. The more introspective people I’ve talked to about SSA say it is not about the sex; it is about emotional attachment, the feeling of being connected intimately to another human being. I’ve heard the same thing from heterosexual people who have committed adultery and fornication. The intense emotions of a relationship are like drugs. They are powerfully addicting. Relationships often become obsessions, and people will sacrifice everything they have for them. As important as the emotional aspects are, sex always enters the relationship. Why do potentially intimate and godly friendships between any genders often get sexualized?
First, we must remember that sex in and of itself is not evil. While it is a God-given, powerful, and unitive act between two human beings, it is neither necessary for human wholeness and intimate relationships, nor is it a “God-given right.” Our sexuality is natural to our human bodies, like eating and drinking. What is not natural is for us to wantonly use gratification of our fleshly desires to try to fill a spiritual void. Indeed, people can degenerate into a sexual life that is at the level of the animal passions, where human beings become mere objects of lust. Fasting teaches us we are not ruled by our bellies. Abstinence teaches us we are not ruled by our genitals, in spite of what our culture says.
Obsession with sex is the signpost for our culture’s existential descent into loneliness, isolation, and despair. We settle for pleasure over joy, emotion over intimacy, feelings over love, and copulation over union. The delusion is powerful. To paraphrase a Woody Allen quip, “Sex without love is an empty and hollow experience, but as empty, hollow experiences go, it’s one of the best.”
When damaged human beings are incapable of godly intimacy and joy with another human being, we often resort to sexual pleasure with another at best, or at the expense of another at worst, as a way to connect. The issue for the Christian is that we exchange our personhood, as defined by the image of God who is Love, for an identity as a biological creature, defined by whom we have an orgasm with in order to feel good. It is “exchanging the truth of God for the lie, and worshipping and serving the creature rather than the Creator” (Rom. 1:25).
To Change or Not to ChangeWhen I asked, “Do you think homosexuals can change?” all but one of the people interviewed said, “No.” The sole dissenter said, “I don’t know, God knows.” This was not the response I was anticipating.
All of these people related having problems with how SSA was approached in their former traditions, whether it was “God made you this way, so it is OK, just go with it”; or “all fags are going to hell”; or “homosexuals need to change into heterosexuals.” There was a wholesale rejection of their former traditions and current Protestant approaches.
Regarding the Christian organizations that promote “change therapies,” Michael said the Protestant group he was in was “counterproductive, actually. For the promise was to ‘change,’ which didn’t happen — not even close, which only added to the general hopelessness.” He said that the “drop-dead gorgeous” leader of the group eventually ran off with one of the members and is now living an openly gay lifestyle, a danger Carol noted about “support groups.”
Andrew vehemently stated, “Those organizations are dangerous. . . . Anyone who would send their children to those people should be ashamed of themselves, churches included. They should have the millstones put around their necks and be thrown into the sea.”
One might think this notion of inability to change is a sign of hopelessness and resignation. To the contrary, it was unanimously a comfort and hope to all the people I interviewed, because it placed the battle where it really belongs: against the sin, and not against themselves. And the warfare against sin is indeed a battle. Joseph said, “The discipline of Orthodoxy is essential. In time, old patterns of behavior fade, and new patterns become normative. But then you run into an old temptation face-to-face and the struggle seems as fresh as ever.”
George, an 80-year-old man who has not had a relationship in over 50 years, still has thoughts and desires that assault him. Andrew mentioned an icon of St. Anthony that said, “Expect temptation until your last breath.” As with all sin, constant vigilance is needed to escape falling.
The Beauty of VirginityI was talking with a young man one day about SSA and the Orthodox view of celibacy and virginity. He said, “So what you are saying is, if I become Orthodox I am doomed to celibacy.” Of course the answer is yes, but the “yes” is not a bitter pill if we understand the nature of the medicine.
First, love does not require sex. As godly as it is, sex and sexuality are not the foundations for any relationship. There is a higher union between human beings than mutual orgasms. Sex may fulfill and enhance a particular relationship, but it is not essential for any relationship. Personhood ultimately revolves around who we are in godly union with another human being of any gender. The joy of Trinitarian intimacy comes when we struggle against sin in order to define ourselves in Christ rather than in another human being’s arms, no matter how comfortable and affirming the experience feels to our deluded and shattered hearts.
Second, “doomed” is a strong word. It implies a living hell, torment and despair. As flippant as this may sound, living without sex is not doom. People with SSA are not the only people in the world “doomed” to abstinence as a lifestyle against their choice and desires. Having the possibility of a committed monogamous relationship because one is heterosexual is not a guarantee that one will actually have such a relationship. And having a heterosexual monogamous relationship is not a guaranteed wall against temptation, lust, and overt sin. Choices still exist, ungodly desires still run rampant, and one can wither away in loneliness and despair even in the context of a God-ordained heterosexual marriage.
Third, neither is celibacy hell. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 7 it is set forth as the “Cadillac” of vehicles to virtue and service to God. In Protestant churches, the singles ministries attest to the prevailing attitude that there is something “wrong” with a Christian who embraces the single life. But biblically, celibacy does not imply living without deep friendships, intimacy, and love. In fact, it implies learning to be intimate and to love as Christ Himself loved — as a celibate human being. It may not be a spiritual discipline we would have chosen from the cosmic menu if given the choice, but it is indeed one that all Christians may, at one time or another or even permanently, have to embrace for the sake of the Kingdom.
Carol observed that even married people are called to self-control. Andrew stated that living without sex may be difficult to accept, hard to do, a bleak prospect, an unfulfilled desire, but it is possible and it is far from “doom.” Monasticism is an option all have considered, but they know that it is not a “cure” for SSA any more than for any other sin.
The Role of the ClergyGregory said he would never confess to a priest he heard using the pulpit to “rant” about homosexuals. Andrew does confession with his parish priest, but not about his SSA issues. He sees a nun for that. He said if his priest asked, he would admit it, but he is not going to volunteer it. In spite of the discomfort and fears, all of the people I interviewed had a trusted spiritual director. Some were parish priests, some nuns, some lay spiritual directors. Establishing this relationship is a risky step for the person with SSA, and one that is understandably fearful.
It is clear that all priests are not created equal, and some may not be able to deal with SSA issues due to their own weaknesses. Clergy must assume that if someone with SSA issues is attending their parish, they are there to be saved; otherwise they would be going somewhere else. As Andrew said, “I don’t plan to march around church waving rainbow banners or anything. I’m not here to make political statements or change social policy. I just want to be a respected member of the parish.” The person with SSA is wary and discerning, and clergy who assume a pastoral stance regarding SSA in private conversations and sermons are trusted. None of the people interviewed cared whether their spiritual director had SSA or not. The only thing that mattered was their acceptance of them as persons and their spiritual advice.
The ChurchI asked if anyone felt it necessary to “come out” to their church. No one I interviewed felt the need to or saw any wisdom in “coming out” to their entire parish, and in fact saw that as unwise and ill-advised. On the other hand, when I asked if they feared being “outed,” none of them were concerned about it.
I asked, “How can the church help people with SSA?” because ultimately the burden for healing SSA does not fall only on the clergy, but on the whole church. Andrew stated, “I really haven’t thought about how the parish could ‘help’ a gay person. I’d just want my fellow parishioners to not think any differently of me. Treat me the same as when you thought I was straight. They have known me for ten years. I am active in serving my parish. What could they say to me at this point?”
Gregory issued this challenge: “In our pre-communion prayers we all confess that we are ‘the chief of sinners.’ No one should look at another person as if they stand on moral high ground.”
I believe the message is clear. We need to adopt the attitude that we all stand at the foot of the cross in need of mercy. The Church is the Body of Christ and should be the place where the pure love of God that knows no respect of persons is found. No matter what passion someone is struggling with, we need to be the Church, the hospital for sinners, the place where we can be healed, find acceptance and relationships that draw us closer to God through love and compassion.
When all is said and done, the basic human issue we all face is loneliness and alienation. Loneliness is not a function of sexuality, but of sin. The cure for our alienation is in Christ, in His Body, the Church. The Church needs to be the Church: the place where humble love embraces the sick, the suffering, the emotionally, spiritually, and physically deformed, the outcast, the least, the lost and the lonely. In this embrace it teaches the meaning of God’s love, which transcends and heals all the ravages of sin visited on the human being, including same-sex attraction.
(Names and historical details have been changed in order to protect the identity of the people mentioned in this article.)
PART TWO, Q and A, CLARIFICATIONS
Saturday, August 19, 2006
My name is Billy Evans. I am a very sick little boy. My mother is typing this for me, because I can't. She is crying. The reason she is so sad is because I'm so sick. I was born without a body. It doesn't hurt, except when I try to breathe.
The doctors gave me an artificial body. It is a burlap bag filled with leaves. The doctors said that was the best they could do on account of us having no money or insurance.
Every time you forward this letter, the astronauts can take more prayers to the angels and my dream will be closer to coming true. Please help me. Mommy is so sad, and I want a body. I don't want my leaves to rot and my body turn into mulch before I turn ten. If you can only send it to a few people at least maybe we can get a new bigger burlap bag for me as I get older.
If you can only send it to a few people at least maybe we can get a new bigger burlap bag for me as I get older.
If you don't forward this email, that's okay, I'll understand. But my Mommy says you're a mean and heartless bastard who doesn't care about a poor little boy with only a head. She says that if you don't stew in the raw pit of your own guilt-ridden stomach, she hopes you die a long slow, horrible death and then burn forever in hell. What kind of self centered cruel person are you that you can't take five FREAKIN' minutes out of your happy day to forward this to all your friends so that they can feel guilt and shame about ignoring a poor, bodiless nine-year-old boy too?
Please help me. I try to be happy, but it's hard. I wish I had a kitty. I wish I could hold a kitty. I wish I could hold a kitty that wouldn't scratch and claw and chew on me and try to bury its turds in the leaves of my burlap body. I wish that very much.
Billy "Smiles" Evans
Sunday, August 13, 2006
I can't explain it, but I conciously remember ever since I was a child I wanted to be old. I thought it was cool to look really old. When I was in my thirties and many of my friends were going bald, I was not. I realized I may never be completely bald. I was disappointed. I was actually jealous of my best friend who went bald when he was mid twenties. With all the hair restoration programs out there playing on men's fear of age, and me getting carded for the last time in my life at age 47 in a restaurant with my daughter, I've concluded there is no justice in the universe. But I knew that a long time ago.
So, I'm chronologically another year older and not anywhere near another year wiser. I've concluded God created a set amount of wisdom to go around when He created the world and it has gotten spread thinner and thinner as the human race multiplies. It is hard to not believe that when the last TV I used to watch regularly was Donna Reed, Lunch with Soupy Sales, Ed Sullivan Show and Father Knows Best. In recent years, I've seen a few minutes of programs like CSI, Jackass, ummmm... and one of those psychic crime shows where the stars look like they are zoned out on Thorazine... Anyway, I cannot grasp why these programs are entertaining. Seriously. What happens to the human soul when it is filled with images of grisly death, absolute stupidity and supernatural stories with no clear dogma attached. It is difficult to not take the "world is going to hell in a handbasket" bunker mentality when I percieve that the vast majority of the people in this country actually mindlessly accept this assault on their humanity (its tantamount to inviting a serial rapist to attack your mind and soul), and the media keeps pushing the envelope of brutality and dehumanizing and sells soap, real estate and male performance enhancing drugs every 6 minutes during the assaults.
OK... so that's my "old man" rant. Sorry, just had to get it off my chest.
So, my kids did in fact take ME out for my birthday to celebrate what my oldest daughter called my "slow march to death". Yeah, it is funny, we can say stuff like that in our family and laugh. I seriously have the coolest kids on earth (step kids, god kids and all). No, they aren't all Opie and Beaver Cleaver and they've all had their seasons of flying out of orbit in one way or another, but I'm never ashamed to introduce them to anyone as my kids. It is not until you get old enough to have kids this age that you understand the true parental meaningfulness of the Psalm verse "your children will rise up and call you blessed".
Anyway, no, I'm not moving into the senior trailer park I found in Apache Junction... I'd have to give up my women. Actually I'd have to give up my library to fit into it too, and I'm not sure I can do that either.
All in all, life at 54 is good. Mortality looms larger and larger. The body grows more and more feeble and weary and breaks and creaks more easily. Yes, when you are young it is a slow march to death but it seems that as we get older we somehow break into a sprint. We can only hope to wake up to one more gray hair, one more brown spot, one more wrinkle of flesh and pray we live long enough to at least look as wise as we should be.
Friday, August 11, 2006
It occurred to me that in 362 days I can move into a "Senior Trailer Park" in Apache Junction.
Imagine, living large for 3,000.00. Heck, I could charge my house on a VISA card! .... and I can order from the "Senior Menu" at Denny's. The thing I'm living for is the twenty five cent coffee at McDonalds. Of course those aren't the only benefits of surviving the 60's, EST, and 80's music. I'm trying to remember what they are....
You know what... I'm going to have to think about that, the kids are here and I'm going to have the experience that all parents live for: sharing a pitcher of beer with your kids.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
The Last Chapter of "Life, Death and Love"
"…and boy gets girl."
"Let us rejoice and be glad and give glory to him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and his bride has made herself ready. Come, and I shall show you the Bride of the Lamb. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, and made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 'And I heard a loud voice say, 'Behold, the very presence of God is with his people, and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying or pain: the first things have passed away.” The Revelation of John
This is the whole of The Book. It is a story of love, surely, but of a love like all true loves, one that suffers greatly for the sake of finally and eternally possessing the beloved. It is the divine romance, the story of God's passionate pursuit of his beloved through Hell and high water to have her for Himself. And the heart of sorrows is the heart touched by this True Love, it is the heart that longs for the ending of the story.
The Revelation of John is at the end of the story, an epilogue of sorts, told in huge images of such cataclysmic epic proportions that the message cannot be missed if we will stand back from the movie screen instead of standing with our noses to it. It is simply a retelling of The Love Story in ghastly and beautifully awesome images in case we did not understand when it was told in the terrifying human drama in which it actually happened: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy and girl both suffer greatly, insurmountable odds are overcome, boy gets girl in the end and they live happily ever after. This is the plot of every date flick romance ever written and filmed.
And this is the end of the matter for the heart of sorrows, the one bruised and beaten by and for the sake of Love. This thing all lovers know, to this all lovers will say it is so: In the end, in love, nothing, but nothing, matters except the presence of our beloved. If that presence is ours we at once lose everything and possess all creation. This is Truth: When I finally sit in the presence of my beloved, embraced in her unconditional passion and love for me, all the pain and sorrows of the joining of our hearts, the hell of the fear of rejection, all of my longings for her in her absence, all of my doubts about her love, all of the darkness of being abandoned by her because of doubts and fears, all of our unbelief, lack of faith, all of it is consumed, all is swallowed up in our love. None of it matters, none of it is of any consequence, none of it is even remembered, all the first things have passed away, all things are new. There is now only my beloved; no belief or unbelief, no fear, no doubts, no past, no future, no sense of the passing of the present moment, only the two now one in a mystery and the eternal sense that it is now as it was intended from the beginning. For that moment love reigns supreme, the world, the two of us, God himself and all his creation is a seamless tapestry; everything is woven together by the bright threads of romance and passion. This is the final and best mystery, the hope to which all we know about human and divine love, and that to which
This is the eternal moment I long for most desperately. To rest in the arms of my True Beloved, to sit in the presence of His divine passion for my heart and soul, to be lost in Him, to be one with Him, finally and completely. It is then that I know all of life with its tears and desperations, hopelessness and fears and sorrows will be swallowed up in His holy and fearless love. It is then I will know that I am, but it is truly more than knowing: I will be, yes I will BE my Beloved's and He will be mine.
"Arise my darling, my beautiful one. For behold the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers have appeared in the land. Who is this that grows like the dawn, as beautiful as the full moon, as pure as the sun? I am my beloved's and his desire is for me. Come my beloved, let us go out into the country. Let us spend the night in the villages. Let us rise early and go to the vineyard, let us see whether the vine has budded and its blossoms have opened, and whether the pomegranates have bloomed. There I will give you my love."
"The Spirit and the Bride say come.”