27 Feb 2011

Magritte: Not to Be Reproduced

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posted by John H. Doe @ 8:00 pm

23 Feb 2011

Why no one can say what love is, is that it is a deeply personal thing, and one can give you a thousand examples from one’s own life, which may or may not have meaning in yours. And the one telling you is telling you exactly what love is, something that cannot be explained in the abstract, in the dictionary way, in the philosophy way, in the soundbite way, because it’s a bigger thing than will fit in some set of pithy words, an action of a heart in movement with such purpose that is incomprehensible if one does not already have in their own experience what it is like to be so moved. It is the meaning of life, and anyone who has truly known it will wonder for a moment why the deep thinkers have tried in vain to derive that meaning from anything else. What is love? You fool — try it, try it for real, and you’ll know in a nanosecond.

posted by John H. Doe @ 1:38 am

22 Feb 2011

Then [the criminal] said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

– Luke 23:42-43 (NIV)

How unfair! Shouldn’t the thief have been asked to repent, to make amends, to at least declare he was sorry? No lectures, no sermons, no teaching or demands for repentance, Jesus just ushers the man into the kingdom of God. Shouldn’t we be more careful with the requirements for receiving grace? Apparently not.

– Mike Yaconelli

posted by John H. Doe @ 3:33 pm

19 Feb 2011

Rapid I have moved along the byways of the world, for my time was not yet. Not so much like King David in the wilderness, before he was king, but not someone either who will come to nothing in the end, I think. I can hope. More than hope, for he who makes his future can best foretell what is to come: these the paths I blaze I know not if anyone has ever passed this way before, the road is rough and unkept. Sometimes to rest, look around me, just where I might be, not really to know until later that I had been in famous places, at times. This is the life I have chosen for myself, and I lament not that it takes me any length to achieve my destination. The journey may not be the reward at the end itself, ’tis true, but one must make delight of even a hard voyage. What else can we do? This is what life is, after all. Count it all joy.

posted by John H. Doe @ 4:13 pm

16 Feb 2011

I read in the book A History of God mention of a mystic text called Shiur Qomah (The Measurement of the Height), and the image that was invoked by the few pages in which it is described left quite an impression on me. In the measurement of God, the basic unit is the parasang, which equivalent to 180 trillion “fingers”, and each of those “fingers” stretches from one end of the earth to the other. Of course, it isn’t supposed to be taken literally, but it puts into perspective the kind of scale we should be thinking in when we conceive of the Divine. And I had this image yesterday of the garment of Him, each thread the diameter of the world, and each thread composed down to nanometer scales, with images in the cross section one could only view if one cut it open — which no one would ever do. And these threads sewn together in such infinite elaborations to make the cloth as the raiment of the “I AM”.... Heady. And we wonder why we do not understand the purposes of such a being.

posted by John H. Doe @ 3:16 pm

13 Feb 2011

Love is letting go, faith is holding on, hope is a little of both.

posted by John H. Doe @ 3:14 am

Is it true, that the more we discover about the universe at large, that God more and more resembles the smile on a fading cheshire cat? We put the label of divine intervention on what we do not as yet understand, correct? And we understand more and more, so what is still incomprehensible are more and more arcane, enigmatic twists, thus the analogy. But what if thus we are actually discovering the true nature of God, as well? That He has always been thus, and we are in discovering the mysteries of what is not God, what He has always been? That He has been waiting for us, and yet waits for us beyond the understanding we have now? Perhaps the lesson is summed up in three words: “God is love.” And love is so simple, we may never understand it. So waits that smile, showing us more than we could have imagined possible.

posted by John H. Doe @ 3:11 am

11 Feb 2011


Media saturation, deluged by so much information that we don’t know where we stand anymore:
we are the children of this age, a childhood strangely extended, and sharply shortened, apocalypses
that come and go with the TV seasons: catered to for as long as we have electronic shopping carts to personalize,
crowds of us that speak in acronymic grunts, wondering if the word “perversion” ever had meaning
(or if it was an old media creation, too, like “love”): dreaming in pixels, so digitized our eyes, not
ever having seen a photograph that was not retouched, watching reality on TV, not wondering
why In Real Life, that which is not recorded never happened, and fiction is more effective than experience.

We live in the shadow of the generations that have come before us, and stood so much taller than we
ever knew how to, because we could never be heirs to the pride that came before us — we never knew:
we never knew what it was to struggle, and therefore, could never hope to win against any odds:
we always had had enough, and so were never satisfied, and when we got more and more and more, if we could,
we stripped off the skin and threw away the meat, whether we could afford to or not, sometimes
even to spit out the tastiest tidbits, out of a contempt for some unnamable thing, perhaps
what we desired most of all, and never figured out that we could have had it, so easily, and never tried to.

In school we learned how to dream effectively, though not by the teachers, and not by the books:
it was all attitude, and that was something you had even if you had to fake it — and it’s a scary thing
when you’re twelve, and that attitude is real — though even in its most genuine, it was mostly posturing,
shuffling out the alpha males and females from the beta, learning submissive postures early,
that pyramid of popularity we learned more and more up through high school, and never really outgrew:
because we find that those same people who run high school are those same people that run the world:
and it’s all attitude, the tragedy being that if you fake it for long enough, you become that fake.

When exactly we accepted injustice as the status quo of our existence, it can only be conjectured, and it was
not childhood’s end that brought this interpretation into its inevitability — for we became dazed long before
we had to fend for ourselves: even when we had time enough and worlds, in the reality we faced, did we
at least always pay lip service to the mammon of cynicism, the wealth of its resignation, even when
in the deepest that we ever dared to go within ourselves, we always believed in the movie endings,
that somehow, good would triumph over evil — all we who had always had the luxury of believing
that we knew this secret of the universe — though not to know why sometimes it was so obviously wrong.

“They don’t make ’em like they used to”: we haven’t ever known first hand what this statement meant,
for in our past, there was no golden, Edenic solidity where the idylls of youth were ever truly free from care,
no point where there wasn’t something wrong, really wrong with the world, and we were not aware of it;
how we were convinced back from our youth that the earth was dying, or at least, continuously sick —
wondering, we, how the generations before left such a morbid ruin to us, not ever thinking how we would
make the excuse that they did, how it was like that when we got here — when we slowly began to realize
how arrogant we imagined, that we would watch the end of the world happen, and stay unchanged.

Are we bitter? We sit here amazed at ourselves. The dream that was lost was before our time, though we
sensed that something important must have happened, just before we came along, even if we missed
the dance, and were left only to clean up the cups and plates of the party we would only hear stories about.
And what we are amazed with is so mundane to think of: that we got by, that we survived, when we were fed
so little meaning to sustain us. We believed in a thousand things with half a heart, desiring something
we knew not how to put into words, for the words were taught us without our experiencing what they could mean.
We have not even the passion to curse anyone; we are not bitter: we never stewed long or hot enough.

And the brutality of it all happens only behind the screen, in a nullspace, and it doesn’t ever seem real,
even when it’s happening to you. And we can if we want imagine so much worse; and in fact, we can imagine
so much the better than we have ever likely observed; but for all our visions, do we never act upon any of them.
And we are not so much lost as milling around, waiting impatiently for something we forgot what it was,
sometime back in childhood — though in cruel, existential irony, it might be our childhood itself which is that thing.
And our enlightenment, our own sound of one hand clapping: detachment from all things by going into shock,
desireless by not seeing the point of it: lo, meandering outside the cycle of life and death, carefully untouched by destiny.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:01 am

7 Feb 2011

Every once in a while, a little of someone else’s world opens up, enough to take a peek in. You can see for a second a glimpse of that person’s problems, his worries, get a sense for what is important in his life, what’s pressing on his horizon, even what things he pays no attention to. You may not know this person at all, but for that little while where you look in, whether through some phrase that slips out in an email or a mention in a phone call, that person is a person, just like you. You relate. You two may be living different lives — completely different lives — but you are both living lives; you both are fully human beings. The window doesn’t stay open forever, and perhaps that’s a good thing, because I think we do not have room to live more that one life at a time.

I sometimes think about such windows when I hear about death on the news. When I hear of some number of people being killed in some sort of horrible occurrence, man-made or otherwise, I think about how all these windows have closed for good. The numbers do so little to convey that for each one of these within the statistics, there was a life there. There were years of experience, good and bad, that that person went through, digested, handled, folded and stapled. And there are years, now, that such a person would have gone through, but have no chance of doing so now. But here, too, such thinking is fleeting. We have none of us hearts large enough to handle the true total of tragedy in this world, or even that we hear about. We move on, thankful for the glimpses.

posted by John H. Doe @ 2:50 pm

5 Feb 2011

From the crude cry which we have so often heard during the war years: “If there is a God, why doesn’t He stop Hitler?,” to the unspoken questioning in many a Christian heart when a devoted servant of Christ dies from accident or disease at what seems to us a most inopportune moment, there is this universal longing for God to intervene, to show His hand, to vindicate His purpose. I do not pretend to understand the ways of God any more than the next man; but it is surely more fitting as well as more sensible for us to study what God does do and what He does not do as He works in and through the complex fabric of this disintegrated world, than to postulate what we think God ought to do and then feel demoralized and bitterly disappointed because He fails to fulfill what we expect of Him.

– J. B. Phillips

posted by John H. Doe @ 3:08 am

3 Feb 2011

she lights a hope while yet her heart is drowning in despair
because doom will not get any last word by her
to stop time as she wills by a choice, rapt kiss
and forgets all dreaming the motion of a heart towards her
eyes, the solemn promise that her lover is not defeated
where has she been while not the angel on my shoulder?
too long apart from the song within my soul
she drifts through daydream and leaves roses in hindsight
as the electricity of her skin blinds me with delight

posted by John H. Doe @ 4:23 am

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