"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Saturday, August 07, 2004
Etymology: from its possession by the heroes of the Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip
1 : the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for
2 : what can happen at 3am on Cable TV
"Enough is enough," I said to myself.
It was, by now, two-thirty in the morning, and it was becoming painfully obvious to me that staring at my eyelids wasn't going to make me anything but more restless and uncomfortable. I hated nights like this, the ones that drag on and on and on and nothing whatsoever will coax your body into going to sleep except the arrival of some brutal moment where you will only get maybe four hours sleep, at most.
I sat up, giving the cat some incentive to climb on the nightstand and see what I was up to. I grabbed some shoes (always wear those if you live with a cat) and headed downstairs, being careful not to awaken my wife.
Awakening my wife at two-thirty in the morning would fall into the catagory of Very Bad Things to Do, and I had enough problems.
I slumped down on the couch and started flipping through the 400+ channels of high quality 24 hour entertainment that I am supposed to be getting piped into my house. To paraphrase the late Douglas Adams, this was obviously some new meaning of "high quality entertainment."
Besides, watching some cheesy movie was the last thing I wanted.
No, I wanted something a lot more esoteric. Something that would give my mind something to chew on but not crank up my adrenaline.
Ah, I have just the thing. I flip to the Inspiration Channel. The show is listed as "Inspiration for the Masses." Cool. I hit the button to select the show.
[Shows picture of knife blade] "...and this one is my favorite, the household knife. Why, watch what you can do with this one..." [Shows picture of shoe sole in a vise] "Here is a normal everyday sole. Now watch..." Kachakachakachaka the knife saws the sole in half in short order. "And even after that, the blade is still sharp enough to slice a tomato!"
The camera zooms out to show Ron Popeil, who is demonstrating his latest kitchen gadget to a roomfull of admiring worshipers....wait, this isn't...
I click the channel guide again. "Inspiration for the Masses." Well, obviously they mixed that up, but it sure was oddly disturbing.
Next channel was The Big hair Network. I had left my wallet upstairs, so I didn't even try them.
Next channel was a new one, the Catholic channel. Now, my upbringing is Protestant, although now I consider myself non-denominational. But for years I've heard folks tell of how the Catholics don't read the Bible, how they believe in all of these weird things, whatever. Of course, none of the Catholics I knew ever fit the bill, but I was assured that they were the exceptions.
Well, I can tell ya this. At two-thirty in the morning, the Catholic channel really was the place to be.
They were interviewing a former football star who had written a book on how to live for Christ in a secular world. He took questions, and was asked what he felt about showing your faith in public, like perhaps attending daily mass.
'He's gonna quote a Pope,' I'm thinking to myself. But he doesn't.
"Let's look it up in scripture," he says, grabbing a dog eared and well used Bible. And from there he did an impromptu Biblical overview of the topic.
Now this was cool.
And not once, not once, did he ask for money.
Then the next show came on, and it was a friar answering questions that had been emailed in. Yet again, he first reached for the Bible for the solution.
In both cases, they affirmed Christ as Savior, very clearly.
And neither show tried to sell me any kitchen gadgets.
If you have a chance, check the channel out. They do a good job.
On a larger scale though, this does highlight what I think is one of the most destructive problems in today's Protestant churches. I think the best word for it might be narcissism.
Narcissism is worshipping oneself. Imagine a person falling in love with his or her own image in a mirror. That's narcissism. That's where I see the organized Protestant churches.
Sure, there are exceptions. But I would find it very difficult to name any denomination that wasn't, or any non-denominational group (which I have found to be just another denomination anyway.)
Eventually, they all end up with their special jargon, their individual styles, their set habits of worship, and their edifices that grow larger and larger. Pretty soon, you find them on TV with Big Hair begging for money or running Ginsu knife ads.
Praise God and Hallelujah.
And over here is an humble friar, quietly answering people's questions, looking up answers in the Bible.
Well done. I listen, and drift off to sleep.
When a man takes one step toward God, God takes more steps toward that man than there are sands in the worlds of time.
The Work of the Chariot