Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Overheard in the Breakroom ...

"Heaven's nasty, full of all those self righteous bastards, but hell's worse because it's full of all the truly hateful people."

Not much of a choice, eh?

Not much of a ringing endorsement of heaven, either, is it? But, judging from all of the people who say they're going there, he's not far off. I have to admit it, I can be just as self-righteous as the worst of them. And that's after knowing that our own righteousness (even the "best" of us) is as filthy rags, and that the only way any of us get into heaven is by grace. "By Grace you are saved, not of works - it is a gift from God - lest any man should boast."

Many of us boast in our abilities nontheless. But our ability to get into heaven on our own is nil. If we could do it on our own strength, there would be no need for Jesus' sacrifice.

Self-righteousness is matter of pride. We're saying: "You're not doing that as well you should!" Implying that we do "it" better, whatever "it" is. Self-righteousness in the realm of sin is sin in its own right. Jesus spoke of this when he was talking about seeing the mote in the other person's eye, while not noticing the two-by-four in your own eye. Er, um, excuse me; I mean in MY own eye. As I said earlier, I can keep up with the worst of us, especially in the area of driving. But I nit-pick in other areas, too.

It comes from being a know-it-all.

But, if our goal is to bring people together in the family of God, then our pride and self-righteousness (as expressed by exacting adherance to rules, most of which do not come from scripture) only serves to drive people away.

Jesus said it during the Last Supper: "You whom I love, love one another, even as I have loved you, love one another." This is followed by a most important line: "By this shall all people know that you are my disciples, if you have love, one for another."

Love, by the way, is a highly misunderstood word nowadays. Most people think that is a feeling, some thing you "fall into" or "fall out of". Truly, though, love is a verb: you show your love by your actions. Whenever I put food on the table for our little one, make sure my wife has gas in the car after I borrow it, or keep a promise to a friend, I show love.

So when the Bible says "Love your neighbor as yourself," it's not saying to find some sack time with them, but to be as kind to them as you would be to yourself.

Hey, just a thought: If we are kind to our neighbor instead of preaching at them, maybe, just maybe, they'll stop worrying about us being self-righteous and start wondering why we're being kind. Especially if they know that they wouldn't bother if the roles were reversed. They might even ask us "Why?"

When they do, what will you tell them?

A great quote I've heard lately, and it fits right in:

"Everyone is fighting some sort of battle; be kinder than necessary."

Yes, you can!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"Better to be a Happy Pauper Than a Miserable Prince." – Part III, or "What if I'm an UNhappy Pauper?"

(I'm writing this during a low point of my life, so my apologies in advance for unintended negativisms that may creep in. As far as the intended negativisms ... Well, you'll just have to sort them out yourself.)

There's only one thing, really, that is worse than being miserable and rich:
Being miserable and poor.

"Alright, Clyde," I can hear you saying, "You're stating the obvious. What's your solution?"

MY solution is to try to find an alternative means of income that works for me. Specifically, writing. That it has earned me no income yet is beside the point. You don't know how often I've felt like chucking it all, burning it all down to ashes, and go running into the night, screaming.. Yet, I'm always drawn back to putting words to paper, or electrons to computer screen, or whatever. In spite of myself. When the pipeline from my muse is running hot I can write reams in a day. Which is good, because that gives me a lot to edit and clean up, and afterward I am actually left with something.

Even if it doesn't make me rich, it helps make me happy.

Now, what YOU do has to come from inside YOU. I cannot tell you what is in your soul to do. Like a carpenter I work at crafting my house of words so it can stand on it's own, and when I change a word, add a comma, clean up a phrase, it is with the desire to craft a house with square corners, tight-fitting windows and doors, well balanced proportions, and toned with an appropriate use of paint for walls and trim. Your work, whatever you choose to do, should come under the same exacting scrutiny that only you can give to it.

There's a Ballad of John Henry done by the New Christy Minstrels some decades back that contains the lines:

"... I can work all day in the burning sun, and lay ev'ry stroke just right,
And when you're talkin' quits, I've just begun, and I'll finish it, just for spite..."

That's what I'm talking about. Every time John Henry came down on that star drill it bit the rock and rang with a purpose. Every bit of of the force of the blow was transmitted to the rock; none was wasted, all of it was used. And it was the dedication to the precision of purpose that made John Henry the legend he was.

While the legend has it that he died in the effort to best the machine, he still won. All the machine could do was attack the rock with brute force. John Henry did so with a focus of purpose and a song in his heart.

John Henry's spirit lives on. He's built everything from railroads to rocket ships. He'll be there when we build the Lunar base and the Mars colony. He'll help us get to where we're going, wherever that is.

Read Heinlein's short story The Cool Green Hills of Earth for another embodiment of that spirit (and an excellent example of what made Heinlein another John Henry).

You have to decide what the thing you must do, is. But John Henry's spirit is there within you, waiting to help you do your thing, just right.

You can do it.

Yes, you can.

- dedicated to Snuggles, the FizzKit, a damn fine cat.
She did it all just right.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

This is Probably Not the Best Time to do this...

But, I have to say, having a pet die is right up there with the top ten worst ways to spend a Sunday evening.

Snuggles' time came when she could no longer walk or stand, so we had her put down. As is my habit, I insisted that I be there to be whatever comfort a pet can have in their final minutes. God love her, she resisted the inevitable to the very end. I'm thinking of burying her next to Mike, under the peach tree.

When I am in a more together frame of mind I'll write her elegy. Not right now. But I felt the need to say something. For whatever it's worth.

This is the one time I'm not ending with "Yes, you can."

"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die..."
--Ecclesiates 3:1,2a

Good night folks. God Bless.

Friday, June 20, 2008

"Be Kind to Your Web-Footed Friends..."

"... For a Duck may be somebody's Mother..."

As I've said earlier, life deals us lemons and left-handed monkey wrenches, and the best we can do some days is to keep on keeping on. This has been the story for most of the past few weeks. Mind you, my life has been far and away easier to deal with than the folks in Windsor, or, more recently, the people in Iowa.

Last night's news brought a sound bite saying that President Bush is making sure Federal assistance is available through FEMA, unlike with Hurricane Katrina.


While there were major glitches with Fema's response in Louisiana, the time the Federal government can act is after it has been asked to. Remember, Federal agencies cannot usurp or preempt State or Local authorities' powers. (Interestingly, the situation that caused that rule to be established in the first place dates from the Reconstruction Era after the Civil War, when martial law was about to be declared in Louisiana to force a 'fair' election. But I digress...)

I don't recall that FEMA took over before the Iowa flooding, did it?

In any case, Bush toured, FEMA is assessing and all will be right again.

All of that is by way of saying that a lot of water has gone over my personal dam, and it's been a long time since I wrote here. Sorry about that.

Mind you, I havent been close to a CNN channel to listen to Nancy Grace, but I don't think that the Iowans have been nearly so whiny as the Louisianans. (Feel free to correct me). In any case, the good people of Iowa, as well as the good people of Windsor, will, with help, pull it all together and put it back together as good or better than it was before.

And I'll get my life put back together and better organised.

Yes, I can!

"You may think that this is the end...
Well, it IS."
(Apologies to Mitch Miller, and thanks for all the memories.)
PS: the photo is of the Windsor Tornado when it was west of Greeley and still south of Windsor (taken from the vicinity of the State Farm Insurance building, in The Promontory, an industrial office park).