Sunday, February 1, 2009

an (a)Typical Sermon

And so I begin my meditations--in my room, on my knees in West La-La (a phrase made popular by one RS). Today, as it doth please the Lord, is the first of February 2009. I seek relevance this morning in the "solitude" of my room, surrounded by friends long since dead and those still ticking, alive. I give myself to their teaching(s), their wisdom--in hopes that I might enter that atmosphere of both the sacred, the secular intelligentsia.

In looking for a verse, a passage on meditative rest in God, I was led to the unlikely Psalmist Moses; his plea:

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and prosper for us the work of our hands--
O prosper the work of our hands! (90.17)

I have read this passage many, many times and have prayerfully re-articulated it loudly, boldly. It holds such powerful, vehement beseechment from Moses, the man of God who would not enter the land of promise.

He was an intelligent, but angry man--whose ire struck more than the mere bed-rock of false motive, of true disobedience. His was a testy, and tested leadership; i.e. amidst disappointment, murder, signs, wonders, pillars of smoke, and of fire, tablets, then tablets redux, commandments, a shekinah face, a can-I-see-your-face O God--Moses, led a most stubborn-hearted people, albeit God's people, God's community.

The position of community has altered considerably since such Old Testament (OT) re-tellings, re-countings, and as the New Testament (NT) Book of Acts Chapter 4 presents it, community, God's community on earth is an example--in part of socialism and egalitarian consciousness. The text offers the reader such an interpretation from verses 32 thru 35:

Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common.

With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold.

They laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

Imagine how such a mindset, a new Tour de Force, a new Tower of Babel perhaps--could manifest itself in our present, political arena. President Obama, accused of wealth distribution, or a brand of socialism, in a democratic system of government, took some heat on this issue en route to his historical election as the 44th example of the nation's executive branch.

Still, Americans are divided, complex and though "patriotic," if not loyal (to a fault, or is it stubborn-hearted), to agree on matters of finance, of wealth (re)distribution, we remain touchy, testy. I am reminded of a wise saying from a Michigan State University Professor of American History whose specialty was the administration of president Woodrow Wilson. He had this to say: "If it is not fit for earth, then it is not fit for heaven." Heaven--really?

Is that not a space, a lofty space filled with idealism and the gentle flutter of equal parts angel-wings and a D-sharp harp chord pluck, or two. Alister E. McGrath weighs in on the subject of heaven in his A Brief History of Heaven (Blackwell, 2003), and like his quote invoking C.S. Lewis who argued, "While reason is the natural organ of truth, imagination is the organ of meaning" (5). None have been to heaven and back, and been able to capture that "occular proof" even Othello demanded from the Mephistolean Iago.

McGrath's thematic, rather than historical accounting of the imaginings of heaven is worth the read, but on the subject of heavenly community I turn to the imagination(s) of Goethe first, then St. Augustine.

We open the "Prologue In Heaven" with the three archangels converging, and a brooding Mephistopheles in his snake-tongue speech, spouting: "My pathos soon thy laughter would awake, / Hast thou the laughing mood not long forsworn," and continues to quip on mankind's "pains". Such an imagination offered by Goethe plays on the reader's all-too-temporal station; i.e. his estate is far from lofty.

Still, the warning that comes from Goethe's Lord is all-too Augustinian as he posits to Mephistopheles, who in turn has been commenting on "mankind's self-torturing pains," that in the end--"Hast though naught else to say? Is blame / In coming here, as ever, thy sole aim?" Actually, in terms of good and bad--yes.

In Book I, Chapter 9 Augustine offers in his discourse on "temporal calamaties" a warning, but also a beseechment wherein he argues:

Good and bad are chastised together, [...]
because both alike, though not in the same degree,
love this temporal life. (16)

I am not sure if such love, or affect[a]tion is competing for recognition in Acts 4:32-35, in McGrath's thematic heaven, in the imaginings of Goeth, or the temporal and calamitous assignation in Augustinian discourse, but I leave it at your feet that you may distribute it as you wish.

Rafa, un ejemplo de oro y mas

¿Quién podría haber percibido que Rafael Nadal acabaría por ganar el 2009 Australian Open, recomendó "el golpe de jugador," después de que ganar en 2008: el French Open, Wimbledon, Davis Cup, y una Medalla de oro en las Olimpiadas de Pekín? ¡Uhm...este tipo!

Rafa, como él es llamado, es no sólo el número uno del mundo, pero un ejemplo en la clase y la deportividad. El todavía admite eso, en 22, él todavía aprende, crece. ¡Espantoso! ¿Podría ser esto el año que un Español, el primer jamás ganar hacia abajo, gana el Gran Slam?

Puede usted imaginar si él pasa a ganar el Francés, Wimbledon y quizá su primer US. Open. Puedo realmente, porque aquí está un tipo que comprende sus limitaciones (que, discutiblemente, hay ninguno) y las miradas para aprender, escuchar.

Esto es el principio de sabiduría, sapiente. Un hombre que escucha, aumentará a aprendera. Los tenistas, sí -- tenistas, pueden ser ejemplos para el resto de nosotros en la vida que compiten, compiten, compiten. ¿Toma en casa mensaje: todo es posible? No. No todo, pero con entrada y deliberación buena, uno puede cambiar sus debilidades en fuerzas.

La comunidad beneficia del crecimiento individual, no.