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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Do You Know the Way to Shell Beach?

- Hey, do you know the way to Shell Beach?

-You're kidding! Me and the Mrs. spent our honeymoon there. All you gotta do is take Main Street West to... or is it the Cross... You know, that's funny, I can't remember if it's Main Street West or the Crosstown.
-from Dark City
































































































































































Photos taken 08/29/2010 at Budd Lake. Click on the pictures to see them enlarged.

You Must Wait for Me








You can download the song HERE.
I made this music using samples:
By sandyrb -NATIVE FLUTE FIGURE 03.wav
By Robinhood76 - 01459 indian flute signal 1.wav
By Figowitz - Midnight Church Bells Frederiksborg Castle.flac
By Benboncan - Large Anvil & Steel Hammer 4.wav
and some free sample samples from Loopmasters and a clip from the now public domain movie, Atom Age Vampire.

Monday, August 30, 2010

This is Rock & Roll (no. no it's not)







Rock or not, you can download it here.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Psalm 81 – If My People Would Listen…

It all began so triumphantly, so jubilantly. It began with a call to worship. “Come, now is the time to worship. Now is the time to shout for joy. Shout to the God of our strength, our power, our defender. Shout to the God of our strong shelter. Start the music. Play the harp and the zither. Beat the tambourine in time. Blow the new moon trumpets. This is festival time. This is a celebration.”

Imagine the swell of celebratory singing and the brassy trumpet blasts, the whole congregation gathered to sing the songs with the Levites and the priests. Imagine the ringing as their shouts echoed from the walls.

They had come together to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles – one of the three biblically required annual festivals. The Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot celebrated both, the harvest of the land and recalled the Israelites forty years in the wilderness when they had lived in tents.

“You shall live in booths seven days; all citizens in Israel shall live in booths, in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt.” (Lev. 23:42-43).

It was laid out in the Torah, the law, that they should celebrate these annual festivals. So they celebrated. They came from all across the country, in caravans of devoted pilgrims, making their way up to Jerusalem. And there, in the city of Zion, they celebrated this feast of the Lord. There was music and dancing and feasting. There was laughter and bright colored garments. They celebrated with much enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm is an interesting word. Literally it means: “having [a] god within.”

But when God speaks they do not recognize his voice. “I heard a voice I did not recognize.” (Psalm 81: 8) Imagine the awkward silence, now, as the trumpets falter and the singers are quieted. The voice of God interrupts the festivities and brings them to a staggering halt.

“I remember, even if you don’t,” he said. “I remember how you cried out for me. I heard you and I came to you in your time of distress. I felt your pain as if it was my own. And what is more, I took the burdens off your back and the heavy baskets off your shoulders. I relieved you of those weights which were crushing you into the ground. I rescued you from slavery and death. You cried out in distress and I rescued you.”

This was the history behind Sukkot, the reason for their tabernacles in the wilderness. Had there been no liberation from the slavery in Egypt, there would have been no time in the wilderness, and no reason to celebrate this annual feast of the Lord.

"From the hiding place of thunder I answered you, even though you provoked me at Meribah’s waters.”(Psalm 81: 7)

There is a long silent pause and the people reflect. (Selah)

They remember how Yahweh had spoken their ancestors who stood at the base of Mt. Sinai, his voice resounding in the dark and impenetrable clouds above that volcanic mountain. Above them, the sky burned red and there were heavy ashy clouds. There was thunder and the flashing of lighting and they were terrified. They pleaded with Moses to speak to God for them so that they would not have to stand in the awful presence of God themselves.

They remember, also, how their ancestors had provoked God with their grumblings. At Meribah they complained because of the bitter waters. “What are we to drink?” Three days out from their miraculous escape through the Sea of Reeds – the sea that had crushed their pursuing slave masters, the people of Israel had begun to complain. They were thirsty. They were thirsty and they were tired, tired of the desert. They were tired of travel and tired of the monotony of their diet. They longed for the rich and varied diet they’d enjoyed in Egypt. There they had eaten cucumbers, and melons, and leeks, and onions, and garlic, and fish! Oh the fish! “Why have you brought us out into this desert? To die? It is a place unfit for sowing, it has no figs, no vines, no pomegranates, and there is not even water to drink!” (Numbers 20: 1 – 5) Things were so much better back in Egypt… Weren’t there graves enough back in Egypt that you brought us out to this wretched place to die?

Not once, but repeatedly and again they grumbled and they complained. They sneered at God and tried to overthrow his servant, Moses. But God continued to provide, nonetheless. He gave them food, and he gave them water, and he brought them through the wilderness to the land of promise, the land flowing with milk and honey.

After the Selah silence, when finally God speaks again, he invites them to listen.

“Listen, my people, while I give you warning;
Israel, if only you would listen to me!” (Psalm 81:8)

This is a sort of refrain that he will repeat two more times, if my people would only listen, my people Israel… Three times he gives voice to his hope that they will listen, his warning if they will not.

“You shall have no strange gods,
shall worship no alien god.
I, Yahweh, am your God,
who brought you here from Egypt.”
(Psalm 81: 8 – 9)

This was the first commandment given to them at Mt. Sinai; you shall have no other Gods before me. This one they should have remembered. Even if the other nine commandments had somehow slipped their mind, this one they should have remembered. Israel was the only monotheistic nation.  The were different in this regard from everyone around them.  They should have been able to remember this particular command.  But remembering and keeping are different things, aren't they?  Surrounded as they were by polytheistic nations, Israel often succumbed to the worship of these strange gods and goddesses. They imported the worship of idols and mixed their ceremonies at the temple in Jerusalem with pagan elements.

They forgot the promise that they had made, the promise that their ancestors had made and that they had repeatedly reaffirmed – that they would worship only the one true God, the living God, the God of heaven and earth, Yahweh. Instead, they had put him aside in favor of Ba’al and Asherah, and Tammuz and Moloch and others pagan deities.

But it wasn’t Ba’al who had rescued them from slavery. It wasn’t Tammuz who had rushed the Egyptians. It wasn’t Moloch or any of the others. It was Yahweh, the great I Am That I AM. When they cried out from under the Egyptians lash and from under the weights piled on their shoulders as they carried bricks for the construction of Egyptian cities it was Yahweh who heard them from his dwelling place in heaven, and it was Yahweh who came down from heaven to rescue them.

“I, Yahweh, am your God,
who have brought you here from Egypt;
you have only to open your mouth for me to fill it.”
(Psalm 81: 9 – 10)

But his people, Israel, wouldn’t listen. They refused to recognize his voice and instead they continued to stubbornly persist in their vain worship of pagan idols. They offered sacrifices to storm gods and gave offerings to fertility goddesses. And all the while Yahweh left them to it. He allowed them to continue in their own mistakes, watching and waiting for them to return to him, waiting for them to hear his voice and to listen to him.

“If only my people would listen to me,
if only Israel would walk in my ways,
at one stroke I would subdue their enemies;
turn my hand against their opponents.”
(Psalm 81: 13 – 14)

If only my people would listen to me.  God wasn't upset that the pagan nations weren't listening to him.  Why should they?  They hadn't entered into a covenant relation with him.  He hadn't given his laws to them.  Yahweh wasn't concerned that the pagan nations ignored him.  But when his own people, the ones called by his name - when they ignored him, that hurt.

If they would only listen… If they would listen, and not just hear his words but truly listen, and then walk in his ways, then Yahweh said he would provide for them. He would sweep away their oppressors. He would brush aside their opponents. And he would fill them will good things. “You have only to open your mouth for me to fill it.” He would fill them with the finest of grains and with “wild honey from the rock.”

If they would only listen; if his people, which were called by his name, would only listen…

Friday, August 27, 2010

Somnambulism



We are awake. We are asleep.  We are somewhere in between - between sleep and wakefulness - walking though dreams both horrific and inviting, functioning in two planes.  We dream and dream of dreaming. We awake and we do not remember.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Psalm LXXXI

We need a thousand zithers
and a thousand tambourines,
and even more,
a thousand new moon trumpets
to play this song.

I heard an unknown voice,
strange lips calling me, pleading, please…
I answered from the hiding place of thunders
though thoroughly provoked by your bitter waters.

And now, who will listen;
who will submit?
There should be no strange gods here,
no capricious deities
always demanding but never appeased
by your sacrifice.

Open your insatiable mouths
and I will pour sweet honey from the rock.

(2010)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Moon after Bible Study

One member of our congregation lives in a nursing home. She doesn't get out much except that I pick her up Sunday mornings for church and Tuesday evenings for Bible study and women's ministries. Tonight, as I drove her home after the programs, we both noted how very large the moon was in the sky, round and full it hovered just above the houses and trees.

I drove slower than necessary so she could enjoy the view.

After I returned her to her room and signed the check-out log at the nurses station, I went back out to the van and pulled out my camera.

The picture above is actually a combination of two different pictures I took this evening. I combined the moon from one photo with the lake and trees from another. Click the picture to see it enlarged.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Softer than Shadow and Quicker than Flies

Quietly he laughs and shaking his head
Creeps closer now
Closer to the foot of the bed
And softer than shadow and quicker than flies
His arms are all around me and his tongue in my eyes
"Be still be calm be quiet now my precious boy
Don't struggle like that or I will only love you more
For it's much too late to get away or turn on the light
The spiderman is having you for dinner tonight"
-The Cure-


I took this photo of a spider outside my garage door. I've walked through his web three times this week.

(Click on the picture to see it enlarged.)


Monday, August 23, 2010

Into the Spiral

``See yonder, lo, the Galaxye,
Which men clepeth the Milky Wey,
For hit is whyt.''
- Geoffrey Chaucer, The House of Fame


Would you believe that this picture began as a photo of rain drops on the hood of my car?

I was informed today that using computers and programs such as photoshop isn't really art.  The woman who told me this does not have a computer.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Bright Banners and Pinball Music

Photo taken at the Martin Co. Fairgrounds.  These banners were above the entrance to the midway. 



If you like the music, you can download it here. (You can, I suppose, download it there even if you don't like it, but why would you?)  Enjoy.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven

This hymn - written by the Scottish hymn writer Henry Francis Lyte (June 1, 1793 - November 20, 1847) - is a paraphrase of Psalm 103. The music was composed by the English composer Sir John Goss (27 December 1800 – 10 May 1880).






Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven;
To His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who like thee his praise should sing?
Praise him! Praise him!
Praise him! Praise him!
Praise the everlasting King.

You can, if you like, download this song here.

Bless the Lord? Really? How?

Tomorrow's sermon is drawn from Psalm 103 which begins
 "Bless the LORD, oh my soul:
all my inmost being, praise his holy name."


This is an idea I've always wondered about- How can I bless God?  Doesn't that go from the greater to the lesser?  How can I give anything to God, let alone consider "blessing" God?  What do I have that would bless his holy name?

The Hebrew word for "inmost being" is qereb and is used for both people and buildings.  In buildings it would be an innermost room, a room without windows, dark and unilluminated.  If one thinks of the body as a building, as a Temple specifically, the innermost room would be the Holy of Holies, the place where God was thought to dwell.  It was a dark room.  Completely unilluminated.  No windows, no lamps.  The only light there would be the light of God's presence.

The prophet Jeremiah used the word to describe the darkened center of people's thoughts
Oh people of Jerusalem, purify your hearts from evil so that you may yet be delivered. How long will you continue to harbor up wicked schemes within you? (Jeremiah 4:14)

The "within" there in that last question is qereb.  The innermost dark place of the soul. 
How does that place bless God?




This image, made for the PowerPoint sides to be used in tomorrow's service, was created from several pictures I took at the county fair the other day.

I purposely took numerous overexposed pictures of the merry-go-round as it spun past me, and then merged several of them together in photoshop.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Another Published Poem

Hey, hey!

I've got another published poem. This time it's I Was a Teenage Thetan from Outer Space published by The Clockwise Cat. This is my third poem published by that time sensitive feline.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

LRH's Study of Particles (Contains no Particles)

I have one more LRH song for now.

On 29 October, 1953 L. Ron Hubbard gave a lecture to his dribbling disciples entitled "The Study of Particles." In the entire lecture he didn't mention particles even once.







If you like it, you can download it here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

County Fair - Results

The family took a trip to the county fair this afternoon. Bright sun, cool breeze, the smell of cattle and the sound of screams from the midway. Ahhh summertime.

But skip all that! What were the results of the art competition?

I entered five paintings - and each recieved a ribbon. Whoo hoo.

The Doctor - 2nd
The Monster or All My Vain Toil - 3rd
Woman in Yellow - 2nd
Abstract Flower - 3rd
Conquest! Or Something Like It - 1st

I think that's something like $9.00 in prize money!

LRH's Disappearing Machines

If you can figure out what he's talking about, you win the secret prize.



"Have your mother out in front of you making your father's machine disappear..."

What?

If you like the song, you can download it here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

LRH Loses It

He sounds crazy.  But maybe it's too easy to take things like this out of context.  Maybe I just took random phrases from his recorded lectures and strung them together without reference.  Maybe.

But consider the source.  LRH (Lafayette Ronald Hubbard) isn't exactly known for his sanity. 

Here he is in one of his lectures becoming increasingly agitated and decreasingly articulate - with additional music by me.





You can, if you like, download it here.

Monday, August 16, 2010

County Fair Entry #4 - The Monster - or - All My Vain Toil

The Monster - or - All My Vain Toil
I took my paintings to the county fair today, stood in line, filled out the entry forms and handed over my work to the volunteers behind the table.  The fair opens tomorrow, but I think my family won't be able to go until Wednesday.  We hope that the recent cooler weather holds out until then.

This is the fourth of the paintings I submitted this year:  The Monster - or - All My Vain Toil.  It's acrylic paint on a canvas board that was prepared with collaged paper scraps. 

The other entries that I observed as I waited were -like last year - mostly of the puppies / clowns / flowers / birds I saw out my window variety.  Not that there's anything necessarily wrong with those types of paintings, but my stuff does seem rather out of place amongst them all.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

County Fair Entry #3 - Abstract Flower

I hate naming my work.  "Abstract Flower"  d'uh.  That's what it is.  But, the name of the work should, I think, add something to the overall meaning.  You can see that this is an abstract flower. There's no  need for me to tell you that in the title.  

So, sometime before tomorrow afternoon, when I drive these paintings over to the Martin Co. Fairgrounds, I'll have to think creatively and find some interesting titles. Meanwhile, here is entry number three.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

County Fair Entry #2 - Woman in Yellow (new title coming soon...)

The Martin County Fair begins next week; it's the other Big Fair in Minnesota.  145 years of tradition all in one place.  Farm animals.  Hot greasy food.  Cold drinks.  The lights on the midway.  Can ya' stand it?

Yesterday I posted a photo of one of the paintings I'll be submitting to the fair competition. Here is another.  There will be four in total.... four paintings anyway.

Creatively titled "Woman in Yellow" (for now) is entry number two.  It's acrylic on canvas.  Simple.  None of yesterday's confusion about which category. 

I have four paintings that I'll submit.  And I have a couple of photoshop drawings that I'd like to enter as well.  BUT! Our ever-so-forward thinking county does not have a category for digital art.  Nothing in Fine Arts.  Nothing in Photography. 

Maybe I could put it in Class A - Fine Arts, Lot 8 Drawing - under "ink?"

Artists have been using computers to create art for 30 some years.  When does that get included in the 145 years of Martin Co. Fair tradition?

Click on the picture to see it full sized. Thank you. 



Friday, August 13, 2010

County Fair Entry #1 - The Doctor

The Martin Co. Fair opens on Tuesday. Entries for the various competitions are due on Monday. In the next couple of posts I'll show you what I'm submitting this year.

First up is - The Doctor

The Doctor
The Doctor is painted with acrylic paint on a canvas board that was prepared with scraps of paper to give it texture.

The frame is enhanced with mechanical and electrical scrap salvaged from an older project that failed. The chain in the upper right is for the monster he's bringing to life in his laboratory.

Now the difficult part is determining which category this fits. Class A - Fine Arts (Paintings and Drawings) Lot 3 Acrylic.... okay but does the inclusion of other material (the paper on the canvas and the scraps on the frame) put it into Lot 7 Mixed Media?

The Acrylic category is further divided into a) still life b) animal or bird c) scenery d)portrait e) floral or f) other. The Mixed Media category is not. It's a catch all.

I could, I guess put it into Lot 9 - Not Specified - also a catch all for all the leftover whatnots and whosits.
frame detail


Click the images to see them full sized. Thank you.

Late Night Thunderstorm

I was hoping to take my son out last night to watch the sky for meteors, but instead we had thunderstorm. I let him sleep and I grabbed a camera.  I know, I know.  I should stay inside when there's lightning, but it was too cool.  I didn't get a lot of  pictures, but this one turned out pretty well. 




















I went back inside the house shortly after taking this photo.  There was a huge flash of lightning and a boom that shook the ground and then the power went out all across town.  I went in to make sure the sleeping children were still sleeping and that the sump-pumps were connected to the emergency power back up. 


My son and I are hoping for a meteor show tonight.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

...all that exists roars into flame




















...all that exists
Roars into flame, the tortured fragments rush away from each
other into all the sky, new universes
Jewel the black breast of night; and far off the outer nebulae
like charging spearmen again
Invade emptiness.

from "The Great Explosion" by Robinson Jeffers.

(Drawn with a can of spraypaint and Photoshop. Click the picture to see it full sized. Thank you.)

The Spirit of God Hovered Over the Waters




















In the beginning God created heaven and earth.  Now the earth was a formless void; there was darkness over the abyss.  He drew a circle upon the surface of the deep and a divine wind hovered over the chaotic waters.  God said, "Let there be light," and there was light and God saw that the light was good.

You should listen to John Coltrane's Spiritual as you look at this picture. 


(Drawn in Photoshop.  Click the image to see it full sized. Thank you.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Message from Sputnik

On October 4th, 1957 the Soviet Union launched the first artifical satellite into a low earth orbit. Sputnik (Простейший Спутник-1) travelled at 29,000 kilometers (18,000 mi) per hour, taking 96.2 minutes to complete an orbit, and emitted radio signals at 20.005 and 40.002 MHz which were monitored by amateur radio operators throughout the world.

The signals continued for 22 days until the transmitter batteries ran out on 26 October 1957. What did it have to say before its batteries failed?  What message did it send back to the people of earth?




Giving credit where credit is due, I used the following music samples from http://www.freesound.org/ :

By simondsouza
on the one 8 beat Dm 90.wav

http://www.freesound.org/samplesViewSingle.php?id=665
too damn funky 16 beat Dm 90.wav
http://www.freesound.org/samplesViewSingle.php?id=670
singin it 8 beat Dm 90.wav
http://www.freesound.org/samplesViewSingle.php?id=666
sticky 8 beat Dm 90.wav
http://www.freesound.org/samplesViewSingle.php?id=668
calling out longer 12 beat Dm 90.wav
http://www.freesound.org/samplesViewSingle.php?id=661
asap 8 beat Dm 90.wav
http://www.freesound.org/samplesViewSingle.php?id=657

By suonho
suonho_ScaryScape_01.wav
http://www.freesound.org/samplesViewSingle.php?id=9695

By SpeedY
F#min--(Low-D).wav
http://www.freesound.org/samplesViewSingle.php?id=8495
Bmin--(Mid-G).wav
http://www.freesound.org/samplesViewSingle.php?id=8461

By Benboncan
Clang.wav
http://www.freesound.org/samplesViewSingle.php?id=92987

By ERH
pulsar.wav
http://www.freesound.org/samplesViewSingle.php?id=30617

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Psalm 33: Creating a Joyful People

Shout for joy, you upright;
praise comes well from the honest.
(Psalm 33: 1)

It’s why we’re here today: to give expression to our praise and our joy – whether or not we do that in shouting or singing or silent prayers or what have you. We’re here to express our thanks and our joy. We’re here to praise and worship the God who created the universe. We’re here to show gratitude to the God who preserves the universe. We’re here to honor the God who rules the universe. We are here to praise and worship God.

And that is good for us to do. It is right and fitting for us to praise God. In old English we would say that it is “meet” for us to worship God. It is appropriate. It is fitting. It is proper for us to do this.

Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. *1

We are here to praise God. We have been created to give glory to the creator and to enjoy him forever.

We are not here, in this building – in this chapel – in these pews, to make ourselves feel better. We’re not here to “be fed.” We’re not here to be refreshed or strengthened. We are here to praise God, and if we are strengthened or refreshed or encouraged in the process, well so much the better. But we are here – firstly – to bring our praise to the Creator.

We come to present ourselves to the Creator of the Universe, and to say thank you, to shout for joy in the presence of our creator.

By the word of Yahweh the heavens were made,
by the breath of his mouth all their array.
(Psalm 33: 6)

The existentialist philosopher Martin Heidegger posed the question: “Why is there any Being at all – why not far rather Nothing?” Why is there something instead of nothing? *2

This question has either plagued or delighted philosophers and scientists (depending on whether you like deep, abstract, esoteric questions) for centuries. Why is there something? Why does the observable universe exist?

Sadly – the observable universe cannot answer this question for us. Scientists peering out to the farthest edges of the universe with high powered highly sensitive telescopes may be able to determine how large and how many billions of years old the universe is. They may be able to describe the birth and life and death of stars and galaxies. They may be able to calculate the movements of celestial spheres with precision to the fiftieth decimal place but astronomers and cosmologists will never be able to answer that ultimate question – Why.

The answer to that kind of transcendental question is beyond the realms of science. Don’t get me wrong here; I greatly appreciate scientists. There is much about this universe that I do not understand, and I look to scientists for that knowledge. I want to understand this beautiful world that we live. And so I ask questions: Why does the sun burn? Science can tell me that? Of what is the moon composed? Science can tell me that. How old is the planet Earth? Science can tell me that. Why are the sun and moon and earth here? Sorry. Science just can’t answer that question.

Instead I have to turn to Revelation – the information that God has revealed to us about himself – things we could not know unless they were revealed to us. The bible – one source of God’s revelation– tells us that “In the beginning God created heaven and earth.” *3 The bible doesn’t get into the science of that creation; it doesn’t describe the physics or chemistry or biology or the mechanics of the creation event. But it does tell us that God created the universe, the observable universe that we can see and touch and taste and hear and smell, the universe in which we live was created by spoken word of God.

The prophet Isaiah directs us to “Lift up your eyes and look.” Who created all these thing? God did. *4

Let the whole earth fear Yahweh,
let all who dwell in the world revere him;
for, the moment he spoke, it was so,
no sooner had he commanded, than there it stood!
(Psalm 33: 8 – 9)

Psalm 33 invites us to sing a “new song.” Sing to him a new song; make sweet music for your cry of victory.” (Psalm 33:3)

There are seven places in the Old Testament that call us to sing a “new song” and, strikingly, in every case this instruction is done in the context of either redemption or creation. And those themes – of creation and redemption – are inextricably linked because that which God is ultimately concerned to create is a joyful community of the redeemed.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth; he spoke and from out of nothing they came into being. He called forth light from the darkness. He separated the waters, piling them up, bottling them, *5 as it were and made the dry ground. He made the luminaries of the heavens – the sun and moon and stars. He made birds and fish and mammals and lizards and insects and invertebrates of every kind. And then he created – in own creative image – humankind, both male and female he created them. And he said that it was good; it was very good, indeed.

From the very beginning God was creating a community.

Later, he created a special community of people for himself, and he created them by redeeming them from 400 years of slavery in Egypt. The language of creation is used for the redemption of the people of Israel from Egypt – for the creation of the people of God.

In the desert he finds him,
in the howling expanses of the wasteland.
He protects him, rears him, guards him
as the pupil of his eye.
Like an eagle watching its nest,
hovering over its young,
he spreads out his wings to hold him;
he supports him on his pinions.
(Deuteronomy 32: 10 – 11)

Here in Deuteronomy, Moses describes the way that God found and cared for, and protected and – created the people of Israel. Moses uses two key words in this passage – “waste” and “hover” Both of these words are used only one other time in the whole of the Pentateuch – and again they are used together – in the Creation account.

“Waste” is used to describe the chaotic uninhabitable condition of the world in the beginning. “…the world was a formless void.” The words in Hebrew are the same. It was a howling uninhabitable wilderness, wasteland, void. “Hover” is the verb used to describe the Holy Spirit’s creative movement over those chaotic primordial waters. “…there was darkness over the deep, with a Divine Wind (breath/Spirit) hovering over the waters.” God was and is interested in creating a special community – the community of the redeemed.

When the Old Testament prophet Isaiah and the New Testament Apostle John *6 write about God creating a “new heavens and a new earth” they are not talking about God forming a new physical planet earth – but more importantly they are describing God creation of a new and redeemed people of God. And this is why we shout for joy, why we sing our songs of praise, why we sing new songs and make sweet music for our songs of victory. We are the new creation – the old has gone, the new has come – praise God. We are the new heavens and the earth – created and redeemed by the powerful word of God. How happy, how blessed is the people whose God is Yahweh. How happy and how blessed are the people that he has chosen has his heritage. (Psalm 33: 12) *7

The people of God is a confident people. They have no reason to fear the chaotic waters. They have no reason to be afraid of the forces in the world that lead to death and destruction. They are created and redeemed by the powerful word of God. The same God who created also preserves and protects.

What joy, there is, for the people whose God is the Lord. How happy, how blessed, how joyful are they. And why are they so confident, so happy, so blessed? Because they trust in God. Their trust and their hope is God alone. He is their rock, their shield, their cornerstone. And they know that he is firm forever. His word – his powerful creating, and redeeming word – is firm forever. The people of God know that they can trust in God. And knowing this, they do not put their confidence in the things that the rest of the world trusts for security.

A large army will not keep a king safe,
nor his strength save a warrior’s life;
it is a delusion to rely on a horse for safety,
for all its power it cannot save.
(Psalm 33: 16 – 17)

We hear a lot in the news these days about national security and the need for a strong and well equipped army. We need, we are told, the armed forces to fight the war against terrorism. We need our military to make us safe.

And this is wrong.

Without disrespect to those men and women who have served in the past, or are currently serving in the various branches of the armed forces, the military has never made anyone safe, has never given anyone freedom. No one in the Army, the Navy, the Air-Force, the Marines, or the National Guard has ever died to make us more free or more safe. Our freedom comes from God though his son, Jesus the Christ. Our safety, our security is from God. These things cannot be captured in battle; they cannot be secured by force of arms. They are given to us – like grace – by God.

No king, no president, no country, no people is kept safe by a large army. A standing military only invites conflict. It is a delusion to rely on the horse for safety. More literally, the Hebrew says that the “horse is a lie for safety.” That is, it promises security it cannot deliver. The horse, in the ancient world, was not used for transportation or farming, it was a war animal; the horse, along with the chariot, was the tank of the ancient near east. Today we could paraphrase this as “the tank is a lie for safety.” It is a delusion to rely on the war machine for safety.

Instead we trust God. We trust that his unfailing love will surround us, that his faithful love will rest upon us. This is why the people of God can sing a new song. They have been created and redeemed as God special and chosen people and they know his love.

We are waiting for Yahweh;
he is our help and our shield,
for in him our heart rejoices,
in his holy name we trust.
Yahweh, let your faithful love rest on us,
as our hope has rested in you.
(Psalm 33: 20 – 22)




*1 Westminster Shorter Catechism – question 1
*2 Martin Heidegger, What is Metaphysics, (1929)
*3 Genesis 1: 1
*4 Isaiah 40:26
*5 A literal understanding of the Hebrew in Psalm 33: 7
*6 Isaiah 64: 17, Revelation 21: 1
*7 Thanks to Tim Martin and Jeff Vaughn for some of these thoughts. See their book Beyond Creation Science: New Covenant Creation from Genesis to Revelation (2007).

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Postcards from around the Galaxy






































Postcard drawn in Photoshop.  Voondoon and the Holy Lunching Friars are in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  There really is a town named Swampscott MA.  That is the correct zip-code.  My friend Paul  (doesn't actually live in Swampscott) would be delighted to actually recieve this post card.  (Click the images to see them full sized.  Thank you)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Greetings from the edge of the Galaxy

There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another which states that this has already happened.

Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Clumsy Thick Fingers

Clumsy Thick Fingers

He is a clumsy Don Quixote
attacked on the overpass by sheaves of
fly away plywood.
Stooping and sweating to hold the sheet
like a stiffened sail into the wind;
now he's late for church.

He's a thick fingered guitar hero
spoiling Leonard Cohen's classic
Hallelujah prayer,
but wheelchair ladies, friends, and neighbors
applaud in patient kindness for the
sacred offering.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Notebooks and Doodles, I save it all










I've had to begin another notebook. The previous one was finally filled with all my "mental dirrhea" (as a friend crudely described it) These are my notes to myself, questions, study for sermon prep, 1st drafts of poems and other writings as well as the occaisonal scribble and doodle.

Here are a few sribbles that I like.


In going through some of my older notebooks I found some material that I'm keen to revisit - a piece of writing that I thought I had lost and which I think turned out pretty well for a first draft. I may begin the rewriting and editing process to see if I can make something of it. If it turns out well, I'll let you know. If it turns into utter garbage, I'll keep my shame to myself and will post something completely different.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Blue Grinning Skull

My son likes this one, but he says to me, "Why is he grinning?  He's a skull.  He's not alive. He can't have any emotions."

"He's smiling," I say, "because he has a good health plan."



Mixed Media - Acrylic paint, marker, ball-point pen, on newsprint.

Click on the image to see it full sized. Thank you.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Psalm 33 - Sing a New Song




We need a new song. We've been singing this one for far too long. We've been singing it in Iraq and Afghanistan for almost a decade. It's the song that never ends. This song of war and military violence, this song of Predator drones and preemptive missile strikes, this song of M-16s and M1 Abrams tanks.... It goes on and on and on, it never gets any better. Nothing gets any better with this song. It is an ugly song. We need to sing a new song.

A king is not saved by his great army
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a vain hope for victory
and by its great might it cannot save.
Psalm 33: 16 - 17

End the War. End all Wars. Sing a new song.

Terrified of Zombies

Terrified of Zombies?

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Queen of Tarts

I am considering the possibility of entering this painting in the upcoming county fair. I will probably enter three or four - maybe five paintings.  I'm also considering whether or not to enter some photographs and digital art as well.  We'll see.


Last year I entered three paintings.  The most memorable comment that I received from the judge was I need to "tone down" my colors.  Ha! What does that judge know anyway? I still got two 3rd place and a 2nd place ribbon.

I wasn't alone in my lack of appreciation for the judges comments.  Several of the folks that I paint with once a week received comments that were less than helpful.

The Queen of Tarts
 Mixed Media on paper (Acrylic paint, spray paint, collaged paper.)  Click on the picture to see it full sized.  Thank you.


(I removed the image - apparently I've maxed out my uploading limit...)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

It's Time to Exercise...

To Sleep: Perchance to Dream

To sleep: perchance to dream
of far away impossible places,
of Barsoom and Shangri - La.
To dream: ay, there's the rub.

Perchance to Dream  -jcarter, 2010




















Mixed media on paper - (acrylic paint, spray paint, oil pastels, collaged paper)
(Click on the picture to see it full sized. Thank you.)

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