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Sunday, March 31, 2013

An Easter Monday Biblical Haiku: Matthew 28: 10



The tomb is empty
go back to familiar hills
I will see you there

Powerpoint Slides for Everyone - 2013 - Week 15

Every week I create a new background image for use in Powerpoint (or similar presentation programs).  I use them at my little church, but then I upload them here on my blog and give them away.  You are free to use them in your own programs and projects at home, work, school, or church.  Use them how you will. I only ask that you share them freely and that you tell others that you found them here.  Thanks.

Week 15 photo Week15_zps3a2c1569.jpg

Happy Easter


Happy Easter! Happy Pascha!



A Blessing for Resurrection Sunday



May the Lord, who was in the beginning,
who is now
and who forever will be,
be with you.

May he bless you with peace.

May the risen Lord,
who has conquered death
and put away sin,
rise like the dawn in your life;
may he bring light to your darkness.
May the true light,
the light that brings life,
illuminate your life;
may you overcome the darkness.

May he bless you with peace.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Resurrection Sunday Biblical Haiku: John 20: 1



Engulfed in darkness
on the first day of the week,
creation begins

Black Swans for Holy Saturday

I haven't found any traditions that relate black swans to Holy Saturday... but if I were in charge of anything there would be a connection.  Black Swans for Holy Saturday.

Black Swans / Holy Saturday photo BlackSwans_zps42d964e0.jpg

Biblical Haiku: Holy Saturday



Holy Saturday
smells of rain and leaves and loam
he is in the ground


Ah Holy Jesus



Ah, holy Jesus, how hast thou offended,
that we to judge thee have in hate pretended?
By foes derided, by thine own rejected,
O most afflicted!

For me, kind Jesus, was thy incarnation,
thy mortal sorrow, and thy life's oblation;
thy death of anguish and thy bitter passion,
for my salvation.

Text: Johann Heermann,
Music: Johann Cruger, 1598-1662
Tune: Herzliebster Jesu 


Music performed by Sufjan Stevens
Video from The Living Christ Series

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Good Friday Biblical Haiku: Matthew 27: 33, 45 – 46



Darkness comes early
over the place of the skull
oh my God, don’t leave

Some, As Yet, Unorganized Thoughts About Resurrection Sunday's Text

I've been busy this week - like most pastors and preachers, with preparations for the various programs and functions and meals and services of Holy Week.  My sermon notes, which are usually beginning to coalesce into something like a sermon by this point, are still an unorganized list of questions and comments.

The text for this Resurrection Sunday is John 20 : 1 - 18

Questions:
Who is the "we" in Mary's initial report?

Why is there so little reaction to the angles?  And clearly these are angels (vs 12)  In Mark (16: 5) the women see " a young man dressed in a white robe" (who is probably an angel, but this isn't specified)  and they were "alarmed" and ran away because they were afraid.  In John, Mary sees two angels, turns around and, forgetting them, begins a conversation with the gardener (she thinks).

Does belief come before understanding?

Did Peter not believe at this point?  The "other disciple? did, but what about Peter?

I've heard it said that Rabboni means more than just "teacher" - that it means something more like "divine teacher"  but is that true?  Is there a connection here to Jesus' statement in John 13, "...you call me teacher and lord..." ?

"Who is it you are looking for?"  Could this be an indication of mass or multiple use graves?

Some scholars have argued that "the Beloved Disciple" was Lazarus... could that explain why he's hesitant to go into the tomb?

In addition to these questions (and several others...) I also made a list of doubles in this section - things that were repeated and said repeatedly.

-they have taken the/my Lord out of the tomb/ away and we/ I don't know where they have put him (vs 2, 13)
-The strips of linen lying there (vs 5, 6)
-woman, why are you crying? (vs 13, 15)
-ascended / ascending to the /my/your Father (vs 17)
-Mary runs / the disciples run



Hopefully these, as yet, unorganized thoughts and questions will take form and become something like a sermon in the next day.

Are You Yet In the Garden?



Approaching midnight, Thursday,
I am listening to the music of Tavener
and drinking a final cup of tea before bed;
are you yet in the garden?

Have the soldiers come
with torches and with clubs;
have you been kissed by treacherous lips
that, only hours earlier, were singing the hallel?


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Why Is This Night Different From All Other Nights?

I know that actual Passover was a few nights ago on Tuesday.  But in keeping with Holy Week traditions we're having ours tonight.

I've been cooking and getting things ready all day, and I still need to change before we begin, but I wanted to share a couple of photos .

Also, if you're interested, last year I shared the Haggadah that I have been tinkering with over the years.  I put it together based on several different sources and have continually adjusted it over the 15 or so years that I've been doing this. Feel free to download it and to adjust it to your own use.  (Also, please feel free to point out any errors that I might have made.)


You might notice that our Maror (bitter herbs) looks a little ... festive this year.  I went to seven (7!) different stores looking for horseradish root - and no one had any.  So we substituted regular radishes.  Oh well... Next year in Jerusalem!

Passover 2013 photo IMG_1126_zpsfd8c1ebc.jpg

Passover 2013 photo IMG_1127_zps9aeec16c.jpg

Passover 2013 photo IMG_1131_zpsb27af29b.jpg

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Biblical Limericks: The Kingdom Is Bigger



The eunuch who came from Africa
would have been excluded for his flaws
but Phillip realized
that he should be baptized;
the kingdom is bigger than old laws.

Acts 8: 26 – 39 

Sharing a Haiku at a Friend's Blog

My friend Joel at Unsettled Christianity has allowed me to guest post on his blog again - even though my previous post there was a blasted limerick.

This time I have shared something less uncouth - a Biblical Haiku based on Mark 6: 35 - 39.  Please check it out there.  Thanks.




Biblical Limericks: Reverend Killjoy



Preacher Qoheleth might have been wise,
but depression, he couldn't disguise;
he said, “It’s all in vain
and everyday’s the same.
Enjoy it now ‘cause everyone dies.” 

Biblical Haiku: 1 Kings 19: 11 – 12



Strong blowing winds
earthquake and consuming fire
no voice in these


Orange Flavored Tea



Orange flavored tea
while it’s snowing outside
nights without sleep


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Biblical Haiku: Revelation 1: 16



Seven blue sisters
luminous in winter skies
held in his right hand

Biblical Limericks: Give it to a Stranger



If, while you’re out walking in nature,
you find a carcass, this is danger;
don’t eat what you find dead,
you are pure so instead,
you should give it all to a stranger.

Deuteronomy 14:21

Monday, March 25, 2013

Powerpoint Slides for Everyone - 2013 - Week 14

Each week I create a new background image for use in Powerpoint (or similar presentation programs).  I use them at my little church, but you are free to use them in your own projects at home, work, school, or church.  Use them as you will, I only ask that you share them freely and that you tell others that you found them here.


For those who are interested in this sort of thing - from left to right the images are 1) a very old and very beat up baritone mouthpiece, 2) an accidental and out of focus photo of my hand and 3) the skies above St. Paul, Minnesota.

Week 14 - Resurrection Sunday photo Week14-ResurrectionSunday_zps1d84b534.jpg

Muted Hosannas



The gates of the city have lifted their heads
to receive and to welcome the king on his way.
On a donkey he rides and for glory he dies,
hung on a tree, rejected, despised.
We watch without seeing
and we see but we don’t understand
how the victorious king should die like man.
So beat the drum slowly and play the pipes low;
sing muted hosannas for the king on the way.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ride On ! Ride On in Majesty!

We're singing this hymn this morning - Ride On! Ride on in Majesty! - and I was struck by the words of the third verse:

Ride on! Ride on in majesty
the angel armies of the sky
look down with sad and wondering eyes
to see the approaching sacrifice.


Palm Sunday is a day that Christians celebrate... but perhaps it would do us good to quiet the Hosannas just a bit to see the approaching sacrifice.

The recording below plays through the melody (hymn tune = Winchester New) 4 times, and ends with an Amen.  It's yours if you want it.  Download it here.




Saturday, March 23, 2013

Biblical Limericks: He Rode Both?



Matthew may have gone out of his way
to match his words with what prophets say
the prophet said a colt
and donkey, so, the dolt,
he had Jesus ride both beasts that day.

Matthew 21: 4 - 7

Biblical Haiku: Jeremiah 8: 20



Wheat unharvested
and summer has ended
we are not saved 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Biblical Haiku: Jeremiah 1: 11



An almond tree in bloom
I watch its branches in the wind
these things will happen


Biblical Limericks: Never Let It Be Said…



As a king, Abimelech was flawed,
he ran over his subjects roughshod;
at Thebez he was crowned
with a mill-stone thrown down
by a woman whom we should all laud.

Abimelech, he fell down slack-jawed,
asked his page to pierce him with a rod,
“For it cannot be said
when I am good and dead
that I was killed by a lousy broad!”

Judges 9: 50 - 54

It Started in December



The F.B.I will not return my phone calls; they don’t believe that my complaints have merit, so I am keeping a record. Journaling each event so that 1-I don’t forget (I forget things. Dr Sorensen says that writing them down will help.) And 2- so that someone will believe me.  

It started in December. 

December 18:  The sound of bowling balls on the roof. I heard them, even if no one else did. Dad said I was having another ‘episode’ and said that we’d have to talk to Doctor Sorensen about changing the dosage on my prescriptions. But, and this is how I know he’s wrong, I haven’t been taking the meds.  So It can’t be the pills that caused an auditory hallucination. Not this time. I heard bowling balls- as if someone was playing a couple of frames on the roof.

December 27:  Slight seismic disturbances occurring precisely every 21 minutes. Minor quakes.  Just enough to rattle the pictures on the wall a little. One of mom’s ceramic figurines fell off the mantle. But those things were creepy anyway, so no big deal.

December 29:  The sky was really red this morning. What is it that they say about a red sky in the morning? 

January 4:  The quakes are happening again. Stronger this time. And more frequently. I timed them; they’re every 17 minutes now. The dishes in the china cabinet have fallen. Mom’s pissed.

January 11:  I spotted a helicopter following me home from school.

January 24:  Congressmen W. Dickens visited our school this afternoon. Dad didn’t vote for him but I think mom did. He said that the government needs volunteers for an intense secret laboratory program.  The congressman, not Dad…. God! What would he know about government programs? Dad, that is, not the congressman.

 January 25:  Despite the protestations of my parents I have enlisted for the Congressman’s secret program. More helicopters tailing me today. And the air smelled strange – like grapefruit or glass cleaner… something weird.

January 39:  Alright.anothr call. I should after happened shortly. and prepared.

February 15:  I think that my telephone calls are being monitored. But by whom? The F.B.I. routinely monitors all communications made by members of Congressman Dickens’ staff, but would they consider me to be a part of the staff already? The program won’t begin for another 3 months. Or could it be another agency? 

February 16:  Dickens has ordered me not to call his office. We’re going radio silent. Incommunicado. Dark.

February 23:   Ancillary turncoat brownbag lunches on the grassy knoll. Six times seventeen is never home. Rainy days and factories always leave me dry buttered toasted almond eyes. I have become what I am and what you are or what I am inside.

March Tuesday:  Shock type vibrations are being transmitted at me from an unknown source. I suspect Mr. Maxfield at school. Could he be hiding some sort of EMF generator / transmitter in the gym locker rooms? 

April 1 da  Fools. They’ll all get theirs. They will

Apl apple 35  Cannn open door door. Need hep. Peez helmee



Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Demonic Electrostatic Photographic Replication Device



It was September of the year 2007 when Dantalion, the 71st of the 72 Spirits of Solomon, appeared to me in a dream.  He appeared in a flash of sulphurous smoke and crash of thunder. “I have come to tell you of mystical things and of riddles and of secrets beyond your ken,” he said as wisps of smoke coiled around his legs.  I found it exceedingly difficult to look upon his face for his visage was constantly in flux.  Now he would have a long narrow face with pinched cheeks, now a pallid, fleshy face with sagging jowls, now the face of a highborn woman, and now the downy bearded face of a boy at the cusp of manhood.  Yet through all these variations his voice remained constant.  He spoke with the well enunciated cadences of a learned professor.

He carried with him in his right hand a large and heavy book, and from its pages he began to expound upon a great number of topics: Commercial Painting in Fifteenth Century Brussels, the Existential Phenomenology of Heidegger, a Brief History of African Calligraphy, Polyphonic Expressionism in Everyday Mathematics, Metamorphic Zoology, French Rhetoric, and Compulsory Bloodletting…to name a few. 

From these subjects the Great Duke of Hell was able to extemporize, but what was more astounding and most frightening to me was his ability to speak of my own secret counsels, of my hidden aspirations.  He broke from his lectures to whisper of these in my ear, lest any other demonic spirits be lurking about and by chance overhear. “I am,” he explained to me, “a most discrete demon.”

And in my dream, the demon Dantalion offered me a secret of his own.  From the book he carried in his right hand he withdrew a folded sheet of paper – and it was almost literally a sheet, as large as a bed cloth. He laid the large paper across a table and I saw that it was covered in many obscure (and as many obscene) markings.  These, he explained, were his own original design drawings for an Electrostatic Photographic Replication Device.  “Truly a marvelous invention, a machine for the age of business and technology, profitable as well to educators and entertainers and all,” he said with obvious pride.

“It’s an Electrostatic Photo…what?”  I asked.

“Yes! Yes! An Electrostatic Photographic Replication Device,” he repeated with some frustration.

“It’s a copy machine?”  I think I must have laughed and I saw his face (or rather his faces) fall, his ego wounded.  He snapped shut the covers of his large and heavy book and, with a thunderous crash and the whiff of sulphur he was gone again.  He departed in such an agitated hurry that he left behind his drawings. I still have them, though like the road maps shoved in the glove box of my car, I have not been able to refold them properly. 





A Blessing for Palm Sunday



May the Lord God, who is King over all, bless you today.
May you hear the word of his good pleasure.

May you know his will and his intent,
which is your life everlasting and your incorruptible perfection.
May you be enriched in him.
Be strong, and be redeemed by his grace.

May the King who has come,
riding on a donkey,
give you an everlasting crown,
a crown of truth for your head.

May his victory be yours.
May he bless you with peace.

Amen.

Based on Psalm 47, John 12: 12 – 16, and Odes of Solomon 9



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Biblical Haiku: Psalm 126:4



Desert river bed
by sudden rains engorged
our fortunes restored



General Linda Bond Greets Pope Francis

Pope Francis emphasized the importance of friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions in a meeting today with ecumenical and interfaith leaders - including, as pictured here, General Linda Bond - the international leader of the Salvation Army.



























(on FB more photos here:)






We Wave Our Branches and We Shout Hosanna - A New Hymn

Here is another of my attempts at hymnody - We Wave Our Branches and We Shout Hosanna! - in which I have arranged Psalm 47 and John 12: 12 - 16 to be sung to the popular hymn tune Sine Nomine (which means "without a name.")  That melody was composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 - 1958) and is familiar to many as the hymn For All the Saints.


1 O clap your hands, all peoples of the earth,
shout to the Lord with your loud songs of joy
for he is king and all the world is his;
we wave our branches and we shout hosanna!

2 We gather here as people of the Lord
to sing to God, sing praises with a psalm
and he will save the people that he loves;
we wave our branches and we shout hosanna!

3 God has ascended amid shouts of joy.
We praise his name with trumpets and our songs.
We will not fear, behold our king is come;
we wave our branches and we shout hosanna!

   

Biblical Haiku: Ecclesiastes 1: 7



Weary water
rivers never fill the sea
all is meaningless 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Biblical Haiku: John 12: 13



Green leafy branches
waving in an ebullient sky
hosanna


Biblical Haiku: Psalm 8:2




Downy babe
safe at her mother’s breast
this song is glory



Biblical Haiku: Proverbs 6: 4 - 5

I have written a number of Biblical Limericks, and I have been enjoying them even if no one else has.  But I thought I might try something different for a while.  So now... Biblical Haiku.  I haven't used the 5-7-5 syllable pattern that we were taught in school - it's not a very accurate representation of the Haiku pattern.

Proverbs 6: 4 - 5

Tired, sleeping eyes 
deer flee, birds fly from the trap
they are free

Monday, March 18, 2013

Not A Gargoyle

Grotesque photo Grotesque_zps274d7b65.jpgPeople who come into my office sometimes comment on the "gargoyles" I have on my bookshelf.  (They sit alongside a few statues of various saints.)  But I have to correct them.  They aren't really gargoyles.  They are grotesques.

Gargoyles are grotesques - but of a specific kind.  Gargoyles are waterspouts.  They gargle - hence the name.

If it's not a waterspout, it 's a grotesque, which is derived from the Latin word grotto or "hidden place."




The Lost Jesus

I'll never be accused of being the first to catch on.  Oh well.

It just dawned on me that the actor who played Desmond Hume on the show Lost is the same actor who played Jesus in the Visual Bible's Gospel of John.


 photo LostJesus_zps51777272.jpg

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Answering Questions Like Jesus

I have been reading from the Gospel of John quite a bit recently and I have decided that from now on I will be answering questions the way that Jesus did.

Q -"Mr. Carter, where are your statistical reports for this month?"
A - "Those who know me know me in the light and while it is light they can see what I do.  But the night is coming and who will fill out those reports when there is no light?"

Q - "Mr. Carter, we really need your reports..."
A - "There are numbers of things and my Father has made them all.  He will count them and has counted them and he knows each one."

Powerpoint Slides for Evryone - 2013 - Week 13

It's one of the things I do - I make these background images that are suitable for use in Powerpoint (or similar presentation programs) presentations and I share them here on my blog.  They are yours if you want them.  Use them in your own projects at home, work, school, church or whatever.  I only ask that you share them freely and that you tell others that you found them here.

This particular image is a close up detail of some purple curtains in my daughter's room.  I like photographing the details and textures of things.

 photo Week13_zps7c07cb26.jpg

A Novel Based on the Mini-Series Based on the Book....


Are you kidding me?  A novel based on the mini-series based on the book?  I thought it was a joke, but it's not.  It is A Story of God And All Of Us.

This is what I feared all along.  The History channel's mini-series The Bible, produced by such Christian luminaries as Roma Downy and Mark Burnett is, at its heart, NOT about bringing people closer to the God of the bible, but bringing its producers closer to their god, Mammon.  


If it were actually about The Bible, then they'd be pointing people towards the source.. you know... the Bible.  Seems sorta' obvious to me.

-From a Review at Amazon.com:
 "When I watched the first episode of the epic TV miniseries "The Bible," I remember thinking to myself, "This is spectacular, but what if I want to engage with these stories on a deeper level."  After watching and re-watching the entire series, it still felt like something was missing...

Thank God for this book! Finally, all the stories from the Bible have been gathered into a single text!" 


Oh good grief!  God must sure like stupid people, because he made so many of them.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Dial Tone?

Why do we still use the expression "dial" when talking about our phones? Our phones don't use dials any more - haven't for a long time.  And if you tried to use a telephone with an actual dial it probably wouldn't even be compatible with contemporary phone lines.  But we still talk about dialing numbers and we listen for the dial tone...

The word came from the round face of a "sun-dial" and most likely is derived from the medieval Latin word diallis - "day."


Dial Tone photo DialTone_zps8f6cb648.jpg
























There are two more pictures of this old rotary phone that I found in our local thrift store - here and here.






Guest Blogging at Unsettled Christianity

Joel Watts, at Unsettled Christianity, has invited me to be a guest blogger.  You can check out my latest piece of doggerel (another one of those blasted Biblical Limericks...) at his site.

Are You the King or Not?


When You Wish Upon A Star


…Is That You, Darling?




...Is That You, Darling? photo IsThatYouDarling_zps1cd19c11.jpg


























“…is that you, darling?” she asked but the phone hadn’t rung.  Not yet.  The phone in her fourth floor apartment (no elevator) didn’t ring often, and it wouldn’t ring for another sixteen days.  “Hello?  Is that you, my darling?”

To tell the story this way, however, is probably unfair to her.  She wasn’t regarded by those how knew her as weird or loony.  Melanie Hastings Lewis worked as a paralegal, drove a car, and paid her bills on time.  There was nothing especially noteworthy about her life.  She had friends and went on dates like other young women.

But there was this…  Whenever he would call, Melanie Hastings Lewis, who was so normal in every other respect, when he would telephone, she always answered sixteen days earlier.

“…is that you, darling?”




***
I found the rotary phone in this and yesterday's photo in our local thrift store.  All kinds of treasures there.



Friday, March 15, 2013

Jack Shephard Escaped the Island and Started a Strange Little Church

When did  Dr. Jack Shephard escape from The Island and start a homophobic, misogynistic, King-James-Version-only, independent baptist church in Arizona? Did I miss that episode?

Actually, this (in the video below) is 'pastor' Steve Anderson of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona.

Pastor Anderson is the boss of his house (and doesn't need his wife's permission to say so.)  He picks her up and carries her around the house to prove that he's a real man, with hair on his chest.




HT: Christian Nightmares

No Longer In Service


No Longer In Service photo NoLongerInService_zps4740156c.jpg


























We're sorry; we are unable to complete your call as dialed.  The number you have reached is no longer in service. This is a recording.


Biblical Limericks: Most Ghoulish



Jephthah made a vow that was foolish
and kept it because he was mulish;
even though his daughter
was what he would offer,
he made a sacrifice most ghoulish.

Judges 11: 29 – 40

Biblical Limericks: Shamgar!


Shamgar lived by a curious code,
fought in an unconventional mode;
he killed at one time
six-hundred Philistines
using only a measly ox goad.

Judges 3: 31


The Creature


“It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the
accomplishment of my toils.”
– from the journal of Victor Frankenstein

                “You are children of your father, the devil.” – John 8:44

Infected spirit of madness and man’s vain striving
a lifeless thing infused with a spark of life and being
an incomplete imitation of the divine
in the malformed image of his creator.

Yellow skin stretched tight over
 a work of muscles
                                arteries
straight black lips over straight white teeth.
Dull yellow eyes light
and the demon corpse lives.

The creature lives,
born of the father, but abandoned
                                                the creature lives
rejected, alone, despised.
He lives on the ice of frozen mountains;
he lives on despite the ice of his father’s heart.



You might also appreciate this Prayer to Saint Frankenstein.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Lighten Up, Francis...

Lighten up, Francis photo LightenUpFrancis_zpsa8c28d13.jpg


The name's Francis, but everybody calls me Psycho.  Any of you guys call me Francis, and I'll kill you...

Biblical Limericks: The Song of the Sword



Lamech said to his wives something bold,
“I am a killer, my blood is cold;
for I am better than Cain
and if I am slain
I’ll be avenged seventy-seven fold!”

Genesis 4: 23 – 24

HazMat Situation Prompts Evacuation



Did you hear the one about the adding machine salesman from Brooklyn
who was placed in charge of the town’s HazMat team?
His bones were radioactive by the end of the dance;
General Pershing gave him a medal.

Outside in the alley, Bowery bums were drinking fatal doses of liquid smoke.
A bottle of spontaneously combustible solids was found in the pocket
of one unidentified (and unidentifiable) man.

Madam Curie went on her second tour just after that,
carrying test tubes of radioactive isotopes in her pockets,
but she never came back.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A New Hymn - While the King Is at His Table

One of the things I'm tying to do this year is to write new hymns (or at least new words for old hymn tunes).  Sometimes I think it must be awfully presumptuous of me, but I usually just try to ignore that particular voice in my head.

This song is based on Mary's anointing of Jesus in John 12: 1 - 11 and on Song of Songs 1: 2 (which I wrote  about earlier.)  The music is the hymn tune Eudoxia.  Feel free to use it as your own, if you like it.

While the King Is at His Table

While the king is at his
table full of grace,
I’ll pour out my perfume
with its strong fragrance.

He is God’s anointed;
I’ll anoint him too,
with this precious oil
and the love he’s due.


While the King Was At his Table...

In John 12: 1- 11 we read about Mary (sister to Martha and Lazarus)'s anointing of Jesus' feet with nard (or, spikenard, as some translations have it) and then wiping them with her hair.  I have several somewhat-unconnected thoughts and questions as I begin to think about this text in preparation for preaching this Sunday.

In Mark (14: 1 - 11) and Matthew's telling of this story (26: 6- 13) -(Luke doesn't have it)- the story takes place at the home of of one "Simon the Leper", the woman is unidentified, and the story takes place after the triumphal entry / Palm Sunday event.   In John's telling the home seems to belong to Lazarus and his sisters (though it doesn't say so specifically), the woman is identified as Mary, and the story takes place before the triumphal entry /Palm Sunday event.

I said that Luke doesn't have this story - but that might not be altogether accurate..  In Luke 7: 36 - 50 Jesus has dinner at the home of "Simon the Pharisee" when an unidentified and sinful woman comes in to anoint Jesus' feet with her tears and perfume and to wipe them with her hair (and this also is before the triumphal entry / Palm Sunday event.)

So...do we have 3 different happenings?  One at "Simon the Leper's", one at "Simon the Pharisee's" and one at Lazarus' house?  On the whole, that seems doubtful.  Some have suggested that "Simon the Leper" = "Simon the Pharisee" = Lazarus and that Mary = the sinful woman =unidentified woman.  But, that seems doubtful as well.

Perhaps what we have is one common event that is something like all of these tellings - but not exactly like any of them.  We might consider that each of the gospel writers has taken this common story and adjusted it to the needs of his particular narrative, adding characters here, changing the location there, shifting the timeline, creating dialogue, etc... as needed.

We might also notice how John has described Mary, Martha and Lazarus.  In John's telling Lazarus is reclining at the table with Jesus, Martha is serving the meal, and Mary is worshiping Jesus.  Does this sound familiar?  It should.  Compare this story to Luke 10: 38 - 42... Lazarus isn't there but Martha is in the kitchen and Mary is at Jesus' feet.  Has John borrowed a bit from this story as well?

And a thought about that nard that Mary poured over his feet.  This story is already fairly charged with some underlying eroticism ("feet" occasionally being a Hebrew euphemism for genitals, the intimate touching, the unbound hair...) so I hesitated to allow this next connection.  But in the Song of Songs 1: 12 we read, "While the king was at his table, my nard spread forth its fragrance."  And the very next story in John is Jesus' entry into the city of Jerusalem where he is hailed as "king" "See, your king is coming..."  Not only is her anointing for Jesus' burial (preemptively) but also to identify Jesus as the king.

***
EDIT

Another suggestion that I found today says Simon was the father of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha...oh, and also (according to John 6:71) of Judas Iscariot.  Impressive family, if true, but still seems unlikely to me...

***


And finally - Here is a short little piece of music that I have arranged for this story:

Biblical Limericks: Oh the Farmer and the Cowman should Be Friends


Abel kept flocks, Cain worked the soil
and each brought a gift from his toil,
but the Lord looked askance
at Cain’s gift of plants
and the Farmer / Cowman war was embroiled.

Genesis 4: 1 – 16


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

FDR, the CCC, and the Alien Conspiracy


It is an established point of history that FDR established the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) with secret and nefarious purposes known only to himself and his trusted advisors.  To the public the CCC provided public works and jobs.  But the hidden agenda of the CCC, its true raison d’être was to eliminate all evidence of inter-dimensional visitors as recorded by Native Americans in the petroglyphs of the American southwest as part of a vast governmental conspiracy to cover up the existence of non-human intelligent life forms.

Carved into the rocks and cliff walls near Phoenix, Arizona are countless images of strange desert creatures and bizarre travelers of the air – but how many more were destroyed in the dynamiting and blasting done by the CCC?  What messages have been lost?  What precious records were destroyed?  What was being covered up by the CCC’s systematic destruction of these ancient and sacred documents?  

It is difficult to classify these visitors.  They do not appear to be biological – and so cannot be grouped together with other accounts of Extraterrestrial Biological Entities (EBEs).   Instead they appear to be holographic life forms, manifesting themselves in orbs of blinking and shimmering light, holographic entities intruding into the night sky of this physical realm.  They don’t have any mass.  They make no noise. And my intuitive sense is that they are evil.

The native tribes that lived in the American southwest carved pictures of these trans-dimensional beings into the rocks of the desert.  They drew pictures of spiraling balls of light, of tailless lizard men rising from the desert sands, and of winged bird men imparting sacred teachings to humans.  They also carved doorways into the stones for these alien beings.  These sacred mountains are the home of alien spirits when they visit this tangible world.

We also find in these petroglyphs a great many pictures of the seafaring Phoenician giants that once lived on this continent.  The name Phoenix, Arizona does not derive, after all, from the mythical bird that is consumed by fire only to rise from its ashes.  It is named in honor of the Phoenician giants.  They were very powerful entities, and the tribes that lived here feared them, almost as much as they feared the dark star, holographic creatures in the night skies.



The Future Was Yesterday when We Cared




The future was yesterday when we cared, yesterday when all our troubles seemed so very far away, when we still thought we could change things. When we still thought that it mattered.  We’ve learned some hard truths since yesterday. 

We can look back now and laugh.  It was just (“just…” God! How lightly I use that word…) the fear of nuclear oblivion that led us to mistake weather balloons and pelicans for visitors from another world.  I remember that poor Air Force pilot who crashed his plane while chasing the shadow of Venus across the sky.  I laugh a little when I think of it.  I know I shouldn’t; he died in that crash and his two daughters grew up without their father.  But still…. Chasing the shadow of Venus?  You tell me with a straight face that isn’t funny.

It was widely reported that the Virgin Mary herself appeared in a flying saucer over Fatima, Portugal.  Thousands of devout worshippers flocked to the fields to see her, craning their necks uncomfortably so they could stare into the sky.  They screamed as they watched her craft plummeting toward the earth.  But then it suddenly stopped, halted in its descent by some unknown, unspeakable force. And then it abruptly zoomed upward and forever out of sight.

But , after all these things, tell me this, answer this one little question for me:  Why is Dr. Robert R. Sauvak in hiding?  If the bright orange lights seen over the White House were nothing more than atmospheric anomalies, as it has been so widely reported, why has Dr. Sauvak been forced underground?  And exactly why is the Canadian Bureau of Transport investigating geo-magnetism?   Isn’t that just a bit out of their purview? 

We now know, but still few have believed, in the last years of the twentieth century human affairs were being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than our own.  This is something real, not visionary, not fictitious.  It is not a scientific romance.   This isn’t Percival Lowell’s imaginary canals built by an ancient dying civilization on the dehydrated surface of Mars.  This isn’t the Chariot of the Gods.  Or Stonehenge or Ley Lines or crop circles…This is real. 

This is nothing less than the very real and dark, visceral fear of the unnamed Other, the Thing in the Dark, the Thing From Another World.  How long can we hold a grudge?  How long can we blame the Communists? This is bigger than them.  This is bigger than all of us. 

The vast number of cattle mutilations alone should convince us of that.  Why it’s almost industrial in scale, but still we laugh at the reports and at the witnesses.  When, all the while, we should be afraid.  These cattle mutilations are a surreptitious invasion technique.  The same is true of the disappearance of honey bees.    Reports of faeries are nothing new; why object now when we speak of alien incursions into our airspace?

I don’t know if this message will reach you; the telephone lines have all been jammed.  The spotlight of the entire cold war security apparatus (you thought it had all been dismantled, didn’t you?) has now been turned toward this issue.  Fighter jets have been dispatched from nearby air-bases, but I fear that it will be too little and too late. 


Monday, March 11, 2013

Saint Antimony of Egypt



Saint Antimony photo StAntimony_zps925801a8.jpgSaint Antimony of Egypt, also known as Saint Antimony the Great, Antimony of the Desert, and Antimony the Monk-Killer was a Christian saint from Egypt and prominent leader among the Desert Alchemists.    The biography of Antimony’s life, written by Father Arsen, helped to spread the concept of anti-monasticism.  He is often credited as the father of all monk killers, but this is due, largely, to his excessively toxic reputation. 

Saint Antimony is often appealed to against fires, particularly house fires. In the past, many such conflagrations were referred to as “Saint Antimony’s Fire.”

O Father Antimony, by prayer you would extinguish the fires of the universe. Wherefore, intercede with Christ our God to save our souls from the lake of fire.
  

Biblical Limericks: Oh My!


There once was a man from Ephraim
whose concubine ran away from him;
she fled to her father
who promptly returned her
to the Levite who took her again.

On their way home they stopped for the night
in Gibeah, as anyone might.
When the mob came to rape
the man made his escape
allowing her to suffer his plight.

In the morning he said, “We must fly,”
but the woman could make no reply.
So he carried her home
to divide up her bones
and her flesh into twelve parts, oh my!


Judges 19


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Powerpoint Slides for Everyone - 2013 - Week 12

It's something I've been doing for a little over a year now - I make a new background image for powerpoint (or similar presentation programs) slides.  I use them at my little church, but you are free to download them and to use them in your own projects- at home, at school, at work or church.  Use them however you will.  I only ask that you share them freely and that you tell others that you found them here.

-This week's image came from a lampshade and a wall of peeling paint.

Week 12 photo Week12_zps2fd6be65.jpg

Which Son?



In the parable of the Lost Son (not the Prodigal Son) which son loved the father?  The younger son who, in effect, said, ‘Dad, I can’t wait for you to die; give me my money now,” or the older son who stayed at home as his father’ “slave” fearful to ever step out of line and break his father’s “commands”?  Which son loved the father?  Neither…

Which son understood his father?  The younger son who thought he’d have to beg and plead for his father’s forgiveness and for a position as a hired hand or the older son who believed that his father to be miserly and would never even give him one measly goat?  Which son understood his father?  Neither…

Which son did the father love?  The recklessly wasteful son who blew his inheritance or the embittered angry son?  Which son did the father love?  Both…

Which son am I?  Which son (or daughter) are you?

It might be wrong to call this the parable of the “Prodigal son,” but it wouldn't at all be inappropriate to refer to it as the parable of the “Prodigal Father.”  He spends his love recklessly, extravagantly – even wastefully on those boys.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

I’m not Talking about Bread. Remember What I Did with the Bread?


The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”
They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.”
Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”
“Twelve,” they replied.
“And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”
They answered, “Seven.”
 He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
Mark 8: 14 – 20


I gotta’ say, I’m with the disciples on this one.  I don’t understand. Sometimes I think Jesus is being purposefully difficult.

‘I’m not talking about bread,’ he says – and then to illustrate the fact that he’s not talking about bread he says, ‘remember what I did with the bread?’

No.  Of course I don’t understand.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Biblical Limericks: Son in Law



Saul did not want David as his kin
but his daughter was in love with him,
with a plan cold as ice
he settled the bride price
at one-hundred Philistine foreskins.

But David was bold and determined
that the king’s approval he would win,
so he went out with his men
to fight once again
and returned with two hundred foreskins.


 
1 Samuel 18: 20 - 27

It could have been worse for King Saul.  He could have had Pauly Shore as his son-in-law

Pray For Us, Saint Frankenstein



 photo St_zps66cce223.jpgDear Saint Frankenstein,
you who were always and continually
forced to be the stranger
and the wanderer upon the ice,
the unwelcomed, unwanted
who never even had a name
except that of your vainglorious father,

help us in this, our hour of need,
as we face the infliction of injustice
and ingratitude.

Help us to turn from terror and hate
to the joy of Christ’s loving embrace.

Good Saint Frankenstein, pray for us.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Biblical Limericks: Hell’s Kitchen…



Now Elisha’s cook was not so hot,
he cooked with gourds that were filled with rot.
When the men ate his stew
it was chunks that they blew.
Man of God! There is death in the pot!

2 Kings 4: 38 - 41

Let's Not Call Him the 'Prodigal' Son Anymore, Okay?

Can we just stop calling him the 'Prodigal Son'?

First of all - most of the people I've met and worked with don't even know what the word means.  They have heard it most of their lives and have assumed that it means something like 'runaway'.  But it doesn't.  It means wastefully or recklessly extravagant - which is an accurate description of the younger son in Jesus' parable (Luke 15: 11 - 32)...

but

to call him the 'Prodigal  Son' breaks up the triplet of Jesus' parables recorded by Luke.  In chapter 15, as Jesus is speaking to both the "tax collectors and sinners" who are gathered around to hear him and to the muttering "Pharisees and the teacher of the law," Jesus tells three related parables:

The Parable of the Lost Sheep (15: 3 - 7)
The Parable of the Lost Coin (15: 8 - 10)
and the Parable of the Lost (not prodigal) Son (15: 11 - 32)

To call him the 'Prodigal Son' breaks up that series of connected stories, separates him from the sheep and the coin. Luke put them together that way on purpose - connected them with the word 'lost' because he intended us to interpret them together. 

So... can we agree to not call him the 'Prodigal Son' any longer?   

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Trying to Lose


In recent months I have been trying to lose arguments.  It’s a bit like that scene in the movie Fight Club when Tyler Durden tells everyone that their homework is to pick a fight with a complete stranger – and then to lose – except that I’m not really going out of my way to start fights or arguments.  I’m just trying to lose them.  It doesn't happen often, but every now and then something that I post on my blog or a comment that I make on the Facebook, or a link that I share riles up some of my friends  and, there you go, instant debate, ready-made argument.

But I've tried to make it my personal policy to not have the last word in these animated discussions – even when I think I could make a cogent point or that I could correct someone’s mistake. I might respond once or twice, but instead of trying to make sure that I have the final (and therefore victorious) word) I try to let it go.  I try to lose.  I don’t want to be that guy who’s up all night because “someone on the internet is wrong.”

Admittedly, however, it doesn't always go as planned.  Sometimes, after I've left what will be my final response, no one else says anything more – and I’m stuck with the final word.  Or, sometimes, I forget myself and get more involved than I had intended.

But still.  I’m trying to lose.

It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling. – Proverbs 20: 3
(and, please understand, I am not calling my friends fools.  I am trying to avoid being the fool.)






Sunlight Waiting


When his friends heard about all the troubles that had come upon him they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.  When they saw him from a distance they could hardly recognize him, they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.  Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights.  No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was. 
-Job 2: 11 - 13


I came not to speak,
but to sit,
not to advise, but to listen.
Once I had spoken
but now I cover my mouth.

And what could I say, anyway?
I couldn't lie;
life is hard,
and I think I could understand
if you felt like you just couldn't go on.

But, whether locked psych ward or dung heap
I will sit with you, and there will still be sunlight waiting on the hillside.


-for J. and B. 

The 5 Stages of Christian Grief

 photo 5stagesofChristianGrief_zps1147f6b7.jpg

I shouldn't assume that the satire is obvious; I know that.

So, to be clear: SATIRE.

The quoted verse has been badly translated here.














Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mighty Morphin' Power Daleks

It's Morphin' Time!

 photo MightyMorphinPowerDaleks_zpsd38c6688.jpg

We can only See the Past




We can only see the past.

The table where I’m sitting, the books open in front of me – I see these things only as they existed in the past, as they existed in that brief space of time (however minute) that it took for photons of light to bounce from their surface to my eyes, and then to be translated into electrical signals by the optic nerves, transmitted to the brain and interpreted as a table and books.

We can see only the past. There is no present. There is no now.

And there can be no vision of the future (except in imagination and revelation). No matter how fast those photons are travelling, I can’t see them before they arrive.

We can see only the past.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Mimetic Criticism and the Gospel of Mark - Part 2 - A Literary Act of War


In the first installment of my review of my friend, Joel Watt’s book Mimetic Criticism and the Gospel of Mark[i] I noted that I am in a bit over my head; specifically in that I don’t speak or read Greek.  So in Part II of the book when Joel quoted from Josephus –and didn't translate the Greek- I floundered a bit.[ii]

My first response was: “to the internets!”  But that wasn't as helpful as I had anticipated.  The copies of Josephus available on the web all seem to use a different numbering system than the one from which Joel was quoting.  No problem.  I’ll just go to the library.  But the small town library here doesn't even have a copy of Josephus.  All right... no problem.  To the bookstore!  While in St Paul, Minnesota over the weekend, I stopped at Barnes and Nobel to pick up a copy – but they didn't have one either; neither could they locate one in any of the Barnes and Nobel locations in the entire Twin Cities area.  Good grief!

Fortunately the end of my quest was at hand.  Near the Barnes and Noble store was a Half Price Books store. And they had a marvelous hardback and illustrated copy of the complete works of Josephus for a mere $7.99.   It even includes a conversion table for the differing number systems as an index at the back.  Huzzah!  Now armed with an English translation and a way to find the appropriate portions of the text, I went once more into the breach.

In chapter 3 (His Kydoimos) Joel sets the stage for slicing open of Mark’s gospel with the tool of Mimetic Criticism – and this requires locating the gospel in an historical setting – the “when” of the gospel (which in turn, helps us to understand the “why” of the gospel.) 

All through the tangle of that desperate fray stalked slaughter and doom.  The incarnate Kydoimos raved through the rolling battle; at her side paced Death the ruthless, and the Fearful Fates, beside them strode, and in red hands bare murder and the groans of dying men.[iii]

Kydoimos, according to the ancient Greek poets and playwrights, was the personification, the incarnation, if you will, of the noise and din and chaos and cacophony of battle.  Mark’s gospel begins, not in silence, but in the shout and clamor of the battles and skirmishes of the Jewish revolt against Rome.  Joel uses the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus to describe the rising volume of that battle noise, beginning softly enough in the early years of the first century and crescendoing through the year 70 CE with the destruction of the Temple and of the city of Jerusalem and the failure of the Jewish revolt.

“The aftermath of a year of civil war, terrible news coming from Judea, the unlikely return of Jesus, and the coming news being marshaled out at the tip of a legionnaire’s sword that Vespasian was now declared the Jewish Messiah caused the leaderless Christian community to contemplate how – or even if they should – move forward…The choice for the proto-Christian community is simple –either a dead brigand or a live victorious general who became the emperor of the entire world in Judea with the proclamation of a new Pax Romana. This is Mark’s social crisis – where is Jesus?” [iv]

Mark’s gospel is not“good news” of a warm and cuddly variety.  It is not marshmallow sunshine and strawberry scented rainbows.  The Gospel of Mark is nothing less than a literary act of war against the messianic claims of Vespasian, a polemical attack on the emperor’s claim to be the Messiah and Savior of the world. 

“Mark does not surrender and proves that resistance is not futile.  He finds his transcript and begins to reconstruct a reality challenging Augustan theology.”[v]

In chapter 4 (His Pedagogue) Joel compares the gospel of Mark to the writings of the Roman poet / historian Marcus Annaeus Lucan (commonly known as Lucan).  Once a prominent and popular poet and childhood friend of Emperor Nero, Lucan fell from the good graces of the Emperor when he began to criticize and challenge the Emperor and the Empire.  His short life came to a rather abrupt end (much like the gospel of Mark) when he joined a conspiracy against Nero.  The group was discovered and Lucan was convicted of treason and “encouraged” to commit suicide. 

Joel finds in Lucan’s writings a pattern and a style and a method that seems to have influenced the writer of the Gospel of Mark.  The poetic abuse of language, the multi-layered meanings, the polemical reversals… these are Lucan’s tricks copied into Mark’s writing.

This chapter was relatively short and I would have liked to have read more about Lucan.  But ultimately this isn't a book about Lucan… so the next several chapters turn to a mimetic reading of Mark’s gospel.



[i] Watts, Joel L. Mimetic Criticism and the Gospel of Mark: An Introduction and Commentary, Wipf & Stock, Eugene Oregon, 2013.
[ii] As before – this is not a criticism of Joel’s work.  The ignorance is mine.
[iii] Quintus Smyrnaeus – The Fall of Troy
[iv] Page 54
[v] Page 71

The Poet Makes Clear His Intent


  
Shall I sing
of wars more than civil and less than kind
and of crimes against humanity?

Of a people that allows profit margins
 - a marginal prophet in any telling-
 to determine the fate of the poor,
the wretched unwashed masses?

Shall I compose a verse
for the painted faithful
who with pretense and indignation
have exchanged piety for power?

O cry “havoc!” when obstructionists rule;
let slip the dogs of our frustration.
Cry havoc, then everyone take his part.

Our sisters and their children
our brothers and our sons
mother, father,
are sold for a politician’s purse.

The rich shall have their cake
and consume the poor as well,
in red hands bare murder
and the groans of dying men.

If this is class warfare,
consider me armed
and dangerous even.



Sunday, March 3, 2013

I'll Watch...Perhaps it Will Exceed my Expectations




















I didn't watch The History Channel's The Bible when it premiered earlier tonight - I was otherwise occupied watching The Walking Dead on AMC.  To be honest, I haven't been particularly interested.  It is, after all, the Hitler History Channel.  I remember when the Hitler History channel  used to have historical (or quasi-historical, at least) programming.

And I'm not terribly fond of most made for television documentaries about the bible.  They're not terribly reliable.  They can't be.  Television isn't about the programming, it's about selling commercials.  The advertising drives the programming.  So sensationalism and emotionalism rule.

So I haven't been expecting much from it.  Except...

1) there are some decent scholars attached to this program.  (And by "decent" I mean "Great" of course.)

and

2) Ray Comfort isn't comfortable with it. And if he's not endorsing it then it just might be worth watching.

Ray posted the following warning as his Facebook status earlier this evening:

"It's been brought to my attention, by a reliable source who conducted thorough research, that there are a number of unbiblical and very questionable things in "The Bible" television series - about the deity of Christ, the character of God, and the reality of sin (among other things.)  In light of this recent revelation, I cannot endorse this series.  If you choose to watch it, I would urge you to do so with a discerning heart, testing all things."

It's too bad Ray doesn't encourage his followers to watch his programming with discernment.  But enough about Ray.

I like some of Rod (the Rogue Demon Hunter)'s comments.  The program was done by a British company with British writers and British actors - so, of course, it comes across as very... British.  It's not the accents that bother me - but I would like at some point to see a production of biblical programs that utilizes actors of Middle Eastern descent.

I'll be watching it later tonight.  Perhaps it will exceed my expectations.





Powerpoint Slides for Everyone - 2013 - Week 11

Each week I create a new background image for use in Powerpoint (or similar presentation programs).  I use them in the worship services of our little church and share them here on this blog.  They are free for you to download and to use in your own projects at home, work, school, or church.  Use them as you will.  I only ask that you share them freely and that you tell others that you found them here.

This week's photo was taken in a parking garage in downtown St. Paul.

 photo Week11_zps6c5b3ba1.jpg

Saturday, March 2, 2013

No More Mr. Passive Resistance

In the recent outrage party held  by some Christians in response to the Saturday Night Live Skit  DJesus Uncrossed some whined that 'it's not fair the way the media picks on Christians...  whaaaaa....  They never pick on anyone else like that.  whaaaaaa...."

But you know, it's just not true.

This remains one of my favorite bits.

No more Mr. Passive Resistance.  This time he's out to kick some butt. 







From UHF (1989)

Good Words...That's where Hope Begins


... I prefer strangling and death, 
rather than this body of mine.
Job 7: 15 

"How we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life."
 Captain Kirk in Star Trek II

David Marcus: You were smart enough to tell Saavik that how we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life.
Kirk: Just words…
David Marcus: But good words. That’s where ideas begin.
Star Trek II


Where No One Has Gone Before photo Wherenoonehasgonebefore_zps81615175.jpg


























On Thursday I received a phone call telling me that a friend of mine had either tried to, or threatened to commit suicide.  I had only just returned home from Omaha, Nebraska after four days of meetings, but I immediately threw a few more clean shirts and underwear into my bag and drove another five hours to visit him in the hospital.

One thing that I try to remind myself of when visiting with someone in crisis situations like this is that Job's friends were great friends for the first seven days - until they opened their mouths.

So far I haven't said much.  I've tried to listen without offering advice (especially that kind of noxious advice that well meaning Christians proffer: You just need to trust God... You just need to pray...)   But he and I (and another of our friends that is here) are fans of Star Trek so these words have come to mind.  Like Kirk, I'm not sure I always believe them.  And I worry that to my friend in crisis they will sound like "just words..."

But that's where ideas begin.  It might be where hope begins...



***

For those who might be curious about such things - the picture above is my own work.  It was created from a photograph of an Enterprise model that my other friend (the non-crisis friend) put together, as well as a photo of a lace curtain and a photo some red onions. 

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