Monday, April 05, 2010

An Easter treat

“It is done.”

He closed his eyes and the pain simply stopped. There was no fading, no gradual lessening. The pain was just gone. His arms previously numb from hours of hanging felt neither tired, nor sore. Even the oppressive heat of the day was gone. He opened his eyes.


It was night although far on the horizon a glow, signaling the start or end of another day, seemed partially hidden by fog. The sky lacked a moon, or even stars. He was sitting on the ground but felt neither its roughness nor cold. Standing, glorious as it was without pain, gave him no sense of firmness. It was as if the ground, even the night around him, lacked substance. His eyes sought some feature to focus on. His toes, wiggling, sought to distinguish between grass, or rock or sand with no success.

Finally, a sound like a low murmur heard through a wall. It was voices but he could not determine their source or number. Craning his head first one direction, then another did not change their volume or tenor. Like his eyes seeking something to see, his ears strained to catch a discernible sound.

Another sound, like the faint rustling of leaves in the softest of breezes came from behind him. A sigh made without breath. He felt no wind, no cool change in the air but turned, hoping.

No longer facing the horizon, he saw, campfires? In the distance the faint glows did not flicker nor flare. Steady points of unmoving lights seemed to stretch into the sky.

Was he in a valley? Looking back at the glow on the horizon, it did not offer any clue as to the shape of the land between it and his position.

The voice, when it came, was a whisper that sounded as if it were spoken directly into his ear. His quick turn towards the voice upset his footing and he fell over but did not fall down.

“You glow,” it said.

It was the voice of his mother yet; it was of the same spirit as his Father. That was not possible for he knew his Father’s voice and this was not it.

“You’re brighter than the others though.”

“What others?” he asked.

“The others that glow.” It was said so matter-of-factly that any question he may have had died before getting a chance to be spoken. He looked again at what he thought were campfires and realized they had shape and they were not as distant as he first thought.

“Why?” he asked.

“Don’t you know?”

He looked down at his hands. There was no pain, no bleeding, but a definite brightness that varied only slightly around the wounds. His feet showed the same variations. He did glow, but it did not add any illumination to the surrounding ground.

“I have my Father with me,” he proclaimed.

“No, you are alone.”

“He is with me always, even as you are now.”

“He is not, nor am I.”

He knew the second the other spoke that it was the truth. His Father was not here. He could not feel the comforting presence, nor hear the whisper of his approval. Even his eyes still sought focus onto the other with no success. And once again he felt the despair he felt on the cross. The pain had become his companion, his foundation. In the absence of his Father, he held onto the only thing he felt, his pain. And now, with it gone, the loss of his Father came rushing back to him.

“Why are you doing that?” the other asked.
The pain of the loss grew. He felt it in his chest and squeezed his arms together in a tight embrace.

“If you continue you will join the others.”

He did not want to listen, the pain spread and he fell to the ground.

“Was that him?” asked a new voice in the distance.
“No. See. The glow is fading already.”

The pain quieted the voices. The pain was familiar. He could feel the spikes again in his hands and feet. The shouts of the crowd boiled in his ears and he could feel the warmth of the blood on his face. The pain was like strength, it flowed back into the darkness.

A sharp scream turned his head, pain momentarily forgotten.

“NO, NO, it’s mine, MINE!”

A figure came running from the direction of the glowing horizon. It did not block the view of the horizon so he is not sure why he knew where it was coming from, but the outline of the figure was running very fast.

“MINE I tell YOU, MINE!” it shouted.

Like the voice that had been talking before, he knew this voice. Again, it was like the spirit of his Father but not his Father. He wanted to reach out to the figure as it ran closer. His pain forgotten, he could see and hear the pain coming from the shouts.


He stood and moved towards the figure.

“No, don’t do that!” yelled the first voice he heard.

The figure slammed into him, knocking both of them down. He, he was sure now it was a man, was freezing. Every touch seemed to drain heat from his body.

He was kicked and struck and the man jumped up and resumed running.


The figure quickly was lost in the darkness but he saw others that were glowing move away from the direction of the shouts.

“What were you trying to do?”

“He was in pain.”

“So were you.”

His pain. Forgotten for the moment had fled again. This time he knew if he wanted he could bring it back but shook his head. Why seek out pain? Why take on pain when you did not need to?

“Because it was yours,” said the other. “You’re glowing again.”

He looked at his hands and feet and saw that the blood and spikes were gone, the glow had returned.

“But he…”
“Could not have been helped. He wanted his pain, he would not have given it up now. He can see and feel and hold it like a treasure of immense wealth. If he were to give it up, he would cease and he will not.”

“Do you know him?”
“No, but there are many like him. Soon you will see and hear them often.”

“How do you know?”
“I’ve been here awhile.”

“What is your name,” he asked.
“Yes, your name?”
“I had a name. It was…”
“Asrith. Your name is Asrith.”

“How do you know my name when I can not remember it?”

“I am,” he replied. And the glow grew.


“Is he the one?” whispered the voice.
“Maybe,” replied Asrith.

“How long have you been here Asrith?” he asked.
“Time has no meaning here. I have been here. Before, I hunted. My brother and I were close to killing a wildebeest and I awoke here. I have been here since.”

“Where are you from? Palestine? Greece? Rome?”

“I do not know those places. My village is Antgara. It is by a river near the White Mountain.”

“There is another by your side,” he proclaimed.

“He was here before me, he does not have a name, or does not remember his name,” responded Asrith.

“I know him. He is Weiyou.”
“It is him!” exclaimed Weiyou.

“Who am I Weiyou?” he asked.
“You are the one the will end the night!” Weiyou said.


“How?” asked Asrith. “Can you?”

“The night is part of the day. To end one is to end the other. Why would I end the night?” he asked.

“So that we might wake up,” cried Weiyou. “The Sun sits below the horizon, not moving. No stars guide us, the Moon has failed. There is no warmth, no food. We do not sleep. We sit and wait. Some glow as yourself, but most sit and wait.”

“Except the runners,” added Asrith.

Weiyou seemed to move closer. His voice spat, “Runners, always runners. More and more. They burn if you touch them. And they make you tired. Not enough to sleep, but a lot.”

He could see an outline of both Asrith and Weiyou. Like a new moon on a clear night. Darkness on darkness. But neither drained heat away like the ‘runner’.

“Do the runners always run away from the horizon?” he asked.

“I have never seen any do otherwise. They always shout, although it is not always the same, but often it is. I have never seen one that glows run.” Weiyou added.

“How long have you been here Weiyou?”

“Why do you ask again? Asrith was here after, you were here after, others were here before. I have seen no sunrise, no moon. I was left by my tribe, I was here. Has more than a day passed? When were you here?”

“I just arrived,” he said.

“Really? I have known you longer than Asrith.”

This shocked him. He knew the truth of it. He had known Weiyou longer than Asrith but he met Asrith here first. But he knew both. Asrith had many children but Weiyou only had a daughter…she too was here. His eyes looked over towards the horizon and rested on someone with a glow within and knew it was Shuwei. He turned back to Weiyou and looked at him.

“I know you Weiyou,” was all he said.

Asrith turned and moved away.

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“Runners are coming.”

Weiyou and he turned towards the horizon and heard the shouts. “Many of them. We need to move out of their way.”

“Why?” he asked.

He followed them as they walked neither farther nor closer to the horizon. “Their pain will become yours and you will run with them if too many run into you.”

“How do you know this?”

“Did you not like your pain?” Asrith asked.

He thought of his embracing the pain and how easy it was to want to feel, something, anything, again. But he remembered that he stopped seeing and hearing everything else also. And he had a name for the pain.


“Call it what you will. Pain. Sin. It is the same thing. It takes away the world from you. It becomes more important than anything else. It takes away from anyone that touches it. Runners never let go. They would rather have their pain than to give it up. Your pain did not belong to you. You welcomed it, but it wasn’t yours. If you had kept it, eventually it would have become yours. But when you heard the runner, it fled from you.”

He looked at Asrith. There was no glow in Asrith but he knew that Asrith understood. He reached out and touched Asrith.
Weiyou gasped and both turned to him.

“What have you done?” he yelled. Weiyou fell to his knees and appeared to be crying.

He and Asrith looked at him and then back towards each other. He was astonished. Asrith was glowing.


They stood over Weiyou for a long time as he cried. When the crying became slow sobs Asrith knelt beside him.

“Come on my friend. Why are you crying?”

Muffled, but strongly, Weiyou replied, “My daughter. I see her in you. It is as if I see you and her as one. I know you are not her, but I know you as I know her. It is not sorrow, or it is but not pain, that I know that she glowed even in the brightest day. And I know now the source of the glow.”

He stood and put his hand on Asrith’s shoulder. “My friend.” Weiyou turned to him. “You are the one. You are the source. You will end the night.” He sat down but continued to look at him. “I can wait.”

Asrith looked first at Weiyou and then at him. “He is right. We can wait.” He said down next to Weiyou and looked expectantly at him.

He looked at the two men and sat next to them. The runners passed by shouting but he did not have the desire to go towards them. At first he thought he should be ashamed for not wanting to help but knew he could not even if he tried. They were lost in their pain.

He thought about the runner that had run into him. Why did he feel so strongly about that one. It was his voice. Like Asrith and Weiyou, his voice was familiar, but different. He knew their voices, but he remembered the runners….Judas.

The runner was Judas! NO! He bowed his head and started sobbing. Asrith and Weiyou waited for a time before speaking.

“You knew him.”
“I did.”
“His pain is his choice.”

“That does not make it any less.”

Asrith sighed. “Do not make his pain yours. Runners do not wait for the day. Their focus is turned inward. He had a chance to make a choice. He made his choice.”

“If I had given him more attention, maybe it would have been different.”

“And who would you have given less attention?” snapped Weiyou.

“Was that my choice? To give one more attention than another? To say this one is more worthy than another? I would rather none make that choice,” he cried.

“Really? Because it seems you did make a choice. You took all that pain and started to make it yours. Why didn’t you keep it? It was comfortable. You knew it well. Why did you choose not to stay in that pain?” yelled Weiyou.

“Because it was PAIN!” he yelled.

Weiyou stood up and leaned over him. “Right. Amazing how comfortable pain can be when you don’t think anything else is there. But you know there is something else, don’t you. Or do you? What are you waiting for?”

He was confused. “What?” he asked.

Asrith said, “Weiyou asked what are you waiting for?”

He looked at them both. “I….”

“We are waiting for you. What are you waiting for?”


What was he waiting for? He looked at the horizon and then back to his companions.

“You have been good friends,” he said. “I would like to spend more time with you….”

“Oh really!? And how much time have you spent with us so far?”

He could see a smile on Weiyou’s face. Like Asrith, Weiyou had started to glow and the light from within he knew had always been there, became visable to Asrith also.

He turned to the horizon and knelt.

“My Father…”

“My Son…”

And dawn broke…

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Gay Marriage

Ever go to a wedding and watch the couple during the marriage ceremony? I have noticed three things have occurred at every one I have attended: 1) the couple is trying not to laugh at some point; 2) the couple at some point is extremely serious; and 3) there is no doubt that they believe every word that is being spoken about the sanctity of marriage.

One out of every two marriages ends in divorce. Most of them will fail because of infidelity. More than half of those that get divorced, will marry again. And not for one second, will any of them call into question the sanctity of marriage in general. The ideal of marriage, like the ideals of the United States may not be fully realized in any one, or couple, but the ideal is more important to all of us, than the failings of a few, or even a lot of us.

So, I understand the difficulty that the vast majority of people, good, honest, loving people that support their gay family members, friends and neighbors, have with the idea of gay marriage. Somehow, someway, the idea of a marriage between anyone but a man and a woman says that this ideal, this state we all hope and aspire to, is no longer worthy, or is no longer available.

Conservatives that look at other conservatives and ask, how can you be for individual liberty yet oppose a basic right to marry someone of your choosing, fail to understand but let me offer a comparison:

You know, the right to bear arms, it was a dream that nowadays you just can't have. Too many people are irresponsible or downright stupid when it comes to guns, and we just need to be realistic - end the right to bear arms.

No? don't like that? Well, that is how people feel about gay marriage. Those that oppose gay marriage don't want to treat gays badly, they even generally agree to most all 'rights' associated with marriage being available to gay couples....but marriage? The ideal is more than they can bear to lose. Even with all the bad outcomes, even when most people consider marriage to be just this side of a jail sentence, the IDEAL is more important than any couples 'rights'.

Let me go off on a little tangent: gay adoption. I keep hearing over and over again, the ideal situation; the ideal marriage; the ideal couple; the ideal parents. I hear people tell me that as long as one straight couple is looking to adopt, gay couples should not be allowed to. The ideal is that every child looking to be adopted would have a line of straight couples waiting to adopt them. There are no such lines. Thousands of children are awaiting adoption and to eliminate gay couples or even single gays that want to adopt from the pool of families is to sentence children to the foster system. The ideal world does not exist for those children and to deny them hope, is to kill the ideal people are trying to 'save'. The ideal has already failed. It can not be retrieved in this arena.

But marriage is different. Every new marriage is another attempt at the ideal. Another chance to reach for, and hopefully attain, the joining of two into one. There is a chance, a hope. So, as long as there is a chance, denying the ideal, or changing it is just beyond the ability of people to consider. Rational, logical, classical liberal positions are all useless discussions because they all require the loss of the ideal. If you are nodding your head, you are wrong. But my saying so, will not change you. Gay marriage does not deny the ideal, it does not eliminate the ideal. Every couple that stands before friends, family and God can still giggle, cry and solemnly believe in the sanctity and the ideal of marriage whether a gay couple does the same thing or not down the street.

But, the ideal can't stand the change, can't stand the variation. It is all or nothing for most people, and that is too bad. I have argued that any institution that can not stand on it's own value, on it's own merits, does not deserve to survive. Society has tested it, and found it no longer valuable enough to support.

So, what is the right way to handle gay marriage? I have argued that civil unions accomplish what most gay people are looking for. Yes, there are many gays that want marriage and their reasons are VALID and not unreasonable. But they are anti-ideal and so will be opposed 'irrationally'.

Here is the problem: every single time any state creates a civil union path and a marriage path, a court will find that separate but equal is unConstitutional, and rightfully so. Get people to think about it for a while, and they will agree, but point out the 'ideal'. So, even if the people of a state WANT to give gays civil unions, it will only be a short period of time before someone gets it into a court and the 'judicial activists' will find 'a new right'. It is a stupid argument because a judge can not find a new right, only recognize one that already exists.

If we can not have civil unions and marriage running side by side and we can't have 'marriage' for all couples, how do we recognize gay couples in such a way as to get the government to treat the couples equally?


But, I do know where the answer has to come from: those that hold the ideal of marriage in their minds and hearts. The choice is yours. If you don't come up with an answer, the radical ones, having tasted a little liberty, will continue to agitate for more....and both sides will lose more than I think either understands.

Monday, October 27, 2008

End of times?

For several years back in the early 80's I was a member of a fundamentalist Christian church that took Scripture literally. One topic at the time was the End Times. This is the part of the Bible dealt with in Revelations and made popular by the Left Behind series.

Here is the deal - for all the talk about the End Times, a significant event for the period to begin is an attack on Israel and it's abandonment by all other countries. Well, as long as the United States supports Israel, such abandonment just wouldn't happen and any potential attacker of Israel must consider our response.

But, imagine a Obama presidency. Would the world think we would continue to give support to Israel? I don't think so, and neither did Jesse Jackson in discussions with European leaders.

I am no longer a believer - but it is interesting....

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A shift in focus

As indicated in a post over at Moderate Mainstream, I intend a change in focus of my writing in the blogs. Here, I have made some similar posts to those intended - specifically, to comment on the writings of others. The on-going work commenting on "The Problem of Pain" by C.S.Lewis being one of those posts, here is a second: From "On Liberty" by John Stuart Mills:
To pass from this to the only other instance of judicial iniquity, the mention of which, after the condemnation of Socrates, would not be an anti-climax: the event which took place on Calvary rather more than eighteen hundred years ago. The man who left on the memory of those who witnessed his life and conversation, such an impression of his moral grandeur, that eighteen subsequent centuries have done homage to him as the Almighty in person, was ignominiously put to death, as what? As a blasphemer. Men did not merely mistake their benefactor; they mistook him for the exact contrary of what he was, and treated him as that prodigy of impiety, which they themselves are now held to be, for their treatment of him. The feelings with which mankind now regard these lamentable transactions, especially the latter of the two, render them extremely unjust in their judgment of the unhappy actors. These were, to all appearance, not bad men--not worse than men most commonly are, but rather the contrary; men who possessed in a full, or somewhat more than a full measure, the religious, moral, and patriotic feelings of their time and people: the very kind of men who, in all times, our own included, have every chance of passing through life blameless and respected. The high-priest who rent his garments when the words were pronounced, which, according to all the ideas of his country, constituted the blackest guilt, was in all probability quite as sincere in his horror and indignation, as the generality of respectable and pious men now are in the religious and moral sentiments they profess; and most of those who now shudder at his conduct, if they had lived in his time and been born Jews, would have acted precisely as he did. Orthodox Christians who are tempted to think that those who stoned to death the first martyrs must have been worse men than they themselves are, ought to remember that one of those persecutors was Saint Paul.

Commentary to follow

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A comparison

It has been a while since I posted. Issues with Victoria's health certainly being one distraction.

However, I came across something that provoked me.

There are a great number of people that believe in God. My question for them is this: do aliens (intelligent life on other planets) exist?

Also, I had the following thought process: I came across the Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis that I was reading and commenting on and renewed some of my original thinking that Lewis is thinking about suffering, more than pain. Pain exists not because of evil, but because ...well, why?

Here is the point: pain exists because we lack perfect knowledge.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

A deeply religious man wants your support....

He speaks about oppression of the little guy. He claims God has given him a purpose and he will fulfill that purpose. He claims his faith is not bound by law, but rather his faith supports the law. He thinks that we should live by the dictates of his religion and he will work to build a country that abides as much by the laws of God as of man, more, if possible.

Osama Bin Laden wants your support. Mike Huckabee has already signed on.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Victoria attended a diocesan convention over the weekend. Discussion both there and in our church for most of the last year has been centered around growth. How to grow the membership, how to grow as Christians.

My position for years has been consistent: focus on the flock. Take care of the people in the pews and the rest will take care of itself. However, that is not what gets people excited. They want to see the church in the news taking care of the poor and downtrodden in some pathetic third world place. Or, Peace and Justice committees want to support 'radical' issues like GLBT rights. Meanwhile, parents see their children being taught dogma that is inconsistent with their own beliefs (we had a Quaker as head of our Sunday school for years - not exactly Episcopalian).

If the focus of the church has to be on the people in the pews, those people have to be FAMILIES. I think it is great we have many members that have attended our church for decades and who contribute large sums of money each week - no kids, established lives, retired in many cases - to projects that display their generosity. This past year, we (and several other Episcopalian churches) contributed tens of thousands to a Habitat for Humanity project. Only problem I had specifically was the family that got the home wasn't Episcopalian!

Great! Four churches contribute $100k and hundreds of manhours for ONE family, not Episcopalian!

How many families in those 4 churches are hurting financially? 10, 20? How about one month's rent/mortgage to help? How many families in those 4 churches don't have medical insurance and therefore don't get all the medical care they should? How many need prescriptions they can't afford? How many could use 24 hours away from their kids?

Camp Webb is the diocesan camp for kids. CJ has attended for a couple years and looks forward to it with great anticipation. The camp is slowly dying because...ta da....fewer kids are attending. Why are fewer kids attending? Because there are fewer kids in the pews! How about donating money to the camp so it is less expensive (it is pretty cheap now for 1 kid, but if you have a couple, the cost is going to be nearly $500 for the 6 days and 5 nights most camp weeks are.

Like the stereotypical cop or doctor that spends long hours at the job taking care of people but ignoring their own family, the Church is seeking to help people outside the pews and abandoning their own.

The mega-churches grow because their first, second and third goal is to take care of the people in the pews. Outreach starts at home. Until old-line churches learn this important lesson, the pews will continue to empty and the coffers....well, it is only a matter of time.