Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fun and Bona Fides

When my father passed away a couple of years ago, there were three things I wanted from the estate.  One was our favorite rifle, the second was a knife I had given him and that he wanted me to have, the third thing was some of the old pictures.  The knife was no problem.  I had to pay a bit of a premium for the rifle, but I’m not complaining.  Best of all I wound up with quite a few pictures.

My good sister will celebrate her birthday in a few days, and she has been after me to make copies of some of the pictures I have.  Since she is not a computer person and is unlikely to become one, I decided to buy her a digital picture frame and load scans of these old photos onto it.  It turns out that you can plug the frame into the USB port of my HP printer/scanner/fax and scan directly into the frame – which the HP sees as a memory device.  All well and good such I did 165 scans in one sitting.  Some of the pictures, though, stored in the memory as only a portion of a larger blank field.  I needed to crop them.  I plugged the frame into my laptop and used the freeware PhotoScape to crop and, in some cases, do some minor editing – mainly color restoration on the more faded images. 

When I was done, I thought it would be wise to backup all those scans, so I pulled them onto my laptop, both the originals and the fixed versions, leaving only the cropped and enhanced copies on the photo frame.  Since they are here, I thought I’d share a couple for your enjoyment and just in case someone thinks I’m joking or exaggerating when I call myself a hillbilly.

This is probably the oldest picture I have.  As best I can estimate, it is just shy of 100 years old.  When I first looked at it, I was struck by the looks of the people on the right hand side – none of whom I could identify, and I wondered why we had it at all.  Then I saw the little girl in the middle standing immediately in front of the man in the bib overalls.  I knew her.  She’s passed on now, but she lived to be well up into her nineties and that face never changed to any great extent.  Once I knew who the little girl was, I looked at the rest of that part of the group and things began to come together. 

The next face that I knew was even more familiar.  The lady in the rather stylish, dark hat and checked blouse holding a baby is my maternal grandmother.  That’s her husband, my grandfather, in the bibs.  His mother, my great-grandmother, is the dark-skinned, hatless lady on the far left.  Those three little girls clustered in front of Grandma and Grandpa are my aunts.  The boy next to them, in the Payne Stewart golf outfit, is my uncle.  I can name all the children standing, but I’m not sure who the baby is.  If my guess is correct, this picture was made about 1912 or 1913 – my mother is still several years in the future.  Assuming no one was left back at the house, it could not be later than that, but it could be a year or two earlier.  My sister will be better able to figure the ages, and two of my grandmother’s nine children are still living – both were too young to be in this picture.  They might know who the other folks are.  The lady on the far right looks familiar and could be my grandmother’s sister.  I also suspect that the child standing in front of the rather severe-looking lady in the middle is a boy too young for drawers.

This next picture is a little later, from somewhere around 1920, so, no, that’s not Jesse James.  The young man was born in 1892.  He’s obviously too tough-looking to be Clyde Barrow and not pretty enough to be Charles Arthur Floyd.  In fact, he is my uncle, my father’s oldest sibling.  He was a rounder.  His little friend looks like a break-open action, possibly a S&W Double Action Fourth Model, or a Harrington & Richardson.

Finally, something much more modern and also typical of my family, we have a baptismal scene.  By the way, I was baptized in that very same hole.  The water comes from an Ozark spring and will turn you blue in July.  That’s my father on the far left.  One of his nephews is standing next to him.  Based on the nephew’s age, I’d say we’re talking late forties.  It could be a little earlier.  I’ll ask my cousin next time I see him.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Unexpected Anticipation

Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at Your presence — as fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil —to make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence!

When You did awesome things which we did not expect, You came down, the mountains quaked at Your presence. — Isaiah 64:1-3

"You did awesome things which we did not expect". Isaiah realized that while God was not ripping open the material heavens and invading earth like a super-warrior, He was ripping open the "sky" of Isaiah's conscious mind and pouring Himself into the world through the prophet and his words.

The Incarnation is the ultimate manifestation of God's invasion for the rescue and redemption of humanity. It, too, was an unexpected and awesome thing. Certainly Christ's entrance into the world has made the mountains — often a metaphor for worldly powers — and the nations tremble and quake. The world has been in an upheaval since Christ came to bring — not peace, but a sword and a winnowing, purging fire. And that will continue until the Kingdom is all in all.

I was taught that the 'world' as such would get worse and worse — more sinful, more violent, more anti-God, and specifically more anti-Christ until, at some point, Christ would return in secret to snatch out His people. Subsequent to the removal of the Bride, God's wrath would consume the unrighteous in terror and judgment. Though I have my problems with Dispensational eschatology, there is truth in this view. There can be no doubt that a separation of the righteous and the unrighteous, of the Kingdom people from the worldly is not only necessary, but constantly taking place.

(Whether there will be an actual Rapture as believed by Hal Lindsay, my family, friends, and millions of others, I do not know. In keeping with what Jesus told us in Acts 1:7-8, it is not my problem. I trust Jesus now and do my best to obey Him. As best I can figure, if the Rapture does take place, I'm in a position to go up, same as Hal. Meanwhile, I'm still here.)

The Lord is, even at this moment, coming down and pouring into the world through us. When we as individuals accept this, both worldly powers and satanic principalities are shaken. We cannot expect the various antichrists and the Prince of the Power of the Air and his hierarchy to accept the casting down of their dominions without a fight. We should be prepared.

So if you have been raised with Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God — Colossians 3:1-3

Trouble ahead, trouble behind.
Don't you know that notion just crossed my mind

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Guardians

He felt old. He remembered far too much. There used to be a saying that it wasn't the years but the miles. No thanks for the memories. Memories stretched time; memories were the miles. It was like looking at the car he had bought new and seeing the rust and dings and the broken pieces, the faded paint and the balding tires. Still, he levered himself off the bed and made his way to the coffee pot. He was down to a cup a day, hoarding and stretching the miraculous black elixir as far as he possibly could. Once his apples were ready, he'd be able to trade for coffee beans or packaged grounds, enough to get him through the fall and winter, but the harvest was a month out yet and uncertain, as always. Not that he was worried. The future never worried him, only the past.

Sipping his coffee, he read a verse or two from his Bible, looked at the picture on his desk, and prayed. Sighing, he rose, put on his hat, shoved a revolver into his belt, and stepped out into the morning sun, already hot. His black dog lay in the deep double shade of the barn and a gangly adolescent ash. His wife had planted that tree — all the trees except for the ones already there and ones in the orchard. Ash, oak, maple, redbud, the damned ornamental pears, crabapples, those were all her work. The black dog got to her feet and, stretching, fell in silently behind the man as he walked on to check the garden, the orchard, and the henhouse.

Noon found him in the back of the barn hulling dried black beans. There was corn to be ground for meal with his little hand mill. Hens were chasing bugs around the melon patch. The dog slept in the dust just outside the barn door. His mind wandered lost in a swamp of words like quicksand, images like tangled vines amid drowned trees, his fingers moved swiftly and expertly. A low growl from the door brought his mind to his hands and his hands to the butt of the revolver. He looked up.

For a moment he saw nothing except the dog, now standing, and the wobbling of rising heat on the little knoll where the road ran between ten hundred-year-old black walnut trees. Figures materialized from the dancing air. Two people were coming down his road.

Colton got up slowly. He could make them out now: a man and a woman, walking slowly, wearily. To his eyes it was a boy and a girl. He thought he should know the girl. He let his shirttail fall back over the gun, and he moved up to the doorway. The dog stood beside him, slightly intimidated, wary. The travelers did not see him; they were heading toward the front porch of the house.

"Hello," Colton called. "Can I do something for you?"

The boy, tall and healthy-looking, with an even tan and close-clipped dark hair, jumped a little. The girl simply turned her head. "Oh, there you are," she said with an almost familiar sweetness. "You probably don't remember me." She changed her direction as she spoke and the boy followed. "I'm Lauren Beaumont. Your sister-in-law, Evelyn, is my mother. I was here once with her, but I was very small."

She did look like Evelyn and a little, just a little, like the picture on his desk. "Is Aunt Jan in there, too?"

He had expected it and still he was choking. "Jan is, uh, isn't here." It was the best he could do. The black dog whined softly.

"Oh. Will she be back soon? Our bike — motorcycle ran out of gas. We pushed it along, and I realized where we were. We left it up at the gate."

Colton was shaking his head as she spoke. The boy was now directly behind the girl and some distance back, almost hidden. "I-I called your mother. It's been over a year."

"I'm sorry? You called my mother? Oh. Oh, no. I'm so sorry," she said and took a step closer. Colton could not see anything except the boy's head. It bothered him for some reason. The girl was talking again, moving her hands, drawing his attention. "Well, the truth is, you see, I haven't talked to my mother for the last couple of years. We had a falling out, over —" She turned her head a little as if looking back at the boy over her left shoulder, getting Colton to look in that direction. Colton saw the boy moving to the girl's right. In that instant, he knew what it all was.

The silver revolver was up and booming. The first shot caught the boy low on the left side of his belly. He hissed. His shot went just wide of Colton's ear. The man smiled as he fired again, more carefully. The boy pitched backward, falling cold on the ground. The limbs twisted for a moment more, but Colton knew the thing was dead. His gun was on Lauren now.

"I'm not one of them," she said very quietly.

He gazed at her. "No, they can't fool most of us. They need humans like you to do that. Let's go in the house."

It was still hot the next day when the old Chevy truck rattled over the knoll and stopped in front of the barn. Colton was busy with his chores, as usual. The driver climbed down. He was older than Colton, grayer, paunchier, though perhaps not as tired.

"Colt, what you got for me today?"

"About three dozen. They don't lay worth a hoot when it's this hot and dry."

"That's the truth. Well, we take what we can get. You want cash or just credit your account?"

"Credit's fine, Gil. I don't want to draw thieves on top of everything else."

"Everything else?"

"I killed a Changer out here yesterday."

"Damn things. I wish they'd stay in the cities," Gil looked back down the road. "Was it dark? He try to sneak up on you?"

"No. He had a decoy. A girl. He kept back behind her. They know we can spot 'em in broad daylight even if they don't talk."

Gil looked around and nodded. "She's just as bad as they are, you know. She ain't still alive, is she?"

"In the house, on a short leash. I'm not sure what I'm going to do. She's some of, of Jan's kinfolk."

"Figures," Gil half muttered. He twisted his head a little to not look directly in Colton's eyes. It was a feline movement, Colton thought. "Anyway," Gil sighed a little, "anyway, why do they do it? Why do they help those ghouls? They ain't even human — not like anything human. I don't understand. I've heard about the sex thing, some, but I don't even want to think about that. Be nice to 'em so they'll eat you last?"

"Something like that." Colton sagged against the frame of one of his bins. "I tried to talk to her. I made her look at the thing after I killed it, see that it couldn't hold a human shape. She said everything changes when it dies. Called me a murderer. She says the government is considerin' givin' the Changers protected status."


Colton nodded. "Human rights. Claim human rights for some kind of invader that doesn't have the humanity of a copperhead. Can't kill them on sight, only in self-defense. They haven't done it yet, but they may. She may be right. They may be running the government for all we know."

"Why do they come out here? We gave 'em the cities. They have the fools like that girl that go along and help 'em, protect 'em."

"They don't like us out here on our own. We worry them. The girl says the Changers treat the humans that cooperate decently."

Gil laughed but it was harsh and abrupt. He pointed across the fields. "And Willis over there generally takes good care of his cattle. Some of 'em are practically pets. He wouldn't sell some of those old cows for anything. Nor butcher 'em. That doesn't stop him from selling off the increase or eatin' steaks."

"I told her just that. She says we're just bigots. Says it's no different than when we used to have black people as slaves or segregation." Colton smiled.

Gil laughed again, genuinely this time. He rubbed a dark hand across his close, kinky beard. "At least we were all humans. Maybe some Africans were cannibals, but it wasn't any of my folks — I don't think. And I don't recall white people cookin' up black people for dinner — as a general rule. Everything is not the same thing."

"I don't know. Humans like the girl understand that the Changers are alien. They seem to think that they have a right to be here, same as us. It's just a matter of gettin' along. The Changers may not be exactly human in the sense that we are, but they are 'as good as' humans. Might even be superior. So the girl thinks. And so thought others."

"But they ain't like us. They have no right to come and make cattle out of us. They ain't overbright, whatever they are. They can do one thing we don't understand, and that is change their shapes to look like us. They live a long time if we don't kill 'em. I guess, in the cold out in space, they can live just about forever, hibernatin' like snakes. They can look pretty alive. Dead, they just look nasty. How could anybody be fooled? We could wipe 'em out if people like her would let us. And we should."

The two men talked on in the same vein until Gil at last departed with his eggs stowed carefully. Colton returned to the house. He didn't feel like talking to Lauren. He untied her without any apology and curtly instructed her to clean up and eat as she liked. Instead of watching her, he watched the door. He wondered how many humans she had betrayed for the benefit of that vile thing. She deserved to die as a murderer — and worse. He sat at his desk and ran his finger around the picture frame.

Three days passed. Colton made the girl help him with his work on the grounds that she was eating his food. The girl made no objection and caused no trouble. She caught on to things quickly and seemed intelligent enough. He avoided conversation. He did not want to become sympathetic toward her for his own sake. There were things he did not want to know for her sake. That evening both had eaten, although not together. Colton sat by his desk where his revolver lay within easy reach. His eyes were on the front door.

The girl walked past him and sat down on a straight wooden chair away from the door. He swiveled around a little so that he could see any movement from her.

"So," she said after a few moments, "how long are you going to keep me here? I'm not a lawyer, but isn't this something like kidnapping?"

"Maybe you're a prisoner of war. I wouldn't push it, if I were you."

"Is that what happened to my aunt? Did she push it?"

He turned fully and looked at her, not threatening but steadily. She dropped her gaze. "They are not human. We are at war with them. They eat human flesh. They are able to take on a human form which is only an illusion. You saw that thing you were with after it was dead — after it tried to kill me. With your help, I might add. They are closer to being a reptile of some sort than human. They are nothing but beasts. Hungry, nasty, deceiving beasts. They have no culture, no morals, no technology to speak of. They create nothing."

"That's not true. They come from another world. They're like refugees. They have spaceships."

"They have some kind of hive with an organic ionic propulsion system. They can feed enough energy into it to climb out of the gravity well then they drift between systems. I'd call them animals, but they are alien — completely alien."

"I don't see how you can say that. Look how hard you and the other people out here have to work try to tear a living from the earth. The Strangers take nothing from the earth. They don't work. They live by love and selfless sacrifice. They only want us to be happy. They want to teach us to be happy."

"They kill humans and eat them."

"Only the ones like you who would destroy them completely. Do you expect them not to fight back? And everything has to eat."

"Yes, I want to destroy them completely before they destroy humanity completely. Before we become as cattle ourselves. That's why they are leaving the cities we abandoned to them. They are coming after the resisters, the aggressive ones. They aren't worried about the sheep-people like you they can herd around and control. They have sense enough to understand breeding the aggression out of their food supply."

"Aggression is bad. It needs to be bred out of us. We are far too violent. The Strangers are helping us."

"Dear God."

Lauren continued. "They are superior to us. They are teaching us to live in harmony and love and sacrifice as they live. You don't understand how beautiful it is to sacrifice everything for good."

"I don't know. I suppose we could ask a pig."

Lauren shook her head, her eyes gleaming under the lantern. "Don't resist them. They are going to win. They have to."

Colton's face reddened with passion. "No. They can't win. They are using you and people like you to win. We would have destroyed them in a day if you people had stayed out of it. Now, now it will take a year or two, or ten, but we will destroy them. Unless you betray humanity. The Changers can't make anything, can't create. They will enslave us with deceptions and the tools we give them. They will have us build our own cages and chains and the very whips that subdue us.

"No!" he said again, "They can't win if you don't help them win. If you fight them —"

The black dog howled. Lauren's eyes glistened. Colton groaned. He grabbed for the revolver and his hand fell on the barrel, and he grasped it in desperation. He heard the popping of the gun behind him and felt the stinging impact driving into his vitals. He looked at Lauren. Extending his arm, he passed the revolver to her. She took it. Colton clutched the picture, pressed it to his chest, and pitched forward onto the floor.

The black dog was still howling.

Lauren looked up at the Changer advancing. The revolver bellowed, and the Changer retreated trying to raise its gun. She fired again and the beast fell back through the door, into the dust, revealed, dead and cold.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Kings and a Kingdom

Everyone who knew him previously and saw him prophesy with the prophets asked each other, “What has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” -- 1 Samuel 10:11

After Samuel had delivered Israel from the Philistines, the Israelites began to demand a king to be like the other nations. This was contrary to God’s will, perhaps – at least Samuel thought so. When he took the matter to the Lord, he was advised that God would select a king for the nation and that He would use those leaders for His own purpose. Samuel did not need to worry about the matter as an affront to his leadership, but rather it was up to God to be offended by the rejection; He had other plans.

We are told how God chose Saul, an obscure, and apparently humble, young man from the small tribe of Benjamin to be the anointed king. Through an almost whimsical adventure in pursuit of lost donkeys, Saul meets Samuel. The prophet is told by the Lord that this is the new king, and Samuel anoints the man. He tells Saul that as he returns home he will encounter a troop of prophets and signs of his transformation will follow. All of Samuel’s words are proven true as the Spirit falls upon the chosen one. Saul begins to prophesy. This possibly involved glossolalia, but it is clear that, whatever phenomenon was exhibited, observers thought Saul the son of Kish was no longer “himself”.

The process is begun, but it isn’t finished. Saul has to be revealed to the entire nation as their new king. His reluctance is again evident as he hides among the baggage knowing his name is about to be called. While this show of humility is promising, there is something about “God taking control” of him, as Samuel said, that Saul cannot handle. Saul is very much like my old natural self. Self is unsure about the whole God thing. It will reluctantly agree to go along with the program, perhaps, but it holds back. Self tries to hedge its bets. It is unwilling to wait on God; it tries to manipulate God or handle things on its own, and so, in the end, self is rejected and condemned.

I have experienced this same false humility. It is a danger signal, and we should recognize it for what it is: a refusal to fully surrender to the Spirit and His work in our lives.

I’ve mentioned before the book A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards (Of Arugula and Kings, which includes evidence of my failed prognostications) wherein we read about Saul, David, and Absalom. If Saul represents self, David represents our spirit. David, the spirit man, knows getting rid of self is not his job. Allegorically, spirit is brought into the service of self which becomes, in turn, enraged by the spirit man’s victories. The natural man both fears and loathes the spirit man while recognizing, in self’s better moments, that the spirit man is the rightful successor and ruler. Eventually, God does away with the self and places our spirit on the throne just as we see pictured through the life of David.

David became of a victim of his own success. Though “a man after God’s own heart”, he chose to do things that were not necessarily wise. He gave birth to beauty that became wrapped up in its own arrogance and jealousy. Once we are “spiritual”, our sins have more far-reaching consequences because we are operating in a different realm. Disobedience is the seed – destruction is the weed. Something of beauty and innocence, peace and power is going to be lost to us. David’s son, Absalom, should have been “the father of peace” as his name implies. Instead he becomes enamored of his own gifts, embittered at his father’s sins and apparent indifference toward injustice. He murders – some would say justifiably – his brother and flees into exile. His return does not bring peace but manipulation and rebellion leading to his own destruction.

I like reading through First and Second Samuel in a modern translation or even a paraphrase. This epic, sweeping story of the founding of the kingdom contains much that is historical fact, no doubt, but even more that is psychological and spiritual truth -- true myth. If we find those truths sometimes discouraging – I think I’ve made every possible mistake at least once – we can recall that Christ comes to the throne of David and the tabernacle of David, to renew, restore, and make right.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cosmic Constants Vary by Location reports the constants may be inconstant. It seems that researchers checked out different areas of the universe and found what appear to be variations in the fine-structure constants. Looking from the Keck telescope in Hawaii at the northern sky, the fine-structure constants decreased, while observations of the southern sky from the Very Large Telescope (yes, that's really the name -- kind of like The Ballpark in Arlington) in Chile revealed apparently larger values for the constants.

Flambaum said he was particularly interested in what the result could tell scientists about the origin of life.

"This is a puzzle which has existed for many years," he told "A minor variation of the fundamental constants forbids life to appear – we just could not exist."

For Flambaum and others, it seemed like too much of a coincidence that the universe's constants – which includes the alpha constant and others like the value of the strength of gravity, or the strength of the strong interaction that binds atomic nuclei together – should be perfect for building stars and planets and life.

"Now we have an explanation," Flambaum said."If fundamental constants vary in space, we just appear in the area of the universe where constants are good for us."

In other regions of the universe where the constants are different, life may be absent, he said.

This apparent variation may not really exist except as an artifact of the methodology, as has turned out to be the case in the past. Nevertheless, it is interesting to think that Earth might be a rather special place in the universe.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

By the Rivers of Babylon

How can we sing the LORD’s song on foreign soil? – Psalm 137:4
On Monday I did something I had been meaning to do all summer. I got the ramps out, loaded my ATV in the back of the truck, strapped it down and drove over to my nephew’s house. I unloaded the 4-wheeler, and my wife and I took it down to the old home place. We rode around a little. I showed her where Dad had bought moonshine as a seventeen-year-old during Prohibition, the foundation of the shack where my youngest sister was born, a fallen-in cellar lined with big, flat rocks, and our ‘tater patch.

The land is a like a museum for me. As I go over that ground, I travel time as well. I see the land as it is now – and it has changed a little in the half-century my memory covers – but, sometimes more clearly, I see it as it was. I see things, too, that are beyond my memory – the rail fences, the burned-over woodlands, the simple little cabins of rough lumber on stacked stone foundations, the ‘dug’ wells, the shocks of wheat, the haystacks, and, yes, the stills. I see chestnut sorrel horses both ridden and worked by small, wiry men with broad shoulders and big, hard hands.

I cannot imagine living without the roots of place and time, without a connection in soil and rock and water. Body and soul, we are cast into a mold -- be it formed of stones or concrete, soil or asphalt, trees or steel. The place where I grew up is mine. I’m sure a person who grew up in Brooklyn can feel something like the same sense walking down an avenue, seeing it as it is and as it was.

It is more than nostalgia, more than the longings of an old man for his lost youth, more, even, than the remembrance of all the loved ones of several species that have crossed that dark, foggy river and reached the bright shore. It is an expansion. Cast back into the mold, I am like a piece in a multi-dimensional puzzle. Alone and apart, I simply seem odd and awkward. In place, the picture is complete and comes alive.

So, too, it is in the Land of Promise. Some speak of a God-shaped void in the heart of man. I tell you there is a man-shaped void in the heart of God. There is a place where each of us fits as a living stone in the Temple.

Take your harp from the willow and sing; you are home.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Float Trip

Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interest, but also for the interests of others. – Philippians 2:3-4

The one thing she had no longer to do was to look after herself. – from The Place of the Lion, Charles Williams

There is nothing indifferent about the life of a Christian – except a happy indifference to self.

I plead guilty to the charge of making it all about me far too much of the time. I have testified many times about what Jesus has done for me, but the most vital thing He would do for me – if I could accept it – is to free me from any concern about my condition, my success, my status, my honor, my dignity, or my importance. It is fine to think “what will people think of me” so long as I am concerned about how my words, appearance, or actions will affect others. It is wrong when I am thinking such a thing in self-protection mode. Self does not need protecting.

If you want to know what the Kingdom looks like, this it: I trust God to take care of me while I look out for the best interests of my brothers and sisters. For the one who is able to walk that path, all fear and all limitations will melt away. We might be like Philip the Deacon, so light (isn’t that a funny word?) that we could be blown from Gaza to Azotus by the Breath. We would be held to earth not by the weight of our personal dignity or the heaviness of our troubles but by the silken tether of love -- like a helium balloon tied to a toddler’s wrist.

I have sinned grievously, hating this world and most of its inhabitants while claiming to be a follower of Christ. I have complained about how horrible life is and how much I have to suffer. I have railed against all the evil and the pain while praying for the Rapture that I might escape and never look back, leaving all the rest to their destruction. If I couldn’t get the Rapture, I’d settle for personal death as a release from all the responsibility and all the stupid pointlessness and meaninglessness of day-to-day life. Depression, in my case, is a result of my anger (sans heat) toward God for putting me in this stupid world. I’m messed up. But even thinking I’m messed up is messed up. The self is nothing if not ‘tricksey’, as Gollum might say.

I can look past self to Christ who lives in me. All I need are my orders -- really, usually, the singular – all I need is my order, the one thing I need to do next. Next, instead of getting caught up in the interior where I will be weighed down and imprisoned by the feelings of a dead man, I look to carry out that command, to look out for the interests of those around me.

Yes, I know, the world says that’s not wise or healthy. And the world is wrong.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death – Proverbs 14:12