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Monday, August 31, 2009


David, originally uploaded by use2blost.

David is a "good ol' boy" and a close friend to my neighbors. He is a striking character, and as upright and straightforward a man as you could hope to meet. Last May, I needed a hand with an emergency project at my house, and found myself 25 dollars short of the agreed upon compensation. David told me I could make good the following day, to my relief. I found myself really wanting him to like me. He had made a great impression, with his casual, down-to-earth conversation, a clear presentation of his theological views (in today's vernacular, using short words that anyone can spell.) and a penetrating social commentary. I was embarrassed and uncomfortable at misjudging the contents of my wallet, and impulsively snatched 2 zucchinis from a nearby vine, and thrust them into his arms. His surprised smile split his face like the sun peeking through a break in the clouds. "We're square, Chris", he said in a scratchy, gravelly voice that has since become a familiar sound in my ears.
Now, several months later, I have talked with David many times (this is really cool, I usually suck at making male friends, but David has made it easy), often in my driveway as I play with my dogs, and he stops by to talk to me or the girls next door. Shortly after I first met him, I drove off without raising the jack on my utility trailer. This is not good to do, and my trailer jack has been unsafe, and unstable since. David had walked by the trailer few times, and always mentioned that a couple bent pieces of metal could be easily remedied. This last time, He finally asked me when I'd have a free afternoon, and I said "School breaks in about six weeks" .
The next time I laid eyes on him, he had gotten to work, undeterred by the increasingly heavy falling rain. Applying a little perspiration, redneck ingenuity, and florid, south Georgia profanity to my problem, he soon had me back in safe working order.... I'll have to put a bee in his bonnet about the intake manifold on my Isuzu. (and yes, we WERE supposed to wear safety goggles)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Little Girls Off the Chain

Little Girls Off the Chain, originally uploaded by use2blost.

I stumbled across this next door...I was slowly re-entering the land of the living. About three weeks ago I gotta toothache, and being uninsured and broke, I ignored it as best I could. By Thursday, I felt umm...really scared. My face was swollen, and I felt indescribably bad/sick all over. I called a guy ( I have a dentist in my bible study- Tuesday mornings at 6:00 a.m. baby! sleep is for wussies!) He told me to take these pills and go home, which I did after my history test at 11 (100 Oh, Yeah!)... and I passed out. I didn't do much but take my antibiotics religiously, and sleep a lot until Sunday afternoon.The high pitched screaming was audible before I opened the door to let the dogs out. When I saw what the girls were doing, I reached back in for my camera. Eventually I quit shooting, thinking that they were getting a little outta hand. It's possible that being photographic subjects encouraged them to jump higher and higher. I remember things, from my own childhood, and remain mildly amazed that more grievous harm (or death!) did not befall me or any of my friends.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I came down to sit with Debbie, as she undergoes a pretty painful procedure, Here at the Houston Medical Center. I whipped out the laptop about an hour ago, to fart around a little bit, thinking that web access was unavailable at the hospital. (a year ago, my father began to die a few feet from where I sit. At that time, wifi wasn't available here.) I was pleasantly surprised to see a couple funny icons in the systray, and whaddya know, I'm almost caught up on my links, and TRYING to craft a blog post. With 12 minutes of battery power. The creative process (this is just writing, photography comes more naturally to me.) Has always been like a difficult birth to me. I know I'm male, but I've been told it was like pooping a basketball, and this I can imagine. Doggone it. 4 minutes to go. It's not gonna happen....

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Bride or Whore? Is Your Love Real?

Special thanks to Tracy Taylor, one of my flickr contacts for the use of her image, and her quick reply to my request. I needed something appropriate, and googling "bride whore" and the like REALLY wasn't getting me what I needed.

I was tracking down an email in an old unused account, and stumbled across one from an old friend, entitled "lover or prostitute". My friend Rick is a respected thinker/mentor figure in my life, and a devout Christian,whose opinion generally carries weight with me. Also, I have never rented a prostitute, and that whole thing is mysterious, and titillating. Of course I stopped scanning the other 400 chunks of forwarded jokes, ads for camping gear (not spam) and products to make my boobs bigger, or my butt smaller (spam). I opened it. I was an article penned by David Ryser, who writes with a clarity I envy. It was VERY thought provoking.
Now, Rick is an entrepreneur, restaurateur, and executive of tremendous success, but Rick don't blog, and Rick don't HTML. No link. It was weird, I found references to Ryser's article all over the web but couldn't find anyone who had linked 'im.


So there. One of the no-linkers posted his email address. His url was in my box bright an early this morning.
Dude has posted an enormous amount of stuff on theology, and this was the first article, entitled "Lover or Prostitute? the Question That Changed My Life". It must have changed his life if his blog is one of the results. It's not light reading, but it's clear. What he writes doesn't confuse me. What he makes me think about... THAT may be a little confusing.
Dr. Ryser recalls a day he was teaching in a school of ministry:
I came across a quote attributed most often to Rev. Sam Pascoe. It is a short version of the history of Christianity, and it goes like this: "Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise." Some of the students were only 18 or 19 years old--barely out of diapers--and I wanted them to understand and appreciate the import of the last line, so I clarified it by adding, “An enterprise. That’s a business.” After a few moments Martha, the youngest student in the class, raised her hand. I could not imagine what her question might be. I thought the little vignette was self-explanatory, and that I had performed it brilliantly. Nevertheless, I acknowledged Martha’s raised hand, “Yes, Martha.” She asked such a simple question, “A business? But isn’t it supposed to be a body?” I could not envision where this line of questioning was going, and the only response I could think of was, “Yes.” She continued, “But when a body becomes a business, isn’t that a prostitute?”
I'm goin' kinda slow here, cuz the email was abridged. So as I read the article I'm stumbling over even more stuff to think about. Martha has asked a couple humdinger's and Dr. Paul makes a couple points about knowing/knowledge, and motives, expressing the an opinion that most American Christians do not know God--much less love Him. If I can muddy the water a bit, I would like to interject that in English, the word love is extremely vague, defined by context, often used in speech between people who have different things in mind. One way to minimize this miscommunication would be to write much more cumbersome paragraphs, where we substitute sentences in quotes for the word love. This would make the meaning more clear. like this:
  • "I want to have a lifelong relationship of mutual submission(and hopefully you'll be better at this than me), transparency, and deepening emotional intimacy seasoned liberally with unbaggaged, guilt free sex"
  • "I have a really warm fuzzy feeling when I look at you and remember all the things you've done that please me...and I want to spit out a nice tribute to this moment"
  • " You have said you love me, in front of witnesses, and I don't want to be an asshole."
Whaddya think? Y'all wanna start doin' that? Or....We could add 20 or 30 or 50 words to the English language. When I marvel at how quickly and completely we have integrated the metric system here in the U.S., I think that would only take us a century to agree on the specifics, and another one to implement it. Or we could write all our posts on theology in Greek. Or we could look at a couple things.

Did Jesus say "Love God with most of your being, and direct the leftovers at your neighbor"?
No. He said to give it all to God. And then directs us to give some to others. Hello? Does anybody notice this seems paradoxical? I think we gravely underestimate the totality of agape. Dr. Ryser speculates:
“What’s the difference between a lover and a prostitute?” I realized that both do many of the same things, but a lover does what she does because she loves. A prostitute pretends to love, but only as long as you pay. Then I asked the question, “What would happen if God stopped paying me?”

It seems like Dr. Ryser believes a bride has agape, and a whore does not. What if the bride does stop receiving her pay? What if the groom denies her affection, conversation, disclosure, protection, and smokes the family budget in a crack pipe. You think this will affect their sex life? What if after a month of uncomfortable abstinence, He comes home geekin' an peekin', with no money, but his crack dealer in tow, so they can gang rape his wife for a $50 rock. These things happen. When she leaves, does that mean she is a whore? Or is she human, like me?

A parent claims to have unconditional love for their child, but it's their child. That's a condition. (I do think parent-child love is the closest picture, however...please, no insulted moms armed with torches, tar and feathers)

A spouse truly thinks they have unconditional love for their other half, until they catch em bangin' the secretary, mailman, or whoever.

Pastors (not mine!) claim unconditional love for their congregation. Huh.

Jesus says the greatest love is laying down your life for your friends. For most of my searching, starving, "where are you God?" life I thought this referred to the whole cross thing, but does it? If I died for you, as like a real big favor, because you sucked so bad you needed to be killed, but then I showed up 3 days later, what was my sacrifice?

Say a man goes from the age of accountability to the time of his death at 33, focused only on God's agenda for the benefit of those he loves. He rejects the women who want to marry him (you know there at least a couple). As the heir, he turns his back on the family carpentry business, to wander about as an itinerant rabbi, and serve God's purpose. Say he does this in the face of grave abuse, and crushing disappointment. Doesn't that more accurately describe the laying down of life? Could that be agape? Even the spiritual giants (and I use this term respectfully) that I know personally have families, homes, lives. Their ministry is just a part of it.

Perhaps agape sojourned here for 33 years, visiting from another world, the only place it occurs naturally. Perhaps love left a picture. Maybe we are just trying to sketch the photograph we have been given. Perhaps some of us sketch better than others. Teresa of Avila comes to mind:

Oh God, I don't love you, I don't even want to love you, but I want to want to love you!

*BTW, I have since been told that bastards (which Jewish culture would have considered Jesus) would not have been allowed to inherit... so I guess Jesus didn't turn away from the family business...oops.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Me and My Co-Pilot

me and my co pilot., originally uploaded by use2blost.

I'm beginning to suspect my Girlfriend has a better eye, steadier hands, and more of that mysterious photographer thing, than I do.
But it's still MY camera :).

I had a "snap out of it" experience after a few weeks of being really overwhelmed with domestic catchup, and a dwindling bank account. The school year was approaching, and my ability to generate income is cut by 80% when class is in session. I was stressing exponentially, and this was aggravated by nicotine withdrawal.
The clincher was returning from a camping trip to find a a hundred + pounds of rotten meat in my freezer. Shit. That costs money.(Did you know "Shit" was in the Bible? I told my ex-wife's daughter one time not exclaim "Jesus Christ" but rather to exclaim "Shit", because if Saint Paul can say it, we all can. There was stunned silence and long eye contact as she searched my face for evidence I was... Shitting her. LOL. Now, this didn't bring about a drastic change in her vocabulary, but she started to read her Bible...)
Oops. There went my attention span.
Anyway, I recruited Debbie's grandson, and we hauled my garbage can to the place where all the trucks go... which was a big hit, BTW.
I had to do this. The inexperienced victim would be amazed at how much of their neighborhood is blanketed with the stench of corruption when a hundred pounds of rotting flesh is pushed out to the curb. If I left it there, one of little old ladies that surround me was gonna commit arson. Small girls waiting for the bus would vomit. I had to do something, and I was afraid to go alone. My right hand man Colin, made it clear that he was there for me. I didn't have to deal with this by myself. He was impressed with the effluvia permeating my property. In all of his four-and- a half years, He'd never come across anything like this, and he is an accomplished adventurer.
He always loves to help me "Do a JOB!, Chris" , so we rose to the occasion and handled it like the virile, standard-setting pictures of masculinity that we are, hooking up the trailer and hauling our cargo down to Transwaste where it belonged. Watching my role-model break the heart of the receptionist was so uplifting, I was reluctant to leave his company, and afterward asked if he could help me cut grandma's grass. The answer a man like Colin gives to such a request goes without saying, and after a day of such hard work, we needed to play just as hard to blow off our steam. Drinking was out of the question. Colin is a Man's Man in all other ways, but he simply can't hold his espresso, and I fear the wrath of Grandma. What to do? Colin and I are like barely domesticated wolves, breathtakingly handsome and friendly, but wild at heart and dangerous. Unable to come up with a better idea, we got in the van and began to wander in a southeasterly direction, with the merciless Georgia sun setting behind us, not knowing what we sought.
Great minds think alike, and we both saw the fire station at the same time...OH, YEAH! As soon as we approached, those boys recognized our kindred spirits. They could sense our deep respect for the legendary bravery of their fellowship, and the hospitality they showed to two dirty, smelly, vagabond princes is a permanent notch in the belt of honor shared by emergency responders all over the world.
Fireman Mike rolled out the red carpet, showed us all their stuff,Hell, yeah I wanna look inside the truck!

and even went so far as to induct Colin into the ranks of his brave brothers and sisters, presenting him with the prized talisman, a Red Helmet! (I felt a twinge of envy). Probably nothing was gonna top this, at least this evening, so we said our goodbyes, and returned to our home territory. I dropped Colin off and limped home, nursing an arthritic hip, eager to upload my pictures before bed.

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