I spent a reverent hour this morning in pure worship, attuned the beauty in the very air, the holy sense of my Father’s presence, and the music being lifted all around me. No, I was not in some mortgaged church building. I was kneeling in one of our garden patches, pulling weeds from around the volunteer tomatoes and the blueberry and rose and hydrangea bushes. The sound the weeds made as I pulled them from the damp earth was precisely the sound the Black Angus cattle in the next pasture make when they crop God’s good green grass for their many-stomached strength. The friendly collie from one farm over lay near me, drowsing and watching, her presence a true fellowship. And while I pulled and prodded, trying to let any snakes know in advance of my benign intent and approach, the songbirds watching me from the tulip poplars raised their hymns, delicate and intricate, immediate and entire, like all good music.
When I pulled a stalk of ragweed, the earth disturbed a large daddy longlegs, who skittered up the tomato stalk and hid among the little yellow blossoms. A memory came back from years ago in Texas, a memory of a baking, still afternoon when I sat in the shade and watched the heat shimmers on the road and sipped a Lone Star. I noticed movement on the patio table, and watched in frozen interest as a daddy longlegs crept over to one of the rings of water where the beer had sweated down onto the glass surface. He went up to the water ring and lowered his body, as if doing a push-up. I saw the tiniest ripple movement in the water ring and realized that the fragile creature was taking himself a cold drink. I stayed as still as I could for a long few minutes while he drank, and then watched him as he crawled across the table, went over the side, and returned to his skinny-limbed business. I acquired that day a certain guarded fondness for the little fellers, and always try to avoid squishing or disturbing them if I can. As with crows, I have achieved a sort of wary friendship with a strange creature who glorifies my Father.
I came back in the house this morning to cool down, and as I sat barefooted in a chair, I absentmindedly stroked the bottom of my left foot. The tendon that runs along the arch felt odd; I rubbed it again and noticed that there are a series of knots, like rosary beads, along the tendon. Rubbing it again, I mused aloud to Mrs. MacP that it felt as if I had grown a spine in my foot.
A few years ago, I slept wrong one night and ended up with the worst stiff neck I’ve ever had. The pain was precise and penetrating, and I couldn’t hold my head up straight. At the recommendation of a friend, I went to see a chiropractor. He put me on his table and talked to me while cradling my head in his hands. He asked me a question about my family, and as I started to respond, he snapped my head to one side like as if trying to unscrew the largest Mason jar lid in the world. I screamed, not in pain, but because the movement and the accompanying loud “snap” scared the living hell out of me. By the time I sat up and rolled off the table, my neck felt better. My Atlas, the chiropractor told me, had been out of alignment.
The doc asked me to come back three days a week for the next two weeks to make some adjustments he’d determined I needed. I did this, trusting him because he’d made me feel 100% better in one visit than I’d felt before walking in his door. But after the two weeks, he asked that I come back once a week for the next month, and then once a month afterwards. Forever. I told him that I appreciated what he’d done for me and that I was impressed, but that I couldn’t afford a fifteen dollar out-of-pocket fee every time I came to his office. He was unhappy at my decision, but that’s how the spine cracks.
I imagine that chiropractors are like some other professionals. There are good ones and bad ones. I imagine there must be a small number who will do exactly what needs to be done, pocket their payment, and wish the client well. But I suspect that most of them preach the need for regular adjustments in the name of good health…and with the added bonus of a renewable stream of income. In other words, if the chiro cures you too well, you cease to be of use to him.
This is the sort of snake oil salesmanship practiced by every single pastor/preacher/priest alive today, whether they realize/admit it or not. This is why they dribble out their “wisdom” in tiny bits each week; it is in their professional (read: $$$) interest to keep their flock needy, dependent, unable to feed themselves. I used to think pastors’ inability to give good, sound answers to tough questions was simply because they are incompetent, the lot of them. While I still think most of them are incompetent students of the Scripture, I now believe they intentionally give vague answers because a clear answer would be the equivalent of “Your spine is now aligned; you don’t need me anymore unless you fall off a ladder.”
It’s sad how unexamined the lives and beliefs of churchgoers are — unexamined by themselves, I mean. They profess to believe the old covenant has passed away and the new covenant has taken its place, but they can’t tell you what the new covenant is. And even if they can find it in their Bible, they cannot or will not appropriate its promises. They flatly ignore the fact that our Father has said that under this new covenant, we do not need anyone to teach us or to tell us “Know Yahwah,” and that He will Himself write His words to us on each of his children’s hearts. No, they say, waving the heretic away. He has appointed pastors to act as our shepherds. We must feed on the provender they offer two or three times per week. And we must pay for it, and we must bring the tithe into the church house, just as it says somewhere in the good book. “It’s somewhere in the good book” will be the epitaph of every postmodern churchgoing Christian.
We watched a recording of 84 Charing Cross Road, the Anthony Hopkins vehicle about the twenty-year friendship-by-correspondence between a London bookseller and his American (Jew) customer, Helene Hampf. It’s a very nicely-paced movie, and Hopkins was much more enjoyable back then, before he settled into the series of irritating tics and mannerisms that have brought him fame post-Lecter.
Watching the movie reminded me of the horrific waste of WWII, and I’m not just talking about the body count. One standout plot element in the film is the food and fuel rationing that Britain endured after that war. While Americans were living quite well in the late Forties and into the Fifties, our British cousins were unable to obtain more than tiny bits of meat (most of it tinned) and dairy items. The seed of Satan did a really fine job of convincing the credulous English that they needed to battle Hitler on behalf of mankind, and the English heeded the call. The result was the destruction of the British Empire, the impoverishment and castration of her people, and the bleak, multicultural legacy one sees today on the sceptered isle. Way to go, Jewboys. I know you’re proud of the Kate Middleton Dynasty.
Many of you know that my favorite music is classical, including German opera, closely followed by bluegrass and Texas swing. But I regularly submit to a strong fondness for certain stripes of rock music, and it’s no accident that the rock music I like is largely classical in structure and operatic in tone. It’s masculine and martial, but not overly harsh (like the current “metal” music, all played at top speed and featuring vocals that sound as if they were recorded while the singer were bravely attempting to break through his latest bout of impacted constipation). The grindy, crunchy chords, the time changes, the soaring vocals….to me, it’s akin to the enjoyment of poetry by Dylan Thomas or Ezra Pound: one enjoys it as much for the sheer sound as for the sense. Bruce Dickenson of Iron Maiden has a voice that zips into me, and Yngwie Malmsteen’s guitar technique always galvanizes me, like a bugle call did for Patton and Forrest. And the lyrics of such songs are way, way down on the list of importance for me. Dickenson (who really shines on Iron Maiden tunes like “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and “Alexander the Great“) could sing the instructions on how to assemble a gas barbecue grill and it would sound effing great to me.
I recently made a musical discovery. It’s a group called Stratovarius, and the best way to describe their musical presence is that it’s what a collaboration between Bruce Dickenson and Yngwie Malmsteen would sound like. I like ‘em a lot, particularly this composition. As always, remember to turn it up. I’m convinced that my heavenly Father loves loud music.
My good friend HKZ is writing some spectacular stuff over at his blog. Relevant topics, muscular prose, precise observations. Dylan Thomas once said that he wrote his poetry to the glory of God and in praise of man, and that “I’d be a damn fool if I didn’t.” Well, if you don’t regularly read HKZ’s blog, you’re a damn fool. And intellectually impoverished, to boot.
Enjoy the rest of this Sunday, dear ones. And look up — your redemption draweth nigh.