Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Remedy

     Something sad sad sad to me is when someone asks, as someone one recently asked me, "how can you believe in God when the world so shitty?"

     There are some assumptions in the question; one about the asker and two about God.  Those about God are well known: That God is either not very good or He is not very powerful.   But it is the one the asker makes about himself that is not often explained.  The assumption the asker makes about himself is that he is not to blame not the condition of the world.   

     It has been a few years since I heard it, maybe 20 years, but Garrison Keillor described the unconcious, unintential, but completly deadly effects of sin when he said an argument between a husband and wife can cause babies upstairs to stir in their sleep, dogs to wimper in the back yard, and a woman all the way on the other side of town to drop a plate and wonder why she was so clumsy all of a sudden.  We are all connected.  The drunk driver kills one but hudreds mourn.  A police officer abuses his power and dozens lose respect for the law. A preacher commits adultery and a congregation splits.  Not just lies.  Not just angry words.  Not just gossip.  But even vain words shall be judged.   St. Paul wrote "All have sinned" and for this reason "creation groans".

     The Orthodox are reminded of this, as if we need a reminder, when we pray the Akathist for the Departed...

     We are to blame for the calamities in the world, for the sufferings of dumb creatures and for the diseases and torments of blameless children, for through the fall of man the beatitude and beauty of all creation have been marred.  

     The man who asked me the question about this "shitty" world thought he had defeated my argument (I had said the existence of the world is evidence of the existence of God.)  and walked away laughing before I could answer him.  I wish he had not walked away because I was about to tell him he was half right.  This world is shitty.  But there is more to it.  That akathist for the departed I quoted above continues with these words...

     O Christ our God, greatest of innocent sufferers, Thou alone hast power to forgive all. Forgive, then, all and everything, return to the world its former prosperity, that both the living and the dead may find peace, crying: Alleluia!    

     I'll see him again and tell him about Jesus and how Jesus is not content to leave things the way they are.  But that for six thousand years, and even from before the creation of the world, Jesus has suffered with us, and has been working to make all things the way they should be.   And that even death can not stop Jesus' saving power, for he has defeated death.  And in addition to that, he doesn't just give  us peace after our spirits leave our bodies, but forgives sins right now.  That is, to the living he says "peace".  

Saturday, April 06, 2013


More than thirty years ago, my friend Rob Brohmer and I came up with an idea: Dragons were able to fly and breath fire because, instead of methane, their biological processes produced hydrogen.  Of course, we were just goofing around and making jokes about farting dragons,  but today I came across this article and now I wonder if we might have been on to something. Could microbes living in dragons' guts have been producing vast quantities of hydrogen?

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Saturday soundtrack (shhhhh. It's Thursday): Gaye and Wilson

In 1983 Lionel Richie left The Commodores, and anyone interested in the band thought that without that very talented singer fronting them they were all over.  But in 1984, Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died and their deaths inspired the Commodores to write and record this 1985 Grammy-winning song. 

When I first heard this song as a teenager living in Tampa (I used to listen to WRBQ FM) I didn't care for it much.  But over the years I've become more familiar with the music of the men it memorializes,

Marvin Gaye (1939-1984)

and Jackie Wilson (1934-1984)

When I was in the Army, at my class’s graduation party at the 3283rd USARF School I convinced a group of other soldiers to sing with me Jackie Wilson's "Higher and Higher" to a bunch of female soldiers.  (One of them, a medic with the most beautiful blond hair, took care of me after I passed out in a hallway from drinking 190 proof Everclear.  I wish I could remember her name, but all I remember is her holding an icepack on my head and her hair.) Later, I would write my first college paper about Marvin Gaye's song "I Heard It Through The Grapevine".  I remember I got an A on that paper but I don’t remember what I said in it.  I wish I still had it.

I haven't heard it, but I've been told that the Commodores have added a third verse to Nightshift; in memory of Michael Jackson.