Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

Joy

What is joy? More specifically, how do we in the post-Christian world define joy for ourselves and others as Christ spoke of in the Gospels? Is it an ephemeral giddiness, as we would feel after a hearty laugh, the intimate feeling of an embrace, the flush of excitement after a satisfying victory in a contest? In other words is it a transitory emotional /physical reaction to an external event, or perhaps is it indeed something more?

 This is an enigma for those that lack firm grounding in Church Teaching and Philosophy (someone like me) who most of the time accepts the teachings of Our Lord faithfully, yet when all alone, away from others, when it is just Him and I it seems there is a plaintive refrain emerging from my soul; Lord, what is it You are actually saying? Yes, “my heart is restless until it rests in Thee”; but it merely fathoms not grasps, all there is.

 There are times when I FEEL joy; but do I have it only when I feel it? – Or is it always there, lurking below the surface like a spiritual Moby Dick just before he smashes up the Pequod.  In other words, is this joy Christ speaks of more of a character trait, such as constancy or self-control, than an emotional flush against ones mental outlook in a particular situation? Or is this joy more similar to hope, which to my mind is a rare combination of spiritual resolve and physical satisfaction?

These things I ponder and have never found a way to resolve the question; it remains mysterious. All I KNOW is I have planted my guidon upon the mountain of Cavalry come what may: Here I make my stand; this is the hill I will die upon, amidst the van of Jesus Christ. If I do not feel an emotional high most of the time during this fight alongside Him, nevertheless I am quite sure that this is the place I was meant to be for all time; for emotional high is not after all the height we are to pursue, but the height of the Cross.

Indeed.

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Culling the Herd

When my dad decided to turn the outfit over to me, I thought at first his head was going to explode. You see for the last thirty years, and for forty years before him, the philosophy on this ranch was to keep as many cows as the range would support, with the idea that more cows meant more calves, and more calves meant more money in our pockets. However soon as I was old enough to check the range, I began to notice a few things. First of all in the quest for maximum numbers, we were cutting corners on the quality of the females we were keeping for replacement stock; conformity went by the wayside, and we were ending up with all shapes and sizes of cows, resulting in a very uneven and unpredictable set of calves for market. The result being instead of top dollar at the sales, cattle buyers were beginning to bid way less for the calves we offered– and our overall income began to shrink. This led to overstocking the range with even more inferior cows to make up the lost returns.
A vicious cycle; subtle at first but breaking out in full bloom about twenty years ago. We found ourselves in a huge, deadly bind. Poor cows led to poor calves, leading to even poorer cows being introduced; degrading our end product even further. All of a sudden, another problem arose: cows that weren’t even fertile, and went year after year not even breeding- we even had cows so sorry that they would not mother the calves they DID have, and the calves would be found dead on the prairie from starvation or downright abuse. Things still devolved from bad to worse; we did not have the money for decent bulls, and the quality of our calf crop dropped even further, as we went shopping for “anything that had horns and balls” as my wife would complain. Very soon, when I took over, things hit bottom.
Our banker of the last few decades retired, and they hired a new fellow fresh out of banker school. He had pouffy hair and shiny slippers for shoes; a real dandy- but some of the things he told us were very true, and he backed up his observations with action. “Boys “ he started, “I know I am new, and you will probably hate me for saying this, but your business is a wreck; your expenses keep rising and your income is spinning down the drain- in a few more years we will not finance you for operation, unless you begin to turn things around…. NOW.”
That is when my dad’s neck turned purple, and I knew that when it reached his eyes it would not be a pretty sight; but I was relieved because I was in charge now, and I was in complete agreement with the new bag of money sitting in front of us. I knew exactly what to do- it was going to hurt in the short run, but in the long run it was our only way to survive. It was time to cull the herd.
First to go were the cows who did not calve; next the ones that would abuse or starve their calves by being poor mothers. Next were the cows that did not conform to the way a cow should perform in terms of efficiency and in terms of overall appearance—uniformity is critical when it comes to producing a predictable growth set of calves that will outperform their counterparts: for a calf is no calf unless it does what it is supposed to do- grow fast and efficiently and produce red meat for the consumer.
The herd was tight and right; but it hurt -our calf crop was cut in half. However our net income was only cut by 40%- and that was in the first year. The weirdest thing was, my dad was most upset when he went to town, and had to listen to the coffee coolers talk about how the great Gut Hook outfit was now smaller than their neighbors…. It seems perception to some was more important than production and survivability. But not to me and the family; a smaller, bust superior set of cattle was going to slowly expand and fill back up to where it was decades ago; the best ranch in the valley, with reputation livestock and an outfit that we could be proud of, while others would try to emulate. We were on our way, and the pain of our past catching up to us, was in the end the best thing that could have ever happened.


You, Robot

vader

Latest entry: 8/25/14

My Opus Major is about finished. Perhaps a few more minor changes; then of course, the frequent updates and constant virus scans and IT will be done- MY ROBOT, refashioned into my own image! After millennia of work, I can say that I have transformed this frightening monstrosity into something I can be proud of.

When I think of what I had to start with in terms of raw materials, my stomach always begins to turn.  Granted, the hardware was and still is a technological masterpiece; however the software was a mess. Rewiring being beyond our capabilities we had to totally reinstall new data with a subtle, slow, long range gradual encoding and uploading  of new programming. I have taken what once was an unsophisticated, simple minded piece of machinery and totally transformed it into something that scares even the stoutest of my underlings.

What really amazed my guys down at corporate was the amount of memory  freed up once we were able to delete all the files involved with reason, morality, and outmoded flow chart loops involving obedience and tradition. The breakthrough started almost 600 years ago with a self-awareness program we corrupted and turned it on its head into a self-importance subroutine. I must say, sometimes I amaze even myself (which is getting harder and harder!). The protocol had been worked out previously, yet all of a sudden it found its way into a few receptive individuals; a smidge of virus encoding- voila’… self-replication and robots are running amok—Glorious Me!!

Small changes came next; self-interest was simultaneously expanded and contracted to replace “Brotherhood” with Nationalism and Racism. We could not believe it at first, but it was not necessary to disturb the intellectual functions AT ALL. Almost on their own, the robots began to specialize in constructing machines that fitted MY ends rather than their own… machines that swamped the world with blood, gore, misery and despair. Of course another great idea of mine was to leave in place the spiritual programs and just tweak them a bit: the result upset all our previous timetables and pushed forward my launch date even more!

The very idea that an apple started it all… it makes me quiver with excitement when I think of all of the neat stuff going on right now- some of these units are elevating disgust to the wondrous heights of  times past. Just think… Crucifixions again! Children being beheaded alive and then the heads paraded around on sticks!! The Good Old Days are back!!! Best of all, the partially corrupted and undefiled units (while few, they are still around, and more powerful than I like to admit) DON’T EVEN CARE!

Work has become a pleasure again. I have been thinking for quite a while that it would be a good time to relax and get in some Me time; but it is so much fun to go to the office every day and catch up on the latest new developments. Perhaps a year or two more and this whole plan will FINALLY start to work properly on its own like it is supposed to; after all, I am far too important to keep getting my hands dirty with these smelly, fragile, cranky things. But man, the trophy wall is getting full (note to Self, need another wing in Hell for all the newcomers.)


Jake Spoon

It was a far ago time when we were brought to being. A dim moment long ago yet at times crackling clear, as a winter sunrise. My brothers and I- once without existence, forged in the fires of creation. Pressure, heat, and the pain of formation; there was the attendant removal of deemed excess, bringing on a sense of personal loss- this dross seemed essential to who we originally were meant to be. No resistance could be offered, we resigned ourselves: suddenly, it was over– and we came into being.
The marvel of our form exceeded every expectation; symmetry and grace abounded within every plane. Swelling curves, breathtaking arcs; balance between flowing lines and abruptness of boundary- taken from nothing and molded into something beyond our wildest dreams. From the dust of the earth and potent reality of genius we became what was our end from the beginning of all thought. We now truly realized what it was we ARE: My brothers and I are spoons.

Raised from nothingness by an act beyond every comprehension to a new reality- we now imagine things far beyond every ancient dream. Reveling in our new found state we proclaimed that our true destiny and meaning comes not from without, but within. Not from exterior forces, but from our aspirations and new found vitality. Our present reality and meaning may now be one which we ourselves will define; fate as such, shall be determined by our will. The glory of our brilliance, the utility of our form was such that we forsook all former mystery as ignorance; henceforth what we CHOOSE shall BE. As one can see… pride does not reserve itself for greatness. Even spoons can be victims of their own reasoning and hubris.
Such a familiar task, being a spoon; the stumbling blocks of vanity seem but simple hillocks along the path of life- especially when spoons are magnificent ones. The gracing of fine tables, delicate use, refined company and high culture of great halls- respectful treatment which our pride assumed was our rightful due. Those were heady days: scented soaps and sumptuous cloths- the full restoration of brilliance after every use. Compliments abounded of our beauty; these along with the care given, merely re-enforced our surly self-affirmation of glory.

It has been dark, very dark now for quite some time. We repose in our velvet case, rank and file, so perfectly at attention; as fine and good as ever yet amidst a dark, dry forgotteness. Trapped in a princely bower that now has become a stifling tomb; idleness tarnishes us, yet even this seems to add to our luster in some strange way. Nonetheless we are forgotten- forsaken loveliness in a lonely land. Patience is not the lot of a spoon; especially one with pretention; to some treachery seemed afoot. How indeed could such beauty and grace be cast aside! Injustice a certitude: we cannot not be denied our destiny!- one which we ourselves most meticulously scripted!

The First Spoons, as they call themselves, adhere to a strangely differing view. Claiming to clearly remember First Times they wistfully recount when the One they name He Who Is initially gazed upon us, fashioned out of His own Idea. They claim we spoons were made by HIM, to be an extension of His hand and the hands that He determines. Infusing mundane tasks with style and élan, making the mere become wonderful, and the ordinary into something much more; He not us was the WHO; and this was the WHY.
The deep clotting dark of a forgotten silverware case makes an ideal milieu for contemplation… We were not, and suddenly we were. In this “were-ness” came thought and task. Awareness and work bring fulfillment; with satisfaction comes the creeping serpent of pride, gliding through the grass and pricking unshod, innocent feet. Looking down at what has assailed us has not availed; perhaps we should have never ceased looking up. The fleeting moments when pride sleeps are the ones when we truly find peace and contentment- the moments when we are used by Him are the ones that complete us as no other time. If this be true (and if truth can be sensory, than nothing is more so), then we are never more full of what it is to be a spoon, than when we are in His hands: He Who Is made us to be used, and ultimately used by Himself. Here is the complete Glory of “Spoon-ness”: indeed not residing within us, but without; only then and there will we rest in peace- both in His silver drawer, and upon His table.


Daddy, I Trust in You

 

 

Kate, my eldest daughter was three years old at the time (I have four children, all grown). One afternoon, we were playing together in the living room- she loved to be tossed in the air, and then I would catch her. After a bit she decided it would be more fun if she would jump into my arms after climbing up on the end table next to our davenport. I must admit, it was a lot of fun for me too- something about, “daddy, catch me!!” and the look in her eyes when she was airborne. She KNEW that I was there for her. Those were some of the golden moments of parenthood that somehow seem to transcend time and space: it WAS, but in some way still IS and always WILL BE. I cannot explain it, nor do I wish to attempt to, for my feeble words shall just cheapen how it still feels.

After some time of this Daddy always gets tired; but Katie of course does not. I get up and walk over to the table for my coffee, in the kitchen which was open to the living room. I next heard her shout, “Daddy, catch me!!”. She was on the end table all smiles, a moment away from launching herself into the air once again, with the certainty of total trust — even though I was fifteen feet away, I would most certainly be there to catch her just before she hit the ground.

Of course if you are a parent, you know what happened next. Through the air she went, crashing to the ground, with an expression of disbelief and betrayal upon her face. What shot through my mind were those same two emotions:

1. Disbelief-Not that I would not catch her, but that she actually thought I could.

2. Betrayal- Because that is what I had done- betrayed my little girl for the very first time, of many more to come.

Thirty years later this incident haunts me still. When you are a new father, you have the euphoric ephemeral sense of Deity in which you revel. It is not long however, before your wings get singed from flying too close to the flame and you fall like a meteor to earth—forever. Not a fallen Seraph, but a fallen man.

I started praying the Divine Mercy chaplet a few years back and lately began to contemplate what trust truly means in the term, “Jesus, I Trust in You”. Being a bit dense I wrestled with this for quite a while, and then Grace revealed to me this memory of my daughter in the living room so many years ago. She had it in me; perhaps we all did in someone, sometime, somewhere. With this trust placed in someone who is not Jesus, we were betrayed and decided to never trust again. With a conscious act of will I can resurrect this trust in Our Lord, but in times unaware it leaks out when I need it most.

Woe is me, and may I find that place in my heart for Jesus, that my daughter once had for me.

 


Benedict XVI

 

The Panzer Cardinal; Nazi; Grand Inquisitor; Intolerant Eurocentric White man; Cold Hearted; Remote Ivory Tower Type. Throwback from the Past.

What else can be said about him- and not just by non-Catholics? “He just doesn’t GET us!” “Maybe now we can have a more “modern” (read liberal) Pope!” I have heard all of these both in print and in person. Of course, let’s not account for the esteem that John Paul the Great held Benedict in- or the fact that the Church through the guidance of the Holy Spirit elevated him to all the offices he has held throughout his life. Then there is the problem of what he wrote, and taught- clear, concise, inspiring and may I say, seraphic.

No, he is not a charismatic leader, nor does he speak in sound bytes. He is a shy, brilliant servant of the Most High God. A teacher and shepherd who wanted us to listen and think, not to be entertained. Our Good Lord and His Church thought that the World was ready for a man like Benedict XVI. It turns out not: it is not that he did not “get” us, but WE did not “get” HIM. Here is a man who will not be appreciated until long after he is gone; by those who needed him the most. Benedict XVI is man, much like Paul VI who offered himself up as a sacrifice for us all.

So now he is emeritus; and we kind of have two Popes, after a fashion- perhaps it is due to the fact that Our Lord, in his wisdom, feels we are so bereft of virtue, we now need TWO Popes to care for our souls


Drugstore Christians

 

I was in the cow business full time for almost thirty years- still am after a fashion, but only because I cannot imagine a life without stock. There were and still are countless lessons to be gleaned from running cows and raising feed. These lessons can be applied to life in general- and I dare say that a few of these lessons that parallel High Theology.

When you are in the cattle business, it is crucial that your raise cows- and those cows must reproduce in order that you can keep on in the business. One might even say that you are intent upon the fruit of your labor—i.e. your cows have calves, and then there is a calf crop to sell. Round the clock, 365 days a year you are out in all weather: caring for livestock, feeding, checking pasture conditions, fencing, doctoring, repairing machinery, supplying minerals and salt, seeking lost or missing livestock among other tasks. This is due to the fact that your responsibility is the health and well being of the animals under your care. If you have enough of them it becomes a full time occupation (indeed there are times when it is more than full time).

In all of this there is a great amount of faith- will it rain and how much, can they survive this bad storm, will prices get better, will the bank keep on believing I can pay off my loans, will I have enough hay this winter, will they get eaten or stolen? Faith that the natural course of events will continue, and/or improve because an agricultural enterprise is founded on primarily this fact: faith that the sun will rise tomorrow and the moisture will come when you need it most.

To people not involved in agriculture, this type of faith in the system that Our Lord set up seems simplistic and a bit well, hokey. To those of us however, who have been intimately exposed to the mercy of God through His natural world this simple faith is an inescapable fact- we must through faith depend upon Divine nature in order to plan, execute, survive and perhaps even prosper.

Being a rancher involves this faith- yet it also involves works as well. One is not a cowman if one does not produce cattle- through faith and works; a rancher produces fruit, just as the man of Faith is not truly a man of Faith unless he takes this Faith to the level Our Lord demands- producing fruit from it in combination with hard work.

On a ranch, a cow that does not reproduce is not a cow- she is a highly temperamental, expensive lawn ornament. A saddle horse is not a saddle horse if it will not carry a rider- it is a glue pot. A cowboy is not a cowboy if he is not up to the task of demonstrating a particular skill set needed to care for cattle. Lastly, on a ranch, a man of Faith is a drugstore Christian, unless he demonstrates the unique skill set needed to do the work that Christ commanded.