04 June 2015

Transatlantic shorts

Goodbye, Elektrostal. See you next school year.

On Facebook, Darlene Ortega quoted Richard Rohr as follows: "[A]ll mystics are positive people--or they are not mystics. Their spiritual warfare is precisely the work of recognizing and then handing over all of their inner negativity and fear to God. The great paradox here is that such a victory is a gift from God, and yet somehow you must want it very much (Philippians 2:12b-13)." (Hyperlink added.)

I'm not sure I agree with the first part, or maybe I'm missing something. Can't there be melancholic mystics?

But aside from the sweeping generalizations, I agree that the victory mentioned by Rohr -- the victory over inner negativity and fear -- does involve a great paradox, maybe the central paradox of the God-human relationship, one that cannot be wrestled into submission by Calvinists or Arminians or anyone else. Paul, a mystic if anyone ever was, urges us to "continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling," but Paul doesn't claim that this "fear and trembling" is a permanent condition or requirement. At some point, we not only believe but experience that "it is God who works in [us] to will and to act" (my emphasis) in order to fulfill God's good purpose.

Start with fear and trembling, but you won't stay there!

The thing is, desire is important, but it isn't enough. Yes, we want this good outcome. We don't want to live in fear, but still we struggle to remember this desire when other desires threaten to eclipse it, and this struggle of desires really is a fearful one. As I confront my various appetites and distractions, I even worry that in yielding to God I will lose my identity -- now that is fear! "I no longer live but Christ lives in me" (from Galations 2:20) ... so, is that still me?!

But the process I undertake is not mine alone. It's God working within me, right there alongside my will and my initiative, so that the outcome isn't my doom at all, but God's good purpose, which I've accepted as my own. So I want, and I yield. Both.

After experiencing the chaos and confusion of the Transportation Security Administration's screening lines at Kennedy airport yesterday, I was fascinated by a Washington Post article, "Why the TSA catches your water bottle, but guns and bombs get through." In a previous Post article on the screeners' amazing failure rate in catching TSA inspectors carrying guns and fake bombs, Homeland Security chief Johnson was quoted as saying that in the previous year, screeners had confiscated a record number of prohibited items. A more interesting fact would be how many of those prohibited items actually represented credible threats and were followed by arrests.

For some reason I was reading a two-year-old interview -- David Muir interviewing Obama strategist David Axelrod for the British journal Juncture -- and came across these words from Axelrod: "The thing about conventional wisdom is that you can almost always count on it being wrong." I wonder if the common assumption that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders can't possibly become the Democratic party's next U.S. presidential candidate qualifies as conventional wisdom.

If you missed my post from last week on being "offensive on purpose," take a look -- not because of what I said, but for the good comments.

Rebecca Christian's one-woman play about Lou Henry Hoover, wife of U.S. president Herbert Hoover, First Lady Lou, will be performed at George Fox University on June 19, during the conference of the Friends Association for Higher Education. (PDF poster here.)

Among the many interesting things I learned about Lou Henry in preparing this item: she spoke fluent Chinese, the only presidential spouse to date who spoke an Asian language.

Thanks to Paul Anderson for the performance information.

"Why more young women than ever before are skipping church."

John Feffer on why the world is becoming the Un-Sweden and "slouching toward illiberalism."

"Ukraine is not our war": Bill Yoder comments on Andreas Patz's interview of the president of Russia's Baptist Union.

Olga V. Solovieva: James J. Tissot's engraved illustrations for the New Testament "prodigal son" story hit the nerve of meritocratic thinking.

"Double Trouble"

I lay awake at night can't sleep just so troubled 
It's hard to keep a job, laid off and havin' double trouble
Hey, they say you can make it if you try 
Yes, in this generation of millionaires, it's hard for me to keep decent clothes to wear. (Otis Rush.)

Jason Ricci and The Bad Kind, recorded April 9, 2015 at Bradfordville Blues Club in Tallahassee, Florida. The song (BMI Work #335572; Conrad Music (CAE/IPI # 60791968)) was written by Otis Rush (CAE/IPI # 27054111) (b. 1935.) c. Ellen Hamby (ellen's eyes) No reproduction or distribution without written agreement. Feel free to embed, iff this entire description is included.
www.Moondog.org ... www.facebook.com/therealjasonricci ... www.BradfordvilleBlues.com

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