Peripeteia (confounded reversal of expectation)

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/peripeteia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peripeteia

Grandma Sophia stops at the front lawn gate  Sophia’s  husband’s acquaintance Elena as Elena comes to Sophia’s & husband Rob’s home.   “Don’t ever step foot at my home!” Sophia tells Elena.   “But I came to give you the honey syrup which Rob says you need right away for your sore throat.”   “Leave!”  Sophia commands.    Elena leaves.

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Sophia then takes a couple of dishes out of the kitchen cabinet & deliberately drops them on the floor,  breaking them into pieces.   Sophia’s husband phones Sophia’s & Rob’s daughter Candace, who lives next door.   Candace rushes over to her parents’ home and sees mom Sophia looking down at the broken dishes, Sophia flummoxed/bewildered in “universal pathos (emotion).”   Candace intones, “Mom, you want more dishes (to break)?”    Revelatory “bolt out of the blue” question by Candace.   Candace’s  gestalt’s burst of the unconscious.   Peripeteia’s boggling reversal of expectation/convention.   Such encounter a most precious moment of emotional conversance and growth both ways, between mom and daughter.   In such arduous endeavor & presence called “life,”  I transfix on Candace’s utterly providential anointed question.   Literally, rule-breaking via universal/divine ethos (virtue & integrity)/intervention/anointing.   Bestowed upon mom Sophia as autonomy & self-determination.    Beyond personal synchronicity (reference Carl Jung’s example of how timelines seemingly match up in self-adorned style — “more than mere coincidence” per mom Sophia’s meaning of wisdom for her name Sophia)  — is the objective psyche of independent reckoning  — sweeping flourish/mind-blowing moment crystallized in daughter Candace’s simple question above.   A perceptive Christian would say of Candace, “truly apostolic (sent from God).”

 

Which are why I follow biography genesis Samuel Johnson’s “domestic privacies” (ergo Candace’s exclamation/question) paradigm.

   http://www.firstphilosopher.com/smartboard/shop/johnsons/biogrphy.htm

“… but the business of the biographer is often to pass slightly over those performances and incidents, which produce vulgar greatness, to lead the thoughts into domestic privacies, …”

“… more knowledge may be gained of a man’s real character, by a short conversation with one of his servants, than from a formal and studied narrative, begun with his pedigree, and ended with his funeral… “

 

Lawrence Stone comments that we now are “trying to discover what was going on inside people’s heads in the past, and what it was like to live in the past, questions which inevitably lead back to the use of narrative.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_Stone#Narrative_history

 

Antiquity’s Tacitus said, “The principal function of history is to prevent virtuous actions from being forgotten.”  Thus, I use biography genesis Samuel Johnson’s sequential “domestic privacies”  to illustrate epiphanies, just as incisive Lawrence Stone & Edgar Knowlton Jr. discuss narrative as the historian’s expression.    In literature, stream of consciousness/free association partly emerged via Johnson’s method.

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I, for one, climax on ao ‘aumakua o ka po ancestral spirits of light in the distant past  — refrain of Moke Kupihea (Herman A. Wilson), a Johnsonian all the way.     http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2001/Jul/21/il/il01abookreview.html

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 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/patrick-hess/mentors-we-dont-realize-exist-_b_6726214.html?utm_hp_ref=religion
*Brain Memory

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For Greek philosophers Plato/Aristotle, glorious virtues start w/courage & end w/wisdom, a la Santini/Zulu/the British square/other renowned warriors.

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The 1st historian in the Western World, Herodotus, crusaded to “preserve the memory of great and marvelous deeds,”

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just as successor Thucydides’ mission was to record “important and instructive actions of human beings.”

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I tip my hat to my dearest daughter Staycie age 45 for finding the hero/heroine in us all, our very own Herodotus/Thucydides who exemplify Plato/Aristotle’s creeds that glorious virtues start with courage and end with wisdom, and for making us all the happier/wiser/deeper for these values.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/16/this-ancient-blueprint-fo_n_5312209.html?utm_hp_ref=gps-for-the-soul&ir=GPS+for+the+Soul

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A person must have an “inner citadel” to which one can retreat.

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Living from this inner place of peace and equanimity —

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a place which no person or external event can penetrate —

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gives one the freedom to shape one’s life by responding to events from a rational, calm headspace.

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Find your inner citadel.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/16/this-ancient-blueprint-fo_n_5312209.html?utm_hp_ref=gps-for-the-soul&ir=GPS+for+the+Soul

Marcus Aurelius, who faced a fair share of hardship and warfare in his life, and is thought to have written the Meditations from a tent in a Roman battle camp.

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We can choose to exercise power over our thoughts and attitudes in even the most dire of situations — Roman philosopher Cicero uses the example of torture to illustrate a man’s power to choose our own thoughts, which he says can never be taken away from him. In his Discussions at Tusculum, Cicero explains that when a man has been stripped of his dignity, he has not also been stripped of his potential for happiness.

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It’s not “Who am I?” but “Whose am I?” And this radical/gestalt changes everything!! (e.g. I am a father/grandfather/elder role model to my progeny/etc.)

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http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/7128.Jodi_Picoult

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“Let me tell you this: if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it’s not because they enjoy solitude. It’s because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.” ― Jodi Picoult

 

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“I’m lonely. Why do you think I had to learn to act so independent?” – ― Jodi Picoult

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“Love is not an equation, it is not a contract, and it is not a happy ending. Love is the slate under the chalk, the ground that buildings rise, and the oxygen in the air. It is the place you come back to, no matter where

Jodi Picoult

 

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What do you see in human experience?

C.G. Jung said that in Western civilization, the ancient office of tribal “ritual elder” was less and less occupied by clergy. Changes in modern institutional religion have turned parish clergy into administrators, teachers and fundraisers, and less and less available for the ancient symbolic functions of meaningful ritual and “testing the spirits” (discernment).
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Jung believed that modern therapists were largely the default recipient of the shamanic role. This has always intrigued me and made me nervous.
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Nonetheless …
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I want to extend an invitation to veteran therapist/counselor types — you modern elders — who might be in earshot of this column: What do you notice? Wrap your arms around the years of individuals, couples, kids, teens and families that moved through your practice. What themes do you see in the modern human experience, either positive or negative? Put all that into a two- to six-sentence paragraph, and send it to me.
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Here are a few things I notice:
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* People seek redemption. Yep, regardless of religion or no-religion, people long to convert banal human experience into redemptive meaning: birth, belonging, hope, vocation, sex, pride, humility, fear, joy, forgiveness, justice, evil, anger, values, moral failure, guilt, grief, love, meaning, child-rearing, aging, death. You can see how Jung arrived at his conclusion; the list of presenting issues in therapy is virtually synonymous with the needs and hungers of any pilgrim on a religious journey.
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* There is no escaping the paradox of The Individual and The Collective. Meaning, we cannot participate creatively in the wider human experience without possession of a healthy, separate self. Yet, the only way to grow a healthy, separate self is to participate in the collective.
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* People are designed for relationships. Seems funny how often I remind folks of this. I think “individualism” is a near cult in America. People are surprised, made anxious, threatened, even embarrassed by their yearning for deep friendships, kinship and a great love affair. We embrace insipid mantras — or sometimes hear them from therapists who mean to encourage — such as, “You’re fine alone.” You’ll never hear that from me. Instead you’ll hear, “You’re fine enough alone.”
* Western civilization is a neurosis factory. Anxiety, self-consciousness, self-doubt. An overwhelming tendency to attach undue and largely negative meaning to self. So common is this outcome in human formation that consulting therapists will describe patients with a shrug, saying, “He’s a normal neurotic.” Meaning, he’s just like everybody else. Just like me, for that matter.
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* People have answers for most of their questions. In fact, it’s uncommon for patients to ask me an honest question; meaning, a question seeking actual information about which they are ignorant. Nope, the majority of questions are rhetorical. The patient poses the “great mystery/crisis/dilemma” inquiry as a segue, a stage. Give them some room, and they will usually answer their own questions.
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* Children need to be admired. They need to hear the “wow” in the voice of the mother, the father. They need to see the wonder in our eyes.
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* Children are absurdly forgiving and breathtakingly resilient.
* We marginalize adolescents, yet reserve the right to complain about their despair.
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* The best thing I have to say about hitting children is that it is unnecessary.
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* The “nuclear family” is a ridiculous and historically unprecedented way to raise children.
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* Narcissistic parenting patterns dominate the current culture of child rearing.
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* As a group, we have sold ourselves a shameless bill of goods regarding marriage, divorce and remarriage. We’re personally affronted when we discover that our marriage has failed to sustain “in-lovedness” and happiness. We tell ourselves that divorce and remarriage is a terrific strategy for growth and personal development. No data supports this idea.
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* Modern people are tragically separated from their symbols. Said another way, materialism and rationalism rule the day, both at the cost of meaning.

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* It’s not abuse that makes children — and later, adults — feel or act crazy and destructively, it’s not being allowed to have any feelings about our abuse. To be separated from the reality of our emotional reality — that is crazy-making!
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We’ve come a long ways, but it remains today axiomatic: Men can’t cry, and women can’t get angry. I’m serious. Can’t tell you how many times individual therapy with a man includes helping him take grief and loss seriously. Can’t tell you how many times individual therapy with a woman includes helping her take anger and outrage seriously.
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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/one-man-s-definition-spirituality

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I once tried to craft a definition of spirituality that could be universalized. That is, the definition would not and could not be “owned” or dominated by any particular religion.

Purely objective. And utterly human.

For better or worse, I finally came up with this:  “Spirituality is the intentional disciplines we undertake to realize, respond and bring witness to essential relatedness.”

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Intentional disciplines

Significant spirituality presupposes some effort and intention on our part. We habituate ourselves to certain prescribed disciplines. Meditation, prayer, worship, sacrifice, piety, chanting, alms, fasting, study, mission, pilgrimage, ritual, marriage, music, art, dance, exercise — there are myriad forms of spiritual discipline. Only some are formal, “religious” activities.

But all spiritual disciplines attempt to express, strengthen and realize our fundamental relationships: self, others, cosmos, mystery. An authentic spiritual path is more than mere spontaneous enthusiasm or casual, intellectual observation.

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Let’s unpack the definition:

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To realize

A lot of things that are real are never realized. To realize is to bring to full expression. In authentic spirituality, we reach for what we believe to be real (our worldview) and we make it real in ourselves.

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To respond

Authentic spirituality compels us to respond. When we realize we are related, we find that we must respond to our relationships. We serve, we seek, we redeem, we account, we repair, we reconcile, we protect, we do battle, we make peace — action verbs.  We must answer the “voice” we have heard. We are obliged (from the Latin obligare = “tied to”).

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Bring witness

In word and deed we evidence our essential relatedness. We tell our story, yes, sometimes with words, but more often with deeds. The fast track of getting to know any human being is observing how that human being responds to his/her committed bonds of relationship.

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Essential relatedness

I was unable to coin a meaningful definition of spirituality without presupposing an article of faith. In the case of my definition, I’m presupposing that people and cosmos are essentially related. I can’t prove that. It’s part of my spiritual worldview (my cosmology) leaking into my definition.

I can’t apologize, though, because I do think we are essentially related. We do not choose to be related to the mystery, the cosmos, to ourselves and each other. We are related.

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All significant world religions and spiritual paths share common elements:

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A narrative

“In the beginning” … “Once upon a time” … “a child was born” …

Spirituality is contained in story. The story often includes a particular human life perceived to be unique and definitive of how life is and how life should be lived. For example, there is a life lived in history (Siddhartha) and then there is the collective response to that life lived (Buddhism).

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Sacred writings

The Bible, the Quran, the Deer Park Sermon, the Torah, Bhagavad Gita, petroglyphs — in sacred writings the stories and collective wisdom of spiritual paths are preserved and passed on.

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Moral code

The great world religions share basic concerns about violence, exploitation, dishonesty, theft and the breakdown of sexual boundaries. Religions postulate an “ideal” expression of our humanity and generally agree that we are incapable of realizing this ideal by the mere force of will. We sense what is good, but we cannot simply decide to be good.

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Festival, ritual and tradition

The great world religions contain potent rites of passage, rituals that realize and celebrate relatedness, and traditions that mark a rhythm for the ebb and flow of life.

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Sacrifice (alms)

The great world religions express a primary concern for the especially vulnerable members of society — the poor, the sick, the disabled, the very old and very young, etc. And so, authentic spirituality includes the regular, sometimes ritual sacrifice of time, talents, energy, goods, service and money for the aid and protection of the “especially vulnerable.”

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The thing I rather enjoy about my definition is that, even for people who swear they don’t have a religious bone in their body, well, there is still a very sense in which they can enjoy, nurture and grow an authentic inmost dimension to their lives.

If your spirituality/inmost-edness and/or your religion is not, at the end of the day, about tying you to fidelity in relationships, then I would wonder about its purpose and relevance.

Right relationships yield human wholeness.

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Jodi Picoult: “People always say that, when you love someone, nothing in the world matters. But that’s not true, is it? You know, and I know, that when you love someone, everything in the world matters a little bit more.”

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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/love-the-simple-measure-life

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When someone you love walks through the door, even if it happens five times a day, you should go totally insane with joy.”

— Denali

Denali isn’t famous enough to need a last name. He has no formal education. Not even a high school diploma. What he does have is a keen, super-human sense of what love means. What it requires. How to value it. How it calls us to pay attention. To celebrate and be grateful.

Because we simply never know.

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Human beings have no rights or claims on the ever-so brief moments they are given to be together.

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Denali doesn’t understand why people complain about the fact that salads cost $12 or why their shoes got wet. Denali has love in keen relief, proper perspective. He talks of loving his dog, Ben, through cancer.

In journeys like that, you don’t notice your shoes. And maybe you forget to eat lunch entirely, at any price.

I’ve never met Denali in real time. I heard him quote the above words in an eight-minute short film called “Denali.” You can watch it on Vimeo.com. (https://vimeo.com/122375452)

Films like “Denali”

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remind me how simple is the measure of my own life:

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When I notice myself in narratives of chronic complaint, I’m a loser. It’s that simple.

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Then, when I get the idea that others should be obliged to grant an audience for my complaining, I’m a loser and a boor.

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The tortured trifecta is when I take the point of privilege to feel slighted, to mobilize resentment if others are unavailable for my complaining.

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Loser, boor and Crown Prince of Entitlement.

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When, instead, I work the discipline of gratitude, I’m a man of peace and humility. My soul is in a posture to receive rather than grasp or take. I revel in an inventory of unspeakable grace and gifts,

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not an inventory of ownership, achievement and deservedness.

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Ownership? Every day I grow older, the whole idea of ownership seems more a waste of time.

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For what is truly my own

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except for the moments I dared to love and be loved?

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Answer:    nothing.

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“We are in bondage to decay.” — Romans 8:20-21

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Only love survives.

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Nobody lies in hospice and makes an inventory of ownership. Nope. Dying requires us to take inventory of love.

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“Love is paying attention.” — M. Scott Peck (1936-2005)

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A friend tells me about a family tradition, started by her father, now gone to be with God. Home from work each night, he would pull his car up to the house and tap a friendly “beep beep” on the horn. He would announce his arrival, and a wife and children would rise and mingle toward the door to greet him.

Today, my friend continues the tradition. Her family knows to expect the “beep beep” as she pulls her car around to home.

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Thus do healthy families and healthy marriages make customs and rituals out of comings and goings, hellos and goodbyes.

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They see each other. They behold each other. They respect each other. (Look it up. In Latin, respectus means “to see again.”)

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I remember, as I do at least annually in this column, the Thorton Wilder play “Our Town.” At the end, the protagonist pleads to her mother, “Mother! Won’t you just look at me!”

Then she says to the stage manager: “Does anyone really live life while they live it?”

“Oh, a few,” says the stage manager, puffing his pipe. “Poets and saints, maybe. Nobody else.”

By the way, if you decide to click that link and watch “Denali,” bring a box of tissues. It’s going to wreck you. Wring you out like a dishrag. Pour your heart into your shoes. If you can watch this piece and not be moved, something is wrong with you. You’re embalmed. Sleepwalking. Frozen in ice.

Watch it. Ponder what really matters.

Then put this column down. Go call someone you love, and tell them so. Just because.

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I remember (curiously)   senior  citizens exasperate how time flies by in the blink of an eye, even the seemingly long lifetime from birth to old age.   Now that I’m an oldster like these recurrent forebearers of half a century ago,  I comprehend the “never dying” notion of  “Time’s up, game over!”    Amazing to behold, lifetime in a single breath,  yet death (sadly) is not a game, it’s the way of life, unceasing/relentless/unchangeable.  So be it!  (Surrender/acceptance — the immutable laws of nature — allow freedom/wholeness in the eternal limitation of death — to reside in us all  — attitude is everything  — the freedom to be positive!)

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Do you know that theologian Martin Luther’s tabletalk (intimate heartfelt dialogues with others) helped inspire Luther’s deep comprehension of Scripture (selfless sacrifice for the good of others)?

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/luther/tabletalk.html

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And that mysterious and mystical exemplar Christ’s tabletalk with diverse/divergent ones from atheists to believers — inspire our deepest connection with compassion for others??

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https://www.baltimoremagazine.com/2014/10/13/up-hill-climb

I watched Rep. Elijah Cummings’ closing remarks at the Michael Cohen hearing (President Trump’s former confidant), as Cummings spoke straight from his heart,  beautiful to see.  Cummings has great mentors in Lena King Lee, Parren Mitchell, &  Kweisi Mfume, though Cummings lacks the precise articulation/charisma/magic of his forebearers.

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Update as of March 21, 2019 on the folly of Mayor Harry Kim’s rejection of preparing for the mega-tsunami headed to Hilo, Hawai’i  (overdue for this next one — last one was in 1586 A.D.)  — area affected is oceanside of today’s Walmart Store:

https://www.usgs.gov/news/new-tsunami-evidence-along-one-earth-s-largest-faults-alaska-aleutian-megathrust

 

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From Rhett Butler (21 March 2019 9:07 am):
I think the answer is both. The eastern Aleutians remain a primary concern for Hawaii (but there are others as well). Magnitude 8’s are more numerous than 9’s (all other things being equal).

Best regards,

Rhett

Curtis Narimatsu  wrote:
 
Is there a “big one” (a la the recurrent Tohoku tsunami) equidistant between Driftwood Bay & Sedanka (source “flashlight beams”– verb — directly toward Hawai’i)?   Or are there more frequent recurrent SMALLER tsunamis?
“…the observed tsunami energy from the 1946 and 1957 events skirted [emphasis Curtis’] the Hawaiian Islands, propagating to the east and west of the Islands, respectively. Between these two epicenters lies the possibility for an extreme Mw ~9 event (Butler 2012) that would be far more devastating than either the 1946 or 1957 tsunamis.”   [The symbol for the moment magnitude scale is Mw , with the subscript “w” meaning mechanical work accomplished https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moment_magnitude_scale#Definition
]
Fig. 10
Fig. 10
Hilo Harbor—which experienced great tsunami disasters in the twentieth century—is shown in relation to the Hawaiian Islands. The tsunami evacuation zone based on historic tsunamis (cream textured, ca. 2010) is dwarfed [emphasis Curtis’] by a great Aleutian tsunami (colored zone, amplitudes noted in meters) that extends >2-km inland.   

[flooding/devastation will be twice+  the historic area]

Butler et al. (2014) analyzed and dated the paleotsunami site in the Makauwahi sinkhole on the southeastern coast of Kaua‘i between Po‘ipu and Nawiliwili harbor, positing evidence for a great tsunami there in the sixteenth century [1586 The Orphan Tsunami of 1586].  Results indicate that an Eastern Aleutian earthquake of Mw 9.25 or greater [emphasis Curtis’] is necessary to inundate the site.
Rank Date Location Event Magnitude
1 May 22, 1960 Valdivia, Chile 1960 Valdivia earthquake 9.4–9.6
2 March 27, 1964 Prince William Sound, Alaska, United States 1964 Alaska earthquake 9.2
3 December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean, Sumatra, Indonesia 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake 9.1–9.3
4 March 11, 2011 Pacific Ocean, Tōhoku region, Japan 2011 Tōhoku earthquake 9.1

April 1, 1946 Unimak (not Umnak) earthquake was 8.6 Mw.

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this updates my article in

https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2018/02/23/in-memoriam-robert-paul-hickcox-1948-2017-in-praise-of-donald-w-amaral/

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We are born writers in the sense that we are born storytellers. Language is who we are to the world. Our ability to tell our story with clarity and panache will make the difference between being heard and being ignored.
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We like to think that artistic genius, at least, feeds on solitude. It is not uncommon for new writers to worry that they will become less distinct, less original, if they spend too much time sharing ideas with their peers. But consider the case of Jorge Luis Borges. When he went to Europe as a young aspiring poet, he found his feet (and an education) in the tertulias of Madrid. Returning to his native city of Buenos Aires, he continued the habit. The almost nightly conversations he had with Adolfo Bioy Casares and other writers fed directly into his writing, and into theirs. If Latin America literature then went off in a direction not yet possible in Europe and North America, it is largely thanks to this unruly group of literary hybrids, who drew as much inspiration from Edgar Allen Poe and G.K. Chesterton as they did from Shakespeare and Verlaine. They gave each other the courage to be break conventions, question received ideas, and imagine the unimaginable.– Maureen Freely
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Write, firmly believing that imagination is the quintessential self/the quintessential way of “knowing” the world. This imaginative knowing has the potential to dispel barriers that isolate individuals and communities. Exercising imaginative “knowing” allows, always, for a potentially transcendent narrative, that is trans-global, trans-cultural and speaks to our common humanity.– Jewell Parker Rhodes

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/08/01/a-writers-life-list-listen-more-than-you-speak-engage-with-the-world-thats-where-ideas-come-from-ohh-so-true-these-are-where-ideas-manifest-beautifully-lori-nelson-spielman/

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A writer’s life list: Listen more than you speak. Engage with the world. That’s where ideas come from. Ohh, so true, these are where ideas manifest beautifully. — Lori Nelson Spielman

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Writing Life List
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The inspiration for my novel was found in an old cedar box. Tucked alongside my first bankbook and my grandmother’s rosary, I discovered a yellowed piece of notebook paper folded into a tidy little square. In my flowery, 14-year-old cursive, I’d written Lori’s List across the top, along with 27 goals I thought would make for a good life. I also included a sidebar called, Ways To Be, which included such pearls as, Don’t be stuck-up. Don’t talk about ANYONE.
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Never expect to be taken seriously. People, even friends, can be insensitive. They don’t realize how important your craft is to you. Don’t fault them for it.

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Learn to describe your project du jour in one succinct sentence, and do so if, and only if, someone inquires. And never, ever ask your friends to read your unpublished manuscript. Find a writer’s group for that.

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Don’t complain to non-writers. They don’t want to hear it.

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Write with joy and abandon. Use your creative gift in a way that would please its benefactor.

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Koontz acknowledges he has “a very low boredom threshold” and wants to be entertained by what he writes. He says he’s been asked, “I want you to write a book that’s very dark and very noir and everybody dies in the end and there’s no meaning to anything.” To which he replies, “You don’t need me to do that. It’s everywhere.”
“That’s not what I do,” Koontz said.“I write about people trying to find hope and redemption in their lives from suspense.”
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Irony is a way of transcending and ultimately extending the limited resources of everyday language — irony uses words to point beyond language.

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Irony entails endless reflection and violent reversals, and ensures incomprehensibility at the moment it compels speech.     Essentially, irony swallows its own stomach.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony#Irony_as_infinite.2C_absolute_negativity
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Jonah in the belly of the whale as irony swallows the multiple hypocrisy of the Pharisees and teachers of the law when they confront Jesus.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonah#Jonah_in_Christianity
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Irony, reversal, and frustration of expectations are characteristic of Jesus. Does a periscope (short saying — “turn the other cheek”) present opposites or impossibilities? If it does, it’s more likely to be authentic. For example, “love your enemies.”

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Peripeteia   

(reversal of circumstance/plot twist/role reversal)   —

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peripeteia#Conversion_of_Paul_on_the_road_to_Damascus

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The instantaneous conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus is a classic example of peripeteia.

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Conflict between Western (hubris/mammon) and Arab (rural/rustic/compassionate) civilizations   (the “good” guy sides with the “bad” guys and  the bad guys become the protagonists  — cf. antihero)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_of_Lies_(film)#Themes

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In massage therapy, ischemic (choke off the oxygen) pressure point/compression cut off circulation, and the body responds to the compromise, which strives toward equilibrium, by sending a “flush” of blood and lymph, which contain constituents that temporarily alleviate pain (endorphins), which also “flush” out inflammatory chemicals (substance P, prostaglandins, bradykinin, etc.), and which also contain energy constituents for metabolic recovery for both the myofascial tissue and the neuromuscular junctions.    Such compression enhances eventual mobility and relaxation.
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http://www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/steven-kalas/it-ll-take-more-bubble-bath-cure-your-stress

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Four fundamental sources of stress    —

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1.   MEANINGLESSNESS

Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung said that the crisis of Western civilization was a crisis of meaning. As the great “symbol systems” of our past erode (e.g., the American flag, wedding rings, clear gender symbols, Judeo-Christian symbols), we are left more and more with a culture void of symbolic identity. Our understanding of relationship and intimacy is no longer grounded in depth communion expressed by shared symbols but in the facade of “connectedness” (see Facebook, etc.). Our work is less and less grounded in the symbol of vocation and more and more grounded in “occupation.” That is, something that occupies our time and makes money.

More and more patients enter therapy not to resolve unhappy childhood memories, not to change some unhealthy habit, but to try to express that vague, nagging, painful emptiness of a soul looking for meaning.

Meaninglessness is very stressful.

2.    DENIED EMOTIONS

Imagine standing waste deep in a swimming pool, holding a volleyball. Now, push the ball underwater with one hand. Hold it there, underwater. Give it a minute. As your arm tires, you will notice the ball’s desire to surface. It wants to surface. Demands to surface! Your arm will start to tremble. You have to concentrate. Perhaps a grunt will escape your lips as you bring to bear the effort to keep that ball underwater.

This is what it’s like to deny your emotions. To do anything but feel. Anger, fear, vulnerability, shame, guilt, grief, loss, despair — our culture raises you to deny suffering at all cost.

Undigested, unrecognized, denied emotions are very stressful.

3.     DISRESPECT/CONTEMPT

If a tree is planted in a poison forest, it will fail to thrive. If you rescue the tree by digging it up, repotting it in healthy soil, feed and water it, then the tree will begin to recover and grow. But, once restored to health, if you return it to the poison forest … well, there aren’t enough bubble baths in the world to make living in that forest OK.

This is what it’s like for so many patients. I help them. They begin to thrive and heal in therapy. But, if they must then return to a poison marriage … or return to poison parents … or return to a poison workplace and a poison supervisor … well, relaxation techniques will not ultimately be enough to save them.

Participating in relationships marked by chronic disrespect/contempt is very stressful.

4.     THE DOUBLE BIND

In the 1950s, Gregory Bateson struck upon the idea of the double bind: “A psychological impasse created when a person perceives that someone in a position of power is making contradictory demands, so that no response is appropriate.”

Bateson says the victim of double bind receives contradictory injunctions or emotional messages on different levels of communication (for example, love is expressed by words, and hate or detachment by nonverbal behavior; or a child is encouraged to speak freely, but criticized or silenced whenever he or she actually does so).

No meta-communication is possible — for example, asking which of the two messages is valid or describing the communication as making no sense.

The victim cannot leave the communication field.

Failing to fulfill the contradictory injunctions is punished (for example, by withdrawal of love).

The double bind is often one of the poisons in the poison forest. It is a common strategy (albeit, often unconscious) of folks treating us with chronic disrespect/contempt. It can make you feel like you are losing your mind.

Sure, take time for yourself. That’s a good thing. But, if any of these four stressful dynamics haunt your life, you will have to do something about it.

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You can become your  own refutation. When overpride/vanity/jealousy are your Stygian Triplets, you know you’ve passed into some parallel universe.
This is what fear masked as supreme confidence with emotional manipulation looks like in print.
Methinks thou doth protest too much.
Missing is the “Grace to You” part.
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Empathy means literally “to enter the pathos.”
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To enter the pathos is to surrender to all that is tragic, absurd, lost, despairing, meaningless. The word “pathos” is not a derision; it’s an observation.
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Compassion means literally “to suffer with.”
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We bandy these words about too easily. It’s not all that frequently we find people who will really do what are implied in those words. I cherish the people I do find.
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I no longer lift bread and wine. I lift broken, poured out people. Folks like myself. My meaning in life is to help others find their meaning.
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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/jesus-death-becomes-even-more-powerful-when-this-particular-messiah-also-carries-your-personal-projections-that-is-the-celebritys-life-mirrors-important-pieces-of-your-own-psychic-journey-your/

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Why We Write

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By approaching our writing from this perspective we take our thumb off the scale, and in doing so make conscious what was previously unconscious.

And that is the goal of story: to make meaning out of a set of events.

Growth is painful. To make a choice involves discomfort, because it demands that we take responsibility. But it also means that we get to live in reality. To create from a place of fantasy, of groundlessness, is an escape — which is different than losing ourselves in our work by shedding our ego for a deeper connection to our humanity.
Why we write is more important than what we write because our reason for writing influences the content of our work. It is important to remember that we don’t have to do this. The world is not in a rush for more books. There are more great works of fiction, poetry, memoir, history and pumpkin soup recipes than we will ever have time to consume.

If we’re going to write, it is because we have a desire to express ourselves, even if we don’t quite understand what we wish to say. It might just be an inner yearning, but by making the choice to engage in the process rather than the result, our work has a chance to live. In expressing ourselves, we make what we write essential, if only to ourselves, and by beginning from this place, it has a chance to affect the world.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-goeman/faitheist-social-change-through-storytelling_b_2382772.html

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‘Faitheist’: Social Change Through Storytelling

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America is diverse. However, this diversity occurs in safe, isolated pockets that are stagnant and unengaged with one another. Diana Eck, religious scholar and founder of The Pluralism Project at Harvard University, notes that diversity is nothing to be proud of. Diversity is the description of a community, like Tufts or America, where people of different beliefs or backgrounds happen to be in the same location. Pluralism, rather, is the “active seeking of understanding across lines of difference.” It is this engagement that breaks down barriers and guards against prejudice. If we want to make pluralism, rather than diversity, a descriptive fact of our community, we need emissaries to navigate cultural boundaries.
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We need to invite others inside our communities and show them what we value. And we need storytellers.

“Faitheist” works to end this ideological segregation. Chris humanizes atheism by sharing his life and his values –
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Chris aims to end the cycle of isolation and tribalism by encouraging others to contribute their own story to our collective narrative.

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The more we get to know each other, the more our prejudices will dissolve.

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Toward the end of the book, he notes: “The moment I shared my story as a secularist, others felt more comfortable sharing their own.”

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“Faitheist” isn’t just a memoir; it’s a continuation of the biographical heritage established by “Roots”, “The Diary of Anne Frank” and “Hiroshima” —

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the books that informed Chris about the radical depths of human suffering and inspired his dedication to justice —

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but it is also the predecessor to a new generation of compassionate voices articulating their beliefs while serving humanity.

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Chris’ model of interfaith engagement and storytelling will, I believe, make my university and my country better places —

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places where diversity actually means something.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/dont-you-just-love-a-cogent-argument/

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Writing is simplicity and contentment –

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http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/kalas/Playing_with_words_is_fun_as_well_as_meaningful.html

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So, I have come up with three questions. First, why do you write? Second, what inspires you? Third, what do you do to overcome “writers’ block”? — B.F., San Francisco

Why do I write? I write for the same reason people ride roller coasters: It’s a rush. A flow. Movement and rhythm. It’s sensory. Aesthetic.

Words, for me, are like being 8 years old and having a huge bag of Legos. Every day my dictionary contains the same English words, just like every day the bag contains the same Legos. But today I have the chance to assemble them differently! And that’s fun for me.

Why do I write? I write because I love words. I hate jargon, but I love words. Yes, there are a lot of different ways to talk, but words matter.

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The right word can help us apprehend our lives in deeper, more intentional and more meaningful ways.

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There’s a reason the Hebrew verb dabar can mean either “to say” or “to do.” The Hebrew worldview speaks to the power of words: “And God said (emphasis mine), ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”

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Words have a creative force. Until we say “I love you,” there will be something about love that does not yet exist.

Am I a ‘word snob’? Oh, maybe. OK, probably. Dammit, yes! But I don’t think my demeanor is snobbish. More relentless and passionate.

I admire excellence and precision with language. I’m a harsh critic of the way American pop culture lazily conscripts the English language willy-nilly.

Americans tend to think of this — when they think about it at all — as another entitled “freedom.” A creative evolving of language. Most of the time it’s exactly the opposite. We broaden, distort and thereby cheapen the meaning of important words. This undermines meaningful discourse.

In the end, it’s worse than merely me not understanding what you mean to be saying; you no longer can accurately apprehend your own experience with anything like clarity and meaning.

For me, there is only one dictionary: The English Oxford Dictionary. Why? Because it alone is willing to guard the power and meaning of the English lexicon.

If I step out on my front porch, and shout “Labeedoowitz” loudly enough, the word “labeedoowitz” will show up in the next printing of the Rand McNally Dictionary.

OK, that’s hyperbole. But, I swear, coin the word “labeedoowitz” in a hit Broadway musical, and it will indeed be automatically included in the dictionary your son and daughter take to college.

I want to chase people to the dictionary. Regularly. I don’t apologize for using important words when just the right word matters.

I love it when I hear a new word. I interrupt people, right there on the spot. I say, “Ooh, I don’t know that word!” That’s a rush for me. A delicious feeling in my brain.

Why do I write? I write because I’m a compulsive communicator who loves to think out loud. Critical thinking turns me on. I like building an argument the way little boys like Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs and Erector Sets.

I even have fun when the argument collapses. My best friends will tell you that I flat out love being wrong. Yep, when someone puts a finger clearly and accurately on the flaw in my argument, my brain stem hums as if I’d just bitten into a vanilla creme chocolate. If your argument can derail my argument, then I’m like a little kid with a new toy! I’ll race back home with your argument. Take it apart. Put it back together. Play with it. Integrate into my worldview, now changed.

Bring me a good argument, and I’ll ask you to marry me. (Uh, metaphorically speaking. I am so off the market.)

What inspires me? Life. Love. Tragedy. Suffering. Redemption. Evil. Beneficence. Truth. Beauty. Moral dilemmas. Mystery. The human journey inspires me, in virtually any form or circumstance.

What do I do to overcome “writers’ block”? Two things. First, I surround myself with deadlines imposed by others in authority over me. I’m inherently lazy. Not much of a self-starter. Without deadlines, I tend to sit around congratulating myself for thinking about all the brilliant things I could write. The thing that best “jump starts” my most creative self is the high expectations of others, especially if I have contractual obligations with them.

Second, I overcome “writers’ block” by writing. It’s like pumping the pump handle on a reluctant well. At some point I stop saying, “When I get a worthy idea, I’ll start writing.” No, I just sit down and start banging the keys, until a worthy idea shows up.

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http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/01/08/f-scott-fitzgerld-on-writing/

F. Scott Fitzgerald on the Secret of Great Writing

by Maria Popova

What is the secret of great writing? For David Foster Wallace, it was about fun. For Henry Miller, about discovery. Susan Sontag saw it as self-exploration. Many literary greats anchored it to their daily routines. And yet, the answer remains elusive and ever-changing.

In the fall of 1938, Radcliffe College sophomore Frances Turnbull sent her latest short story to family friend F. Scott Fitzgerald. His response, found in F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters (UK; public library) — the same volume that gave us Fitzgerald’s heartwarming fatherly advice and his brilliantly acerbic response to hate mail— echoes Anaïs Nin’s insistence upon the importance of emotional investment in writing and offers some uncompromisingly honest advice on essence of great writing:
November 9, 1938
Dear Frances:
I’ve read the story carefully and, Frances, I’m afraid the price for doing professional work is a good deal higher than you are prepared to pay at present. You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner. This is especially true when you begin to write, when you have not yet developed the tricks of interesting people on paper, when you have none of the technique which it takes time to learn. When, in short, you have only your emotions to sell.
This is the experience of all writers. It was necessary for Dickens to put into Oliver Twist the child’s passionate resentment at being abused and starved that had haunted his whole childhood. Ernest Hemingway’s first stories ‘In Our Time’ went right down to the bottom of all that he had ever felt and known. In ‘This Side of Paradise’ I wrote about a love affair that was still bleeding as fresh as the skin wound on a haemophile.
The amateur, seeing how the professional having learned all that he’ll ever learn about writing can take a trivial thing such as the most superficial reactions of three uncharacterized girls and make it witty and charming — the amateur thinks he or she can do the same. But the amateur can only realize his ability to transfer his emotions to another person by some such desperate and radical expedient as tearing your first tragic love story out of your heart and putting it on pages for people to see.
That, anyhow, is the price of admission. Whether you are prepared to pay it or, whether it coincides or conflicts with your attitude on what is ‘nice’ is something for you to decide. But literature, even light literature, will accept nothing less from the neophyte. It is one of those professions that wants the ‘works.’ You wouldn’t be interested in a soldier who was only a little brave.
In the light of this, it doesn’t seem worth while to analyze why this story isn’t saleable but I am too fond of you to kid you along about it, as one tends to do at my age. If you ever decide to tell your stories, no one would be more interested than,
Your old friend,
F. Scott Fitzgerald
P.S. I might say that the writing is smooth and agreeable and some of the pages very apt and charming. You have talent — which is the equivalent of a soldier having the right physical qualifications for entering West Point.
Two years prior, in another letter to his fifteen-year-old daughter Scottie upon her enrollment in high school, Fitzgerald offered more wisdom on the promise and perils of writing:
Grove Park InnAsheville, N.C.October 20, 1936
Dearest Scottina:
[…]
Don’t be a bit discouraged about your story not being tops. At the same time, I am not going to encourage you about it, because, after all, if you want to get into the big time, you have to have your own fences to jump and learn from experience. Nobody ever became a writer just by wanting to be one. If you have anything to say, anything you feel nobody has ever said before, you have got to feel it so desperately that you will find some way to say it that nobody has ever found before, so that the thing you have to say and the way of saying it blend as one matter—as indissolubly as if they were conceived together.
Let me preach again for one moment: I mean that what you have felt and thought will by itself invent a new style so that when people talk about style they are always a little astonished at the newness of it, because they think that is only style that they are talking about, when what they are talking about is the attempt to express a new idea with such force that it will have the originality of the thought. It is an awfully lonesome business, and as you know, I never wanted you to go into it, but if you are going into it at all I want you to go into it knowing the sort of things that took me years to learn.
[…]
Nothing any good isn’t hard, and you know you have never been brought up soft, or are you quitting on me suddenly? Darling, you know I love you, and I expect you to live up absolutely to what I laid out for you in the beginning.
Scott
For more wisdom on the writing life, see Zadie Smith’s 10 rules of writing, Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 guidelines for a great story, David Ogilvy’s 10 no-bullshit tips, Henry Miller’s 11 commandments, Jack Kerouac’s 30 beliefs and techniques, John Steinbeck’s 6 pointers, Neil Gaiman’s 8 rules, Margaret Atwood’s 10 practical tips, and Susan Sontag’s synthesized learnings.
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For me, writing begins with an almost dreamlike process. It’s as though my mind goes through some semi-conscious period where things from the past and present seem to coalesce and begin building upon themselves. Sometimes a thought fragment forms, only to fade the way some dreams dissolve as you’re awakening. At other times, an idea imbeds itself and develops with a clear forward trajectory.
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The novel’s story incorporates other aspects of my own and others’ experiences, coupled with large doses of imagination and fantasy. Like all fiction writers, I draw from the things I know well, and borrow heavily from life around me.
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I draw water from the well of my life’s work, and create stories.

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A writer is someone who always has an eye open and an ear cocked. I am no exception.

Drawing from life is at the heart of my novels, although each one begins in its unique way.

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A valuable principle I learned in my Christian ministerial studies was a mentoring metaphor that has never left me. It was idly called the Paul Principle.
Paul was the apostle that came after Jesus had already ascended into heaven. Paul was the adopted step-child of the disciples. He was mentored by Barnabas, was in jail with a peer named Silas, and wrote letters of teaching to a student called Timothy.
The principle was this…
Every man in life should always have a Barnabas, Silas and Timothy if he is to be a complete man.
Always identify your Barnabas, the one who is mentoring and teaching you.
Discover your Silas. The peer who is in the trenches with you and learning life at the same time.
And never forget to pass the torch to a Timothy in your life. The wise saying goes “If you can’t teach it, you really don’t understand it.”
We all have many Barnabas’ along our journey. We all have many Silas’ too. But to avoid complete selfishness, we need to take the wisdom we’ve acquired and impart it to ones like our children, their peers, and anyone else God allows us to come to know in our lifetime.

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Jesus’ death becomes even more powerful when this particular messiah also carries your personal projections. That is, the celebrity’s life mirrors important pieces of your own psychic journey. Your own life dramas. Jesus did this for me with his transparency. His naive nakedness. He was the first “icon” to recognize egotistic “discernment” as insanity, to rightly despise it, and to distance himself from it. Unlike Jesus, celebrities of the flesh like John Lennon, Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, & Judy Garland couldn’t stop seeking it. If one says that a weeping fan’s grief is “unrealistic (and therefore annoying) at a time when so many are struggling with foreclosures, debt, disappearing jobs and other miseries,” I would say quite the opposite — that the sting of this grief is made more acute during these hard times, because we will miss the beauty, the passion, the inspiration and hope that pour through these artists and into our lives especially during times of social misery. Celebrities, and especially artists, provide us a deep mirror into the celebration of being human. Some celebrities become iconic. That is, the mirror they wield reaches into the collective human experience of a culture and sometimes across cultures (such as Waikiki’s Bruno Mars). And the death of an icon is felt painfully and powerfully in a human psyche. The loss is real and meaningful. And so is the grief. John Lennon was a celebrity. In Latin literally “the one who helps us celebrate.” And did he ever help us celebrate. And the price he paid was the burden of fame, fame in Latin meaning “rumor/gossip.” Celebrity is a calling. Fame is simply nuts. In the end fame killed him. If anybody needs forgiveness here, it’s us. Just as fame killed Lennon, we killed Jesus (mob hysteria after Jesus cleansed the temple of the mammon money changers). For then are when we need our leaders most.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/jesus-death-becomes-even-more-powerful-when-this-particular-messiah-also-carries-your-personal-projections-that-is-the-celebritys-life-mirrors-important-pieces-of-your-own-psychic-journey-your/

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Right hearts, minds, and actions in sequential order

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New Testament external prompts correlate with the convergence of the human and holy spirit and the sacred items in the Ark of the Covenant

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christian-piatt/following-jesus-isnt-prim_b_6740148.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

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Right thought or belief is generally called “orthodoxy,”[New Testament prompt of sipping wine-conscience/Old Testament Aaron’s Rod]

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while right action is called “orthopraxy.” [New Testament prompt of breaking bread-fellowship/Old Testament manna]

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And sometimes we seem to assume that these are the only things to focus on, or even that one is somehow superior to the other.

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In studying the teachings and words of Jesus, however, I’m coming to embrace the sense that “orthopathy,” or right-heartedness [New Testament prompt of Lord’s table-intuition/Old Testament Torah Scroll], is a critical third leg [actually the first leg] of the proverbial stool.   This right-heartedness actually helps lead us to the path we’re seeking for the other two.

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Consider the Greatest Commandment, which Jesus claims is foundational to all other laws and commandments. He’s not saying that the Ten Commandments are irrelevant or that the 600-plus Jewish laws should be cast aside. Far from it, in fact. By focusing on loving God with all we are, loving all our neighbors (“all” really does mean all) and even loving ourselves in kind, everything else falls into its proper place.

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He doesn’t say that the Greatest Commandment is to claim a certain set of beliefs, get baptized or go to a certain church.

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He doesn’t say that the virtues of action to which we are called in the Beatitudes are paramount.

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But at the same time, he’s not diminishing or undermining these.

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Rather, he’s helping bring them into greater fullness (perfection) by focusing first and foremost on loving. Not just love as a claim or feeling but as a verb, a worldview, a lens through which we understand all of creation. When we are driven by such all-encompassing, consuming, perfect and sacrificial love [New Testament prompt of living water-convergence of the human & holy spirit/Old Testament Tablets of Stone], the beliefs and actions fall into place.

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In this way, the teachings of Jesus dovetail elegantly with the teachings of the Buddha:

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Right hearts lead to right minds, and right minds lead to right actions.

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Perhaps we focus on orthodoxy and orthopraxy more because, in many ways, they’re easier to measure. Also important is that they are easier to wield over others, in assessing whether or not they are worthy of salvation, inclusion, or (fill in the blank). But the act of living into perfect love is terrifying, partly because it is perpetually unfinished business.

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Also, it is radically subversive, because the rule of love (rather than the rule of law) cannot be used to consolidate and exert power over one another.

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Whereas our application of the old laws — or orthodoxy or orthopraxy — can be used to control or conform,

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love inherently releases and liberates.

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And in the best ways possible, it subverts the very systems of power we have built to contain, control and even marginalize those without power and privilege.

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I know that for some this is a significant shift in understanding what is at the heart of following Jesus. It is shockingly simple but never, ever easy. It is accessible by all yet controlled by none.

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It is the way, the truth, the life. And it is so much bigger than any church, denomination or religion. To me, that is good news; that is gospel.

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No matter the rather undeserved propping up of Shakespeare on the backs of our Gospel Authors. Kudos to Shakespeare for Shakespeare’s own search for the mystery and the Truth of Jesus!

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Which, by the way, says a lot about shunned predestination pariah John Calvin, who is Shakespeare’s total opposite on salvation.

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Looking at the frayed Calvin proselyting about Man’s venality & depravity amid predecessor reformer Martin Luther’s Reformation in the north latitudes, one easily accepts Calvin’s admonition about the evil of Ego/overpride as our worst affliction/contagion.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/the-take-away-which-is-a-huge-lesson-to-learn-from-some-contemporary-evangelicals-is-that-calvin-did-not-impose-onto-the-gospels-a-view-of-how-the-bible-ought-to-work-as-gods-word-rather/

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Calvin correctly says that the best Man can hope for is a release from Hell’s Iniquity by choosing Jesus as our Lord & Savior.

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Has anything changed from early Church father Augustine to intellectual Aquinas (Summa Theologica) 800 years after Augustine, to us today 800 years after Aquinas??? 1200 AD Aquinas is equidistant by 800 yrs. after Augustine & 800 yrs. before us today — yet nothing has changed in our depraved nature from 400 AD Augustine to us today, not to mention from Jesus’ crucifixion to Augustine 400 yrs. later.

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No, not in our own mental/intellectual gymnastics/tortuous rationalizations on predestination vs. free will.

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And certainly not in our innate venal toxic nature.

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We are as detestable today as we were when we crucified Jesus in the mob hysteria of those 6 days 2000 years ago.

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Imagine, we sing Hosanna, even the stones shout Hosanna, as Jesus marches into Jerusalem sideway on a donkey’s colt.

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And no later than you can bat an eyelash, we crucify Jesus because

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Jesus cleans out the temple of everything evil about us.

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No, we are no better today than that week when Jesus died for our sins. Like I say, John Calvin has something here, baby!! ;-)

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Augustine and Luther came to Christ thru Romans and Galatians.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistle_to_the_Romans

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Epistle to the Romans is the 6th Book in the new Testament, and is the longest of the Pauline epistles. It is considered Paul’s most important theological legacy.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pauline_epistles

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A man is

no more a Christian

by being in church

than I am a car

by being in my carport.

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Biologically, homo sapiens are and always have been animals built for and thriving in troops. More politely, community! No life form is more vulnerable than a human being alone — environmentally, psychologically, spiritually. Yes, I’m aware that some individuals spend much of their adult lives in radical seclusion. But I have yet to meet the individual living thusly who freely chooses this life from a place of thriving mental health.

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Now a theological observation: Every significant world religion has in common the foundational worldview that we are created for relationship, and from this worldview their driving ethos: Learn to

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love! Learn to be faithful and constant in relationship! For such is the measure of any significant spiritual path. “It is not good for the Man to be alone.” (Judaism) “Where two or more would gather in My name, there I will be in your midst.” (Christianity) The Hindus, the Buddhists, the Muslims, the premodern animists — all of these ways of life come down to the discipline of bridling the human ego in service to love and faithfulness in relationship.

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But, as I’ve said, and as your own question concludes, you are one of the folks with whom you are obliged in relationship. The Golden Rule — “Love your neighbor as yourself” — presupposes this. In fact, The Golden Rule makes a huge presumptive leap that you do have a relationship of regard with self. Have you ever been “loved” by someone who despises him/herself? You won’t like it in the long run.

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It has been said that our lives are wasted until we can love something or someone more than ourselves. I completely agree. My insistence remains, however, that selfless love finds its nexus, paradoxically, in regard for self! Self-respect. Self-love. People without regard for self can love, yes, but there is always a thread of brokenness in that love. Or, as my friend says, when co-dependents are about to die, someone else’s life flashes before their eyes!

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So, taken as an existential inquiry, I think your question becomes a dog chasing its tail. Taken sentimentally, we become ruled by sentiment. But, taken objectively, as “personal economy,” if you will, I think your question lies at the very heart of learning anything about love and relationship at all! Because love — “primary concern,” as you say — is not a feeling. Love is an act. It is possible to exercise a “primary concern” for someone about whom you harbor hateful feelings. Some folks would say this is the very zenith of human love.

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Objectively, your question pushes us toward the necessity of two psychological maturities: discernment (the ability to understand what’s going on) and stewardship (the ability to weigh and measure what you have and don’t have to give, and, if you do have it, whether you should). These two things lie at the heart of all ethical deliberation and, in any given moment, shape the answer to your question regarding where your primary concern should be.

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Here’s a banal illustration: I’m on an airplane as I type this. Before takeoff, the attendant gave us the safety lecture. She said that, while they never anticipate a sudden loss of cabin pressure, should it occur, oxygen masks would drop down from overhead. She said that, if I was traveling with a small child who needed assistance with the mask, that I should put mine on first.

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In short, as a function of discernment and stewardship of my “concern economy,” I should in this case make myself my primary concern. I assume because, were I to lose consciousness, my primary concern for my child would immediately become a moot point.

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No primary concern for self matters unless it obliges us in relationship with others. No primary concern for others is completely healthy unless it reflects a healthy regard for self.

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The Last Shall be First — Jesus

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Devoting oneself to others is at the heart of all the world’s major faiths.

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If we are devoted to a higher purpose (e.g. hope in salvation), love and compassion become the whole point and our goals become more important than what we get in return for them.

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The blind will see and those who see will become blind. John 9:39-41 Those who become blind also will blind themselves as experts (ability to see). Thence those who become blind shall continue to remain ignorant. — Chiasmus

http://www.biblelimericks.com/?limerick=john-941-blind-seeing-seeing-blind
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After staring at me several seconds, she burst out laughing and I joined her. She left that session, smiling, shaking her head and marveling, ‘The luck of the draw.’ I might say that I’d come to this conclusion some time before about my own experiences.”
See, a therapist focused on textbooks and technique might have answered, all sincere and philosophical: “I don’t know. Why do you think this happened to you?” But patients deserve more than a Human Echo Chamber. They deserve more than nodding, staring and “Mmm.” They need human reparative interaction.
Well, yeah. Of course.
With all respect to the practitioner’s training and expertise, maybe the heartbeat of effective therapy is 50 minutes of acutely focused, directed, authentically present and respectful human relationship.
 
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The points are to establish love and emotional support as our idyllic commands, in a tragic and indifferent world.
 
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Needless suffering is of this world, stuck in this tragic and indifferent life.

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*

 
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Indeed, true love endures.

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It’s just that you need to close the gestalt of being in love with the person who no longer loves you

*

and get past one’s own hurt, bitterness, disappointment and anger

*

before what endures can be apprehended

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as the honored friend it is (self-respect)

*

and not the cruel enemy

*

it appears to be

*

right after we’ve been dumped.

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True love endures. That’s a good thing.

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*
*
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But true love is different from needless suffering for the rest of your life.

*

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At the end of the day, we have to grow a self-respect sufficient not to want someone who doesn’t want us.

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*
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You need to forgive yourself

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for what was

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not

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in your power to do.

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Preface to Susan Sarandon’s undying line below — the gumshoe/private eye says to Susan Sarandon’s character Beverly Clark (on tailing Bev’s hubby played by Richard Gere) that couples get married for passion, not protocol. Susan’s character Bev in turn responds via her eternal line below.

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*

We need a witness to our lives. There are billions of people on this planet…

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I mean, what does any one life really mean?

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But in a relationship,

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you’re promising to care about everything.

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The good things, the bad things, the mundane things…

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all of them, all the time.

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You’re saying

*

‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it.

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Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness’.”

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*

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdBATA_Ag5s

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Rose teasingly tells Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack in the 1997 blockbuster movie Titanic –

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Immortalize me, Jack!” (via Jack’s portrait sketching talent) Done, baby!!

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As sage Steven Kalas intones (Love’s Purple Heart is won) –

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Once upon a time you stood before an altar

And you promised not to leave

You held each other’s hand and dreamed a sweet forever

Love brought angels to your knees

Oh, the days they do fly by

Count the tears that you have cried

Count the laughter and the lies

Count your love and times love died

And here you stand together, battle-scarred and torn

The locks of fairy tales have fallen, long since shorn

Love has chosen you, blessed you, crucified you

See what you’ve become

Love’s Purple Heart is won

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Once upon a time

You promised to believe

That wounded hearts though painful so

Are the only hearts that grow

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Infinity’s Loving Purple Heart has been won.

*

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*

No one likes rejection.

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Jesus knew rejection through his life. The people of Nazareth, his own hometown, rejected him (Luke 4:26-30). Still others wondered about him because of that hometown. “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked (John 1:46). People rejected much of his teaching. Many questioned the origin of his teachings and do not accept him as he was born poor, the son of Joseph the carpenter. In Matthew 21:42, Jesus talks about the stone the builders rejected. The story is a revelation about Jesus, himself.

The Gospels say that Jesus travelled a lot and suggest he entered villages where he found no place to rest. Luke’s Gospel tells of one time Jesus was not welcomed in a Samaritan village (Luke 9:51-53). Jesus’ comment on the experience could imply this happened frequently (Luke 9:58).

Remember the last few hours of Jesus’ life before his crucifixion. Many people and groups rejected Jesus, including those closest to him. Judas betrayed Jesus and identified him in the Garden of Gethsemane for those who came to arrest him. The disciples all ran away in fear when Jesus was arrested. Peter, who said that he would never desert Jesus, ended up denying Jesus three times (John 18:15-27). The high priest, the chief priests, the elders and scribes rejected Jesus and wanted him put to death.

The religious leaders took Jesus to Pilate for a trial. Pilate did not want any trouble and since it was the governor’s custom to release one prisoner during Passover, he asked the crowd, “Which do you want me to release, Barabbas or Jesus?” (Matthew 27:17). The crowds chose Barabbas and rejected Jesus, leaving him to be crucified.

At the final moment of his life, Jesus felt the ultimate rejection. On the cross at the ninth hour Jesus cries out “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:45). Jesus knows and understands rejection. Jesus exemplified rejection.

Tremendous pain comes with rejection. The experience can feel like one has been thrown into a spiraling emotional and spiritual black hole and lead one to wonder if there is hope of return to a normal life.

Rejection fills life.

*
 
*

Not every dream comes true.

*

Sometimes because our dreams overreach the miserable human condition (ideals of great love).

*

Sometimes our dreams overreach immutable realities (my body simply wasn’t designed to fly like a bird).

*

The good life, then, requires us to tightrope this paradox: We must never stop dreaming … yet also we must learn to say goodbye to some dreams.

If we stop dreaming, our lives become one-dimensional, static, not fully alive. If we don’t know how and when to say goodbye to a dream, we get stuck in embittered, nostalgic quicksand.

*
*
 
*

James Kavanaugh publishes “Celebrate the Sun: A Love Story.” In it we meet protagonist Harry Langendorf Pelican. Like his seagull compatriot, Harry rejects the ordinary life of a pelican and reaches outward for his own potential. Like Jonathan, Harry falls into disfavor from family and friends. He considers his willingness to suffer the disfavor as a measure of his depth, commitment and bravery.

Then Harry’s mother dies. And Harry is confronted with limits. No amount of affirming our life’s potential or hurling ourselves boldly in that potential changes the fact that there is, in the end, no such thing as limitless freedom.

The most joyous human freedoms emerge, paradoxically, from surrender to limits.

Kavanaugh’s book critiques Bach’s book. And I knew I must choose. And I did, finally, choose. I decided. I know it sounds like a riddle, but I decided there is ever-so-much more potential for freedom in limits. I began to see the idea of limitlessness as … limiting.

Bach says, “You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self — here and now. And nothing can stand in your way.”

I concluded, “Oh, actually tons of things can stand in your way. That’s the wonder and joy of it: the journey of finding authentic selfhood when so many things are standing in the way.”

Bach says, “If you love someone, set them free. If they come back, they’re yours. If they don’t, they never were.”

I concluded, “If you love someone, choose them with your whole heart! Never stop having high expectations of him/her, or of yourself!”

Bach says, “If you argue for your limitations, you get to keep them.”

I concluded, “Yes, many limitations are in fact self-imposed. Rethink those, for sure. But other limitations are immutable. We’re mortal. We age, weaken and die. We suffer. We grieve. We cannot will our own goodness. We cannot, no matter what we achieve, ever be wiser or stronger than The Mystery. Life will continue to happen, independent of our striving to be the sole author of our fate.”

Humility is the doorway to all the greatest treasures of the human experience.

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*

https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/idyllic-imperatives-in-this-tragic-and-indifferent-life/

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*
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There’s a downside, a real tricky balance in the work of self-respect. I have learned to nurture a healthy suspicion when I become too strident, too righteous about that value.
*
*
*

There’s a line between self-respect and self-important/arrogant pride.

*

It’s a fine line. Easy to cross. Way too easy for me, anyway. And I cross it at my own peril.

*
Leonard Cohen, in the chorus of his song “Anthem,” says that all any of us can ultimately do is “Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in. That’s how the light gets in. That’s how the light gets in.”
Where are the cracks and imperfections in your life?
How might those places of seeming weakness paradoxically be the most powerful invitations you will ever have in this life to “let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are,” to let go of our culture’s addiction to certainty and the myth of permanent satisfaction — and instead to savor and celebrate the gifts of the life that already have: right here and now.
I will conclude by offering you this blessing from one of my favorite liturgists Jan Richardson. In this life, we all have our different struggles, gifts, and graces:
May you have the vision to recognize the door that is yours,
the Courage to open it,
and the wisdom to walk through.
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*
 

Deepest reverential silence

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Elijah calls out to God to show Himself. God does not manifest in the earthquake, nor the fire, but in a still small voice — the might of the Holy.

http://biblehub.com/1_kings/19-12.htm

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The deepest inner quiet is more powerful than any outward manifestation — noise is not organic righteous activity — but simply an external show — yet the inner voice grows as living proof of God. Not just being, but doing — from the inside.

*

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Analogously, deep calls to deep in the roar of the waterfall. The mystery, mysticism, and miracles of the Divine. http://biblehub.com/psalms/42-7.htm

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The psalmist comes to see that there is no silence; the answer coming from God is deeper than words. God is present, and speaking, but what he’s saying isn’t resting on the surface waters of life. This is a season where deep is calling to deep or, as Thomas Kelly phrases it, a time of going “down into the recreating silences.” — James Emery White

*

*
*

James Emery White: The Silence of God — Perhaps it’s not silence we’re encountering while we seek God, but rather a pregnant pause — a prompting to engage in personal reflection so that the deepest of answers, the most profound of responses, can be given and received.

*
*

http://www.preaching.com/sermons/11545530/page-5/

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Silence.

In truth, it was the deepest conversation we had ever had. God was moving within me,

*

communing and communicating with me on levels that I had never opened to him before. That night was the first of many such conversations.

*

*
*
*
*
 
 
*
Many of the hidden truths of Christianity have been misunderstood or lost. Read them with the eyes of the mystics rather than interpreting them through rational thought. Filled with sayings, stories, quotations, and appeals to the heart, specific methods for identifying dualistic thinking are presented with simple practices for stripping away ego and the fear of dwelling in the present.
 
 
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In the 16th century, Saint John of the Cross famously described not being able to talk with God as “the Dark Night of the Soul.” The 17th-century Benedictine mystic Fr. Augustine Baker called it the “great desolation.” This also is known as spiritual dryness.
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The term “dark night (of the soul)” is used in Christianity for a spiritual crisis in a journey towards union with God, like that described by Saint John of the Cross.
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Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, a 19th-century French Carmelite, wrote of her own experience. Centering on doubts about the afterlife, she reportedly told her fellow nuns, “If you only knew what darkness I am plunged into, a night of nothingness.”

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Contrary to the mistaken belief by some that the doubts by these saints expressed would be an impediment to canonization, just the opposite is true; it is very consistent with the experience of canonized mystics.

*

The term the “dark night of the soul“ describes a particular stage in the growth of spiritual mystic masters.

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While this crisis is usually temporary in nature, it may last for extended periods. The “dark night” of Saint Paul of the Cross in the 18th century lasted 45 years, from which he ultimately recovered.
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Mother Teresa’s diaries show that she experienced spiritual dryness for most of her life. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, according to letters released in 2007, “may be the most extensive such case on record,” lasting from 1948 almost up until her death in 1997, with only brief interludes of relief between.
Franciscan Friar Father Benedict Groeschel, a friend of Mother Teresa for a large part of her life, claims that “the darkness left” towards the end of her life.
*
*

This is a form of spiritual crisis experienced subjectively as a sense of separation from God or lack of spiritual feeling, especially during contemplative prayer. Paradoxically, spiritual dryness can lead to greater love of God.

*

Such inability to communicate with God actually provides an opportunity to reach deeper in connecting with God, as seen in the seed that fell on the rocks in Parable of the Sower, as well as to the Grain of Wheat allegory found in the Gospel of John.

*

Such “passive purification” bears fruit which are “the purification of love, until the soul is so inflamed with love of God that it feels as if wounded and languishes with the desire to love Him still more intensely.”

*
The theme of spiritual dryness also can be found in the Book of Job, the Psalms, the experiences of the Prophets, and many other passages of the New Testament.
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Example of Old Testament Silence
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*
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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/paul-is-a-mystic-he-thinks-mystically-writes-mystically-teaches-mystically-and-lives-mystically-and-expects-other-christians-to-do-likewise-paul-the-first-writer-in-the-christian-bible/

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Paul, the first writer in the Christian Bible; the very first theologian in the West, was a mystic.

 
 
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*

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/in-praise-of-mystic-christian-jo-anne-silva-i-recognized-that-our-seminaries-could-teach-us-how-to-think-and-even-how-to-apply-the-truths-of-scriptures-to-certain-situations-but-our-seminaries-did/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/05/24/richard-hays-echoes-of-scripture-in-the-letters-of-paul-pauls-readings-of-scripture-are-not-constrained-by-a-historical-scrupulousness-about-the-original-meaning-of-the-texts-esch/

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Richard Hays’ Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul: Paul’s readings of Scripture are not constrained by a historical scrupulousness about the original meaning of the texts. Eschatological meaning subsumes original sense….

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True interpretation depends neither on historical inquiry nor on erudite literary analysis but on attentiveness

*

to the promptings of the Spirit,

*

who reveals the gospel through Scripture in surprising ways.

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In such interpretations, there is an element of playfulness, but the freedom of intertextual play is grounded in a secure sense of the continuity of God’s grace: Paul trusts the same God who spoke through Moses to speak still in his own transformative reading. Just as my lectionary commentary invites Christians to read the Bible as Jesus read the ‘Bible’ in his day (with a hermeneutic of love), Hays’ work invites us to embrace the same freedom to interpret the Bible that Paul with other ancient commentators claimed. — sage Carl Gregg

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*
*
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http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+4%3A24&version=KJV

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Certainty is the mark of the commonsense life—gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, not knowing what tomorrow may bring. This is generally expressed with a sigh of sadness, but it should be an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises. When we become simply a promoter or a defender of a particular belief, something within us dies. That is not believing God—it is only believing our belief about Him. Jesus said, “. . . unless you . . . become as little children . . .” (Matthew 18:3). The spiritual life is the life of a child. We are not uncertain of God, just uncertain of what He is going to do next. If our certainty is only in our beliefs, we develop a sense of self-righteousness, become overly critical, and are limited by the view that our beliefs are complete and settled. But when we have the right relationship with God, life is full of spontaneous, joyful uncertainty and expectancy. Jesus said, “. . . believe also in Me” (John 14:1), not, “Believe certain things about Me”. Leave everything to Him and it will be gloriously and graciously uncertain how He will come in—but you can be certain that He will come. Remain faithful to Him.
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Sometimes you have to go to hell [deepest self-reflection, unlovely as well as lovely].

*

Oh, I’m NOT talking about religion here.

*

In fact, I don’t use the word “hell” very often to describe some afterlife place of deliberate torment as punishment for not belonging to the right religion.

*

No, when I say you sometimes have to go to hell, I mean a very immediate, very real, “here and now” experience [existential introspection].

*

You don’t have to die to go to hell. Though going there will feel like dying.

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Hell paralyzes normal thinking and feeling. Sleeping and eating become less necessary. It is dark and empty down there. In hell, some people cry and wail and clutch carpet. Others sit, dazed, in unlit rooms for minutes or hours on end. Not much use for words in hell. But, if you’ve ever been there, you know. You remember.

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You cannot take any prior learning, wisdom or life experience into hell with you. You can’t even take what you learned the last time you were there. If you could, it wouldn’t be hell.

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We go to hell with nothing. We go to hell to be nothing, for a necessary while, because hell burns down the identity in which we have heretofore reveled in supreme confidence [leave behind your inflated ego!].

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A variety of circumstance and happenstance can summon us to hell. But the different occasions have in common a grief beyond knowing.

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Beyond words. A loss beyond measuring. Someone dies. Someone betrays you. The one and only love of your life … leaves. Maybe you have a random, capricious, could-have-happened-to-anybody accident that leaves someone dead. Disfigured. Permanently disabled. Or maybe you are confronted with the consequences and humiliation of your own egregious dereliction. Grave moral failure. You burn down your life, reputation and important relationships in an act of wanton, desperate stupidity and selfishness.

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Hell is the place we go to face eviscerating, sledgehammer loss. Loss that changes you. Forever you’ll be different.

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When life demands our descent into hell, we have two choices.

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We can go.

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Or we can refuse to go, at least for a while. Sometimes for a long while. But woe to the person who puts off this journey.

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Because every strategy for putting off this journey leads to … hell. But it’s a different hell than the life-changing (if terrifying) descent described above.

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The hell we enter by putting off hell is “mere suffering,” as opposed to a meaningful suffering. It is a pathos. An absurdity, as opposed to a redemption.

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Alcoholism, for example, can be seen as a strategy for putting off hell. I’ll never forget my friend who, 20 years sober, said: “There should be a sign on the door of AA meetings that says ‘Sobriety is Hell.’ Because the first thing that happens to drunks who stop drinking is … it gets worse. And then it gets better.”

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There are treasures in hell. My spiritual director spoke of two treasures, specifically: “In hell you will meet your True Self,… and you will meet God as you have never known him before.”

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No one can accompany you to hell. If someone could go with you, it wouldn’t be hell. Friends, family, beloved mates – these people can walk you to the entrance of hell. They can wait for you on the rim of hell. But hell, by definition, is a place we go alone.

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Twice in my life I’ve been to hell. It changes everything. Both times the experience made for more of me. That is, my True Self. I had more depth. More humility. I learned more about love and gratitude.

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But that’s not to say the journey is without cost. One of the costs, of course, is the way the journey changes the names and faces in your innermost trusted circles.

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When you come out of hell, there will be people standing there with you and for you who you never would have imagined would still be standing there.

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And, likewise there will be people not standing there any longer who you would have bet your life would still be standing there.

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The former will surprise and delight you. The latter will break your heart.

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Those relationships will never be the same. And you’ll never understand either list. It will always be a mystery.

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I’m saying there’s nothing like going to hell for showing you what friends, family and soul mates are made of.

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Hell sifts through the pretenders.

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Who, in your life, was still standing there when you came out the other side of hell?

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/my-wish-for-christian-keenan-1-corinthians-1510-filled-with-grace-within/

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When you know that a Christian is dead inside (e.g. needlessly suffering by being angry with the world), then it’s time for Biblical Paul’s recitation on inner Grace – being regenerated, called, sanctified —

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a new creation, baby!!

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The heretofore unsearchable/unreachable solace of Christ

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Grace gives us the desire and the power from God to do His will —

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to give life a chance!!

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divine_grace#Christianity

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When it comes to helping people in need, one of the stories that should spark our imagination remains Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan.
 
 
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The aspect of the parable I would point out here is its personal nature [very specific].

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To demonstrate how (and to whom) we ought to show compassion

*

Jesus does not speak in generalities.

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He gives a specific situation,

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where one individual (the Samaritan) must make a decision about how
 
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to treat another specific individual (the Jew set upon by robbers).

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Christian mercy is not about generalized theories,

*

but about specifics.

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Since Jesus lived in an oral culture,

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scholars expect that short, memorable stories or phrases
 
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as applications of Scripture

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are from Jesus.

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For example, “love your enemies.”
 
 
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Turning common-sense ideas upside down, confounding the expectations of His audience:

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He/Jesus preached of “Heaven’s imperial rule” [traditionally translated as “Kingdom of God“]
 
 
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as being already present but unseen;
 
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He depicts God as a loving father;
 
 
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He squares shoulders with outsiders

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and criticizes insiders.

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Christ evokes not simply an apocalyptic eschatology/end-time,
 
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but more critically a sapiential eschatology,
 
 
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which encourages all of God’s children to repair the world NOW.
 
 
 
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Not just the Parables but the Beatitudes/etc. feature the
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dramatic presentation and reversal of expectations that are characteristic of Jesus.

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Based on several important narrative parables [such as the Parable of the Good Samaritan],
*

scholars decided that irony, reversal, and frustration of expectations were characteristic of Christ’s style.

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Does a pericope/concise passage illustrate opposites or impossibilities?
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If it does, it’s more likely to be authentic.
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One-third of the Bible consists of Parables/Pericopes/aphorisms.

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The poor are accepted as constituting the primary recipients of the Good News and, therefore,
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as having an inherent capacity of understanding it better than anyone else.
 
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That’s pretty threatening for any comfortable Christian.
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For not only do we have to help the poor, not only do we have to advocate on their behalf, we also have to see them as understanding God better than we do!
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But that’s not a new idea:
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It goes back to Jesus.
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The poor, the sick and the outcast “got” Him better than the wealthy did.
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Perhaps because there was less standing between the poor and God.
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Less stuff [pride].
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Maybe that’s why Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew, “You will have treasure in heaven, and follow me.”
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See also Galatians 6:2 – lovingly take on one another’s burden — mutual help

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/sage-don-milam-his-powers-of-persuasion-were-honed-by-his-ability-to-see-beyond-the-ordinary-he-loved-the-story-method-of-getting-his-point-across-everyone-loves-a-good-story-and-jesus-could-tel/

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Sage Don Milam: His powers of persuasion were honed by His ability to see beyond the ordinary. He loved the story method of getting His point across. Everyone loves a good story, and Jesus could tell a good story. He liked to end His stories with a twist that left the hearers walking away scratching their heads and thinking about them for many hours to come. The aphorisms and parables of Jesus function in a particular way: they are invitational forms of speech. Jesus used them to invite his hearers to see something they might not otherwise see. As evocative forms of speech, they tease the imagination into activity, suggest more than they say, and invite a transformation in perception. Drawing pictures from their own familiar world, He arrested their minds, captured their imaginations, and opened them ever so gently to the stirrings of the ancient language deep within them. Jesus liked to put His listeners in almost every story He told, and by the way, you and I were there as well—the least, the last, the little and the lost. These were the objects of His loving attention in those stories He told.

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In the case of Christ we have a unique form of persuasion. It is like what happens when an error in our viewpoint is shown to us, and our mind reassembles around the truth that we have not seen. But it is unlike this process in that the truth that takes us over is not a correct proposition but a person. (Sebastian Moore) — sage Don Milam

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Jesus violated every conceivable tradition when it came to His associations with the marginalized of Jewish society. He infuriated the Pharisees with every compassionate touch. The Qumran community of the Essenes had an unconditional law: “No madman, or lunatic, or simpleton, or fool, no blind man, or maimed, or lame, or deaf man, and no minor shall enter the community. “Jesus came to shatter these man-made laws with the vengeance of Heaven. It was these very rejected ones whom He had come to save. To the Pharisees He declared, ‘But go and learn what this means, “I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,” for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’ The Pharisees surrounded themselves with the rich, the wise, the educated, and the elite of society. Jesus, conversely, surrounded Himself with the poor, the uneducated, the rejected, and the outcasts of society.” — sage Don Milam

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhema#Modern_usage

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Rhema is the revealed word of God (revelation received from the Holy Spirit) when the Word/Logos is read, as an

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application/utterance/”unction”/anointment from God to the heart of the reader via the Holy Spirit, as in John 14:26

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Again, application of Scripture to this world.

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“… the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

In this usage Rhema refers to “a word that is spoken,” when the Holy Spirit delivers a message to the heart as in Romans 10:17:

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. (rhematos Christou)”

and in the Matthew 4:4:

“Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word (rhema) that comes from the mouth of God”.

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Unfortunately, religion can be and often is a cover for abuse of power. When a person has suffered in such a context, I think he or she has every right to speak up about it—even years later—as part of their recovery and to let people know such things happen—so that they can be on guard against it.
I find it highly ironic that so many pious Christians have a problem with fellow believers standing up to abusive leaders.
 
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Paul confronted Peter when he would not eat with gentiles at Antioch. Was he being “negative?”
*
Think of the Old Testament prophets who confronted kings.
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Think of the authors of the historical books of the Hebrew Bible exposing past kings of Israel and Judah who were willingly incompetent, disloyal to YHWH and sometimes idolatrous.
*
The Bible is full of negative attitudes!
*
I was raised in a religious context where the two worst sins were being “negative” and “disloyal.”

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Anyone who dared to speak truth about abusive power, corruption or incompetence in high places was slapped with those labels, marginalized and often excluded.
*
All the while corruption continued and was swept under the rug.
*
Does such still happen?
*
Absolutely.
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But it is less likely to happen if God-fearing people are just a little more wary than they tend to be about power among their leaders.

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http://www.gaychurch.org/The_Word/Encouragement/Jesus_God’s_Word_to_Mankind.htm

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Jesus attacked and confounded the conventional wisdom of His day—the accepted psyche of the Jewish community.

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He reversed religious order, violated accepted social practices, and challenged the motivations of men’s actions. Scripture does not say that God helps those who help themselves, as the elite of society falsely believe. Instead, just the opposite is the case. God helps those who help others, and God helps those who cannot help themselves! [secular naysayers intone that forgiveness and closure are imaginary “nothings”]

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In His stories He made the “bad guys” the “good guys” and the good guys were made the bad guys.

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The less honorable were made heroes in the stories of Jesus.

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The religious and the rich were always the villains.

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The only judgment to be found in His stories was against the righteous and the rich. What was that judgment? They were judged by the Father’s love. The compassion of their heavenly Father exposed the hypocrisy of their lives.

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Be careful what you wish for—the recognition of others, the riches of success, and the rewards of religion.

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In your attempts to move up the ladder you are actually descending. Pursuit of the first place will put you in the last place.

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Jesus challenged the established precepts upon which Jewish society was built. So-called notions like “hard work brings its rewards. Everyone gets what he deserves. The righteous will prosper. No rest for the wicked. Life is about rewards, requirements, judgments, and success.” –

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These precepts never prevailed in the stories of Jesus. They always ended up taking the brunt of the story. They were relics of the old ways of religion and just did not fit in the coming kingdom.

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Jesus created paradoxes and reversed religious rules: the broad way, enemies, rules, synagogue, religious ceremony, and the way less traveled; the internal over the external, relationships over knowledge, mercy over judgment, last before the first.

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The paradoxes’ main purpose is not to present the gospel, but to defend and vindicate it; these are controversial weapons against critics and foes who are indignant that Jesus should declare that God cares about sinners, and who are particularly offended by Jesus’ practice of eating with the despised. (Joachim Jeremias)

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Forgiveness, compassion and mercy are the golden threads of the gospel that Jesus wove through His every story as proclamations of the Good News. To sinners He extended gentle invitations. Come to Him and receive water, come and eat to never hunger again, come receive forgiveness, come receive life, come follow Me.

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His critics, those who rejected Him, did not understand the gospel parables because Jesus gathered the despised around Him.

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Because the overproud pharisees were expecting a day of wrath (against society’s “throw-aways/reh-fuse”), the religious elite closed their hearts to the Good News Jesus was proclaiming in His stories. It was pharisee cheap grace. Sloppy agape.

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To the overproud pharisees & mammon men/women, no one pleased God by simply being needy and willing. Otherwise, why had the elites of society spent their whole lives training for and toiling in the ministry. What was the use of unfaltering piety? The religious authorities had too good an opinion of themselves. To these men the gospel was an offense because it exposed them—their religiosity, hypocrisy and pride—and that was intolerable.

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These were the objects of His loving attention in those stories He told. –

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“But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.”

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“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

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“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”

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And said to them, “Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me;

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for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.”

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Drawing back the metaphoric curtain, Jesus revealed to the world the hidden language of God—the secret messages that unlock the gate of Heaven. “ ‘I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things hidden since the foundation of the world’ ” (see Matthew 13:34-35). Understanding the secret meaning behind these words is at the very core of hearing God.

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This is why Jesus was so insistent that His apostles decipher His words and not just listen to the literal stories, encapsulating what He had to say.

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“And He said to them, ‘Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables?’ ” (see Mark 4:13-14).

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Interpreting Scripture requires an understanding of spiritual language, the hidden truth that lies just beneath its surface.

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The Penetrating Questions of Jesus Jesus manifested a profound ability to ask the right question at the right time.

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He knew what lay in the dark corners of men’s hearts.

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Through the use of questions He exposed the motivations of the hearers—not to shame but to heal them.

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Through the use of the poignant question, Jesus gently uncovered the realties of our inward life, the life seen by no one.

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But Jesus sees it.

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He knows what is in the heart of man because He has traveled the corridors of every man’s heart.

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In fact, as many of us have discovered, sometimes to our chagrin, He sees our hearts better than we do.

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By the power of the query He turns the light on our inward parts.

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The questions of Jesus were much different from the interrogations of the religious leaders: The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax- collectors and sinners?” Luke 5:30

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Some of the Pharisees said, “Why do you do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” Luke 6:2 “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” Luke 20:22

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The questions of religious men are crafted that they might expose for the purpose of judging and condemning. In contrast, the questions of Jesus were specifically designed to reveal for the purpose of healing.

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Most of us live in the external world rarely examining the inward way of the soul. We are more comfortable with the light turned off in our inner life because we know there are things buried we’d rather not have to confront.

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Questions force us to look inward, examining our motivations, fears, desires, and aspirations.

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Jesus had mastered the art of asking questions, and through the effective use of a question He opened a door to the inward world of man and led him to places rarely visited.

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Many are the questions Jesus posed to His enemies and followers. Lifted out of their ancient setting, these questions can still challenge us to look into our hearts.

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“But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces!” Matthew 11:8 But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” Matthew 12:48 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Matthew 16:15 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26 And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith? Mark 4:40 “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?” John 5:44 “But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” John 5:47

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Questions such as these test our ability to look deeply at spiritual reality while they also force us to peer beneath the surface of life.

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They will also unlock the door to the ancient language.

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Our attempts to look for the answers to the questions and the struggle to express those answers open new pathways of personal and spiritual reality.

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We will either answer with a quick knee jerk religious reaction, or we will wait and let the question probe deeper into our inner self, shedding light on the things we have shoved down because we could not face them.

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If we allow the question to do its job, it will search us and reveal the hidden, broken places in our hearts that it may accomplish what Father intended.

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The religious rulers avoided the “unclean” in the Jewish community, but Jesus made them His friends. This attachment to the “common” man was a thorn in the side of the religious community. It was unsettling to their beloved positions. It exposed their hearts hardened by religious tradition and pride. — Don Milam

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His actions were in perfect harmony with his words. No contradiction existed to create confusion or disappointment in those who followed Him. His life was a living symbol of the very words He spoke. He was a book read of all men. The love of the Father was fleshed out in His daily associations with the very lowest in the caste system of society and religion. He ate meals with the untouchables, defended the prostitutes, healed the afflicted and pursued the oppressed. And He didn’t do this to make a statement. He preferred these people. He truly enjoyed their company. And they all in turn were at ease in the Jesus’ presence; all, that is, but the religious leaders who despised this reversal of established order in their precious community. Personally, I think they would have liked to be at some of those parties with Jesus, but they couldn’t bear not being the guests of honor. It was unthinkable for them to have to take the lower seats with the riff raff. — Don Milam

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Jesus’ mind-blowing reversal/frustration of all expectations — turning common-sense ideas upside down, confounding us all — Jesus sparks our beautifully deepest, imaginative “opposites/impossibilities of thought,” to say the least!!

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At the soup kitchen for the homeless, a paranoid guy rants and rages with the food servers. Angelic gorgeous patron Pauline soothingly and fluidly comes up to the servers and says, “Please forgive my ex-husband for acting up like this.” And just like that, presto/voila, the whole world is a changed place — for the better!!

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Of course, the servers suspect that Pauline is jiving, which she really is (jiving). And the paranoid fella simply falls “beside himself,” & backs off in a daze that he just got one-upped by this angel of mercy Pauline. He slides away in a totally confounding fog.

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The servers relievingly chuckle and smile like you never saw anyone so relieved smile before!! Yes, in one fell swoop, Pauline pulled off a Jesus moment!! Wow!! How humbling can be the thought of a Jesus moment!! Wow!

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A Jesus moment in time?? The most loving man Gary Byrd 70 yrs. old but still an Arnold Schwarzenegger stud at 6’1″ 175 lbs. — reflects/intones to me about 1961 — when Colorado native Gary was late in boarding a bus to get back to his military post after a weekend pass in Biloxi Miss. The bus driver was White like Gary, and 3 African-Americans had already boarded the bus after the Whites had earlier boarded, and 3 more African-Americans were in the process of boarding when fully GI uniformed Gary came running to the bus.

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Of course, Jesus’ angel Gary exhorted the remaining 3 African-Americans to board before him, but they hung down their heads in refrain and stayed away from the door to the bus. Not only that, but the 3 African-Americans who had already boarded came walking out of the bus for Gary to board before they again would board.

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Gary insisted that now all 6 African-Americans board! They finally acceded to his imploring them and they then boarded the bus before him.

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If looks could kill, the look in the White bus driver’s eyes would’ve killed Gary on the spot, so to speak.

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As Gary reflected back to me about this incident, Gary thought aloud that wow, thankfully we have a Black U.S. President, and we don’t have segregated buses any more. And that on the golden anniversary of MLK’s March on Washington, MLK must be smiling in heaven right now.

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And I told Gary — forget about MLK for now —

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the key is that this incident in Biloxi Miss. in 1961 is not Gary’s burden to bear.

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That thankfully, Gary has not had to carry this burden of man’s inhumanity.

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That Gary did the right thing and treated people of color as equals.

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That such righteous conduct as manifested by Gary in 1961 is Jesus’ love for all so incredibly exemplified by Jesus disciple Gary.

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This certainly was a Jesus moment!!

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Two more Jesus moments as exemplars of Jesus’ Love:

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Jimmy Carter’s incredulous Playboy interview to save the lost souls of pornography (pornography outprofits all sports combined)

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/mind-blowing-still-today-37th-anniversary-president-jimmy-carter-brilliantly-moved-evangelical-christianity-closer-to-the-american-mainstream-via-his-playboy-interview-to-save-pornographys-los/

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and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters’ existential definition of loving and being loved –

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/augustinian-meme-tear-down-the-wall-of-fearpretenseself-importance-no-not-from-reagans-1987-berlin-wall-crucible-but-from-pink-floyds-roger-waters-1979-the-wall-movie-tribute/

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We, in our mob hysteria, believed ourselves to embody Jesus’ purity.

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We, in our mob hysteria, refused to expose our unlovely true selves (money changers in the temple), as Jesus had shown us. Thence, we killed Jesus.

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Jesus, our mob hysteria’s Fall Guy

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