Wednesday, January 31, 2007

White Space

In the Annals of Arda, concerning the fate of Al-Istari, the Wizards, it is written that the one whom men called Gandalf the Grey travelled to the Tower of Isengard to meet Saruman the Wise, head of his order. In this part of the account, the Grey One converses with Saruman, and towards the end of their converse, the Lord of Isengard reveals his true thought and ambition:

"For I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman the Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colours!"

I looked then and saw that his robes, which had seemed white, were not so, but were woven of all colours, and if he moved they shimmered and changed hue so that the eye was bewildered.

"I liked white better," I said.

"White!" he sneered. "It serves as a beginning. White cloth may be dyed. The white page can be overwritten; and the white light can be broken."

"In which case it is no longer white," said I. "And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom."

Tolkien, J.R.R. (1966). The Lord of the Rings, 1:252. Boston: Houghton Mifflin

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Sometimes, it is necessary to think of white as white, and avoid the perils of both Newtonian optics and Sarumanic thaumaturgy. Simplicity has always been a virtue, despite the frequent mockery of the simple - and in this age of complexity and doublethink (or groupthink), it is an even more important and valuable one.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Long Black

We scent the essence of the bean
The deep and watered and unseen
The fragrance rises like the light
In space and time and all between

Its bitter memory burns bright
And fades into the west at night
A sunset tingle in the mind
A dancer at the edge of sight

Here rest we from the daily grind
And blessèd solace also find
Before the sweet embrace of sleep
Is mercifully undermined

For we have work that will not keep
And bills to pay which are not cheap
And all these things will yet demean
The mortal coil, the human deep.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Not My Will

When Christians pray, they pray that God's will be done. It is difficult to understand how this can be so, or not so.

Think about it: If He is God, then by definition, how can His will not be done? It is only if we assume that the Christian God is somehow able to keep His will in abeyance for certain things that a prayer can contain 'Thy will be done' as a meaningful statement, one would think. And yet, it is possible that the phrase has some other intent: perhaps Christians should think of it as a deliberate surrender of their own wills - "Thy will be done," rather than, "Me, me, me!"

It is also possible that it is a statement of fact - which is fine, except when this might be fatalism, the view that God's will is inevitable and all we can do is bow. But fatalism, in its own way, is a form of arrogance; it is the stance before God that since He is all-powerful, we have no choice but to accept what happens. It is equivalent to saying, "Yeah, you have out-bullied me, I have not enough power to resist you, so I am surrendering."

And so Christians pray for this and that and the other, for triumph in sports, for more money, for great things and small. And sometimes they forget that the leader of the pack, the Teacher himself said, "Nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done." And other Christians pray to be belittled and humbled and to be aware of how small and tiny and weak they are. They forget that their Creator made all things well, and that the lesser things of the world are sometimes made in victorious opposition to the greater things. To be humble is to be aware that the will that sustains the universe is inviolable, yet merciful; it is infinite, and yet personal; it is all things it wants to be, and chooses not to be other things; and it is beyond the mind of man.

Like children, we often ask for small things - a million dollars, a cure for cancer. It is nothing to the Will of the Highest to give a billion dollars, or a billion stars. The critic says then, "Why doesn't He?" The answer is beyond us. Perhaps it is because the essence of humanity is corrupted at some threshold of power and wealth, perhaps not. Perhaps when all of us 'have stars at elbow and foot', stars become worthless; when all have a billion dollars, inflation is intolerable. And perhaps we shall never ever understand in its entirety while we remain as we are, for to understand at that level might not be one of our functions in this life.

In the end, what is worth anything is that we have tried our best to learn the infinite rulebook; that we have played the game as best as we have worked to (and are allowed to) understand it; and that we have acknowledged the primacy of the Arbiter in all things. To be content - perhaps, that is everything.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

La Cosa Nostra

Many are the times I've felt that I am a member of some venerable secret society. I have lived and breathed it; each family gathering, the signs and questions are exchanged. Our loyalty to the cause is unquestioned and unalloyed. It would therefore be poignantly and mordantly insulting should collateral members, associate members of the grand old association dare to think of me as disloyal.

These would be people who at some deep level just do not understand what it means to be of the Family, of the Cause. They might have tried to make it their own, they might have done much in the service of the House. But they would certainly not be Family. They are likely not of the Cause. Sometimes, one might have cause to worry whether they, at the very least, have even the Faith.

Of course, we invite new members. Of course, we change with the times. It is a matter of the course that all things must take, adhering to the fundamentals (gravity, chemical and physical erosion) while allowing the odd meander and diversion. But sometimes, there are those who just cannot get it, to whom loyalty is a false flag to be replaced with one of their own.

But in the end, our own loyalty to such a cause might be an equally false banner. What should not be forgotten is that the Family, the Cause, the House - the entities whose virtues are sealed in the Badge and the Anthem - obey a deeper and greater covenant. And it is to the Master of the Covenant, eternal and almighty, God of all ages, of all hosts, that we should look. The Family is nothing without allegiance to the Master, and we would do well to remind ourselves of it always.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Dona Eis Requiem

Tonight, as on most nights, I turned on iTunes and let it deal randomly from its deck of shuffled albums. And so it was that I was dealt Shostakovich's Eighth Symphony, Mozart's Requiem and Secret Garden's brilliant Once In A Red Moon. All three in a row. I am now listening to the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Celebration of 1984.

It puts one in a reflective, peaceful mood. Some might consider the sequence grim, sorrowful, depressing. Not I. It grants me a measure, indeed a long and powerful draught, of peace and quiet contentment. And this experience has been so moving in its stillness that I am stirred in my soul to wish peace upon all houses at war, all houses in uproar and unrest, in all the world, in all the minds and hearts of men. Amen.

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Transparency

"On a clear day you can see forever," as the old and visionary line goes. But as Shakespeare says in Macbeth, "Hell is murky." Chaos and order, light and darkness; radial, diametric or conceptual opposites - all things come together, and if things can be clearly seen (in the light of reason, in the harsh glare of morning) then it is good. And if unclear and murky, bad.

So why is the system so intent on keeping information in chains? It is as if the free market were to be touted to all, but open to none. The paradox is that those running the system benefit the least - resources must be spent on keeping the information cribbed, cabined, confined. The other members of the system will still tunnel around the obstacles, like stainless steel rats. The opacity will slow them down, make them less efficient, but they will survive.

Meanwhile, the information jailers ossify, and eventually become odd and touristy relics, like the beefeaters at the Tower of London. Their main job is, of course, to feed the ravens.

And on a clear day, some day, we will see forever.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Reflection

I was 18 and it was a cold rainy night. It was the night of the senior prom, and for the sins of our predecessors, it was being held in the school auditorium instead of at the hotel which they had vandalised.

I spent a lot of time with her and her friends, in the gallery where we sat. My grandfather had introduced us. It was a time of hope; it was a time in which dark things were forever put behind. But I remember one specific thing - I liked her company, and our families were well-acquainted, but there was none of that feeling of... gravity.

Sometimes your heart weighs so much, feels so large with hope, fear, portent or despair. Sometimes it is full of blood, and at other times it is unbearably light with air. And sometimes, it is happy but it feels nothing beyond that. And that was how I passed the night.

It was the other one who greeted the new year with me a month later, when my head had been shorn in the service of my country.

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Years passed. I wrote many letters, something that feels somehow so archaic in this age of ubiquitous electrons. I kept their replies. I remembered them, even though my heart had gone on. She owns a restaurant. The other one is a teacher. And I look in that dark mirror of the past, and all I see is clean rain on an open road.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Appraisal

This is about appraisal, and the language thereof.

I think one of the most difficult things to do is to reflect on one's own being and be assured that such reflection indeed reflects the self, without adornment (from Latin ornare - to embellish or decorate) or denigration (from Latin nigra - black, hence to blacken). The highly self-critical (from Greek kritias - a judge) tend to see all the weak points and isolate the strong points as ornaments rather than structural members; the highly tolerant tend to see all the points as having validity (from Latin validus - having influential effect, strength) without judging them too critically.

There is some good advice to be had, however, in some parts of the Bible (from Greek ta biblion - the book) which deal with reflecting on the self and the powers which are inherent (from Latin heres - an owner) to it. I'm looking at Romans 12:3-8.

It's an interesting passage which enjoins us (in verse 3) to look at ourselves in sober (from Latin sobrius - moderate and reasonable) judgement, and not more highly than we ought. It does not command a weak and feeble self-denigration and humiliation (from Latin humilis - insignificance, obscurity, submissiveness, abjectness). Being humble is one thing - it is well-defined here - but humiliating oneself is really to look at the image of God in which we are made and to say, "Oh, how dreadfully bad/useless/pathetic I am." The former is sober judgement, the latter is immoderate devaluation.

But how to avoid such a pitfall? Surely pride (especially in the Satanic direction) is a worse error than humiliation, you might think. I do not think this is true at the human level. Pride is as immoderate and lacking in sobriety; it is as bad and untrue a valuation to think of oneself as higher than one is, as to think of one as so low that God must have made a mistake; pride can lead a person to deny the power of the Spirit, but so can an extreme sense of self-worthlessness . This is the implicit point of the whole of the next five verses.

The Book says here that each of us is gifted, according to an unknown but certain and definite measure of grace. We need to evaluate ourselves so that we know what kind of specific grace it is that we have. It is here that many people fall into error again. It is clearly implied here that not all the gifts are expected of us - Christ had them all, as the perfect model of all things; we are not able nor expected to be all things. It is this passage which explicitly divides the gift of service from the gift of leadership (and more) - thus showing that not all leaders are gifted servants, nor fully encouraging, nor unfailingly generous. Not all leaders are excellent teachers, nor wisely merciful, nor consistently prophetic. In fact, a multiplicity of gifts is likely to be the exception rather than the rule.

So what should a person with the gift of teaching do? Teach, of course. Leave the leadership to a leader, leave the mercy to the merciful. Yes, we can all show mercy; but there are few who can do it without pity, laxity, condescension or any of the other distortions of mercy. Yes, we can all teach; but there are many who cannot teach well. And a leader, assuming he has that gift, should lead - you can do no less, and in some cases, you should do no more. For both can be errors: too much can be as bad as too little, when the task before you is fitted to the gift(s) given to you.

This is not to say that we should not be prepared for any and every kind of good work. We should indeed be prepared. But not all vessels are equal, nor filled with the same measures and kinds of essence; not all tools are equal in effect or purpose, weight, size, sharpness or balance. And this is what we should be concerned about - the full, true, accurate and beautiful expression of the blend of powers and properties which is unique to each one of us.

It is a lesson that many people forget, to their regret and that of those around them.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Hashish Speaks

It never mattered whether the Old Man of the Mountains was sane or not. The Assassins would carry out his mandate ruthlessly, even if not quite as efficiently as the true professionals. And in the end, history decided that they were all a footnote, albeit a quirky and interesting one. The world is full of such stories, and some are actually part of history; some are actual parts of history, and some have parted with history.

I have always been intensely curious about the patterns that appear to repeat themselves. But like the curling surface films found on an ancient keris, that wavy-edged sword of this region, repetition is an illusion - only similarity and parallelism remain. And those themselves are often illusions of elision, illusions of allusion. Games, every one of them, with players long gone and some imaginary.

The knives are out again. May the right birds be plucked and skinned, may the right feathering be done. Patterns repeat.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Eagles Of Light And Darkness

Perhaps you walk around your housing estate, in a country where large raptors are rare and hawkers are more common than hawks. And then you come across a banner, a poster, a statue, an image... of an eagle. What does it symbolise? What might it mean to you?

Politically, the eagle has always symbolised great secular power - the imperial might displayed beneath an eagle's image has been the standard of Babylon, Assyria, Rome, Russia, Austria-Hungary, and the United States of America. In religion, the eagle has represented Zeus, Mithras, Apollo and other gods of the heavens. The abomination raised in the gates of the Temple at Jerusalem by Herod the Great was a Roman eagle, emblem of Jupiter. The eagle is a mighty totem of many shamanistic cultures.

The two-headed eagle is particularly potent in this regard, symbolising dualism, military might and omniscience, force and violence. The eagle is the foremost of all heraldic avians. A quick look at pages such as this will tell you why. It was also a powerful alchemical symbol.

Is the eagle then always an emblem of the malefic, the secular, the pagan? No. Not always. The eagle in flight symbolises many good things. When the Bible speaks of eagles' wings, there is no doubt that it speaks of the enlightenment, encouragement and invigoration that comes from God. It is the image of heavenward flight that links the flying eagle to the Holy Spirit and to that most theological of writers, St John of the Apocalypse. In fact, it is entirely clear that the single eagle in flight is an emblem of salvation, hope, inspiration and all things good.

Two eagles which aren't a double-headed eagle are problematic. We might leave that for another post.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Loss

Information theory has many interesting shelves in its meandering libraries. One of those shelves is about data compression. It is a pivotal shelf in our understanding of human thought. In our daily endeavours, our daily walks through the galleries of our universe, we experience far more than we can process. If we were to have the awareness of God and see all things - even only all the things within reach of our simple senses - we would be drowned and paralysed by the abundance of data.

Hence we transform and encode, compress and reify, in an attempt to survive the onslaught of sensory input and make it into useful information. And so, the gateways of perception ensure that much our experience is lost forever. It is not possible to reconstitute a single day of our lives in its entirety - the deepest forms of memory retrieval cannot recover even one day because there is no space for such a recording.

And that is why a single day in the courts of God must be as a thousand ages to us. For the definition of God must include unlimited and lossless storage. For this reason alone (although it is not an explanation entire), He must be beyond the physical structure of the universe, for the universe cannot encode itself.

And it is also why we wake and walk and return to sleep with that vague sense of loss each day, every day - even if we do not at first realise that all our aspirations are afflicted by it. For we lose so much all the time that it is second nature to us. Perhaps, ignorance of loss is relative bliss. Or perhaps, letting go of it all and being satisfied with what we keep is the greatest blessing.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Visual Acuity

There are many ways to see things. This makes some people see things that are not there. It even makes people see things that are there, but ought not to be - and of course, see things that are not, but should be. This is what beauty is all about.

There are too many plain girls and ugly guys simply because they cannot see that grace and chivalry outweigh fluff and prettiness. Yes, blondes have more fun; yes, men sometimes "don't make passes / at girls who wear glasses." But for a species whose visual acuity can detect the change of a single photon, and whose imagination populates a universe with endless ghosts and tortured ambitions, we can be pretty silly about deciding when not to see beauty - even when we can choose to see it.

Here I stand, a pleasantly ugly fellow of no great prospect and no high ambition. But God made me, and empowered me with the divine and controversial spark, a spark that defies the material and mundane and ignites high and peculiar creativity at will. And each of these - my brethren, my sisters - are likewise empowered, likewise able to be filled of an essence which can rewrite the meaning of life in a flash.

O take heart, my brothers and sisters; lift up your eyes! Raise the weak things of the earth against the great, shape the foolish things as weapons against the wise, celebrate the day of small things. The little instruments of profession and craft, given unto our willing hands, can make sanctuaries and citadels in a world which prefers to tear down and destroy. Go, go and read about Zerubbabel. And see, with blinding sight.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Wyvern

Here, for those who feel they are of insufficient resource when holding fast to tradition, is that which symbolises tradition to many.

But quite apart from such symbols being reassurance to the faithful, there is an element of the sanctity of truth. Whither truth, if it does not matter how expressed? If the right font is not an issue, if the right colours are not to be a matter of concern, why bother with the values and beliefs which stand beneath the flag?

Think on what the phrase to set a standard really means: it means that we firmly ground our banner, that it might not fall, or fail, or be reft from us. We set a standard in the ground, as we might set a pike to receive a charge. A single pike is a futile and cumbersome weapon. But a field of pikes is a terrifying thing. Even a mounted knight might quail against such a resolute and determined defence.

And so, I stand here. I set my standard, as I stand my ground. And I let the banner of the wyvern fly free, a challenge and a beacon of truth and light.

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Psalm 91

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."

Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,

nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.

You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the LORD, who is my refuge-
then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.

With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation."

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And that is how we set a standard.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Lactic Heresy

"We knew in part, and yet we partook in part," saith the heretical, often with pride, as is the way of the heretic. But as the servants of the Bean have said in ages past and for now, it is best we drink as through a glass darkly - for to make either the excrescence of bean or the essence of leaf pale with the milk of goats is heresy, and of no benefit to the body or soul. Even the science of the secular doth agree.

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See also The Theobromine Schism, Caffeinism, and Coffee - A Meditational Triptych.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Zoological

"Survival," said the autist to the landscape-painter, "is a matter of making friends with the rhino."

The landscape-painter merely grunted as he added a tiny dot of ultramarine violet to the canvas on his easel.

"In fact," said the autist, warming to his task and rubbing his broad hands together, "you might want to think about why the largest of the ferocious are leaders in their own categories. It's like a matriarchy of blood in the wilderness."

A slash with the palette-knife, an odd twist of the wrist, and the landscape-painter added another two antelope to his tableau.

"Think of the dying lion leading his pride in the Serengeti."

The artist looked up. "A lion lives and dies by his lionesses, the scavengers around him, the larger beasts, and the amount of food available. And a lion in his winter is dangerous to men."

"What are you painting?" asked the autist with a slight twinge of unease.

"The Serengeti as it should have been."

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Curriculum Development

One of the phrases which is always percolating near the front of my mind, metaphorically speaking, is curriculum development. Broadly speaking, this refers to the conceptualisation of a course of study, its objectives and aims, its delivery, structure and support - and how these elements are realised.

The odd thing was that this phrase came to mind when I read this article. I am sure that the clever people amongst us will understand exactly why I thought that way. I myself, not being so clever, fail to see the connection. But I have my suspicions, and I must think more deeply on this.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Changing The World

If positive change to the world is at all to be desired, one source of such desire is here. Here is the secular core, the framework of the world in which our spiritual reality is given its temporal and temporary bearings. And it isn't as bad as 'secular' seems to connote where spiritual things are concerned.

Yet I suppose we should remember that good management ideas aren't necessarily good spiritual ideas. I have cringed many times when preachers persist in treating the story of Jethro (Moses' father-in-law) as a paean to the benefits of the delegation of authority. Delegation is a great secular solution, but in this particular case, Jethro was high priest of Midian - and thus the spiritual leader of a tribe of pagan animists.

If you should decide to read Exodus 18, the extent of Jethro's perfidy (deliberate or not) becomes clear. Jethro is clearly impressed with Moses' God. He goes so far as to offer sacrifices and say that this God is greater than all other gods. But he adroitly switches the topic of conversation the next day to how onerous Moses' work must be for God, and how much less strenuous it would be if he farmed it out (Exodus 18:13-23). Moses agrees, in verse 24. And it is this decision which creates a community capable of defying Moses' God later on (see Exodus 32).

God's work is never delegated except through obvious and outstanding representatives. His task to you is His word to you alone. It hardly ever comes through an intermediary, and even if well-meaning (or seemingly well-meaning) people offer you a great-looking secular solution (one which makes life easier for you; or gains you plaudits, gold or glory), it may not be what God had in mind. The cost of Moses following his pagan father-in-law's advice was a disaster for his people. It was a disaster that almost changed the world - in a bad way.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Homesick

Rabindranath Tagore was my late maternal grandfather's favourite poet. Here is one example of why this was so. It's a poem by Tagore called Salutations. I thank She-Who-Binds for the remembrance of it.

In one salutation to thee, my God, let
all my senses spread out and touch
this world at thy feet.

Like a rain-cloud of July hung low
with its burden of unshed showers let
all my mind bend down at thy door in
one salutation to thee.

Let all my songs gather together
their diverse strains into a single
current and flow to a sea of silence in
one salutation to thee.

Like a flock of homesick cranes
flying night and day back to their
mountain nests let all my life take its
voyage to its eternal home in one
salutation to thee.

=====

Ah, bright wings...

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Spiritual Discoveries

It is odd that anyone should fall into some sort of Gnostic duality. It's heresy. Ethical dualism is not the way of God; He is great, He is of both light and darkness, greater by far than either, making one out of the other and manifesting in both. Light and darkness are not opposites, no matter what people say. Light comprehends darkness; darkness does not comprehend light. Light is reason, the manifestation of the Logos; darkness is what is formless and void. But darkness is not always evil, just as light is not always good.

Here, for example, is Exodus 20: 20-23:

Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning." The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was. Then the LORD said to Moses, "Tell the Israelites this: 'You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven: Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold."

It is clear here that God Himself contrasts His essence with that which is venal and material, not that which is dark. For the light can be as false as the dark; here is II Corinthians 11:13-14:

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.

What should we learn from such passages? Perhaps, that we should be careful with what we say about dualism, light and darkness - in case we end up mistaken for Zoroastrians or some sort of Gnostic heretics.

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I'm A Jinn Nation

The world is not only stranger than we imagine, it is even stranger than we CAN imagine.

The Economist is a pretty serious and intelligent magazine, though permeated with dry wit and thus possibly combustible. However, the article linked to above is really one of those 'secret conspiracy', 'X-Files', kind of stories. Yet, who has read Neil Gaiman and not believed? You might find the jinn even in London, for the older cities are filled with genius loci of all kinds.

Ah, the power of it all. Imagination.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Good Morning, Yesterday

It's the second day of the new year. At this rate, it will go mercilessly fast (or mercifully, for some of us). This year is going to be a very reflective year for me, and hopefully one in which I will recklessly spend the quickly diminishing currency of youth - investing it in the establishment of age.

It's odd how my thoughts oscillate between the scriptural and the secular; yet, it is quite clear to me that the power of the Word is meant to resonate in the World, for the World has its being and its temporal existence predicated on the Word. And so, what comes to mind most readily now is an odd juxtaposition of Psalm 90, a "prayer of Moses, the man of God", and Paul Anka's The Times of Your Life. Here they are, side by side, twin reminders that pushing forty is the point at which the swimmer makes the turn for home.

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The Times of Your Life, by Paul Anka and Moses

Good morning yesterday

Lord, You have been our refuge in all generations.
You wake up, and time has slipped away
Before the mountains were brought forth,
Or ever You had formed the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
And suddenly it's hard to find

You turn man to destruction,
And say, “Return, O children of men.”
The memories that you left behind
For a thousand years in Your sight
Remember, do you remember?
Are like yesterday when it is past
And like a watch in the night.
The laughter and the tears

You carry them away like a flood;
They are like a sleep.
The shadows of misty yesteryears
In the morning they are like grass which grows up:
In the morning it flourishes and grows up;
The good times and the bad you've seen
In the evening it is cut down and withers.
And all the others in between

For we have been consumed by Your anger,
And by Your wrath we are terrified.
Remember, do you remember the times of your life?
(Do you remember?)

You have set our iniquities before You,
Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance.
Reach out for the joy and the sorrow
For all our days have passed away in Your wrath;
We finish our years like a sigh.
Put them away in your mind

The days of our lives are seventy years;
And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,
The mem'ries are time that you borrow
Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow;
For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
To spend when you get to tomorrow
Who knows the power of Your anger?
For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath.
Here comes the setting sun (comes the setting sun)
So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
The seasons are passing one by one

Return, O LORD! How long?
So gather moments while you may,
And have compassion on Your servants.
Collect the dreams you dream today
Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy,
That we may rejoice and be glad all our days!
Remember, will you remember the times of your life?
Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us,
The years in which we have seen evil.
Of your life, of your life
Let Your work appear to Your servants
Do you remember, baby?
And Your glory to their children.
Do you remember the times of your life?
And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us,
Do you remember, baby?
And establish the work of our hands for us;
Do you remember the times of your life?
Yes, establish the work of our hands.

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And so, Anka the Lebanese Canadian and Moses the Israelite Egyptian meet across the millennia to speak of time. It's remarkable how little concerns have changed across that span. The bridge of years never fails to evoke a sense of wonder - and it humbles us all.

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