Monday, February 27, 2012

Age of Chronic Luxury

The visuals. The visuals. 
They all come quick. 
A life of Visuals, 
quick, quick, quick. 
Incomplete as memory fades. 
Always the taste and 
the draw for more. 
I suppose the 
in Black and White, 
a commercial 
and Dina Saur - we 
called her that - tee hee hee, 
framed a magic moment, 
boomer kids seemed to have 
all the rag tag makings, 
potential glory of a new 
rich golden age. 
Instead as it all turned out 
it became a burb age, 
a bubble age, a mindless 
consuming age and 
compared to the rest 
of an unaware humanity - 
we, the many, lived the good life 
the high life - for a short time 
in the America of 
domestic tranquility. 
It was a coming age, full of 
promise, progress, a golden time, 
an age yet to be sorted out. 
Global awareness was only 
in books in college bookstores. 
And issues like race, sex, sexuality 
had yet to struggle, come of age. 
It was an age of chaos - the good 
parts are yet to survive and lead us 
elsewhere - but by and large and 
for most of us it was an unprecedented 
Age of Chronic Luxury. 
Nothing in history 
to compare with it - nothing 
to compare it to - 
the might of Detroit 
and a Maytag 
washing machine 
and "Queen for a Day" 
on the tube. 
The decades on from the fifties 
were sweet though in retrospect 
in-complete. Those years had glamour 
and simple sight - but little or 
no long lasting soul. 
The visuals in the beginning of 
that age had a few companions, 
radio, hi-fidelity, stereo 
and not one but many local 
daily hard copy news-papers. 
When the age ended 
with a crash so to speak, a muted thud, 
only the noise and chatter, 
cacophonic clatter dulled 
virtual, not real, reality 
- cable, i-pod, e-mail, mobile cell phones, 
PCs, the Internet, tweeter - 
as disinterested witness to it all. 
A Tower of Babel reborn? Retorn with 
a new dark age of chaos to follow? 
The great charade of the big war, 
Vietnam - some growing years, 
and the estimated body counts - 
we always won - we never lost a... 
Mission statement to keep the anthill 
threat of S.E. Asia over 
there - it boosted GM stock. 
"What's good for GM is (was) good 
for America" then. Or at least that 
is what the Wall Street mantra then spake. 
A national treasury of gold, ideas, youth 
 - a whole generation wasted, misled, 
misdirected - doped - spun - eventually 
onto a pagan altar of deregulation 
and temporary titanic paper profit? 
(That and a moon walk to represent that 
early decade or so.  Anybody lately drink the 
scientific wonder of that age? Tang!) 
Fast forward, those other years to 
the modern day - and in between (?) 
Work. Work. Work. 
Marriage, a mortgage, kids. 
401(K) - retirement? 
Where did all those golden 
Boomer days go? 
Who counts? 
Upon reflection in a glass 
or into a trash filled lake, 
why does the rest of the 
planet want beef 
plastic credit and 
power muscle cars? 
Silly question silly fool. 
And as the recent age of 
chronic luxury collapses (here) 
what is the legacy best? Left? 
Shouting - argumentum 
ad hominem - ad nasueum. 
Hate Radio. Hate News. 
Death to my domestic enemy! 
My bubble world is superior 
to yourrr bubble world!!! 
(on a dying planet) 
Whatever happened to God? 
Is he retired - living in Vegas? 
Where has the Republic gone? 
The upper half (10%) of an 
economy struggles to recover. 
The bottom 90% is lost forever 
in fifth world bliss 
amidst empty factories and 
empty office towers (for sale - cheap!). 
It's the new economics - 
Broken promises - unfulfilled dreams. 
Plastic card idols and 
the pursuit of fantasy 
-the illusion or was it delusion 
of a common man's world - 
could not last - a temporary 
half century long Camelot? 
Lost. So many things amidst 
the fading echo 
and fading visuals - of time gone- 
not properly managed   
an unsustainable age 
that no one questioned 
this passing age 
of chronic luxury. 
What next?


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Luke 8:4-15, Sexagesima - February 12, 2012

There is a lot of energy and motion mentioned in the opening reading of Isaiah 55:12

"So you will go out with joy and be led out in peace.
The mountains and hills will burst into song before you,
And all the trees in the fields will clap their hands." NCV

All this energy and after the preceding verse:

"The same thing is true of the words I speak.
They will not return to me empty.
They will make the things that I want to happen,
and they succeed in doing what I send them out to do." NCV

Lots of energy. Lots of joy. There is lots of expectation from God, the author of the universe. There is lots of expectation for God for the words that his Son Jesus is to deliver to the crowds in his preaching.

In Psalm 84 lines like "My whole being wants to be with the living God", "...Happy are those whose strength comes from you...", "...and everyone meets with God in Jerusalem...", - these lines reflect more energy, more joy, and more expectation. You want to see and touch God in his Temple as it stood in Jesus' time. 

We all want to see and meet God and Jesus at the end of our days. By why wait? Stand up. Sing. Shout praise. Stir the heart to joy. Stir the mind to song. Be a part of the oneness of God and his creation.

We are stirred. In Hebrews 4:13 "God's word is alive and working and is sharper than a double edged sword..."

Think about it. God's word is alive and it has been since the beginning of time - before the beginning of time - "in the beginning there was the word. The word was with God, and the word was God." And his word and his world will have no end. We as Christians will have no end. That is the promise and the expectation.


Then there in Luke 8 starting with verse four Jesus starts to tell his parable of a farmer planting seeds. These are ancient times and there are no machines to help you plant seeds. You throw them every which way. In a way it is a gamble. You have expectations of a bumper crop to feed your family and excess bounty to sell in town. 

There are infinite possibilities as to what can happen when we sow the seeds of a crop full of this human expectation.

Life is what it is. A certain portion of seeds fall on the road and are lost under foot. A certain portion is consumed by birds. Still others fall on rock, start to grow but die for lack of ground water. Others fall among weeds and cannot compete for the first place prize of survival.

And many more of the seeds fall on good ground. The temperature, ground and moisture conditions promise the expectation to produce a good, large, sturdy harvest of grain. Everyone will eat in the coming year.

Think about it though. Everyday that farmer must be worrying if the good conditions will continue. Will rain come? Just enough - not too much. Will the temperature stay balanced - not too hot - not too cold - and so on and so forth? The harvest is ready. The crops are cut and stored. Many worries disappear as the bounty of God's earth brings forth the continuation of the human family.

We have heard this parable before. Here in this particular Gospel, Jesus adds some commentary and tells everyone what the parable means. Maybe he had been preaching to too many farmers or day laborers who were tired at the end of a long hard back breaking day. Rather than tax their mental processes, he helps the parable along.

In fact here in the Gospel of Luke I hear the echo of some other Gospel, not an official gospel, one of those piles of parchment that were found in the middle of the last century in Egypt. These documents, though much later in date than the four Gospels, have many lines and references that a seasoned reader of the Good News might recognize. 

What I hear in Luke is Jesus telling everyone to listen. He wants them to hear. Any of you listening, you better have two good ears, and learn.

The simple story of seeds and the expectation of good crops illustrate how many of us have promise, great expectations in life and in the salvation of our souls.

Everybody here. Any of you listening? You better have two good ears. Hear me.

Oh how Jesus must have been sad on the days he preached to a bunch of tired and or slow brick walls also known as farmers, country dwellers, itinerates, travelers. How he must have wondered how his expectations to save the world would fall on deaf ears and the blind among the people who with a little common sense or an elevated sense of humanity would, if they could, stand on the mountaintop so to speak and see the promised land of humankinds' salvation.

The crowd can take his, Jesus' word away with them from that meeting that day. They can embrace the word at first and then let it fall away. They can forget it. They can give lip service to it. They can let their worries about crops and other human matters cloud out the message and the word of God along their road of life. And there are those who "like the seed that falls on good ground ...hear God's teaching with good, honest hearts and obey it and patiently produce good fruit."

Let those of you with two good ears - listen - understand - learn.

All this - this structure - many structures - many churches - cathedrals - many Christian communities all have sprouted out of seeds that have fallen on good ground. Our hope, our faith, our expectations have carried the seed along, found a good home for it, nurtured it and in good time we have seen the good fruit of our labors here as we expect to see the fruits of a life lived in Christian faith and harmony be carried over into the next world.

It is a good crop. It is a bumper crop. It all depends on each and every one of us.

That, and with God's blessings, the people of God endure in this life and the next.



Friday, February 10, 2012

Revelation 13:18 – DCLXVI, The Beast Number

Revelation 13:18 – DCLXVI, The Number of the Beast

There is much symbolism in the New Testament. One example is in the infamous referral to the number of the beast. Some historians have shown a relation to Hebrew numerology and the name of Nero.

I see a multilayer of anti-Roman sentiment especially in the use of the basic Roman numeral system of representing letters for numbers to also identify the beast. "This calls for some wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is DCLXVI." - Revelation 13:18

(D = 500 + C = 100 + L = 50 + X = 10 + V = 5 + I = 1) 500+100+50+10+5+1 = 666

Of course one cannot fully discount the numerology attached to the Hebrew alphabet which would possibly have the number of the beast to be a disguised slap at the anti-Jewish, anti-Christ persona in the form of the Roman dictator Nero.

Numbers like words are symbols. They cross reference thought, sound, meaning, and visual expression but in a perhaps more precisely calculated manner. If one is looking for the deepest possible meaning to John's new "riddle of the sphinx", so to speak, one has to probe deeper.

The polyglot language of the Roman world shows us how not one, but many languages, were in use at the time. This is evidenced by examples of slightly pre-Roman artifacts such as the Rosetta Stone. Good communication meant use of many of the best words of many base languages and, or, bold interpretations of other exotic, possibly esoteric languages and communications to convey the new Christian message.

The fishermen of souls were of a varied degree of backgrounds and educations. Their message was meant to reach the greatest possible number of souls. As such, I look at the simplest and the most complicated of people of that era and can say with confidence that the Roman numeral system was known to all the commerce and economies of Ben-Zebedee's world. Beyond the beast being a real person or a real event then, now or in the future, the true number of the beast is a simple and a complicated message.

The complicated answer I leave to the domain of scholars. For me, a simple man in a very complicated modern world, I, a visually oriented person, see the promises of Satan as a large amount, whether it be tallied in money or power etc.

To the ancient world, this was a large number. If one looks at it visually and in the basic six digits of Roman numerics, it is both a large number and a descending number of 500 ranging down to one.

The only thing missing is the Hindu-Arabic concept of zero which I add to my interpretation here.

The promise of Satan and of Evil is great but the promise and reality of the promise in the end equals itself to, or is less than, zero.

(June 6, 1998)


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chapter 28 - Good News of Miriam

Tiberius is Dead!

Street graffiti is everywhere in Jerusalem as I enter the ancient town. That graffiti is such a Roman thing or used to be. I do not remember it as so prominent in my memory. Graffiti if any was small and anti-Rome and in the less reputable parts of the town, such as where taverns and brothels were the norm.

“Long live Gaius Julius Caeser” is marked everywhere.

The landscape in the lower city has changed. The streets seem more crowded and dirtier. I have seen this place at Passover and it wasn’t this crowded in the middle of the day. I get the ambiance of a place in flux with a lot of transients such as on a market day. Is this market day?

The dress of the people here seems different. Are these Jews from other lands in their native dress or are they simply foreigners?

Two of my agents met us outside the walls of the city. In fact where Jesus was crucified, the place is still there, but buildings are built along the road and in front of that old traditional execution place.

My agents have brought me credentials. No body can enter the city without credentials from the authorities. My servants must wear name tags. I must wear an ugly ring with the present city authority’s seal upon it.

I look back and forth as we walk and approach my old townhouse.

The building is a shambles and I am not allowed to enter.

“It is rented out Ma’am, per your instructions of many years back.”

“Yes. Quite right.” I say and remember my long standing instructions.
Why did I want to come back here? Yes. To start the breakup of networks and for the distribution of my assets.

My agents accompany me to a house some several streets down the way. It is no doubt the property of these agents and is small and comfortable. There is a small courtyard in the Roman fashion as well as a terraced roof. A trickle of water in a tiny fountain in the courtyard masks street noises.

I sit and am served refreshment. The agent asks if I want to visit the Temple mount. I am in such a strange mood and feel so disorientated.

“We did not know if you wanted to stay inside the city walls or outside them.” was his explanation as to tell me the present situation.

“We welcome you as a guest for as long as you need to stay. The place is small and your servants may have to sleep in the courtyard tonight while we find arrangements for them.”

“And what other arrangements can be made?”

“We had to get you credentials first. You cannot stay here or in an inn or even in your old abode if it was available without credentials. We must apologize for your temporary inconvenience.

“We have a villa outside the walls being cleaned and ready for your stay if that is where you would like to stay. In the meanwhile, this house is yours and for your entourage.

“We do not know you directly. Our uncle was your most humble servant in the past. He has passed on. We know that you are kosher and have supplied the kitchen as such. We do not practice the local customs ourselves.”

“When will the villa be ready you say?”

They looked at each other.

“Two, maybe three days. It has been occupied by a Roman officer for some time. It is quite a mess.”

“I will accept your hospitality for the time being and we must go over the books later in the week after I settle into the villa.”

“Books? Uncle said nothing about books.”

I might have to take them at their word until I can get settled in. I put full faith in some of my agents in the past. Things are changing. The few properties I have here I remember. My other business assets are likely not in the hands of these young creatures.

It was a full week before I could move outside the city walls to a very large comfortable villa with a courtyard. The reckoning of accounts from my town agents as to properties and expenses and profits seemed reasonable. I have since found out that they in fact were blood of my chief agent here and deceased. My son had been the one corresponding and doing business and receiving and sending payments back and forth.

Time to wrap up a lot of things. I tried to seek out my old friends Martha and Mary but they would not receive me at their villa. Their brother Lazuarus had been murdered some time back according to the gossip. I had not heard of it. They had been so devoted to their brother. The two are in permanent mourning of their loss. Poor dears.

I have since gotten back into the city since my first arrival. I did a little shopping. I also went to visit J.D. who has set up digs in a seedy part of town. His rooms are tolerable and I try to understand his tastes now that he is separated from my household. I stop in to see him to discuss matters.

“These two agents of my son. I call them Frick and Frack behind their backs. They seem honest enough but I do not know.”

J.D. responds with the old Persian adage about how you always give the other trader the benefit of the doubt. After you find out that they have lied or screwed you, then you cut their throats.

I confide in J.D. that a lot of gold and silver will have to be moved east and south. Did he want a well paid job in managing the transport? I give him the choice of going east to Persia or south to Arabia.

He confides to me that he is in Jerusalem to stay. This is where he will die with dice in his hands. I give him a look. He responds that he has contacts from the old days that he trusts and he will scope out a bunch of men trustworthy enough of the task that I am seeking. Considering the circumstances I am grateful for the thought and consideration from my former and faithful servant. He tells me to give him a couple of weeks to find a few good men for the job.

Rebecca has settled into a melancholy that reminds me of her lost man. I will have to see if she wants to stay and occupy the property of her townhouse when the present occupants leave it. At least with J.D. here in retirement, there would some sort of family connection to look out for her for the time being. A marriage would be more suitable for her. That and more children would ease my worries about her.

I went to the Temple platform, first to the Court of Gentiles and then to the Court of Women. I had to dress and act appropriately. I had not been there in ages. I paid for a sacrifice to be made to the Jewish god to look after me in my old age and for J.D. and Rebecca as well.

There was a great bronze statue of the late emperor Tiberius. It stood uncomfortably in the Court of the Gentiles. In this Jewish holy place, the statue did not belong. While visiting one day I saw slaves and workmen uncrating another object. The object was a marble statue of the new emperor Gaius Julius also known by the popular nickname of Caligula.

I overheard Roman soldiers telling the workmen that the marble statue was to be put in the Temple itself by order of the new emperor. I wasn’t the only one to overhear the soldier’s words. An unease in the air was felt immediately. Old men and young men were gathered about with fingers pointing and words uttered in anger but not easily discernable.

It was prudent to leave immediately. I sensed an air of unrest. I had not felt that feeling since the day that there were riots on the Temple mount, the afternoon before they came and seized Jesus.

True to form a riot soon took place. I was outside the city gates but I could hear screams of men as Roman steel struck the life out of many.

The city was on lockdown. I could not get back into the city for days. When in fact I did get back into the city, there was an unease that I did not like. Perhaps lockdown was coming back at any moment. I went to J.D. for some gossip.
The old man informed me that many people were indiscriminately rounded up and executed. Officials had checked J.D.’s credentials and he no longer felt comfortable in his retirement place. He had reconsidered my offer of employment. He would perform one more task for his former master.

If things were getting bad in Jerusalem, then there was an option of selling a lot of assets at a discount. For this I considered approaching the son in law of my old business acquaintance Joseph of Aramethea.

Before I could make arrangements for a trip to Caesarea, I ran into another old acquaintance. Matthew the tax collector was now part of the local civil authority in some capacity. It had taken some time, but my credentials had finally ended up on this bureaucrat’s desk.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

1852 - Boston English High School - Valedictorian Speech

Diana - St. Gaudens - Phila. Museum of Art

Boston English High school is listed as the oldest public high school in the United States founded in 1821.
Most notable among its alumni are J. P. Morgan, financier, Louis Sullivan, architect, Leonard Nimoy, actor, Louis Farrakhan, Nation of Islam and two American Generals, William H.C.Whiting CSA, and Matthew Ridgway.
The school started out to give a practical no frills Yankee style education for those going beyond grade school in the early part of our republic. No frills meant that it taught English but no Latin as in a more traditional academic setting of the time.
I was not familiar with the history of the institution until I ran across some documents in a flea market. The penmanship alone of one bygone document overwhelmed me. I will shortly share some of the words attached to that bygone penmanship.
You can look back on your own education. You can look at the education your child is receiving. You see many discrepancies in how a newer generation is being taught and wonder what values taught to you have been discounted in the process of the progress of American civilization.
Your child's homework makes them busy. Assignments on the Internet and cardboard story boards that the parent should not but does invariably finish for the child seem the norm. But is the child being taught? What do teachers do these days besides measure your child in standardized tests and following the current flavor of the decade teaching modi operandi?
Let me step back and not take away from anyone's credentials or their attempt to educate in this bizarre new global existence.
I was taken aback by the Valedictory speech of a graduating student from "English High School" in July 1852. The words here say a lot about teachers and the gratitude that students should return to efforts made on their behalf. The following is an example of Yankee no frills education.
"The class of which I am a member, has now completed the usual academic course, in this Institution. We are about to separate and enter other spheres of duty. But before that separation takes place, one last office still remains to be performed. It is to take leave of our friends. It is to testify our gratitude to those who have helped us onward during our past lives and to encourage each other, in the onward path, which each of us may have chosen.
Beloved and respected teachers -To you, who have so faithfully attended to your arduous duties, we must first testify our gratitude.
You have endeavored to instill into our minds, those principles, and form in us, those habits, which would most securely stand against temptations and evils by which we may be assailed. You have instructed us on those things, which would qualify us for pursuing an honest and useful life. You have in all things, sought our good.
Nor, under Providence, shall your labor be in vain. If successful in our future lives, much of our success must be attributed to your aid. We are now to redesign your guidance and instruction. The happy hours we have here enjoyed, will never be repeated.
But though removed from your immediate influences, yet the lessons you have given, will still continue to teach us. We shall hear their echo, telling us what path of life and duty to choose. We shall feel their influence, continually urging us forward in all good deeds, and warning us to reflect, when temptations shall beset our paths. In more advanced periods, when we come to reflect upon our past lives, we shall refer to this portion, with pleasure. We shall recall the many pleasant hours we have here enjoyed, and the many valuable instructions we have received. Our teachers will be remembered with feelings of gratitude and respect.
We shall remember this devotedness to our happiness and welfare. We would say then, - go on in the work , the noble useful work, in which you are engaged.
Continue your endeavors to improve the young, and although your reward may not be immediate, yet it will be certain. And you, who are to continue your studies in this school, especially you, who are so soon to occupy our places in this room, we would exhort, to make the best use of your time, improve every opportunity and you will not regret it. Your advantages for obtaining a good education, are unusual.
Do not then, by neglecting them, bring regret and sorrow upon yourselves, in after years. Consider that, although one neglected advantage may seem but a small loss, yet it serves to swell, and may very seriously increase the aggregate of losses. Remember, that the cares of your teacher are very great. Do not, therefore, multiply them, by misconduct on your part, but rather alleviate them, by your attention to his instructions, and to your duty. And when, in future years, you come to look back upon your school days, may you be comforted by the reflection, that you have, in all things, endeavored to do your best.
Fellow Classmates, we now part with this school and with each other..."

Valedictory. Composed and spoken by C.F.Wyman, July 26, 1852, Boston, Mass.

Excerpt: Painted Tin Ceiling of the Sky - on Kindle - eBooks


Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Latest Work on Kindle - Fresh Kills

Fresh Kills

Following death on 911, the traditional forty day journey of a soul through a limbo like quarantine dimension between the world of the living and the world of the official hereafter.