BEYOND BLUES

It happened again

Then is it passion cancelled?

Avocation termination?

I once was a musician

Can I fight through

The shakes, the uncontrollable shakes

It isn’t just nerves

It started with

My psychotic break

Broken, I’ve lost my confidence

It hurts to perform, not to perform

It used to be such a thrill

They all said it sounded good tonight

My friend said he noticed me shake

Did the audience?

As I started the song I wanted to stop

Run away

But the show had to go on

The song I was in the middle of

So I shook through it

Agony

Do I continue to fight through it every time?

Or is it over?

A man’s complaint in

A universe

Sown in corruption

And what have I to do with thee?

It is my song

Solo

Lyrics carved in my regret

Beyond blues, I sing these words

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Is Jesus’ Message Dead?

I can’t believe that Jesus’ message is dead.  I think that, rather, what Christian churches have done with it may be dead.  Churches and church services are not necessarily what Jesus’ message is all about.  I say this as a Christian minister.

I’ve recently been reading carefully the Gospel of Matthew, focusing on Jesus’ words.  Jesus is about looking at the heart.  Jesus is about spiritual values, not materialism.  Jesus is about forgiveness.  Jesus is about opening up to foreigners and outsiders.  Jesus is about helping those less fortunate.  Jesus is about healing.  Jesus is about love.  Jesus is about connection with God.  I can cite chapter and verse for these assertions.

Is our society opposed to these messages?  I don’t think so.  I think that society basically would agree with these ideas.

What kind of world would oppose ideas like this?  It would be, one by one, a society that doesn’t look at the heart, that only looks at outward acts, that wants only more and greater status symbols and material goods, that lives for revenge, that hates foreigners, that only cares about one’s friends and family and no one else, that cares nothing for the poor, weak, and orphaned, that hurts instead of healing, that hates, that disbelieves and cares only about self.  Is this the world we live in?  Maybe.  But I hope not.

It is true that the world sends us messages, largely through TV commercials that run counter to Jesus’ message.  Expensive car commercials show people who are superior to others, or are superior by some standards.  That is a dual message: 1) buy an expensive car; and 2) be better than everyone else.  There are many movies whose plots turn around revenge.  It’s not “good guys versus bad guys.”  Rather it’s more and more, “You killed a loved one so I’m going to get you.”  So there are messages in the world that run counter to Jesus’ message.

But driving around town, I see a lot of Hondas and Fords on the road, so it’s not true that the world is populated by ubermenschen driving expensive cars.  I think most of society is people living with a beloved partner, or a circle of friends, going to work and coming home and trying to do the right thing.  Then there’s the issue of God.

A lot of people, I think, don’t have much room for God.  It’s not that they disbelieve, it’s that they have no time for God, no need for God.  You can’t separate God from Jesus’ message.  Maybe that’s why it may look like Jesus’ message is dead.  It’s certainly true that self-sufficiency is a strong drug.  Making it on your own; self-made man or woman.  Top of the heap.  Number one.

Then there’s the issue of church.  I think about young people clubbing to those insipid songs with pounding rhythm, overpowering bass tones, monotonous melodies.  Then I think about the 17th and 19th century hymns that we typically sing on Sunday.  And the notion of sitting still for an hour listening to me pray, read from the Bible, and preach.  It’s not surprising that some people would have other things to do.  And none of that is a necessary part of the Jesus message.  It is true that Jesus taught in synagogues and read the Scriptures in them.  And I think that Biblical literacy is important.  But that doesn’t mean the traditional church services that have evolved over millennia.  Nor does Christianity mean the vocal, politically-motivated proselytizing, self-righteous right-wing form that seems to get all the attention and would define all Christianity by their own style.  Indeed, all religion.

I think that society has been shaped by Judeo-Christian values.  We think that soup kitchens, Habitat-for Humanity, health care, minimum wage, friendliness, doing a good turn daily are good things.  While there are counter-messages to the Jesus message, I think that a lot of people would be attracted to what Jesus says, if they read His words freshly and without the lens of tradition and church.  While some churches exclude unbelievers, Jesus included everyone He contacted.  He even dined with a Pharisee on at least one occasion.  While churches are dwindling, I still think that Jesus’ message lives.

SOMEBODY OUGHT TO PAY

Who do I get mad at?

Ordinarily, somebody would pay

What it did to me

What I went through:

Uncontrollable tears

Whole week-ends spent in bed sleeping

Trying to work through sedating meds

Fighting to live, pay the bills

Someone ought to pay

 

But . . .

But did it break my contract with the world?

Point me to other import

Than making it to the top

Making it

Other matters do matter

Did it teach me that?

Break my ego

(Which is always a good thing)

Humility

Something I never knew

Until it happened

Did it teach me?

 

I’m more sound today

And I look back

To how I was

What I went through

How well I feel, now

Someone ought to pay

Or is there another way to see it?

God only knows

Technology and Self-Driving Cars

I am not looking forward to self-driving cars.  Technology is already intruding into my life in unwanted ways.  What would technology do to my self-driving car, if it is already bothering me with my laptop?!!

Every time I turn on my computer, I have to wait for a message to pop-up asking me if I want to buy McAfee virus protection.  My computer won’t work until this pop-up fully appears on my screen.  Then, the McAfee pop-up can’t seem to establish an internet connection, so another pop-up tells me to try at another time.  Now I don’t want McAfee, I don’t want the pop-up, and I most certainly don’t want to try again to secure a connection for a product I never wanted in the first place.  No matter what I do, I can’t get rid of this pop-up about a product I don’t want.  Then there are those involuntary updates that my computer does without my permission.  Many times, I’ve had a good idea that I wanted to write right away, but my computer decides it needs an update, so I have to wait up to 15 minutes or so for the computer to update, and recite my idea over and over in my mind to keep from forgetting it.  Then there was that day when Microsoft decided to update the OS on my office computer to a higher version when I was away on holidays.  The upshot was that the printer went offline, and I had to bring in our tech guy to re-install the printer.  Not to mention me learning yet another program when the other one worked just fine.  My email account has decided to remind me after three days if I haven’t responded to an email I know full well about, but didn’t need to reply to.

Now about self-driving cars.  What if I’m late to work, and my self-driving car decides to update its OS and I have to sit in the cold, and wait for my car to update and make me late for work???  I’ve driven cars that started beeping at me because it thought that I was driving too close to another car in the parking lot, or because another car drove too close to me which I clearly saw and the car startled me and almost caused an accident.  How many pop-ups are going to plague me on my dashboard of the self-driving car?  Maybe the car won’t start until I tell it that I don’t want McAfee on my car.  I think that computer programmers have too much idle time and sit around thinking how to take away our own decision-making minds.  I think that they think we need computers to make our decisions for us, and, with AI, maybe ultimately to think for us.  What if my self-driving car decides that I really don’t want to go to the place I do want to go to??