Monday, August 31, 2009

Monster Meditation: Psalm 8

1 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.

2 From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.

3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?

5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.

6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:

7 all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,

8 the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

9 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

I'll work a retro-active thought summary on Psalms 5-7 another day. But this one is so good, and I meant to have it up on Friday, so I'm going with it.

This Psalm hit at the right time of my theological labyrinth. This is the aspect of God I prefer to spend more time on. Even though there vengeful, wrathful characteristics exist, Psalm 8 present how,I think, we are to experience God. I will continue to try to work out the hard core side of God, but this is the God I see when things are sailing smooth, that is to say, when I'm being the kind of person I'm supposed to be.

This psalm holds one of my favorite lines in scripture. Verses 3-5 are beyond astounding to me. The first thing that thrills me is the image I get of God creating with His fingers, like he finger painted the universe into existence (may explain the blotchy character of so many nebulae. But on top of that, all of these things that an artist may love, he looks at us--little more than snowmen made of mud--and He gives us everything. As I contemplate the sacrifice of Christ and how I should treat all those around me, this is the idea that rises to the top of my thought pool. Regardless of how many things that so many people do, they are held higher in God's eyes than I can imagine any of us deserve.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Theological Labyrinth

A few weeks ago, a friend at work asked me about a billboard she had seen on the west end of town. It read, "The Antichrist changed the day of worship to Sunday. The day of worship is Saturday." It ended with a "call this number for more information" and was sponsored by my church--not my church specifically (at least I hope not), but my denomination. As my friend told me about this, I hung my head in shame. I really don't like the tactics many churches use to get people's attention. Scaring people into belief needs to go no further than Plan 9.

Since that time, I've decided to study out the Antichrist and what it means in scripture--not a task that takes a small amount of time. So I've been trying to take time every night to dig through Revelation 12 and 13 and work out the symbols (and trying not to consult any kind of we've-got-it-all-figured out sources.

On top of this, my reading of the Psalms have led into some interesting waters as far as my thought process goes. For some reason, I didn't expect to run into any walls theologically speaking while reading the Psalms. But some of the things that David writes bamboozles me. So for now, I'm keeping up with reading the Psalms (very eager for tomorrow's), but some may not be posted for a while (want to sort things out a bit more in my brain).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Good Times

Over the last almost-week, life has been pretty sweet. School started--which is kind of lame be cause I have to work--but I feel alive. I know, Cheesy City. But it does feel awesome to be in the classroom again, especially because I have a very low concentration of juice boxes in my classes. So I get to talk all I want, have a mostly captive audience, and the juice boxes I do have provide me with entertaining things with which to update my twitter ("You've got to be shitting me").

Last Thursday also brought me good times as a crew got together and went to RiffTrax Live. RiffTrax is one of the best things to happen to movies--mostly because so many movies are so very awful. To watch Plan 9 from Outer Space on a big screen was amusing enough, but laughing along with so many people is a pretty good time (except when they laughed hysterically at stuff that was pretty amusing and likely overwhelmed a line that would have been truly hilarious). Also Jonathan Coulton is a now an artist that I want to get into a bit more since I've had his awesome Future and Zombie songs get in my head.

The weekend also led to some groovy mini-golf. I don't even know when the last time was that I played that. Nine people in our group, and it was a blast, and I've been wanting to go back so bad ever since.

The week is starting out pretty well, now, but I've got allergies that are waging war against my face. It's pretty much lousy, but I suppose I'll live.

Monster Meditation: Psalm 4

1 Answer me when I call to you,
O my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
be merciful to me and hear my prayer.

2 How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame?
How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?

3 Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
the Lord will hear when I call to him.

4 In your anger do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent.

5 Offer right sacrifices
and trust in the LORD.

6 Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?"
Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord.

7 You have filled my heart with greater joy
than when their grain and new wine abound.

8 I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O Lord,
make me dwell in safety.

My favorite thing about this psalm is how David doesn't sound angry or vengeful. There's no jaw or tooth breaking requests here at all. Instead I feel that the tone is one of pleading. David seems to be calling out to the enemies of God and sincerely asking them to think about what they are doing and turn to God. With God as David's safe place to dwell, David is comfortable and reassured of the might of his God.

This is the kind of attitude I need more often--to call my "enemies" (usually students or parents that drive me nuts) back to something better. More often, I just grumble and gripe--exalting my own smarts and reason above theirs. I pray that God gives me the heart and mind to look toward others more compassionately.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Monster Meditation: Psalm 3

1 O Lord, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!

2 Many are saying of me,
"God will not deliver him."

3 But you are a shield around me, O Lord;
you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.

4 To the Lord I cry aloud,
and he answers me from his holy hill.

5 I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.

6 I will not fear the tens of thousands
drawn up against me on every side.

7 Arise, O Lord!
Deliver me, O my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.

8 From the Lord comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people.

I'm thrilled to not have tens of thousands of enemies chasing me down and craving my demise. This psalm, because of the pursuit (this is David running from the forces of his own son, Absalom), carries a hefty load of power. The first two verses sound frantic, or maybe just David struck with the gravity of the situation. But he moves quickly to his hope and salvation. Verse three's comparison to God as a shield is all sorts of cool. I don't picture it so much as a typical shield from movies or from Warcraft, but more like a shield from Diddy Kong Racing--a brightly colored, swirling number of rays that allow no harm to come to you and knock enemies back if they touch it. This shield, for David, is so trustworthy, so sturdy, that despite the masses that gather to hunt him down, he can sleep peacefully. I don't know that I have that much faith or not. I suppose I'm blessed to have not had to test it in such dire circumstances. Either way, this faith and assurance is remarkable.

Verse seven seems to get violent, and I wasn't entirely sure how to receive it. It makes me think of the curb-stomp in American History X (what with the breaking teeth and all). Then the idea settled on me--God means business. However people want to paint God, the fact will remain that God does not tolerate rebellion. Nowadays, we wait for Christ's coming and the end of the thousand years for the obliteration of evil. But God also watches out for those who are true to Him (as said in Psalm 1). I don't think it makes God out to be any more harsh, but rather protective. Like a parent, He will do what he must to protect His children. Unfortunately, Satan often has so much of a hold, such an implantation of hate stuck into so many, the only way to protect people from the clutches of evil will be to eliminate those that are evil.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Monster Meditation: Psalm Two

1 Why do the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain?

2 The kings of the earth take their stand
and the rulers gather together
against the LORD
and against his Anointed One.

3 "Let us break their chains," they say,
"and throw off their fetters."

4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.

5 Then he rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,

6 "I have installed my King
on Zion, my holy hill."

7 I will proclaim the decree of the LORD :
He said to me, "You are my Son;
today I have become your Father.

8 Ask of me,
and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.

9 You will rule them with an iron scepter;
you will dash them to pieces like pottery."

10 Therefore, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth.

11 Serve the LORD with fear
and rejoice with trembling.

12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry
and you be destroyed in your way,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

I've heard many arguments and debates about the nature of God, and most of those, at some point or another, bring up the differences between the God displayed in the Old Testament and the God in the New Testament. This psalm clearly brings that debate back into focus. The psalm present a laughing, scoffing, wrath-flaring entity that is rather off-putting and sends me into a whole new world of questions--the biggest one being, "Why don't we see God doing this now?" To be clear, I have no desire to see a vengeful God rampaging about demolishing everybody who opposes Him (the world would be nearly empty), but I do wonder why. There seem to be many people who think of God only as He is presented here, or verses four through six, anyway. This may be the results of our slackerly duty as Christians to promote God's character, but otherwise, I've seen nothing to really solidify the idea of a God who looks at the world and burns with irritation.

Then again, maybe that's why there are so many atheists who scoff at the religious folk of the world. Would it be better, then, to see God's fury from time to time on this planet, signs that show He is there and He has an opinion about the way things are done.

Another, thought. I've heard the Psalms as being prophetic. This psalm is loaded with apparent allusion to the Christ. If that is the case, then it may be that God's wrath that we see flaring up is really the pouring out of His wrath prior to the Second Coming. This would put an entirely new spin on the text and would lead me to focus a lot more on the "Blessed are all who take refuge in him" line and the lines preceding it (verses ten and eleven). Regardless of one's view of God, it boils down to whether or not you wish to serve God or not server God. If you are one to gather together against the Lord, I don't suppose you can expect too pleasant of an outcome, but just like in Psalm 1, we are left the option to change paths.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Monster Meditation: Psalm 1

Two years ago when I started teaching at North Star, I began reading the Psalms. Everyday, I would read through another psalm--multiple times when I could. For some reason, though, I only read through the first 45. So with today being the first day students have arrived, I decided I should try again and continue throughout the year. As I go, I also would like to capture my thoughts here.

Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.

2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.

4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

I preached this summer on meditation and about how frequently people neglect the practice of it. So with this psalm, that was one of the first things to stand out to me. To delight in any sort of rules and regulations seems backwards to me. But I figure when laws are fully understood and practiced correctly, laws form something that is no longer something that I have to be annoyed with, but rather embrace. Despite my urges to break any of God's law--stupid human nature--I can look at them as a higher standard that, if followed, creates a system for me to latch onto, even root myself into.

I also like the image of the wicked being like chaff. This imagery is repeated throughout scripture, but today, I got a new picture in my head. I see the wicked flailing through life, with no perceived direction--taken wherever life sends them--with goals in mind that only applies to the life at hand.

Finally, verse six adds a dash of hope for me. On my first reading, I got the sense that God watches over good people and let's the sinners fizzle out. But, after a few times through, I noticed that it is the ways of these different people that are affected. God watches the way or path of the righteous. It's like a well-lit mountain road with plenty of shelters or places to contact any authorities in case of emergency. The way of the wicked is a place on which people venture with no life lines, with nothing to save them if something should happen. The hope factor comes in when I realize that a person can switch ways, and in doing so, switch their ultimate destination.

Friday, August 14, 2009

There Was a Whoosh Sound...

...and with it went my summer, leaving me parked in my school building like Dorothy was left in Oz (except I didn't kill a witch upon entry--not a bad idea though). I look forward to the beginning of school because it hasn't changed much from when I came as a student--I see friends that I haven't seen since last Spring. This is awesome, primarily because teachers love to talk to teachers. I feel sorry for my wife from time to time when she hangs out with me and a group of teacher-friends (constant griping, usually).

I also like school because, usually, it equips me with writing material. There are so many nutty people that wander these halls that I don't even have to think anymore when I sit down to write. These first days, though, are insane, leaving me with little time to do much of anything. Starting next week, though, I will likely be posting every day again with silly happenings and psychotic activities of my young scholars.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Going Back

So, with my feeling like my laptop will soon die, I've avoided doing anything on it at all. Unfortunately, I've had enough going on in the last week to write about, I feel totally lame for not stealing my wife's computer to do my blogging. Oh well.

Aside from my sister-in-law and my youngest brother moving to Lincoln (later blog), the next big business item is my job. Today marks the day that I return to work. Nothing more exciting than meetings today (yippee!), but soon my classrooms will resound with stimpy-stompy of colossal, adolescent feet.

In that vein, I had another teacher nightmare last night. The last one I had a week or more ago involved students working beyond my expectations, leaving my plans in ruins. I got angry at them for progressing too quickly and they called the principal to come in the room and yell at me. By the time the principal arrived, the students had all left, and I was trying to put on a shirt (I don't know when I lost my original shirt, but at that point, the shirt was gone).

Last night's was more terrifying. I dreamed that I had a schedule conflict for my first class--teaching composition (which really is on my schedule) and co-teaching with another with another English Ten teacher. They were both schedule during the same time (first class of the day), and I decided to commit to the co-teaching. I was soon sought out and barked at quite harshly by administration for neglecting my composition duties.

It's been a not entirely too strange addition in my most recent line of bizarre dreams. Last week I had to flee a team of assassins that somebody had hired to kill me. The dream had a very Samurai Jack/Dexter's Lab feel. Very strange.