Wednesday, September 20, 2006

And Another Bone!

Here's another excerpt from my story:
Three days after my brothers came home, I saw a servant from my father’s house race to my pasture. I met him as he approached our flock.

“Your father needs you at home,” The servant said.

“Why? What’s happened?”

“The Seer, Samuel, has come to Bethlehem to sacrifice to the Lord. He will not begin the banquet without you, he has said.”

“Without me?” I stared hard at the man.

He waved me on. Leaving him in the care of my father’s flock, I returned to Bethlehem. The elders and their families, including mine, had gathered with Samuel in the principal square of the city. Servants of the elders had hastily prepared tables for the sacrificial banquet after Samuel’s arrival. The fires lapped high toward the sky. Only the wood beneath the altar that had been prepared for the sacrificial heifer remained unburned.

An old man in a traveler’s robes stood before the assembled elders. His piercing hazel eyes defied the seeming frailty of his aging body. They shone from within his weathered and wrinkled face. No one could mistake Samuel, the last judge of Israel, for any other man. Though I had never seen the prophet of the most high, I knew him in an instant.

“David, son of Jesse,” the seer said as I approached, “we have waited for you.”

He approached me with a ram’s horn in his left hand. When he stood before me, I trembled. Even when I had faced the lion, I had never felt such fear as I did before Samuel. His fiery gaze seared right through me. I could not face them.

“Bow your head,” He said.

I obeyed.

The oil from his horn poured over me. He uttered a blessing to the Lord, our God. I can’t remember his words. As the oil anointed me, I felt an incredible warmth through me. My trembling in the presence of God’s holy man became a delight, not a dread. I found that through this fear, my heart discovered a torrent of courage I had never experienced before. I need never fear any man so long as I feared the Lord.
Samuel lowered his horn. I looked up. My brothers looked at me in utter disbelief. Eliab glowered as though I had offended him anew. My sisters looked shaken. Even my father Jesse appeared shocked. They had witnessed my anointing by El Adonai’s own prophet. What could this mean?

The Seer ignored their dismay and signed to his servants. They led the sacrificial heifer to the altar at the center of the square and prepared it for slaughter. Samuel stood before the Altar, his back to the people, and offered praise to God. Then he slaughtered the animal and lit the wood beneath the altar.
During the banquet, I approached Samuel. He sat at the head table with the Elders.

“Sir, may I speak to you?”

One of the Elders frowned and signaled on his servants to dismiss me. Samuel waved him off. “Of course, David bar Jonah.”

“Why did you anoint me?”

The elders gasped. No one in the city had ever dared to question one of Lord’s own servants before. I, myself, might never have done so, before Samuel had anointed me. Nevertheless, there I was.

Samuel did not appear insulted or nonplussed by my question in the least. He alone understood that I intended no disrespect. I simply wanted an answer to a question that burned within all of our hearts.

Instead of answering me, he asked me a question. “Why did you kill the lion, David?”

I looked at my father. He shook his head once. No one in our family had spoken of this to the seer. He may have heard of my exploit from someone else. Or he may not have.

I swallowed hard. “I wanted to protect our lamb.”

“You put yourself in harm’s way for only one lamb?”

“Yes, sir.”

He rose up before me. “You would lay down your life for only one lamb of your father’s vast flock?”

“Yes, sir.”

His eyes locked on mine once more. Then he smiled. “The Most High himself does no less for us, David. That’s why he called upon me to anoint you.”

He walked away from his place at the elder’s table. When he had taken three paces from me, he looked over his shoulder. “Will you wait until I reach the city gate before you attend me, David bar Jonah?”

I stumbled after him. The Elder’s rose from their places. Without turning around again, he said, “I will speak now only to him whom I have anointed.”

When he had me at his side, he turned down a side street off the gate road. No one appeared to be there. Drawing me close to himself, the seer whispered in my ear.

“Tell no one outside of your city what has happened this day, David.”

Of course, sir, but how will a city keep silent?”

“Trust me, Anointed. They will not utter a word even among themselves after I have left.”

“I don’t understand.”

He smiled at me again. “You will soon, David. For now, let me say this: a time comes soon when Israel will need you to shepherd them as you’ve shepherded your father’s flock. He strengthens you to that purpose this day. Have faith in that.”

I pleaded with him to tell me more, but he spoke no more. We returned to the banquet, where our sudden departure passed without comment. When the banquet concluded, Samuel and his party took their leave of our city. We escorted them to the city gates and watched them depart for Ramah.

Only after Samuel had left did I remember the voice that had spoken within me the day I killed the lion. I realized with a chill that Samuel had echoed that same voice.

He told me I would Shepherd our people.

How, when God’s own anointed sat upon the throne of our nation?

CL Stands "by the Pope"

Via Amy Welborn.

The Movement says it so much better than I can!
In regard to the attacks against Benedict XVI by Islamic exponents, Fr. Julián Carrón, President of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, has issued the following declaration:
“Concerning the accusations against Benedict XVI, three things are evident: 1) The Pope certainly did not want to offend Islamic believers, but to call everyone to a correct use of reason; 2) the Pope has a clear awareness of some extreme aspects of the vicissitudes of Islam, which are truths of history before the eyes of all; and 3) there is an intolerance of peaceful criticism that is intolerable, both in terms of the preconceived positions of certain Islamic exponents, and in terms of the indifference and superficiality of many Western commentators.

“We stand by the Pope. In affirming that “not acting according to reason is against the nature of God,” Benedict XVI said a true thing that holds for anyone, beginning with us Christians.

“This position of the Pope saves the possibility for an authentic religious experience for every man, and permits an encounter in peace. It is not a question of a clash of civilizations, but the elementary experience of the “poor of spirit” of every religion: those who live a reasonable relationship with God, beginning from the needs for truth, beauty, justice, and happiness that are in the heart of every man, and precisely for this reason cannot follow the violent degenerations of those who, in the name of an ideology, reject reason for power, be they in the West or anywhere else.”
The CL Press Office
Milan, September 15, 2006
But just in case I wasn't clear enough:

In the Embrace of Darkness...

What happens when a people once followed a reflection of the Light, but then became lost in the shadow?

They shake their fist in fury when confronted with the radiance. The light illuminates their actions and shatters their illusions. We're too often prepared to kill for our illusions rather than die for Reality.

Islamists and Jihadists throughout the muslim world continue to shake their fists at the Holy Father. His inexecusable crime in delivering one quote from a besieged Byzantine Emperor must not go unpunished. His insistance that no one acts in accord with God outside of reason must be denied with everything they have. They can't afford to consider his offer.

The Light will burn away the last trace of shadow. That's the trouble. For far too many in the Islamic world, the shadow is all they have.

The Anchoress understands. That's why she wisely asks, "After Friday’s 'Day of Rage,' then what?"
But listen, the Muslims quoted above have said this “Day of Rage” is not “Jihad.” They’ve said they need the world to see that they are “aggrieved,” again. So good, say I; do it. Have your day of rage. Let the world see how very, very angry you are. But when you’re done raging on Friday and it comes to Saturday…then what? Then will you be ready to sit down and talk about your faith and your grievances, like adults? Finally? Will that be the point at which you can settle down and talk to the rest of humanity like human beings, in the same respectful tones you say you seek?

What do you think will happen after your “Day of Rage?” Do you think the world will offer you Benedict XVI, so you can slaughter him and dance in his blood? That’s not going to happen. So, you need to plan on how you’re going to deal with the world the next day. Because you can’t keep on raging. That simply won’t do. It’s getting more than a little tiresome.

When my kids were little and angry and they needed to have a temper tantrum to get something out of their system, I’d let them have the tantrum. And when the tantrum was over, we’d discuss whatever had been bothering them sanely, rationally, fairly. And then I’d make them clean up the mess they’d made while they were screaming and kicking and throwing things around. Most of the time, I’d help them with that clean-up.

The world is going to watch what happens on the day after your “Day of Rage,” with interest. If the world sees that you have finally spent your rage and are ready to talk and to start cleaning up the messes, the world will very likely welcome your readiness to engage in dialogue, and very likely the world will try to help with the clean-up, too.

But if the world sees that the “Day of Rage” brings nothing lasting, produces nothing worthwhile and promises only further rage at some distant date…well…then I’m afraid the world may very well decide that you’ve raged enough.

Or, you know…it won’t. In which case things will go on like this indefinitely, until everyone’s children are dead. Are we all on a road to perdition or to civilization?
The West may not muster the will to ensure that civilization continues. The Jihadists will not stop until the shadow reigns supreme and unchallenged.

That will never happen. The Darkness has sought to consume the Light since the dawn of time. It can deceive the broken-hearted and sin-weakened to spill seas of blood in its continued lust for dominance. It can shatter the culture that has nourished adoration of the light. It can bring millions to ruin. None of that will defeat the Light.

Muslims can either embrace the share of truth that their tradition possesses, or they can continue to participate in their tradition's collapse. Their decision determines to what extent they will embrace the freedom to be the children of God that they are. The more they embrace the jihadist's islamo-fascistic vision of Islam, the more enslaved to the shadow they will become.

Autumn Eve

Autumn breeze flowing
over a chilled, moonlit lawn
stirring the windchimes

Monday, September 18, 2006


Fight the coming storms,
Fell winds, biting, bitter rains
Stand before the ruin!

The Burden of Bearing the Light

If Christians truly want to take the incarnation seriously, they must value the place of reason in their faith.

Notice I said reason, not reasonableness--that sad facsimile that passes for reason among the elites.

Pope Benedict XVI appealed for all religious believers to value the role in which reason plays in our witness to our faith. Without reason, we have no genuine connection to God. Reason becomes the instrument through which God mediates his transendance through our human experience.

Of course, his controversial remark has earned him the cynical exploitation by salivating headline editors and the furious indignation by many muslims throughout the world.

Unfortunately, the heat of their reaction hides the necessary point the Pope sought to make. Ironically enough, the reaction of the more jihadic and virulent of muslims demonstrates that point in spades.

Christopher Blosser has an excellent round-up of the controversy. He also has a terrific summation of the Pope's original point:
On September 12, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI was again welcomed to the university, to give an address to students and faculty. His lecture was titled "Faith, Reason and the University: Memories and Reflections", the text of which is available at the Vatican website.* While I'll highlight a few points, I recommend a reading of the full text -- it is "vintage Benedict": at once stimulating and provocative.

The Pope spoke about his days teaching at the University of Bonn, of the dialogue between departments, "working in everything on the basis of a single rationality with its various aspects and sharing responsibility for the right use of reason." By way of illustration he mentions an exchange "by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both, and proceeds to mention one point, "itself rather marginal to the dialogue as a whole," as a starting point for his reflections on the relationship between faith and reason:
In the seventh conversation edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion". According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur'an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached". The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...".

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practise idolatry.

At this point, as far as understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we are faced with an unavoidable dilemma. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true?
In answer to this question, Benedict contends that there exists "the profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the biblical understanding of faith in God," pointing to the Christian understanding that "God acts with logos. Logos means both reason and word - a reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason."

Benedict goes on to discuss the significance of the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament -- the Septuagint -- which fosters this encounter between biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry ("From the very heart of Christian faith and, at the same time, the heart of Greek thought now joined to faith, Manuel II was able to say: Not to act 'with logos' is contrary to God's nature.")
Can we say with confidence that life has any meaning that we can hope to understand? Can we discern God's purpose for us here? Is God truly someone in whom we can experience a personal relationship?

Or is God so beyond our experience that we can only shudder before his will? Is he so transcendant that he can breach his own word and seemingly contradict his own law? Is reason so devoid of significance that its judgements matter not at all?

These are the questions upon which our collectively human civilization hang. Our answer--and islam's--may well determine just how we continue to image God in this world through our societal lives. Or don't.

People of good will throughout the world should address these questions that the Holy Father has raised. Cast aside the machinations of cynical mullahcrats and slobbering jihadists, who will exploit the Pope's controversial medieval interlocution for their own twisted ends. Put aside the hyperventilation of a press determined to instigate a crusade in order to ring the register.

Pay attention to the man's profound point.

Or don't. And let the world collapse under the weight of its own collective narcissism.

The choice is ours.

A Voice's Desperation

Drowning in silence,
Highway's roar, crickets' sea the
only sounds I hear

Friday, September 01, 2006

Softness before the Storm

Stillness in the air,
Soaked in the seething darkness,
Await the rainfall!