Saturday, January 22, 2011

Beatle Man


This is Beatle Man, he went to Narnia on New Year’s Eve. I never met Beatle Man, he belonged to my friend Debby and her husband Tommy, though does a cat ever belong to a human? No doubt they belonged to him. He was a sick old boy and Deb and Tommy couldn’t let him suffer any longer; so it was a sad New Year’s for them, a very sad one.

My friends’ pets, whether I’ve met them or not, are part of my relationship with my friends. I don’t understand the symbiotic relationship of humans and pets, and I’m sure I probably romanticize it to some degree, but then again I’m not sure whether I do or not – it is a pretty mysterious relationship. So when Debby told me about her loss I felt her loss and she knew that I could relate to what she and Tommy felt.

Here at the Zuck Homestead Patrick had Celtic when I first met him. Celtic was a Pit Bull. Now I know what folks say about Pit Bulls, and as a longtime property manager I’m not crazy about them, but Celtic…well Celtic was Celtic and he was my “bud”. When Celtic went to Narnia I felt Patrick’s loss; in fact I had my own sense of loss with Celtic; like I said, he was my “bud”; or as the Aussies say, “We were mates.”

Debby still has Mr. Image. Mr. Image is a horse. I’ve never met Mr. Image but I’ve seen photos of him and I usually ask Deb how Mr. Image is doing, especially since he’s getting up there in years.

Alice and Patrick had Edith for a long time; Edith was a Boston Terrier. She went by other names beside Edith, like Blob; the Zucks and Reveres tend to give their pets and kids numerous names and if you’re not familiar with them it’s hard to know who they are talking about. I remember a couple of years ago when I heard that Edith had died; I started to write a piece titled, “Blob is Gone”, it’s still in a Word file somewhere. Poor old girl – her passing was due to an encounter with a car – she was so feisty that she probably thought she could grab the car and flip it end-to-end. Since I had known Edith for quite a while I felt her loss and I can only imagine how hard it was on Alice and Patrick.

Vickie and I watched a program on dogs not long ago in which a new dog owner talked about meeting another longtime dog owner. When the longtime dog owner learned that the other man had just gotten his first dog he said to him, “Welcome to the universe and fraternity of dogs.” The newbie went on to share how that was indeed true, for when dog lovers meet each other they tend to have an immediate connection. 

Beatle Man was, of course, a cat. I’m sure cat owners must have their own universe but since we aren’t owned by a cat I don’t know what that’s like. For the most part I enjoy our friends’ cats, but there has been the occasional cat at a friend’s house that I thought belonged in a barn earning his or her keep rather than in a house extending its claws into my legs, arms, and hands.

Well Beatle Man – here’s to you! If you were loved by Debby and Tommy I know you were loved. See you in Narnia!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Psalm One

Psalm 1
PS 1:1 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.

PS 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
  and on his law he meditates day and night.

PS 1:3 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.

PS 1:4 Not so the wicked!
  They are like chaff
  that the wind blows away.

PS 1:5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
  nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

PS 1:6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
  but the way of the wicked will perish.

I could spend hours and pages on this Psalm; as it is I’ve spent around 44 years in it. It’s a great Psalm to begin a day, a month, or a year with and it’s the perfect Psalm with which to begin the Biblical book of Psalms. It has similarities to the first chapter of Proverbs and its emphasis on meditation in the law of Yahweh puts me in mind of Joshua Chapter One, which I’m exploring on Mind on Fire.

There are two ways to live on this planet; the way of life and the way of death. There are two types of people on the earth; live people and dead people. We choose to take counsel from one of two sources; the wicked or the true and living God.

Where do we walk, stand and sit? In Ephesians we’re taught to sit in the heavens in Christ, to walk worthy of our calling in Christ, and in Christ to stand against the enemy. In Psalm One we are warned not to walk in the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers. This is a challenge in a society that rants and raves and employs vitriolic rhetoric as a matter of course.

Our delight is to be in the Law of the LORD, in the Word of God in the Person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the “way” of the righteous that God knows; Christ says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

The promise is that those who meditate on the Word of God will be fruitful in all seasons of life; that no matter what the circumstances they will produce fruit. The promise is not that things will always go well, it is not that there will be material prosperity, it is not that good health will always be with us; it is that we will bear fruit. Since a tree bears fruit for others to eat we can trust God to use whatever season of life we’re in for the blessing of others.

I’d like to encourage you to read and meditate on this Psalm at least once a day for seven days; you may be surprised to how God will speak to you through it.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Miracle on 34th Street and C.S. Lewis

Last night Vickie and I watched Miracle on 34th Street; this time I saw the movie. I’ve watched it before; this time I saw it.

The script was written by Valentine Davies. He wrote the script for one of my favorite movies, The Glenn Miller Story (Miller is looking for a particular “sound” – his destiny). I would love to know more about Mr. Davies, but since a quick Internet search yielded little I’ll have to move ahead with this post.

C.S. Lewis could have written much of this script; it reminds me (in part) of That Hideous Strength; The Abolition of Man; and The Silver Chair. 

Consider: Doris Walker (played by Maureen O’Hara) is raising her daughter Susan (Natalie Wood) not to use her imagination, which includes not believing in Santa Claus. Doris is teaching Susan that only what you can see with your eyes and touch with your hands is real. Now if you’re just watching the movie you’ll probably think (like I thought) that the issue was not believing in Santa Claus, but Santa Claus is simply Valentine Davies’s point person for the world of imagination; the real issue is imagination, and the issue behind imagination is whether there are things you can’t see that are more important than things you can see.

There is a scene with Susan and Kris Kringle in which Susan describes not being able to play with other children because sometimes they pretend to be animals (using their imaginations) and since Doris has taught Susan that imagination is not to be used she can’t enter into the fun. Kris engages Susan in a wonderful dialogue concerning imagination.

Throughout much of the script Doris strives to protect Susan from imagination by repelling Kris and apartment neighbor Fred (played by John Payne) away from both Susan and herself.

Also, note the scene when Fred asks Susan what grade she is in; she is in one grade above where a typical child would be; the reason? She is in a “Progressive” school. Note the look on Fred’s face when Susan tells him this. Shades of the school that Jill Pole and Eustace Scrubb attend in The Silver Chair. 

In That Hideous Strength and The Abolition of Man materialistic “science” rules the day and the powers that be are on a mission to excise imagination from the human race. In The Abolition of Man Lewis writes of us becoming a society of “men without chests”, people without hearts and souls; alienated from the transcendent. We are reduced to seeing ourselves as machines. In That Hideous Strength we also see the marriage of “science” and evil; as opposed to true science and the God of order that provides the basis for true science.

The courtroom scenes in The Miracle on 34th Street are instructive. Mr. Macy testifies that Kris is Santa Claus; not because he believes it but because he realizes it means economic ruin if he doesn’t affirm that Kris is Santa Claus. Christians should remind themselves to temper their excitement when political, judicial, and economic leaders give them a nod of the head.

Fred, who as a lawyer defends Kris in the mental competency hearing, calls the DA’s young son to the witness stand. The son is asked if there is a Santa Claus; he replies “yes”. Then the son is asked who told him there is a Santa Claus. The answer, “My Dad.” This puts the DA in a tough spot, after all, up until then in the hearing he has been denying the existence of Santa Claus.

The father – son scene in the courtroom is a scene played out in the lives of  many families in the West; we teach there is no God, we teach that all values are the same, we teach that we are the products of time plus matter plus chance; but in our individual lives we don’t treat our children like that; we really can’t bring ourselves to believe what we insist our schools teach; just as the DA was hypocritical, many parents are hypocritical – in fact, virtually anyone in any meaningful relationship is hypocritical who rejects the notion of one true God; otherwise they have no logical basis for caring what happens to those they love – after all – they are simply matter, no more no less, just matter – let’s be consistent. It should make no difference whether a car runs into a light pole or a child – they are both matter. Do  we really know anyone who believes this?

Since a society cannot function in a mechanistic straightjacket it turns to touchy-feely spirituality for relief; hence the popularity of the New Age.

Well, there is more that can be done with the movie but that’s enough for now. Next time you view the movie, don’t just watch it; see what you can see.