Monday, June 23, 2008

Finally! Orthodox Ketchup

I was taking a picture of the ketchup tonight and my daughter said, “Didn’t you already blog about ketchup? I said, “Yes, but Heinz was worldly ketchup, this is ORTHODOX ketchup.” She looked at the label and said, “Ohhh yeah… we say something like that at Church, huh?”

Yes we do. It is the words to a hymn sung mainly during the Lenten season during communion service of the Presanctified Liturgy:

O, taste and see.

O, taste and see that the Lord is good,

That the Lord is good.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

It is interesting that this hymn is the core of the Presanctified communion during the Lenten season, a season of fasting. The Presanctified liturgy is the midweek communion to sustain us through our Lenten discipline which is intended to wean us from our worldly attachments and our inner passions and lusts. Our fallen nature craves food, we eat for taste and pleasure, our passions seek sensory experience, titillation and gratification (the sooner the better).

The ironic beauty of this Lenten hymn, in the midst of the fight to disarm the powers of pleasure and passions, it is about pleasure, it is about gratification and sensory experience. It is about the whole human person experiencing God, the eternal Manna for which we were created to eat and enjoy.

2 Peter 1:3 says God has called us to His own glory and virtue and goes on to list the attributes of "true knowledge of Jesus Christ": moral excellence, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.

In the end, the only path to belief is to taste. Intellectual arguments can only list and discuss the ingredients, and perhaps convince someone that the Divine Condiment is good to eat. Until we squeeze It out of the bottle and put It on the French fries and eat It we have no Ketchup in us.

We can be convinced intellectually of the attributes of a Good God. We can discuss and theorize about the goodness of God without ever tasting God. But until we live in the goodness that we were created to experience as the icon of Christ , taste and experience the pleasures of holiness in our bodily existence, we cannot truly “see” how good the Lord is.

Taste and believe.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I Am My Dad

At some point in our adult life we should realize that we are our parents. A man is his father and a woman is her mother. Even if you despised them and swore you'd never be like them, you are in more ways than you think.

My dad and I didn't have a lot in common as I was growing up. I was an artist, religious (even as a pre-schooler), scared of a thrown baseball and not athletic by any stretch of any man's imagination, a pacifist, hippie, writer and musician. My dad was agnostic, a football player in high school, joined the Navy, was a Boy Scout Master, read "Guns and Ammo", was a hunter and fisher. He ridiculed my long hair, my religion, my girlfriends and my politics (I registered as a concientious objector to the Vietnam War). I ran away from home to avoid having to get a haircut on the eve of my high school graduation. My mother found me and told me to come home, my father would leave me alone. "Father and Son" was my anthem. In short, I wasn't my dad.

We had a cordial but strained relationship for the next few years. I went to college to become a preacher. I know it was difficult for him to introduce me to his friends. One year when I was in my late twenties, I decided I'd go deer hunting with him to try to bridge our gap. He lent me a .308 British infantry rifle that weighed welll... more than anyone would want to carry all day. I think it was calculated to humiliate me in front of his friends. I ended up being the only one in the party to shoot a deer, and I think he was truly proud of me that day. A couple years later, at age 51 he had his first heart attack. As they wheeled him into the operating room for his bypass, he squeezed my hand and said, "Pray for me."

But to digress...It was a ten hour drive to the hunting area. Along the way I saw my dad in some new light. It wasn't quite "revelations" because I knew these things, but I guess I just never really took them in. Along the highway we stopped at gas stations, little grocery marts and a small diner. Everywhere we stopped the people greeted him by name, and he them. My dad shot the breeze with them and they caught up on a year's worth of history in ten or fifteen minutes. He spoke to the new people working at the places as if he'd known them from childhood. He knew waitresses, cashiers, cooks, gas station attendants, forest rangers... and they knew him. He was the quintessential "Good Old Boy". But I knew that, I just never saw it as a virtue until then. Several years later, one of my employees said to me at the end of a day, "Do you know everyone on earth and does everyone know you?" It dawned on me, I was my dad.

Over the next two decades, the realization that I am my dad has become more and more profoundly real. Even my kids have pointed out to me I have the gift of "good old boy gab" he has, I actually have some mechanical abilities I never knew I had until I was forced to use them to raise my family, I avoid conflicts and give people the benefit of a doubt like he does, I let people take advantage of me and give too much sometimes, I stick up for the underdog and make excuses for people's shortcomings and failures, I'll help you even if I had other plans and not say anything, I avoid asking for help if I need it, I talk a mean game but let offenses slide, I bear my pains and sorrows in silence and solitude, I collect stuff and never throw anything away but will give it to you if you need it, my hands are beginning to shake like his do, I even sleep in a chair like he does, hands folded over my belly. Over the last two decades, I've realized I've been blessed to be like my dad.

He is living on borrowed time after two bypass operations and a stent inserted in his heart. He has an artery that is inoperable and waiting to close up for good. I'm blessed to be able to tell him I'm glad I'm his son. I know he's glad too. I never would have thought we'd be like this, but here we are... Father and son, two generations of Good Old Boys, on his front porch last weekend. I'll miss this when its gone.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

I've Always Suspected This...

The quiz confirmed it. But don't tell anyone my secret identity, OK? Thanks.

Your results:
You are Superman

Green Lantern
Iron Man
Wonder Woman
The Flash
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero am I?" quiz...