Monthly Archives: April 2016

Dogs and Media

Whelp, the world is coming to an end and what clearer sign than major news network Fox News airing the following story! Surely an apocalyptic moment was recorded by a “concerned” citizen hellbent on exposing a major social crisis—and Fox News was right on it!

http://insider.foxnews.com/2016/04/28/woman-walks-her-dog-her-car-neighbors-outraged

A woman was walking her dog while she was driving at the same time, and the dog was on the end of a leash being held by her from the window. Sure, probably was a bad idea to be driving, but it was slow, and much worse has occurred on our highways and byways and that doesn’t qualify for major news coverage! But when you combine social media, outrage, and major news organizations, all of a sudden a narrative can be constructed which can be molded into a profound social moment!

Brian Kilmeade interviewed the “concerned” citizen this morning and in the midst of her diatribe against the evil she saw, Kilmeade had to get in on the act as well. He commented that from his perspective the dog was having a hard time catching up to the car! He made it seem as if the dog was almost being dragged at that moment!! That was a totally created reaction, made up to enhance the moment and to give the story a more serious effect! A negative effect that is!

Didn’t occur—that dog was merrily jogging along having a good time—probably glad to be able to run off a few calories. And, probably glad the owner found a way to get him out and about for a nice jog of the area! I personally hate the phrase “outside-the-box”, but if anything qualified as “outside-the-box”, this was it—I say bravo to the driver for thinking up a creative way to walk the dog!

And that brings me to these news commentators, they remind me of professional wrestling. I enjoyed the heyday of wrestling in the eighties and nineties along with many of my friends. To us it was a kind of male soap opera. We knew it was all choreographed, great athletes notwithstanding, but what made it work were the announcers! They knew how to “sell” the action in such a way that every minor action took on deep and exciting meaning! It made it fun.

But what Kilmeade did was irresponsible! He “sold” that story to create a more negative story, on a serious news station, and that is what can be dangerous. As more of these stories begin to be somewhat “manufactured”, a kind of social outrage will also be manufactured with serious consequences for society.

the more things change…

The more things change…..

Just finished reading the book “The Image” by Daniel Boorstin. A particular event described by the author really got my attention. He describes an advertising brochure for a Chevrolet. In that brochure a convertible is parked near the Grand Canyon, or so one was to assume. There was a close-up of a man in the front seat, who instead of looking at the great view, is fiddling with a contraption in his hand—a Viewmaster toy. His wife and 3 small children are outside the car. The wife is watching the eldest child, a 10 year old girl, who herself is fiddling with a small box camera in which she is going to take a picture of her father fiddling with the Viewmaster! The Garnd Canyon was being ignored! The whole point the author is making is that the nation had been changing in many ways and one of the things that was being lost was the ability to enjoy actual beauty, whether nature, the arts, literature, etc. “Things” was replacing observation and reflection!

viewmaster

Sounds like today! Instead of Viewmaster, it’s the cellphone or a derivative. Many times I myself have complained about technology replacing many “human” interactions. Obviously we need technology, just not at every waking moment! Down at one of the local docks tonight a family of about 8 were taking pictures. When all were included in the picture, no problem, but when individual pictures were being taken, those who were waiting were immediately on their cellphones doing whatever. But what was happening around them was some beautiful cloud-sun interactions creating a great palette of color! And it was being missed!

But here’s the rub! My “complaining” evidently has been too late! The book written by Boorstin was published in 1961! So maybe we are not “caught up” in technology no more than those who were enjoying new things 54 years ago. Maybe these interactions with technology and it’s “negatives” are not a modern things after all, connected with the computer age, as I would have claimed. It could be when new things come along, the attention given to these items is just a function of human nature.

boorstin-image

Does society then give in and become totally overwhelmed by new things? No, there is still a moral here which will bring a stabilizing balance to the whole thing——-If there is a sunset, watch it; if you find yourself in a position in which the Grand Canyon is right in front of you, put everything down and actually enjoy the view, for a while! Technology can be turned off at times!

……the more they stay the same!

USA_09847_Grand_Canyon_Luca_Galuzzi_2007

No pain, no palm

 

No pain, No palm

William Penn wrote a book “No Cross, No Crown” which is about suffering. Though I have not read it, the above quote, “No pain, no palm”, which is from the book, came my way and reminded me of our modern phrase “No pain, no gain”. The origin of the conceptual idea of “no pain, no gain” at least goes back to the 3rd century A.D. in a book called “The Ethics of the Fathers”, from the Jewish Mishna. The wording is a bit different but the linkage of pain and gain is obvious:

“According to the pain is the gain”.

The complete line from Penn’s book, which includes the above phrase is “No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory.” Penn definitely took advantage of this short, pithy way of linking two different things! While variations of “no something, no something else” were around, he may have been the first to say it exactly like that above.

No-Cross-No-Crown

The modern version of “No pain, no gain” was connected with exercising and has somewhat taken on a life of its own, being used in a wide variety of scenarios. It would be interesting to know the pedigree of this exercise phrase, did Penn’s phrasing influence it or not?

Now, juxtaposing those two phrases together “No pain, no palm” vs. “No pain, no gain”, shows much similarity. But that is mere formula! The substance of these two phrases couldn’t be more different regarding the “pain” aspect.

The “pain” of the exercise motto, which should be indicative of proper exercising and training, is something to be desired. It represents a progressive transition from level to level with a healthier life as the end. The “pain” of the religious motto, is a different matter. That pain is not something necessarily desired but is something, outside of our control most of the time that emerges from at least two different directions. First, from the fact of living itself, an imperfect world creates heartache and pain from many directions. Second, the Christian life and living for Christ is just plain difficult to do at times. Much pain sometimes follow from the spiritual battles that arise on the Chrstian path.

So each motto is 4 words long! The word “pain” is in each! After those similarities, the divergence becomes great! One represents pain to be actively pursued, the other represents pain which is somewhat passively received. The one pain I want, the other I would rather avoid. The one pain builds physique, the other builds character in the deepest sense. If we don’t exercise physically, we can avoid the “no pain, no gain” from that. But if we serve Christ, we can’t avoid the other kind of pain that sometimes comes our way.

Is there a choice here? Maybe for one, but definitely not for the other.

I’ll take the palm! By God’s grace!

The Shadow of the Christian

The Shadow of the Christian

If something exists and has enough substance and if light can interact with it in the right way, then that “something’s” shadow can be produced. Shadows are very easily made—-get between some surface and a source of light and there you are! We do it all the time without thinking about it. Shadows can be fun especially when they highlight certain situations and create laughter. I am reminded of a trip to Smith Island in the seventies, as a teenager. I and a friend, along with some other folks, visited for the day and had to return in the evening. As we waited to board a boat to come home, my friend, who had a girlfriend there and was at the moment trying to say goodbye in a romantic way, stole away to what he thought was a private place. A few goodnight kisses followed, which everyone knew since their “private” place happened to be between a pole light and a nice smooth wall of a building. Their shadows, kissing shadows that is, were thus projected on the wall, the wall acting as a theater screen! In view of everyone! The funniest shadow show I can remember!

Shadow is also used in the Bible in a number of ways. Our days on earth and lifestyle are referred to as shadows. Of course Psalm 23 and the valley of the shadow of death is very familiar. God’s shadow is mentioned quite often as a place of refuge and safety. In the New Testament, an important reference concerns the shadow of Peter. He had performed many miracles and people tried to at least be touched by his shadow as he passed the crowds, thinking his healing power extended even to his shadow!

In our everyday vernacular, shadow is used in many ways and is a common idiom of expression. “Beyond a shadow of doubt” is something that reminds of a courtroom, being the “shadow of oneself” is something that aging athletes can relate to, and there are many others. Shadow is also used in reference to people’s accomplishments or stature. Someone who left an indelible mark, negatively or positively, for generations can be said to have “cast a long shadow”, extending over a long period of time.

Robert Louis Stevenson in his book “Child’s Garden of Verses” says of his shadow, “He is very, very like me from the heels up to my head”. When the right circumstances exist, a shadow can be a pretty good outline of a person’s physical body. But it can only capture certain parts of that person, a rough physical outline only. A shadow is at most, only an imperfect representation of the person.

garden of verses

Extending this to the Christian realm, is there a use in which “shadow” can illustrate some feature of Christianity? I think there is! Our physical selves casts a shadow and it is not a big leap to consider the “spiritual” shadow a Christian may produce. A shadow gives the broad outline of our physical self. Our Christian shadow, then, gives a broad outline of our spiritual life. As the inner workings of the heart are unseen to all but God, our actions are what ultimately testifies to the life professed for God and those actions are what makes up our spiritual shadow. This spiritual shadow comes into existence when our life has been illuminated by the light of God’s love and holiness.

Our spiritual shadow is a present reality, it is our life as seen by the world now. An important question thus follows, and thus will ask about the kind of contour our shadow has assumed when viewed by the world. Is it one characterized by God’s love? Does it testify to “true” Truth, that Truth which sets free from sin and proclaims liberty to serve God? Is the outline of this spiritual shadow such that others see a difference in our daily outlook regarding the many pressures of life? Does it illustrate a life worthy of being emulated by others? These kinds of things witness to the changed, heart of the Christian. The world can only see the shadow of that changed heart.

shadow person

Our shadow will persist into the future as well. How will we, those of us who are Christians, be remembered? Christians understand that there will be false judgments from those who do not understand Christianity, but to everyone else, will our shadow withstand the scrutiny from them, those who are openly and sincerely looking for inspiration, because at some point there will only a remembrance of our life, our life at some future time having been completed. Will our history, even if viewed by only a few people, represent a life they would like to live? One of the things we will leave behind are the effects we have had on others through our actions and attitudes. And that is an important consideration—the responsibility to a future generation! What will be the substance of those remembrances?

A philosopher once commented that to be somebody one should “give honor to his shadow”. In the context of this article, the only way to do that is by making sure our “shadow” reflects the heart appropriately touched and influenced by God! If the proper care and diligence is given to those ends, our witness will be positive no matter what, at least as it is judged by God!

world-cross-shadow