Monday, January 15, 2018

The essence of jesus

I recently finished one of the books Jane bought me for Christmas - Arthur Rowe's 'The Essence of Jesus' (I believe this may be a recently updated version, copyright 2017 by Arcturus Holdings Limited).

This was a nice little book, giving a well-rounded look at the person of Jesus. It was somewhat brief at just over 200 pages, and a little on the textbook side in regard to history and style, but I found it quite enjoyable and a good reminder of who Jesus was... and is!

The back cover gives good insight to the content:
"...To this day, the identity of Jesus remains an unfathomable mystery for non-believers and a glorious open book of hope for the devout. Who really was this figure and why are his life and sermons so pivotal to the core of Christianity..."

'The Essence of Jesus' tackles such fascinating subject matter... turning to sources as diverse as the Bible, iconic art, Church reformers, religious ritual, as well as other religions, leaders, and holy texts, in order to offer a wellrounded discussion about the power of Jesus' word and his legacy."

 The chapter titles are:
  1. Jesus, the evidence
  2. Jesus in the Gospels
  3. Jesus and the first Christians
  4. Jesus and the emergence of Christianity
  5. Jesus in an age of devotion
  6. Jesus in word and sacrament
  7. Jesus of history and Christ of faith (*very interesting chapter)
  8. Jesus and other religions
  9. Jesus today

I'm not sure I would recommend this for the casual reader - not that it is overly deep or anything - but, again, it is fairly textbook-y. However, if you're looking for a nice easy read of that variety filled with some interesting and insightful information, I thought this a very good book. I'm glad I read it, and glad Jane bought it for me!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

It doesn't mean I'm not listening

This morning I had a conversation with someone who apparently designated themselves a spiritual mentor to me. I was not opposed to the idea, and I like this person, but it still kind of caught me off guard.

Anyway, at one point they asked what I felt (or heard) God was saying to me in my life right now. Over the course of my journey with Jesus there have been a few people who have asked me this. I've asked people the same thing myself. I believe it's a good question for contemplation.

If I'm honest, there are times when I'm not hearing anything from God - and it's because I'm not LISTENING. I'd say most people are like that much of the time. We're more concerned with simply getting through our day than in trying to discern where or what God might be leading us to.

I didn't really have an answer this morning when asked what I thought God was saying to me. Partly because I wasn't prepared for the question from this person and in this situation. After thinking about it for awhile now though.... I still don't have an answer. In fact, I'm not so sure maybe God isn't saying ANYTHING to me at the moment.

Does God always need to be speaking to us?
Is there ALWAYS some place he's trying to get us to go? 

I mean, what about the Israelites as they wandered around the desert for 40 years? Or what about Jesus as he prayed in the garden??

I believe God does sometimes "speak" to us - in a variety of ways, whether it be a feeling, dream, his Word, or some other such means - but I also think it's true that...

 ...sometimes he is just silent.

So, if we can't answer the question, "What's God been saying to you lately?" it doesn't necessarily mean we're not listening. It might just mean he's not saying anything at the time. And there's nothing wrong with that.

All that said, though, I do want to be more intentional about listening for God's voice. Even when silent, it can be pretty amazing.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Chuck klosterman x

I just finished my first Chuck Klosterman book. It was everything I thought it might be, and then some!

Son Isaac bought me 'X: A Highly Specific, Defiantly Incomplete History of the Early 21st Century' as a birthday present. He said Klosterman reminded him of how I write. I was immediately intrigued, not only to find out what my boy meant by that, but also because it's this giant all-black book that looks really cool and must be good to be 464 pages long.

Right away I was hooked. 'X' is a collection of CK's essays and articles from the previous decade on a wide variety of subjects but most notably rock music and sports. I am now surprised I'd never heard of him - unless I had and just didn't realize it - because there don't seem to be a lot of people who specialize in those two areas of knowledge/interest at the same time (music & sports).  Plus the fact Klosterman has written nine previous books and contributed to outlets like GQ, Esquire, Billboard, The A.V. Club, the Guardian, ESPN, as well as serving as the New York Times Magazine ethicist. So, you know, he's no slouch.

Anyway, I guess you can read more about him if you want. I'm mostly just writing here today to say how much I liked this book. Not only do I relate to the writing style, but the content as well. I will also say, it is NOT true that Klosterman writes like me. I may try to write similar to the way he does, but I could only be compared to him in my dreams (or by my son).

I'm not sure how I would even describe his writing (other than how others already have), but it's funny, serious, sarcastic, intellectual, yet often about the most mundane of things. When I dream about being a writer, I suppose this is what I dream of. I might also add that it is strangely... positive. For instance, the most lengthy chapter is his coverage of the entire KISS anthology describing how utterly terrible most of it is, yet it's so infused with his love of the band that it makes you want to listen to them again! I don't know, it's a strange mix; and I like it.

So, while I can't say how this book rates among his others, it certainly has my interest. Not only would I like to someday read another Klosterman book, but this also reminded me of my need to read more fiction. I'm not entirely sure why, since this isn't fiction itself, but maybe it just made me want to read more, period. Or, maybe it inspired me to want to read better writers. Which I consider Klosterman to be (at least to me).

Well done, son. Just my kind of book.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

My father's eyes

Last week I was reminded of the eye disease my dad suffers from. My cousin asked the name of it, and it took me awhile to find it. It's something I've always intended to write down here on the blog - just so I will always know where it is - so I will do that now.

I suppose my dad was about my age, or maybe a little older, when he started to lose his vision. First it was one eye, and then the other. At the time it was quite the mystery and he trapsed the country to one specialist after another trying to determine the cause. Apparently they finally settle on:

Ischemic Bilateral Optic Neuropathy.

I've yet to find a simple definition, but I'm told it can be hereditary, and it helps if you can catch it early rather than late. Here's a definition from this site:
"Ischemic optic neuropathy is infarction of the optic disk. It can be arteritic or nonarteritic. The only constant symptom is painless vision loss. Diagnosis is clinical. Treatment for the nonarteritic variety is ineffective. Treatment for the arteritic variety does not restore vision but can help protect the unaffected eye."
My dad still has some vision - one eye being better than the other - so it was never debilitating for him. He was somehow able to keep his drivers license up until his 85th birthday. Not that he should have had it, but he did. So it's not something I really worry about at all. Still, I suppose it doesn't hurt to be aware... just in case.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Mostly dead all ... week

Unlike Wesley from the classic, 'Princess Bride,' my arms do seem to work. Yet I feel not only have I been "mostly dead all day," but more like a week, or more. I've lost track of how long I haven't felt good. Basically I've felt like this for as long as I can remember now. I sleep a lot, cough up a lot of phlegm, blow a lot of gook out my nose, and occasionally eat a little food and drink coffee, tea or water. I've been sick.

I suppose it's the flu, or a sinus infection, upper respiratory thing, or some such yuckiness. Jane has had it too. She finally went to the doctor yesterday and got some antibiotics. I probably should too but it's always so hard to tell what you're "supposed" to do or not. If it lingers into this coming week I will go because that will means it's been at least two weeks. It's not a 'stuck in bed' sickness, but more like 'feeling slightly more aware than a zombie' stumbling through life.

I think I've been working the 5-9 am shift for the last two weeks (Monday-Friday). Although New Year's Day I worked noon-4 pm. I tried to find someone to work for me, but I not-so-surprisingly had no luck finding anyone to help out.

We went back to Buda to have Christmas with my parents last weekend. Jane and I left after I got off work at 9 am Friday. We made good time even though it snowed the last half of the trip. It continued to snow the entire rest of the day, so much so that the Feipel's decided to wait until Saturday morning to come (instead of after Drew got off work).

Friday must have been when I felt sickest. My nose was running like a faucet, and I wasn't much good for anything all weekend. Carrie wasn't feeling the greatest either, so hopefully we didn't infect my parents.

Anyway, Jane and I were in Buda from Friday until leaving Sunday morning. We were supposed to go out with friends for New Year's Eve back in Fort Wayne, but I was not up to it so we brought in the new year from bed. The Feipel's were in Buda from Saturday morning until returning Monday.

It was probably not the visit my mom was hoping for, but I suppose just having someone there with her for a few days to take her mind off dad helped somewhat. Dad was more confused than usual and spent a lot of time in bed - except at night when he was imagining some kind of other reality and wouldn't sleep.

Other than that... I don't really even know what to say. I honestly have little recollection of anything else since Christmas. I guess I removed Facebook from my phone. So I've spent hardly no time on social media for a week. I haven't missed it.

Okay, that's all I've got. Maybe my arms aren't going to work so well after all...