Archive - March, 2013

Why the cross?

Screen shot 2013-03-28 at 3.03.34 PM

Before he succumbed to cancer, comedian and atheist Bill Hicks once observed:

Hey, doncha think the real reason Jesus Christ hasn’t returned is those crosses you wear? “They’re still wearing crosses: I’m not going, Dad. They totally missed the point. When they start wearing fishes, I might show up again.”

And while I understand his line of thinking, I actually think he’s the one who missed the larger point.

Granted, the cross has become a fashion statement in many ways. But to Christians, it represents much more. It’s a reminder of their Savior.

In biblical times, death on the cross was considered the worst possible death. Crucifixion is a method of deliberately slow and painful execution in which the condemned person is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead. While a crucifixion was an execution, it was also a humiliation, by making the condemned as vulnerable as possible. Although artists have depicted the figure on a cross with a loin cloth or a covering of the genitals, writings by Seneca the Younger suggest that victims were crucified completely naked. When the victim had to urinate or defecate, they had to do so in the open, in view of passers-by, resulting in discomfort and the attraction of insects. (Source: Wikipedia)

Wearing a cross as an adornment back then would be the equivalent of wearing an electric chair necklace or hangman’s noose earrings. It’s pretty appalling when you think about it.

So why the cross? Why use the very symbol of Jesus’s agonizing, humiliating and painful death to signify that you’re a follower of Him?

Because on that horrible, dark Friday so long ago, Jesus gave up his Spirit, the temple curtain was torn away and the world was changed forever.

The beauty of the cross is that God turned a symbol of horror and disgrace into one of hope and beauty in one act of love and ultimate sacrifice.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

–Isaiah 61:1-3

He makes beauty from ashes.

And over 2,000 years later, the cross and the tomb are still empty.

Screen shot 2013-03-28 at 3.14.18 PM

He is risen.

Editor’s Note: This post is loosely based on a sermon taught by Jeff Hogan. It is used without his permission, and I’m really sorry if I messed it up, Jeff!

Why I hate writing, Part 14: Self Promotion

image courtesy of photobucket.com

image courtesy of photobucket.com

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve not been writing or reading any blog posts lately. There was a time I felt compelled to write and publish something at least twice a week. I still enjoy writing and reading blog posts and the blogging community that goes with it. I’ve just been preoccupied with a few projects which keep me from my own writing–which is completely okay with me. I’m probably one of the few bloggers who have no immediate aspirations of being published in book form. It’s not that I couldn’t write a book, but I know myself well enough to know that I’m too busy (Read: lazy) to write a good one–at least right now.

Even though I haven’t been reading blogs, I have been reading: books and books-to-be mostly. However, I do have a great app called Zite. It searches the interwebs for stories you might be interested in based upon your pre-selected topics of interest. I was skimming through the Writing section when I came across an article written by a blogger/writer who I’m already familiar with. I typically don’t read his stuff because it’s a blog by a writer writing about being a writer written for writers, and as I said in my last Why I hate writing post: katdish, dream crusher, that’s just a little too much navel gazing for me. But the subject matter caught my attention.

This writer is just sick to death of self-promotion.

He’s sick of his own self-promotion and if you’re sick of his self-promotion, well, he’s really sorry about that. He’s ready to turn over a new leaf. He’s going to generously help promote others, not himself.

Oh, and by the way. You should, too.

Because the sub-text of this article (in my sometimes jaded and cynical perspective) is not so much that he’s tired of his own self-promotion.

He’s mostly just tired of yours.

There are so many people shouting about themselves that all that noise drowns out the voices that deserve to be heard and heeded.

You know…like his.

You, wanna-be-desperate-to-catch-a-break-diaper-changing-working-two-jobs-struggling-writer? Stop with all this disdainful self-promotion. It’s annoying. Yes, his blog has over 100,000 readers and yours has 10 (including your immediately family), but really–enough already. Put aside your dream and help someone else achieve theirs. You’ll feel much better about yourself.

Okay, maybe not. You are a writer, after all.

Self-loathing sort of goes with the territory, am I right?

Never mind his advice.

Either he’s never really known the sting of countless rejection letters from agents and publishers because you don’t have a “sufficient platform” or…

in the words of Roland Deschain,

Screen shot 2013-03-26 at 11.10.39 AM

“He’s forgotten the face of his father.”

In a perfect world, writers could spend their time writing and leave the promotion to those who believe in their work and are happy to share it with as many people as possible.

Clearly this is not a perfect world.

So, as I said before, never mind his advice.

Cling to your dreams and do what you feel is necessary to share your work.

He’s not the boss of you.

The hazards of walking barefoot in the grass

images courtesy of bing images

images courtesy of bing images

When I was kid, I only wore shoes when I was forced to do so. Even after suffering countless stubbed toes from attempting to stop my bicycle with my bare feet and stepping on frogs and toads hidden in the grass (the latter explaining my intense disdain for the slimy beasts to this day), going barefoot was always preferable to the confinement of shoes. And while my child-mind would most likely not be able to express or even comprehend my reasoning, I think it had much to do with feeling directly connected to earth I trod upon. Shoes were a barrier to that connection.

Fast forward to today.

photo-657

I rarely go without shoes on my feet. Granted, unless inclement weather forces me to do otherwise, my shoes are almost always sandals or flip flops, but I still feel the need to protect my feet against the many hazards which await the naked foot. I even wear flops in the relative safety of my home, and when my feet are bare, a pair of flops are almost always close by for those times when Buddy Love the daschund needs to make a trip outside.

Except for yesterday.

Yesterday when Buddy starting whining, I realized that I had left my flops in the bedroom. Normally I would have simply gone in there a put them on, but on this day my husband was napping in there after a long flight and I didn’t want to disturb him. Yesterday I braved the back acre of the property with no barrier between my feet and the dangers of a south Texas lawn. Of which there are many:

There are prickly weeds and stickers hiding in the grass.
photo-659

Angry fire ants waiting to attack should you disturb their mounds.
photo-660

Large piles of fallen acorns which can be surprisingly painful to the arches of your feet.
photo-661

Along with the obvious hazards of walking barefoot in the yard of a dog owner.

Yes, I went there. Sorry/you're welcome.

Yes, I went there. Sorry/you’re welcome.

In the five minutes or so it took to walk Buddy Love through the back yard to take care of his business, I could think of little else other than these dangers which might potentially befall my naked feet. Gone was the little girl who thought nothing of stubbed toes and the squishy deaths of amphibians and only of the freedom of running unencumbered through the grass. She had been replaced by a middle-aged woman concerned more about discomfort which might befall her than the simple pleasure of feeling the cool grass beneath her feet.

Some say dogs are acutely sensitive to their human’s state of mind. If that’s true, maybe Buddy took an opportunity to reach out to that little girl long forgotten and simply say,

Stop worrying about what might happen…
photo-662

And just enjoy the moment we’re in right now.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off the walk barefoot in the grass.

This time not by necessity…
photo-663

but by choice.

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

~Helen Keller