Hey Ma, I’m Only Bleeding (for “Mother Kirk”)

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A song I wrote today partly inspired by Bob Dylan’s great song of similar title; dedicated to “Mother Kirk.”

Hey ma

ain’t good for man to be alone

it’s time to put down the phone

answer the door

Hey ma

three meals didn’t make me stay

but one will drive the devil away

supper’s ready

chorus

Don’t know who’ll be there

do know that I don’t care

the lesser and the least

the kingdom coming

Hey ma

I’m only bleeding ’cause now I’m home

a room off the streets of Rome

with flames of fire

Hey ma

darkness at the break of noon

the president hid in his room

his table’s broken

chorus 2x

Written by Bryan M. Christman, July 19th, 2015

Copyright 2015 by Bryan M. Christman @ Manifest Propensity

All rights reserved

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Some thoughts on our “natural” human reaction to God’s grace (from Flannery O’Connor, Dean Koontz, Mary Doria Russell, and Jesus of Nazareth)

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“All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.”

– Flannery O’Connor

An excerpt from “A Catholic Thinker” blog article “The Mean Grace of Flannery O’Connor“:

“I think there is no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe. I know what torment this is, but I can only see it, in myself anyway, as the process by which faith is deepened. A faith that just accepts is a child’s faith and all right for children, but eventually you have to grow religiously as every other way, though some never do. What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross. It is much harder to believe than not to believe. If you feel you can’t believe, you must at least do this: keep an open mind. Keep it open toward faith, keep wanting it, keep asking for it, and leave the rest to God.”

“This notion that grace is healing omits the fact that before it heals, it cuts with the sword Christ said He came to bring.”

“[The trendy “beat” writers] call themselves holy but holiness costs and so far as I can see they pay nothing. It’s true that grace is the free gift of God but in order to put yourself in the way of being receptive to it you have to practice self-denial.”

And when explaining (what I considered incomprehensible) “A Good Man is Hard to Find” to a friend,

“There is a moment of grace in most of the stories, or a moment where it is offered, and usually rejected. Like when the Grandmother recognizes the Misfit as one of her children (a child of God) and reaches out to touch him. It’s the moment of grace for her anyway – a silly old woman – but it leads him to shoot her. This moment of grace excites the devil to frenzy.”

Excerpt from “Odd Thomas” by Dean Koontz:

Most people desperately desire to believe that they are part of a great mystery, that Creation is a work of grace and glory, not merely the result of random forces colliding. Yet each time that they are given but one reason to doubt, a worm in the apple of the heart makes them turn away from a thousand proofs of the miraculous, whereupon they have a drunkard’s thirst for cynicism, and they feed upon despair as a starving man upon a loaf of bread. (page 142)

Excerpt from “The Sparrow” by Mary Doria Russell:

God was at Sinai and within weeks, people were dancing in front of a golden calf. God walked in jerusalem and days later, folks nailed Him up and then went back to work. Faced with the Divine, people took refuge in the banal, as though answering a cosmic multiple-choice question: If you saw a burning bush, would you (a) call 911, (b) get the hot dogs, or (c) recognize God (Quoted in “Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places” by Eugene Peterson; page 177)

Excerpt from Mark 6:6 King James Version:

“And he marvelled because of their unbelief.” Jesus of Nazareth

(Whereas we marvel at belief.)

BMC @ Manifest Propensity, 2014

The Oscars and “Celluloid Heroes” – “God Save the Kinks!”

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I heard this old classic by the Kinks the other day, so when I saw the special segment on the Oscar’s last night that honored all the famous persons affiliated with Hollywood this song naturally popped into my mind. It is undoubtedly one of the greatest rock songs ever.

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I believe that the song beautifully deconstructs the romanticist hopes our culture places in what Robert Bellah called “expressive individualism,” by revealing the avoided but painfully obvious reality that the “Celluloid Heroes” that “never really die” are not real persons. But our cultural narrative of expressive individualism is strong, making our nihilistic faith almost necessary. Thus we buy into the hope that we can transcend death through such achievements. Our cultural narrative is quite persuasive, supported by a propagandizing consumerism wherein “Image is everything” and  “Nike”  rule. This ensures that our religious allegiance is almost a foregone conclusion. Continue reading

“Blue December” – A Poem

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Yesterday I noted that a local church was holding a “Blue December Service.” I also know people that struggle with December annually. So I wrote this little poem with those in mind for whom the holiday season tends more toward being a “Blue December” than a “White Christmas.” Continue reading

The Happy Endings of Children’s Books : “An Unexpected Gift from on High” or merely Freud’s phenomena of “Wish-Fulfillment”?

A Series of...

“If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book.” (A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Bad Beginning, by Lemony Snicket)

Many people, at least since the time of Freud, have held that belief in God (and by extension the “Happy Ending”) is nothing more than the phenomena of wish-fulfillment. An interesting treatment of an answer to Freud by C. S. Lewis can be found here where the PBS documentary “The Question of God” was reviewed.

I was recently reading the book “Beyond Words” by Frederick Buechner, who writes the following which to my mind also sheds some light on the question of faith as wish-fulfillment. Buechner points out that children, who are more apt to demonstrate the natural response of humans to the mystery of life, do not take the “happy ending” for granted. Continue reading

Frederick Buechner’s Godric tells of when misery is “drowned in minstrelsy”

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Here is another inspirational passage from “Godric” by Frederick Buechner that is about “misery” and “minstrelsy.”

“All those years ago Tom Ball blessed my ears to hear the poor cry out for help, and I still hear them right enough. Continue reading

“Godric” by Frederick Buechner – The blessing Godric received from Tom Ball

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Godric tells of the blessing he received from Tom Ball when he was about to leave home. Would that we all had received such a blessing as we ventured forth into the wide world.

“Tom Ball came by to bless me. Ball was a heavy, slow-paced man who had one eye that veered off on a starboard tack so you never knew for sure which way he looked. He entered our house splashed high with mud, for our yard was always a bog through spring. He sweated like a horse.

He laid his hands on me and blessed my eyes to see God’s image deep in every man. He blessed my ears to hear the cry especially of the poor. He blessed my lips to speak no word but Gospel truth. He warned against the Devil and his snares with always that one eye of his skewed off as if to watch for snares himself.”

“Godric”, pp. 23-4.

Some may think of this as merely superstition from “the dark ages” – but what is wrong with seeing the dignity of every person, hearing the cry of all and especially the poor, and speaking only truth and no falsehood? I think the Devil very much enjoys our “enlightened” age.

Likes, questions, comments, critiques are always welcome – thank you.

Original Content © Bryan M. Christman and Manifest Propensity, 2013. Excerpts, links, and reblogging may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bryan M. Christman and Manifest Propensity with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.