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Issue 022

Mad Mondays Issue 017
Pagan Moontide of Juno 1, Anno Domini 2020

Pentecost:  In the Light

"My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare.." Psalm  25

"Controlled Burn" by Tambella

I never felt so alone.

I’d lost my temper.

This time was different.

I’m not normally an angry person.

At least, I don’t think that I am.

But I will confess that I had to teach myself how to smile. (I kid you not. This was many years after I’d already been ordained, as Tim Ferris et. al. were pod-raising this manchild to discover a relationship between “making an impression” and “communicating a message,” [i.e. something smells suspiciously like “media ecology as applied to inter-personal psycho-social human relationships”] all for the sake of my work as a preacher of course. So I sped along my entrepreneurial mangrowthing way to the great bastion of trapezoidal pizza and “sweeto burritos” that is Fargo with a pencil clenched between my teeth, willing myself to feel like it might become natural.)

But this was not anger. This was lonely, somber melancholy. This was the bitter dance between pang and trial. This is the raw feature of a mortal who knows his shame.

And knowing this made me even more angry now.

My vision blurred. Fire rose in my belly and then gushed everywhere within like a lava flow burning guilt. Above all, the chained crucifix around my neck scalded my heart like a curse with accusations of “Hypocrisy” and “Blind Guide!”

As I yanked the metallic corpse and torture device over my head, my skin did not sear. It was the accusation, “I don’t deserve to wear this” that broiled at my soul.

It was that moment that I thought about suicide.

I am not suicidal. (Thanks be to God! Because I could be: anyone can be.) But it had been in the news. (It is in the news now too, as a sad matter.) And suicide, if it is anything else, is a sin of imitation. First, it is an imitation of Satan’s own end, for he is the author of his own will. Second, whenever it is heard about, reported on or shown as a louder corner of the white noise, the numbers spike as copycats find hope in the vanity of causing a stir.

This does not mean that suicide is the one “unforgivable sin.” I’m not going to weigh in on that here. But my point is that here I was, a Christian man and preacher, with no honest experience of suicidal tendencies, having a copycat moment of existential, dark-matrix spiritual-evil-rebound.

What I thought most of was utter, endless pity for those who have no confidence in Christ, who when they endure such onslaught from the legions of hell, when pathos rages hot and logos haunts only to leave behind shame-chilled innuendos, ethos sags beneath the strangling black abyss of hopeless extinction.

But I was still an hour from the chance to listen to Slim encourage me to stand upon what I know to be much more than vain hopes for a better tomorrow.

By then I had looked down at my crucifix on the floor and left it there, unable to make myself pick it up again. Still scalding under the torture of my own self-hate, I could only see my pain, not the impression of the body of the one man Jesus Christ, wounded and pierced outside Jerusalem millennia ago for the sake of these very instabilities, confusions, and downright ignorances of mine.

I walked away from my crucifix to pray, and in yirrat Yahweh (the fear of God) to wait and see if my heart could beat again with something more than the echo chamber of a rage loop.

“Father.”

It was my third daughter.

“Please kneel down for me to put this on you.”

What else could I do? Does not the ark defend itself? Need we not only be silent, witness and sing of it?

I dropped to one-knee, right-fist to the ground, head-bowed low beneath the auspice of the angel sent by my only true liege.

The chain slipped back into place, and I felt the familiar weight of the pectoral symbolic-ward thump against my core. 

And, of all people, Eminem helped me stand in praise of my God:

I'm standin' in the flames. It’s a beautiful kind of pain: settin' fire to yesterday: find the light, find the light, find the light…

I really cannot recommend the track highly enough.

--

Be strong, and let your heart know courage.
Rev. Fisk

Quick Hits for the Eyebuds

Look Ma, no hands!

Clickbait Paradise

A friend in need is a friend indeed

With a lot of us cautiously venturing outside and dabbling in some of our pre-pandemic activities, there is some evidence that commonsense social distancing and diligent hygiene routines will be enough for most of us to stay safe. A French study showed that many hospital staff had already developed protective antibodies. Another report observes that deaths in aged care homes and assisted living facilities accounted for a large proportion of casualties, which should give us some clear guidance as to what is needed to protect the most vulnerable.

An immunology blog has tried to inform people about weighing up their risks as they resume their lives. The author concludes that avoiding sustained contact with people in close quarters is the way to go.

The Federalist has reported that California doctors have been calling for an end to lockdown after the rate of suicide deaths has surged. The stress of isolation and job loss is impacting the mental health of many. If you know of anyone who’s struggling, please reach out, as it might make all the difference. Also in California, a teacher set the task of keeping a journal, which has helped his students to focus their thoughts and cope with lockdown.

Lonely as a cloud

An interesting article appearing recently in Time, explores the history of loneliness. The author notes that not all loneliness is negative and, historically, solitary spaces were sought out for good reason. Yet in our modern hyperconnected world, we often hear of the "epidemic of loneliness” and it's not hard to observe that this is true in many places. 

The writer sees the loss of existential meaning that religion gives as the beginning of the modern conception of loneliness:

For loneliness to exist, two things are needed: a lack of meaning in one’s relationships (or lack thereof) and a sense of the self as separate from others. In pre-modern society, religion gave meaning to all existence, and there was less emphasis on the uniqueness of the individual...When the 18th century shopkeeper and diarist Thomas Turner’s wife died and his friends abandoned him, he was ”worn to the grave with trouble,” but he was not lonely. And how could he be? God was always there.

Reading through this article provided an opportunity to reflect on the way our King has promised to never leave us nor forsake us and that his mediating work on the Cross means we can come into the presence of our Father, knowing we will be received.

If you love Mad Mondays, forward this newsletter to someone who needs a bit more madness in their life.

Trailmix

📈 Lovers of stats can nod smugly: Joe public does not understand logarithmic graphs

🍸🕵🏼 Martin. Aston Martin: the most famous Bond car gets a work out (13 min video)

🛩️ They promised us flying cars but a single seat aircraft would be okay too

⚡ Pew pew! The US navy used a solid state laser to bring down a drone

💿 Animal photos that look strangely like album covers. Gen X fun, for sure

🦄🌊The sound of the elusive narwhal. Sort of like a dentist drill. Or a chainsaw. Or both.

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Enter the Dragon

The internet was awash this last week with news of the collaboration between SpaceX and NASA. This venture represented a first, in that a privately designed module was taken for a test drive to the International Space Station, manned by NASA astronauts. Launch was initially postponed due to bad weather, but went ahead on Saturday. ICYMI the NASA livestream is here.  

A little closer to earth, an Italian company has proposed a new way of seating for airplane travel in a post-COVID world. 

That’s quite a pickle you've got there..

Another news story that has dominated recently is that of social media, free speech and regulation. With President Trump proposing changes to laws that give social media protection from content that is posted on their sites by users, a fresh round of problems need to be hashed out. 

One article observed that Facebook, despite the protestation of Mark Zuckerberg is actually already an arbiter of truth, whether they like it or not. The slippery problem of “deciding” on truth in a relativistic world is not a new one, but it represents a headache for anyone who wants to reject the objectivity that comes with knowledge of the Creator. The WSJ has upset the applecart by reporting that Facebook knew it would exacerbate division with the algorithms it uses, but when you are making money from clicks, it seems the more outrage, the better.

Plague...and pestilence?

Meanwhile, critters everywhere continue to do their God-given tasks, even though some are beyond human comprehension. A whole bunch of cicadas are coming! Having been dormant for 17 years, millions of cicadas are about to emerge from their underground homes. 

A new study of bumble bees has found that their nibbling of leaves is a clever trick to fool plants into flowering earlier. 

Strange little moss balls, known as ‘glacier mice’ are baffling scientists with their odd behavior and in the same way, some bleached coral has regenerated itself, with a display of neon color, puzzling observers. 

You may remember the guy in the pool noodle hat, or the tire bumper tables, even Burger King crowns, but now a Japanese zoo has put stuffed capybara toys in its restaurant. And of all the awesome ways people have dreamed up to encourage social distancing, this is one of the cutest

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A Good Word: Rec's from Rev. Fisk

If you were tuned into the SMChill this week, you would've heard Rev Fisk recommend a book for your apologetics "toolbox." It was Tactics by Greg Koukl.

Sweetness You May Have Missed...
Podcast Release

West Virginia, the Mafia, and the post-COVID LCMS

Recent Release

The Devil want to Divide

Promo of Friends

If you are in need of a livestreamed service, check out Village Lutheran or St. Paul Austin.  Don't forget to continue giving to your church - your pastor is worth his wages.

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So this week was … intense. In the midst of all of it, D.U.S.T did grow. But not enough to publish a complete edition. 

But, unexpectedly, something else showed up this week in the realm of fantasy fiction. I was neither planning to write this piece before it got written, nor do I guarantee it will ever get worked on again. 

But I have always assumed I’d eventually write some juvenile fiction. I still have a hard copy of the first twelve or so chapters of Edgar, the Cabbage, a “kids’ book” I started in on when I was just eighteen. So maybe this will go on. 

For now, it has inspired me enough to want to share it here with you, as another feature of Mad Mondays D.U.S.T. Whether it is the dystopian novel of my dreams, or whatever other creative scribblings fell out, I pray you enjoy this little corner of the internet to get very serious about not taking everything too seriously, even if it actually is the end of the world. 

Let us pray: O God, You once taught the hearts of Your faithful people by sending them the light of Your Holy Spirit. Grant us in our day by the same Spirit to have a right understanding in all things and evermore to rejoice in His holy consolation; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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