Friday, April 13, 2012

Power and Authority

One of the Colonel's favorite Biblical accounts of the life of Jesus is found in Luke's letter to his presumed patron and recent convert to Christianity, Theophilus, wherein the unlimited power and authority of the God-Man Jesus is demonstrated.

In the fourth chapter of his Gospel, Luke describes the miraculous nature of Jesus' ministry in Galilee -- healing, restoring sight, exorcising demons -- and, more importantly, reveals the truth of God's anointment of Jesus with His authority, and power to exercise that authority.   Luke presents a representative account of each of the aspects of God's power and authority:

Jesus displays power over evil by driving out a demon possessing a man in the synagogue of Capernaum (Luke 4:35).
Jesus displays power over illnesses with the healing of Simon's mother-in-law (Luke 4:39).

But, the example of Jesus' power and authority that most gets the Colonel's rapt attention is found in the fifth chapter of Luke's Gospel.

Luke tells us that the two examples of Jesus' power and authority were not isolated events.  Jesus was healing and exorcising so many, that people came to Him from throughout the region, crowding Him so that the only way he could have enough space to teach was to commandeer one of Simon's boats from which to talk to those gathered on shore.

After Jesus completed his sermon, He turned to Simon and told him to "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch" (Luke 5:4).

Now, Simon was a fisherman.  A commercial fisherman.

Simon, the character and personality of whom we become more familiar with after Jesus nicknames him "Peter," was a supremely self-confident man's man. 

An outdoorsman.

A man of action. 

A man who was certain that he knew more about the natural world in general, and fishing in particular, than anybody else on the planet -- well, in the region of Galilee, at least.

Simon would have made a good Marine.

Luke tells us that the supremely self-confident Simon gave Jesus a quick lesson in fishing.  The Colonel begs your indulgence as he embellishes Simon's words in a vernacular with which he is more comfortable:

"Boss, we've been bustin' our backs all night long and ain't got the first fish to show for it.  We just finished cleanin' the nets and all we are gonna accomplish here in the bright daylight is gettin' em dirty all over again.  But, if you wanna go fishin', we'll go."

The Colonel has heard and read a lot of folks who put the emphasis on Simon's obedience to Jesus' command in this instance. 

The Colonel rather wants to believe that, although Simon had witnessed many of the miracles performed by Jesus, he hadn't really been "touched where he lived."

Simon was just humoring his rabbi.

Simon had seen Jesus drive out demons and heal folks, but that was on land.  On the water was Simon's domain, the place that he knew better than anyone -- even better, in his estimation, than Jesus.

Luke tells us in verses 6 and 7 of Chapter 5, that when they let down their nets, fish filled them in such great numbers that the nets began to tear apart.

Remember, Simon and his partners were not sport fishermen.  Their very livelihood depended on their nets holding the greatest number of fish they could possibly imagine catching. 

Their nets were not designed to give the fish a sporting chance.

It is crystal clear to the Colonel, even given his severely restricted mental faculties and lack of a quality education (he didn't go to college -- Ole Miss is something else entirely), that Jesus exercised his power and authority over nature itself. 

Simon's nets just didn't happen to encompass a large school of fish.

Jesus exercised his power and authority over His creation.  Jesus directed every fish within fast-finning distance into Simon's nets.

This was, the Colonel believes, intended to get Simon's undivided attention.

This touched Simon at the very soul of who Simon was. 

Fishing, in today's business vernacular, was Simon's core competency; his market niche.

Nobody out-fished Simon...,

Except, Jesus.

Simon's reaction, as his partners' boats (plural!) filled to the gunnells with fish, is telling:

"Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" (Luke 5:8)

The question comes to the Colonel whenever he thinks of this story,

"What do you think you do better than Jesus?"

When Simon realized that he had harbored the belief that he knew more than God about what was his core competency, that was the point at which, the Colonel believes, Simon realized the full extent of Jesus' power and authority over every aspect of his life -- and the full extent of his sinfullness.

What do you think you do better than Jesus?

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Lost in Translation

An interesting discussion ensued after dinner last night at the Colonel's table.

Okay, it's the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda's dining room table at which the Colonel is allowed a regular seat; but that's not important right now.

After-dinner discussions in the Colonel's house most often revolve around a recounting of the day's antics -- actors young and old.

Okay, it's the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda's house the crushing mortgage for which the Colonel is allowed the great privilege of paying monthly; but that's also not important right now.

Last night's discussion wasn't so much about the hilarity of the very recent past as it was about concern for the future, in a country divided by two completely antithetical visions of the role of government. 

To the delight of the Colonel and his #1 son (and to the dismay of the distaff side of the household), the discussion wandered out of the flowered meadow of easy theoretical options and strayed into the minefield-littered battlefield of practical consequences.

As he has learned to do with his increasingly wary family, the Colonel lay quietly in conversational ambush until the moment at which the other participants were so deeply engrossed and so heavily invested in the discussion as to prevent their escape from the educational kill-zone at the moment of his initiation of direct lecture fires.

"Citizenship in our republic is a two-handed proposition.  On the one hand, the Constitution that establishes and limits the powers of our federal government guarantees a wide range of personal rights and liberties.  On the other hand, acceptance of the title 'citizen' in our republic carries with it the inescapable responsibility to conduct our personal activities within the boundaries framing that wide range and to accept the less-than fully democratic principles on which the republic was founded."

Caught in the direct fire lecture kill-zone, most of the Colonel's family waited patiently and quietly for the lull in firing indicating that the Colonel was reloading, knowing that to return fire was an invitation to escalation of the Colonel's use of verbal force and certain prolonging of the lecture firefight.

#1 son dashed the hopes of the rest, returning fire with relish.

The Colonel feels constrained at this point to explain to the LSU and 'Bama grads who may have erroneously stumbled upon this post in their frantic search for meaning in their lives beyond football, that "returning fire with relish" does not mean that #1 son threw hotdog toppings at the Colonel.

"But, Fearless Father and Former Roguishly Handsome Soldier of the Sea," -- the Colonel's progeny always display the utmost formal respect -- "the Federal Government is doing things with my tax dollars that I vehemently disapprove of on principle."

Okay, the Colonel will admit that his progeny do not address him so formally and respectfully.  But, if four decades with the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda have taught him anything, it is to translate aggressive address into more palatable pablum. 

"But, you senile old flatulent fool..." is caught by a filter just behind the Colonel's tympanic membrane and converted to "But, Fearless Father and Former Roguishly Handsome Soldier of the Sea..."  

#1 continued, "I feel like my vote counts for nothing.  I'm so tired of voting against things and they happen anyway."

"Ah, my son, welcome to the Colonel's world.  I haven't voted for anything or anyone since November of 1984."

The Colonel carried on and held forth for three of four more hours on the topic of citizenship in the republic and the role of each of the three co-equal branches of the federal government under a constitution specifically designed to frustrate accumulation of federal power at the expense of the several states and the many freedom-loving people residing therein. 

The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda finally interrupted him,

"Hey, you old... [translator kicking in] roguishly handsome protector of my virtue and plentiful provider for our progeny, you do know that you have been sitting here at this table, in the dark, talking to yourself for the past three hours."  

Monday, April 02, 2012

Hummingbird Holocaust Harbinger

The first ruby-throated hummingbird arrived here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere late last week -- none too worse for the wear after his long flight across the Gulf of Mexico from his winter home in the Yucatan.  He is the first of a flock that will eventually number in the several dozen, over-summering and taking advantage of the Colonel's sugar largess aboard the vast lands of the Tallahatchie Free State.  

The first hummingbirds normally arrive here after the 1st of April each year. 

However, this calendar year has started off anything but normal.

Although the first three months of the year were supposed to be Winter, the icy-breathed old man stayed in Canada and Spring sprung in January.

Among the loyal legions of you who regularly imbibe of the irregular literary libations ladled out in periodic posts hereon, there are certainly several who have just leaned back in their ergonomic chairs, taken a swig of their lattes, and exclaimed,

"Aha!! Global Warming!!"

Among the loyal legions of you who regularly imbibe of the irregular literary libations ladled out in periodic posts hereon, there are certainly several LSU and 'Bama grads who have just leaned back, scratched the peak of their hat racks, and asked,

"Whatsa ergonomic chair?"

Start drinking lattes and it will come to you.  That, and an insatiable desire to purchase anything with Barak Obama's likeness plastered on it.

Little known fact: Lattes cause liberalism.

The Colonel digresses. 

The Colonel is not a Global Warming (or Climate Change, or Environmental Evolution -- call it whatever you wish) denier.  Nor does he strongly contest the contention that modern man's carbon fuel effluence has contributed to the increasingly effective carbon dioxide greenhouse surrounding this big blue marble.  

He just doesn't think it is really anything over which to commit collective suicide.

The Colonel can accept the bases of most of the theories and notions about the consequences of the Earth's atmospheric temperature fluctuation -- whether amplified by modern man's actions or not.  

He is just not ready to discard the adjective "modern" in order to attempt arrest of the amplification.

The Colonel wonders, with what is left of his rapidly diminishing cognitive abilities, "Wouldn't it be much more modern for man to figure out ways to adapt to the change in climate to our advantage, rather than frantically cutting off our collective post-modern proboscis to spite ourselves?" 

Even the most casual review of the history of man reveals clearly that among his greatest attributes are his abilities to shape, and adapt.

Still, there is an even deeper and more worrisome problem with the climate change fear-mongers.  The fear they purvey is a spirit-killing spear to the heart of man.  

In his 1950 Nobel Prize for Literature acceptance speech, William Faulkner eloquently expressed the point toward which the Colonel has heretofore ineloquently bloviated,

"Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only one question: When will I be blown up?"

Faulkner spoke generally to a world gripped by the fear of impending and seemingly unavoidable nuclear holocaust. 

He spoke specifically to young writers who, accepting the prevailing conventional wisdom that man's minutes were irrevocably numbered in the shadow of runaway nuclear fission mushroom clouds, had, in his words, 

"...forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.

Faulkner warned that man, generally, and a writer, specifically, 

"...must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid: and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed--love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, and victories without hope and worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands."  

Faulkner spoke to the young writers of his age, but his words hold the power of universal inspiration today.  He summed up his firm faith in the God-given spirit of man with,

"I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal because he will endure: that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance."

To which the Colonel need only add,