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Friday, March 1st 2013


Madam Whitesnake (and some other things)

  • STATE OF EXISTENCE: still foggy


YasodharaWhere have I been? That depends on the sense in which one might mean the question. At home mostly in terms of geography. On and off at my computer or picking on one of my instruments, in terms of activities. Watching Daytona on Sunday afternoon. Finishing the work that was left on the first set of proofs for In the Beginning God, which took longer than a day, as I had thought. Spending some time making some progress on a ministry web site. Mostly, though, I've been in a pretty deep fog, to which the abrupt denial of support for my medication definitely contributed. I still have not heard back from anyone on the appeal. The one place I was not for a while was in my bed sleeping at night, though I seem to be heading back to a kind of a schedule--until I need to start juggling some other medicine, and I get totally thrown off again. So, it's not been a good couple of weeks physically or emotionally.

One of the things that you know I often do when I'm depressed and can't get myself to do anything constructive is to make drawings, courtesy of Paint Shop Pro 7. For a web site, I needed (okay, wanted) to redo a picture of Princess Yasodhara, wife of Siddhartha Gautama, which I also posted on FB sometime last week. I will spare you the animation that turns her into a decaying corpse, but just give you the version of her as a beautiful young woman. The corpse part is all about how Siddartha envisioned everybody after encountering old age, sickness, and death for the first time on his celebrated chariot ride at age 29.

Last Sunday, when the "kids" were over to watch Daytona together, I took Sunako (Nick and Meghan's little four-footer) out in the backyard for a short while, and, to my great delight, found the first stages of the first crocus of the year underneath the willow tree. It was so tiny, and the yard was so full of twigs and leaves, that I had a hard time finding it again after I went into the house to get my camera. I cleaned up a tiny bit around the little fellow so that he would show up on the picture.

I also finished, at least for now, one of my long-term "fun" projects, a video production of Madam Whitesnake, a traditional Chinese story that celebrates, love, justice, and--above all--filial piety. I first started on it a little while after coming back from Taiwan (October 2009, see my travelogue), and have just been doing this and that, off and on, a little bit at a time. I had no idea that it would turn into a 46 min. production. You will notice, of course, that a lot of the backgrounds are real photographs, though sometimes heavily modified. You might even recognize a place or two.

I'm not sure why the end product turned out to be so fuzzy. I may have to try another method of conversion because the original is crisp. Regardless, I think that anyone teaching anywhere about Chinese culture, should assign this video to their students because the story embeds so many Chinese traits (and, of course, a little bit of your bloggist's sense of humor). And as long as I'm being somewhat unhumble, I must say that, as much as I enjoy making the picture, and as much as I dislike making the narration (PD symptom?), what I most like about creating videos is writing and sequencing the music.

First Crocus of 2013Music is a fabulous gift from God.

    Well, so is everything, one might reply.

Sure enough. I was just thinking the other day how glad I was that God created food. (2 Tim. 4:4). I mean, what would we do otherwise? We'd have to fill our stomachs with dirt or rocks or something not very appetizing if we got hungry.

    Or maybe, he could have just let us browse leaves or graze, like cows. Don't you feel sorry for cows? Grass and hay on the menu every day. Maybe a little alfalfa thrown in from time to time, but basically, it's usually just grass. What's for lunch? Grass. What's for tea? The very same grass over again because they're ruminants. So yeah, I'm glad that God made food, which tastes really good, and I'm thankful for it.

However, one might, given different assumptions, explain our affinity to what we call food on a purely physiological basis. Then you can say a little prayer of thanks to nature before you eat it. Or maybe to yourself for being smart enough to figure out that there's a physiological relationship between food, our taste buds, our digestion, our metabolism, and our well-being.

    But that would be silly. In several ways. For one, don't you think that God knows all about our physiology? And that he gave it to us?

Definitely. But in any case, music is still different. You don't need it to survive, as proven by some strict Muslims who are opposed to all forms of music, but who go on living. And music is definitely not a part of most Islamic worship (Sufis constituting an exception). When I meet someone who has converted to Islam, I always want to ask them, "Don't you miss the music?" How can one give up "How Great Thou Art" or "The Old Rugged Cross"?

    That's not a very strong apologetics argument.

It's not supposed to be. Being human involves more than having a rational mind (which is a good thing for the sake of the humanity of some folks). Aquinas said that our distinguishing quality was "risibility" (the ability to laugh). I think music--which can be used as a form of communication but is much more than a form of communication--is also a big factor in what makes us human. I can't help but think of it as one of the greatest gifts God has given us to reassure us that what may look like " the worst-of-all-possible-worlds" now must give way to "the best-and-most-glorious-of-all-universes."

And that must close out tonight's stream of consciousness.

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