The Gapster in New Orleans Monday, Jun 25 2007 

What is there to see and do in New Orleans?

The Vieux Carre? The D-Day Museum? The Cabildo and St. Louis Cathedral? St. Charles Avenue and the Garden District? World-famous Canal Street? Jackson Square?

gapster-jpg.jpg
How about Gap in the Riverwalk Mall? That’s where an 18 year old girl gravitates before those other things.

So we view little Ann Christian triumphantly entering the Gap store for the fourth time on  our little New Orleans weekend get-away this past weekend. (We were barely there for 24 hours.) This child is a shopping machine!

But isn’t that the nature of the female beast?

“I Write, Simply Write” Monday, Jun 18 2007 

Two years ago about this time, I was at Sunrise Springs, New Mexico, taking part in a National Writing Project professional writers’ retreat. While I was there, I jotted down the following:

sunrise-springs.jpg I Write, Simply Write
Composed At Sunrise Springs, New Mexico
June 2005

Out here on the veranda overlooking Sunrise Springs
I’ll just write for me …
But I don’t know what.
I don’t know what because not a sorrow
Disturbs my peace.
My soul is fat,
Sleek,
Blessed beyond measure
Because this heart
Feels no hurt that God cannot heal,
Weighs no grief that hope cannot bear,
Knows no longing that love cannot satisfy.

So be it sufficient
To write about idle things, like . . .

Shimmering aspen leaves touched by the sunswept breeze.
Glistening trinkets splashing in fountains,
Dancing on ponds,
And ripples scurrying shoreward
Beneath over aching boughs of willow and cotton wood
Under a cloudless canopy
Of blue mountain sky
As I write,
Simply write.
Thank you, Lord, to be so blessed.

Lost in His Love . . . Friday, Jun 15 2007 

Let’s move on from “bibliolatry” to something more positive. (Interestingly, one day this past week, this blog registered a record 82 visits from the web, which means a lot of you were sharing the link. “Bibliolatry” was one of the hottest topics, so thanks to the faithful!).

My choice for favorite American poet of the 19th century would astound many of the scholars. It’s Fanny Crosby, the hymn writer. 160px-fanny_crosby.jpgI envy, even covet, that woman’s gift for metaphor and imagery. I could list stanza after stanza, line after line, of her well-known lyrics as examples of powerful poetic expression, but perhaps my favorite Fanny Crosby stanza comes from the familiar “Blessed Assurance,” where she wrote,

Perfect submission, all is at rest!
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

That is an interesting stanza to explicate. She’s obviously celebrating the Christian’s perfection and completeness, but not necessarily in the sense of “the end.” The “Watching and waiting, looking above” suggests that she’s not writing about “pie in the sky” just yet, but perhaps our willingness to surrender (i.e., “perfect submission”), to turn over the reins, so to speak, and thus enable the “peace on earth” (“happy and blessed”) that the angels heralded to the shepherds on that first Christmas.

But the most fascinating words in this stanza comes at the ending–“Lost in His love.” Wow. Gollee, Wow!

To be “lost in His love?” I wonder if the meaning of life isn’t somehow wrapped up in this oxymoron, “lost in His love?”  Such “lostness” should be a condition  the human spirit craves. Our default condition, woefully, is to be lost in love of ourselves.

Yes, Fanny, I believe you have hit upon the truth–as usual!

Gosh, I envy that lady’s talent and admire her craft!

Bibliolatry and the jargon of the redeemed Saturday, Jun 9 2007 

I’ve been meaning to come back to one of my “theophilosophistic” themes on doctrine and dogma, especially committed to exploring the etymology and currency of the word bibliolatry. Truthfully, I had never seen this word in my life until I did a Google search this very day, but I knew the term existed to the point that I have been using it fairly regularly for the past year or so to describe the extremely religious devotion (i.e., bible worship) that orthodox denominationalists commit to their belief in the sanctity of the scriptural canon.That key word search led me to several sources, one of which got to the heart of the issue fairly quickly. The name of the website, “newreformation.org,” suggests the person that posted the following may have his or her own axe of dogma to grind, but in fairness, not knowing enough about “New Reformation” to be fer ’em or agin’ ’em, I only admit that the following excerpt from their website frames this issue perfectly. Otherwise, I neither endorse nor renounce them.   Anyway, here’s the illustration I found at their website:

On page 2 of the May 14, 1996 issue of the Western Recorder, a local Kentucky Baptist periodical, is a report of comments made by Morris Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee at a gathering of Baptists from across North America. Another denomination’s top executive asked him to state an “irreducible minimum for an evangelical theology.” In response, Chapman is reported as saying, “I would have to say the word of God is absolute truth and . . . Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the Savior of the world.”

This is a very “tell tale” comment. Chapman lists his commitment to inerrancy before his belief in Jesus Christ. If Chapman had been in the prison at Phillippi with Paul when the jailer cried, “What must I do to be saved?” would he have responded, “Affirm inerrancy, and believe in the Lord Jesus?” When I read that piece, I almost jumped out of my seat. “That’s the perfect illustration!” I concluded, so I post it here for the consumption of this blog’s readership.

Some of the painfully orthodox will certainly condemn me for the suggestions implied in this post. While I don’t really feel any need to defend myself against them (Let’s hear it for the priesthood of the believer!!), or much less argue to “reassure” them that I’m really “O.K.,” let me simply say that I have as much reverence and respect for God’s word as the most ardent of the orthodox. I just think they need to back off the exaltation a few notches, acknowledge that God’s word is manifest outside of and apart from the canon, and allow God to take care of defending His own word. He really doesn’t need our help!

One final suggestion: How scandalous (among the dogmatists) would it register if I suggested that the extreme inerrantists’ religious devotion to canonical scripture is comparable to devout Roman Catholics’ devotion to Mary? Yikes! “Mais, ca mettrait les mouches apres moi!” (That’s an old Cajun idiom meaning roughly, “That would set the angry bees in pursuit of me.”)

I Heard God’s Word Along the Sea Saturday, Jun 2 2007 

I Heard God’s Word Along the Sea
(Composed along the Gulf of Mexico at Navarre Beach, Florida}
By David Pulling
May/ June 2007

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Pity on narrow men
who canonize God’s Word,
confined in sacred books
composed by ancient hands.

For I heard God’s word lately
along the sea
in noisy surf:
Driven waves
swelling,
rolling,
foaming,
pounding shoreward,
Thundered by strident breeze
from dusk
to dawn
high tide and low
and dusk again
and then
throughout the night.

Wave upon wave,
God declaring in the surf along the sea,
unmistakably,
“I am.”

So I closed my eyes in the darkened evening,
listening carefully for more:

“Like the sea dancing on moonbeams before you
As far as the horizon beyond your imagination,
I am greater than your knowing.
Seek me anyway
and know that I am.”

So I rest with thoughts such as this:
Whether this sea raises on one hand
shrimp
to delight my seafood platter,
or on the other
dreadful wind
to snatch the roof from my house,

I seek.
I long.
I praise.
I trust,
because I hear your Word,
drawing me to Your voice
in the noisy, wind-driven surf along the sea.

For all that I am not,
You are.