Friday, July 27, 2012

A New Poem - The Forever Friend

The Forever Friend

So often I have wildly missed the mark,    
And dialed down the volume on God’s voice.     
I’ve seen another soul and made the choice
To hide, until he passes, in the dark.

But you left no dark place for me to hide.
Your brilliance, when I met you, left no shade.
You burst into my life like a grenade.
And quickened part of me I thought had died.

You knew me from the first, I know not how.
By some bright magic you could read my mind,
And I knew all your reasoning in kind. 
To be forever friends we took a vow.

But then came tedium, trouble, time, and tears.
The cords that bound us seemed to stretch and strain.
Your name, which once meant pleasure, now means pain.
How will our vow survive the coming years?

“You’ve changed!”  I think, and voice to you my charge.
“It’s like you’re someone else!”  you sadly say.
“You’ve lost your faith in God;  you never pray!”
“Your politics are bad;  your head’s grown large!”

But you will not so easily break free!
As if that Roman torture should revive
Of fastening a corpse to one alive,
My corpus haunts you yet, and you haunt me.

I picture you explaining this to friends:
“Oh that’s just poor old Paul, pay him no mind!
You’ll find the stench diminishes with time."
The horror of this bondage never ends.

“What happened that this curse became your lot?”
“I met him years ago, we struck a spark.
I touched him, and he left me with a mark.
But now this rotten corpse is all I’ve got.”

And I, in turn, must bear your corpse about,
And answer those same questions about you.
“To this old friend I once vowed to be true.
I’ll bear him to the end, I shouldn’t doubt.”

“But can’t you simply cut him loose?” they ask.
“As well cut out my heart!” is my reply.
"God’s truth, though keeping him should make me die,
My courage is unequal to the task.”

All the things you ever taught, I ponder.
All my teachings still your mind inspire.
All our sins cannot displace the wonder
Of a friendship forged in heaven’s fire.

Running, singing, chiming ever;
Praying, gasping, resting never;
World, flesh, devil cannot sever
You, my friend, from me.

Speaking, cursing, laughing, eating;
Sharing secrets, mourning, meeting;
Our poor, love-torn hearts are beating,
Waiting for the dawn.

Tethered corpses, long afflicted;
From eternity elected;
Dancing, kissing, resurrected;
Walking into light.

© 2012 - Paul W. Erlandson

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Bodybuilder Sherri Gray Turns Pro!

One of my favourite bodybuilders, Sherri Gray, earned her IFBB Pro card last night at the Masters Nationals in Pittsburgh!!

Congratulations, Sherri!

Here is an interview I did with Sherri back in 2009.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Hot Rod Monstrance

Since becoming (relatively) Anglo-Catholic, I've always wanted a monstrance.  Once, I posted a question in an online religious forum asking whether it would be appropriate to personally own a monstrance and to display it in my home.  Reactions were mixed, but most of the people I respected seemed nervous about it, feeling at the very least that it would have to be deconsecrated first.  Some went so far as to say that I would bring myself under the condemnation of Exodus 30, where there is a prohibition against emplying the holy incense for personal use:
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take fragrant spices—gum resin, onycha and galbanum—and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts, and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and sacred. Grind some of it to powder and place it in front of the ark of the covenant law in the tent of meeting, where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you.  Do not make any incense with this formula for yourselves; consider it holy to the Lord.  Whoever makes incense like it to enjoy its fragrance must be cut off from their people.”

So, I decided not to go shopping on ebay for monstrances.  I don't want to be cut off from God's people.  That was 5 or 6 years ago.  Lately, however, I have been re-thinking this.  Yesterday, I started working on this "hot rod monstrance" ... a monstrance built entirely out of spare car parts from my garage.  I used a fan clutch, a distributor, a headlight bucket, a sprag clutch outer race, and an instrument panel bezel.

My daughter thought it was an evil thing to do.  Her objection was one I had not heard before:  that it was simply too dirty.  But is any monstrance, crafted as it is by the hands of sinful men, "clean" enough to house the body and blood of our Lord?  I think not.

My defense of this monstrance it two-fold.  The first argument involves what this is not:  it is not consecrated for use in a Benediction (or Adoration) service.  In that sense, it is not an actual monstrance, but the image of one.  

The second argument is more positive and, to me, more forceful:

My view of the world is that we should seek clues to the invisible, to the holy, to the sacred, and to the eternal.  In part, at least, we seek these clues in the worldly, the profane, the dirty, the fallen, and the temporal.  We seek signs and glimpses of the next, perfect world in exactly this present, imperfect one.

Even if this were to be actually used as a monstrance, does any of you truly believe that something sinful, common, or unclean cannot house the perfect body and blood of Christ.  If so, I advise you not to receive the elements of the Eucharist, either by hand or on the tongue.  Because your hands and your tongue (and mine!) are at least as unclean in God's sight as the car parts used to create this Hot Rod Monstrance.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Power of Validation

In high school, I had a few very influential teachers.  These were true mentors, people who shaped and guided the course of my life, who encouraged me to go on and pursue things that I might otherwise not have had the courage to pursue.

I have recently interacted with one of these great teachers on facebook.  No matter what negative things we may say about facebook, it has done some marvelous things.  If we forget about all the trite motivational posters, the thousandfold sharing of cute puppy photos, and the political vitriol, we are still left with the fact that it has almost miraculously brought us together with friends we thought were lost to us forever.

My interaction with my 10th Grade English teacher caused me to go back and re-read the words she had written in my high school yearbook in 1976, the year I graduated.  I almost didn't need to look at them because I nearly have them memorized.  Over the years, I have read and re-read these words many times.  If I have ever in my life received a more powerful validation from someone whom I so greatly respect and admire, I don't know when that could have been.  These words have guided me my entire adult life.

Dear Paul,

You are without a doubt one of the most talented and creative people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  I hope that your talents will continue to find expression in many varied forms.  It would be a crime to limit an imagination such as yours.  I hope to read about you in the future.  Do something fabulous, so I can say, "I knew him when!"

----- ---------

I don't know if I've yet done anything fabulous, but the wish in the second sentence seems to have been fulfilled.  I am so grateful to have had this teacher, and her words to guide me.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Bobby Freeman - "C'mon and Swim" (1964)

Just a few nights ago, my son introduced me to this song.  (Funny, I thought it was supposed to be the other way around.)  I cannot comprehend how I have not heard this song before.  I will make a bold and only mildly hyperbolic statement:

If you want to understand the essence of 1960s pop music in its entirety, you only need to hear and absorb one song:  Bobby Freeman's 1964 masterpiece, "C'mon and Swim".

This song is incredible.  It has as its foundation a driving surf beat.  In fact, parts of this track sound very much like surf music.  But, hark!  What is that I hear?  Sam & Dave style soul horns?  Okay, groovy combo.

The singer seems to be coming from a soul genre, too.  And he is telling us how to do a dance move, just as you'd expect from Chubby Checker or Freddy Garrity (Freddie & the Dreamers).

But wait, that's not all!  Over the surf drums and the horn section, is the wild, serpentine line of a double-time blues-derived lead guitar line that would become the mainstay of ... psychedelic music!

This track literally has the entire 1960s music scene packed into a single track.  And Bobby Freeman did it ... in 1964!!

Oh yes ... in case you have trouble imagining the Swim dance step, just watch this: