With apologies for our negligence, here’s a trove of summertime PZPs for you:

EPISODE 273: The Treasure

A little bit of surgery can compose the mind, right?

In any event, in my recovery I went back to Nevil Shute’s novel The Rainbow and the Rose. It concerns the twilight of a man’s life as he lies dying in an overturned airplane in remotest Australia, and the insights he has — and someone else has — about himself. These insights concern the inward man, not the outward man; and the reader learns to look at himself in the broadest possible and yet the truest possible strokes.

I’ve tried to say it before, but only one or two relationships that you have had will be on your mind at the end. It may be a child, possibly a lost child. It may be someone you’ve loved — and who may be there still, by the grace of God. It may be one of your parents, or a father-figure or someone like that. But it will be a person, not a thing; an intimate connection, not an idea or “narrative”.

This podcast invites the listener to review his or her own life in these terms. They are the terms that last, or last until we are “swallowed up in death”, or better, in the Light and New Jerusalem of God.

Oh, and read Rupert Brooke’s sonnet “The Treasure”, from which the cast takes its title. Shute begins his novel under the rubric of that profound poem. You can find it anywhere. LUV U!

EPISODE 274: Tyrone Davis and the Future of Mankind

It’s not just Tyrone Davis. It’s almost any artist who captures the popular imagination. He or she is talking about real things, personal and individual issues, the things everyone is carrying. As opposed to abstractions and concepts.

I was looking at a church news service the other day and noted that every single item featured had to do with a “social-justice” or group-identity concern. And every single item was worthy, in the sense that the concern is real and the possibility of Christian moral input hopeful. But I also thought, not many people come to church for the first time looking for group-answers or conceptual constructions. People who come to church for the first time — and most of us, probably — are looking for relief from personal pain. We come to God — when we really come to Him — for relief and help in the now! This is an empirical fact from experience.

That is why Tyrone Davis speaks to me more than almost every religion news service put together. TD is right there in the arena of lovelessness, lovelornness, love abandonment and love recouping. Just listen to the opening phone call in “I Had It All the Time”, which begins this cast. The man has flown 1000 miles to get something back that he lost. Love L-U-V, in other words.

Tyrone Davis, and not the unspecific concerns of our momentary moment, represents the Future of Mankind. LUV U!

EPISODE 275: How, Exactly, Does Love Come Down?

We all want to know, when we are down — I mean, when we are really down — where we can turn for help. It happens to almost everyone, at least once in your life, that circumstances — outward, inward, or a combination of both — pull the rug out from under you and you find yourself flat on the ground. I don’t write this to upset you, because you probably wouldn’t be reading it if you didn’t already know this.

But “Where Do I Go” (‘Hair’, 1969), when I have nowhere else to go?

Specifically, where do I go to find God? Or rather, where is God located that I might find him?

A recent BBC television series entitled “Mrs. Wilson” depicts a woman’s descent into hell after she finds out that every safe harbor and mooring that her life has hitherto clung to is a lie. She finds out, very suddenly, that nothing in her life has been what it seemed. The rug is pulled out from under her life in almost every imaginable way. The story behind “Mrs. Wilson”, by the way, is completely true.

She does find a solution, or, better, a re-alignment of her life’s attitude and position. She finds God’s Love, in fact, coming down to aid her.

But as I watched the moving and also Christian resolution of “Mrs. Wilson”, I thought of all the ways that God is “advertised” as having come down, and therefore being available to a sufferer. And I thought of the shortcomings of at least some of those advertised ways.

Then I thought of Frank Lake, and Paula White. And learned something in the process.

The cast begins with an instrumental break by Los Straitjackets, which, for my money, is a solid instance of the Love that’s come down; and ends with Eddie James, assisted by Ashley Brison and Patricia Miller, who root that Love in Pentecostal Power.

EPISODE 276: Widow’s Pique

There are certain subjects that seem verboten in the pulpit. I’m not referring to political issues, or contemporary social themes; but, rather, to pastoral situations/experiences that are so “close to home” that one’s listeners literally rise up in fury against the preacher.

One of these subjects is suicide, if preached honestly and urgently from the pulpit.

Another is a familiar theme of this podcast, the dramatic influence of romantic love — i.e., the aspiration and almost limitless hunger that exists in people for romantic connection — on otherwise stable and rational persons. People protest against this subject when I broach it publicly, usually saying something like, “I would never EVER do such a thing”, such as leaving my husband and children for somebody else. Yet you find out, just four months later, that the very same person has done exactly that! (I’m not kidding. It happens all the time, tho’ there’s a kind of embargo on mentioning it.)

This particular cast concerns widowhood. I know of no more verboten subject in the pulpit than the disparity in life expectancy between men and women. Accurate statistics tell us that when you look out from the pulpit at your congregation, at least in most “main-line” churches, the number of widows likely to be present, as well as the number of likely widows, far outnumbers the number of widowers.

Obviously I wish the statistic weren’t true. (The chances of my being laid in the earth fairly soon are significantly higher than Mary’s chances. That’s why we both earnestly wish we could die in temporal proximity. Who wants to be alone in their oldest age?) But it is true, nonetheless.

And now Mary and I see it actually happening, all around us. The husbands within the couples we know are dying at a much faster rate than the wives. Seems like widows are everywhere; and tho’ there are widowers in existence, we only get a sighting on rare occasions.

Just go to church, almost anywhere, and you’ll see what I mean.

So what is the problem? Why can’t I talk about this publicly? (For people of both sexes get noticeably antsy when I do.) Especially, why can’t we talk about it as Christians, since the New Testament frequently pleads for “widows and orphans” — no NT references to widowers! — and since we know that God is with us most profoundly when we are alone and feeling comfortless.

Maybe you can help me with this disconnect. It seems painfully obvious the older I get. LUV U.

EPISODE 277: Running a Losing Race

Tyrone Davis sort of says it all in the title track to this cast. He’s “Running a Losing Race”, and it sounds to me a lot like life.

As a person ages, they have to watch out not to ‘diss’ the legitimate aspirations and engagements of people who are still, by necessity shall we say, “in the world”. It’s way too easy from a retired perspective to pour cold water on the hopes and dreams of younger people.

The secret of wisdom, as you get older, would be to bring a perspective that embodies an accurate disillusionment with false hopes and inevitably disappointing projects while at the same offering hope in “the things that remain” (Dylan, ‘When You Gonna Wake Up’, 1981). To do that — to portray life in its “True Colors” (C. Lauper, 1986) while at the same providing a better Palette — well, such is the ambition of this podcast.

I like Greg Townson a lot. A brilliant musician on his own terms, he now plays with Los Straitjackets in the persona ‘Gregorio El Grande’. He is a mature adult, much younger than I; but his playlist, which seems to get richer by the week, reveals a well of inspiration that could give hope to any artist previously unrecognized or unfulfilled. Greg Townson gives me hope, which is why I talk about him at the end of the cast. Oh, and Cicely Tyson, too. LUV U

EPISODE 278: Bonaparte’s Retreat

An awful lot of truth is coming out just now, on several fronts. As to why exactly this is happening, I can’t precisely say. But when the truth about anything, from ill-anchored relationships to cultural captivities to urban blight, comes out, “Some People” (Belois Some,1985) become threatened. And more than threatened.

This cast talks about Quentin Tarantino’s movie “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” (2019), Baltimore (MD), and romantic beginnings (and new beginnings, or rather, re-beginnings). For the latter, the classic Preston Sturges movie “The Lady Eve” (1942) offers a striking instance concerning the anchor of romantic love that exists within the experience of male regression. Not to mention the romantic climax of “A Town Like Alice” (1950 novel, 1981 mini-series).

My point is that core truths of life are often suppressed, masked, covered over, hidden — by “the powers and principalities, the spiritual forces of wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). They don’t want you to know.

This cast exists for the sake of the truth as I see it, and is dedicated to Paula White-Cain, subjective friend to me and objective champion of the liberating Spirit of God.