EPISODE 280: Susan

Human nature is extremely vulnerable. I’m thinking of one’s inwardness, and the way a seemingly small rejection, loss or blow of some kind can be enough to unravel a person’s entire equilibrium.

You can compare yourself, even if you’re basically a coper — many people aren’t — to the seemingly impregnable ‘Death Star’ in “Star Wars”. That massive circular spacecraft/world is perfectly defended. Except, yes, there is a vulnerability. It is a tiny one, but it’s there just the same. All Luke needs to do is find that opening, and one small rocket is sufficient to blow the entire thing “Sky High” (Jigsaw, 1975).

This cast understands most people as balancing their lives, both inwardly and outwardly, as if they were Charles Blondin, the celebrated French tightrope walker. At any point, we can get distracted or interfered with, lose our balance, and go plunging to our death. I believe we are sometimes closer to the edge than we think.

There’s a rather “arty” Hollywood movie from 1964 entitled “Lilith”, starring Jean Seberg and Warren Beatty. It takes place in a private psychiatric hospital, and almost everyone in it has fallen or is in danger of falling… over the edge. Two characters actually do. At one point, a character played by Peter Fonda (R.i.P.) asks Warren Beatty, “Do you think insanity is really just a form of unhappiness?”

This podcast, entitled “Susan”, actually ends on a hopeful, religious note. And the song excerpt at the end… well, it’s pure joy. LUV U.

EPISODE 281: Downhill Racer

The downhill momentum of inertia and prior woundedness in people begins early but seems to pick up speed the older you get. In other words, the more time elapses since an early rejection or early hurt was sustained, the more impact it seems to have on you as you age.

I keep seeing contemporaries of mine, most of them in fact, in whom what was an idiosyncrasy or “slight defect” in youth or early adulthood becomes more pronounced, and finally, quite alienating. This goes for addiction and over-eating and personal hygiene, but also includes resentments, bitterness, unforgiveness, and obsession. At this point in my observation, I would almost say that a person’s temperamental negatives uniformly get bigger and more gross with the passage of time. Barring, that is, the intervention of a forgiving, absolving love that takes the person as he or she is. The result of a sincerely merciful intervention, so counter-intuitive in relation to the world’s judgement but so luminously true in the Christian Gospel, is a radical volte-face that we call New Birth and New Creation, or simply hope.

In the cast, I reference Led Zeppelin II, that inspired astonishment of an LP from the late 1960s; the relationship of ‘Pip’ and ‘Magwitch’ in Great Expectations; and some recent situations that cry out for interruptive mercy. Note, too, the brilliant launch of Tullian and Stacie Tchividjian’s new church in Florida. That church is what it’s all about!

“Downhill Racer” is dedicated to David V.

EPISODE 282: Under a Cloud

This is part two of a series on the arithmetic increase, as one grows older, in unchangeability within the human personality and yet the extraordinary palpable power of absolving grace to stop the decline!

In the same way that perceived personal rejection, especially at a young age, becomes a kind of iron straitjacket defeating almost all attempts to change oneself — and certainly defeating attempts by other people to try to change you — in the same way, personal affirmation and one-way love demonstrated towards you when you are “under a cloud” opens that straitjacket immediately and it drops away.

Not that echoes of a prime, early rejection won’t be heard again. For they will! But absolving love cuts the cord on it, breaks it off you, unshackles you from its chains, and opens your pores and your veins.

I’ve seen this again and again, both in the hardening of rejection as an attitude to life and in the “My Chains Fell Off, My Heart Was Free” (C. Wesley) consequence, inside a person, of unconditional, one-way love.

This is especially true, the latter transaction, when love is shown you during a period when you are “under a cloud”. Not just depressed affect or “Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues”, but when the world snares you and shames you and humiliates you and un-forgives you (EVER). That’s when the Grace of God, embodied characteristically in the grace of an intervening person, changes you. Personal, affective change that is the result of merciful treatment is the hydrogen-bomb change within a hardened. It is as “sure as the turning of the earth”, which is John Wayne’s line in ‘The Searchers’ (1956).

The music for this cast is from Led Zeppelin’s inspired second LP, “Led Zeppelin II”; and the cast is dedicated to David B.