Acquaintance with Darkness

I ask those of you who are believers to pray for my 91 year-old father. He defines himself in opposition to Christianity, although he is too cautious to declare himself an atheist. Philosophically, however, he is one. He is a wonderful father and a highly intelligent man, but God is simply not in the picture with him. I have prayed for his salvation for over thirty years, and will continue to do so until his heart no longer beats. Only at that point will it be too late, as it will be for every single one of us if we are not saved through faith in Christ.
Every time I read this psalm, I think of my family. You know that down-home Christian cliché: When I get to heaven I’ll see my dear old mother and my kinfolk will welcome me beside the throne, etc, etc. . . ? My family is not like that. Apart from one aunt who was a lukewarm Presbyterian, NO ONE has faith in my entire extended family. No grandparent ever mentioned God to me, except to mock or belittle Christian traditions. They are Liberal-Progressives and far too enlightened for salvation. I would respect them more if they opposed the Gospel and took an adversarial stance, but they will not dare to go that far. They smile blandly and change the subject. They watch MSM. They virtue-signal smugly.

 

Psalm 88  (KJV)

O lord God of my salvation,
I have cried day and night before thee:

Let my prayer come before thee:
incline thine ear unto my cry;

For my soul is full of troubles:
and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.

I am counted with them that go down into the pit:
I am as a man that hath no strength:

Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave,
whom thou rememberest no more:
and they are cut off from thy hand.

Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.

Thy wrath lieth hard upon me,
and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Selah.

Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me;
thou hast made me an abomination unto them:
I am shut up, and I cannot come forth.

Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction:
Lord, I have called daily upon thee,
I have stretched out my hands unto thee.

Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead?
shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah.

Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave?
or thy faithfulness in destruction?

Shall thy wonders be known in the dark?
and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

But unto thee have I cried, O Lord;
and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.

Lord, why castest thou off my soul?
why hidest thou thy face from me?

I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up:
while I suffer thy terrors I am distracted.

Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off.

They came round about me daily like water;
they compassed me about together.

Lover and friend hast thou put far from me,
and mine acquaintance into darkness.

Zombie Interventions

 

Are you DEAD?

Sometimes I get tired of interacting with the dead.
Many of them are nice people; some can even be cordial, passionate and fascinating –  the well-educated, well-read, well-traveled dead. I’ll even have a beer or two with the dead sometimes, chatting about art or politics or other topics of mutual interest…
but just drop the G-bomb or mention Our Lord and Savior and it becomes evident:
they are dead. Dead as the proverbial doornail. So dead it’s not worth holding a mirror to their mouths.
So dead they probably read the NYT Review of Books over their shade-grown organic coffee on Sunday morning while the other side sings praises to Almighty God, practicing for Heaven and hearing the absolute and binding truths of the eternal Gospel proclaimed.
Some zombies (you?) are so dead they don’t even get annoyed with God – they just sniff and roll their eyes in bemused indifference or gentle scorn. But you gotta love them. The dead are all around us after all. We shop at the same stores, our children swim in the same pools, we love the same sunsets… it’s quite a bewildering paradox.
We who are alive forevermore are called to love the dead.
And we are commanded to share the news of the free gift of life with them. Even when this causes them to have a zombie hissy-fit and stamp their zombie feet and rail about Free-Thinking and Scientific Reason, and the Big Bang and Chuckie Darwin and The Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades (as if we are responsible for the latter). The dead can sometimes get nasty and do great damage  – be careful. The pearls are real – and so are the swine. They stoned both Stephen and Paul – only Paul didn’t stay dead… what I mean is neither of them stayed dead but, um…Paul came back and kept on telling the dead people about Life. He actually started these little communities of life called “churches”. Come to think of it, that’s what Jesus did even before St. Stephen and St. Paul.  He went around telling dead people about Life. And they had a massive Judeo/Roman hissy fit.  And somehow B.C. became A.D. in the process.  (Zombies prefer C.E. or A.C.E. of course…)

The thing of it is – many who are dead right now will become alive later (get de-zombiefied) and join the Kingdom of Heaven. Will you be one of them?

All of this reminds me of something a man whose wisdom I greatly respect once said:

“Christ did not come to make bad people good or even to make good people better. He came to make dead people alive eternally.”

Now – on to a great poem and Anti-Zombie incantation:  

Psalm 88 [KJV]:

O lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee:

 Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry;

 For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.

I am counted with them that go down into the pit:
I am as a man that hath no strength:

 Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave,
whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand.

 Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.

Thy wrath lieth hard upon me,
and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Selah.

 Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me;
thou hast made me an abomination unto them:
I am shut up, and I cannot come forth.

 Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction:
Lord, I have called daily upon thee,
I have stretched out my hands unto thee.

Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah.

Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave?
or thy faithfulness in destruction?

 Shall thy wonders be known in the dark?
and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

 But unto thee have I cried, O Lord;
and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.

Lord, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me?

 I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up:
while I suffer thy terrors I am distracted.

 Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off.

 They came round about me daily like water;
they compassed me about together.

Lover and friend hast thou put far from me,
and mine acquaintance into darkness.

image credits:  scaryforkids.com  
catkillfoil.com

Recueillement

Christian brothers and sisters may question me for including one of the “Flowers of Evil” (Recueillement) among my offerings here – but we must remember that Christ was a man of sorrows. It’s all in how you see it. After all, one can read the Gospels as the ultimate Gothic tragedy which turns into eternal triumph [think of all those funereal cypresses, night meetings in whitewashed alleys, tombs, enclosed gardens, stinking corpses arising from the grave and  sobbing veiled women  next to bloody pain-wracked bodies expiring under a black sky].

I personally associate the  “long linceul traînant à l’Orient”  [The long shroud trailing toward the East] not only with encroaching Night (which I think the poet intended) but also with the shroud  of  shrouds.

The  illustration on the poem page is by American artist W.D. Heath and was done in 1900 for an Edition of poems by Edgar Allan Poe. The title The Night’s Plutonian Shore is from a line in Poe’s The Raven

If you think this poem is a death-trip, try reading Psalm 88!